Wednesday, March 31, 2010
I didn't get to see it as I was around 50-60 miles offshore when I went around. Even though I didn't get to see it, it's very exciting to finally be here! I've covered a lot of miles and have been through a lot, so finally getting here to Cape Horn is very exciting!! Unfortunately, I wasn't able to hook up with my dad. The local sailors don't take sailing around here lightly and sailing out to sea nearly 100 miles to take my picture and say Hi didn't quite qualify I'm afraid.
Cape Horn is considered by some the Mount Everest of sailing and I believe I am the youngest person to ever sail around it alone. Of course, there are sooo many people who have been such a big part of this. A big 'thanks' to my sponsors, my supporters and an even bigger thanks to my support team. Who knows where I would be with out you guys!
Today has been pretty nice. It has been cold, grey and raining but a nice 20 knots all day and some 15- 20 foot swells. The rolling around makes getting around the cabin pretty hard and painful but after one very flat night I actually missed the big swells and the thrill of surfing down them watching the speed gauge as it goes right on up to 15, 16 and 17 knots (17 knots is my record so far).
Being so close to shore I have seen a lot of ships on my radar recently. When my AIS alarm went off for the first time in months, I jumped out of my skin! It took a while for my heart to stop pounding but I'm beginning to get used to it again.
I am looking forward to getting further out to sea again. I'm celebrating with a movie tonight - Charles Dickens' Little Dorrit with my foot up on the table. :)
Tuesday, March 30, 2010
Abby has not rounded Cape Horn yet! The light winds have meant painfully slow progress for her today and for Laurence who is waiting in an anchorage off the Beagle Channel to set out for the rendez vous.
The calmer conditions have given her a chance to get outside and check everything with a good chance of NOT falling overboard whereas the past few days according to Abby there was a good chance of not staying ON board!
She was able to work the air bubbles out of the water maker so that is fine and she will finish troubleshooting the back up autopilot after rounding the Cape and before heading eastward to Cape of Good Hope.
For now, we all get to learn a bit of patience!
Marianne (aka Mom)
Monday, March 29, 2010
The swells are pretty big - about 20 feet. It makes it pretty uncomfortable crawling around down below in the aft end of the boat. I'm using my back up auto pilot right now and I want to get my main auto pilot fixed so that I can use it as a back up. The problem is that there is a pretty bad transmission fluid leak (the steering is hydraulic). I think the leak is in the ram but I can't find it without the auto pilot turned on.
I should have some pretty calm weather in a few days so I'll be able to turn off the autopilot, lash the tiller and hook up the first auto pilot and get a good look at things working down below.
I've had some problems with my water maker recently. I think it's just that there is air in the tubes and I am really hoping I'll be able to sort it out with the bleeding valves. If that doesn't get the air out, I could have to go through all the hoses back there which really wouldn't be a very fun job.
My cabin stays pretty warm, around 47 degrees during the day, and a little colder during the night. The water temperature is 44 so I don't think I'll be going swimming for a little while! For where I am it's incredibly warm. There have been people who have gone around Cape Horn and had 28 degree water.
I keep trying to get some new pictures for the blog, but everytime I go out and look around all there is is grey! Behind me are gray walls of water that look pretty scary - like they're right about to break on top of little Wild Eyes.
In front, well, lots of water and gray clouds.
Tomorrow should be the big day - rounding Cape Horn. The weather is forecasted to settle down so I hope that I will be able to get outside and enjoy the view!
Saturday, March 27, 2010
Before the wind vane debate gets started up again, know that there is not a suitable wind vane for a boat as fast as Wild Eyes and that that is why I don't have one.
I'm now scheduled to be at the Horn Tuesday. It is pretty exciting watching how much closer I get each day and with all this wind I should be able to make up for some of the time I lost dealing with my autopilot. Right now all I have up is my little staysail and I'm making 9.5 knots!
As far as rules for my dad's visit...if there was an official record to get, I would not be allowed to have my dad on the boat or to have him give me anything and we are not planning on doing either. Actually meeting up is a bit of a long shot at this point as it is. Both Guinness and the World Speed Council have dropped youngest records.
Off to bed...oh, thanks for all the nice comments. It's nice to know there are people out there cheering me on!
Cold holds an entirely new meaning for me now. I don't think I will ever complain about being cold again, not after that night!
Things are all sorted out now; my back up auto pilot display screen wasn't working but the rest of it was fine so I hooked the screen from my main autopilot to the back up autopilot and so far it's running fine. When my main autopilot started acting up I went to switch to the back up but there was no display so I couldn't control it.
I didn't get any sleep Thursday night so last night's sleep was very sweet. I'll start working on trouble shooting my main autopilot today.
Right now I have about 30 knots out of the WNW and I'm heading east towards Cape Horn at about 9 knots. The waves are pretty crazy here. They're not just big, about 15-20 feet, but they're coming from absolutely everywhere! I had heard that it is like a washing machine down here.
It would almost be fun, if things could only break down during the day!
My mom (yes, I have one :)) asked me if the Southern Ocean was better or worse than I expected. It is better in some ways and worse in others. The wind and waves are not as bad as I thought they would be (so far) but the cold and wet is really hard to deal with. I have a ton of warm layers made of all the latest and greatest cloths but my hands and feet are always cold. My hands are covered in tiny cuts that actually feel better when my hands are numb but when they do warm up, like while I am sleeping - they really start to hurt!
If anything gets wet, it takes forever to dry it. Even though Wild Eyes doesn't leak, the condensation makes everything damp. The heater does heat things up but after I turn it off, it gets cold pretty quickly.
My dad is in Ushuaia and preparing to come out with some of the locals. It is hard to plan how to meet so we'll see how it goes.
Wednesday, March 24, 2010
The wind is starting to die down a little now, but with another front coming tonight, I'm hoping it doesn't last for long. It was sunny for most of today which was a great boost to charging my batteries. I had a few squalls, a little rain, and over all a pretty good day. It was 50 degrees down below today and I used my diesel heater for the first time. It was amazing!! Just a few minutes and the whole cabin was nice and warm!
Of course I'm trying not to use my heater much to save fuel and its going to be getting a lot colder so I want to save it for that. Because of the last few slow days it looks like I'll be getting to Cape Horn a little later then expected - probably Tuesday. Dad flew out today but won't be to Ushuaia until tomorrow night. Thanks to Julie Watson and their team, he has hooked up with the right people to get him out to say hello.
Tuesday, March 23, 2010
It's been about 55 degrees during the day getting down below 50 at night. It really doesn't seem that bad any more. The initial shock of being cold took a few days to get over but today I was quite comfortable.
There have been tons of birds around me recently, just small brown birds (I'm not sure what they are) and booby birds. I've gotten used to having them around, but recently there have been a lot more then usual. I haven't had any birds land on Wild Eyes yet, as Zac did on his trip. I guess big bright wild eyes with the two wind gennys on the back would be a pretty frightening sight for any bird!
It seems from the blog comments that some of you don't realize that I do know Jesse Watson. She was in touch with my brother Zac last year on his circumnaviagtion and we have been in touch with email back and forth during the trip. My mom has also been in touch with Julie Watson, Jesse's mom. They are great people and a lot like our own family. Hopefully, we will be able to meet one day!
Back to rolling around out here!
On a happier note, the sun came out for the first time in about a week! I like rain and weather like that, but being from California, I need a break from it every now and then! It got cloudy again in the afternoon, but it was nice to see even if it was only for a few hours.
I saw a ship last night!! Well, I didn't actually see it. Just on my AIS as it was a hundred miles away - a little far to see. But it's the first ship or boat of any kind to show up on any of my equipment in about a month. It may have been just a ship and pretty far away, but its nice to know that I'm not the only one out here!!
There is another solo circumnavigator out here, about 1,200 miles from me, Alessandro Di Benedetto. I heard about him through the comments on my blog, and since then have been in contact through email. Its neat to think that someone else is out there doing the same thing as you, and so close! He's trying to break the record for the smallest boat to sail around the world. I don't know too many of the details, I just know its a 20ft boat, and that is really small!
I should get some wind tomorrow with the next front that passes through. Frequent fronts on the horizon for the next while.
Sunday, March 21, 2010
I then noticed that I was sitting on the wall, not my bed. (just goes to show you what a comfortable bed I have!) Well, my auto pilot went into standby mode and so I jumped outside and grabbed the tiller just in time to keep Wild Eyes from gybing. I got her back on course and set the auto pilot again. I walked around to check over the boat, every thing was fine, a little tossed around, but nothing broken. Because I was alseep I'm not sure exactly what happened. With the swells as they were, it could have just been a large swell that knocked Wild Eyes over.
It was funny to find in the morning when I called home and told my mom, she was more worried then me! Everything happened so fast, there was no time to be worried - just to take care of things and get back on track. That is definitely the most excitement I've had so far on my trip. It looks like the next few days could change that though if all goes according to the weather report!
Friday, March 19, 2010
According to Commanders Weather, Tropical Cyclone Tomas merged with a cold front just east of the Dateline, became extra-tropical and expanded in size. 50-60kt winds and 30-40+ seas may be an experience, and Wild Eyes and I would come out alright, but its not worth risking my whole trip. On my current course his remains will pass well to my SW. I want to finish this trip the way I set out to do it, and that means playing it safe until I'm back. I'm sure I'll end up in some sort of big weather sooner or later but as I can avoid this one without going out of my way thats what I'll be doing.
I spent most of today outside going over things and getting everything in order. I'll be able to avoid the bulk of the storm but I'll still get some pretty big winds and seas from it. Its really amazing the weather down here. Not the weather that I'm in, but the systems and fronts, ridges and highs that are everywhere. Right now I am between a high and a low. When the wind shifts around to the SW again sometime tomorrow, I'll begin making my way SE again.
Last night I called home as usual, and this time the phone got passed around through my three younger siblings. Its nice to be able to talk to them, even though I can't understand much of what they're saying :) Benny said 'Hi' but then saw his blanket and ran off forgetting me, Lydia went on for a good long while, but I couldn't make out any thing she was saying... Little Katherine was a little more clear. I thought she found a frog... it turned out she found pencil...
Well, the satellite phone can be pretty annoying but its better then nothing!! I miss the little guys a lot. Its too bad I couldn't talk Katherine into coming with me!
Wednesday, March 17, 2010
Tuesday, March 16, 2010
I was surprised by how fast the temperature changed. Just two days or so ago it was nice and warm but all of a sudden it got right down to 60F. Its not just the temperature that has changed. Everything around me from the constantly breaking waves to the grey sky is different. Not more than three days ago there was still the bright blue water, clear sunny skies, and warm wind. Things may not have started to roar the minute I entered the 40s but the past few days have made it evident that I'm in them.
Its cold, and rather then everything being bright blue as it had on the equator, everything has now turned grey. Its an all together less inviting sight than the equator, but its exciting and it feels like I'm really getting into my trip now.
I've spent the day checking up on things; belts, filter, lines, and sails. I did a little housework as well. I cleaned out the cupboard under the sink, pulled out some warmer clothes so they're easy to get to when I need them, and checked out all three of my heaters to make sure they're working. I've also been working on drying out my boots. They got soaked inside and out so while covered from head to, well, ankle, in foulies my feet have been very uncomfortable when I'm outside!!
I've been keeping the boat closed up tight and compared to outside its very warm (I'm not sure the temperature outside, my thermometer is down below). With the companionway door closed the windows fog up and the roof is wet from condensation. I usually leave the one little window above my bed open. It does let in a little cold breeze but I'd rather a cold breeze than suffocating. I have had quite a bit of time to think out here. Suffocating would be a pretty miserable ending to my trip so I'm really very happy to put up with a little cold air!
I know a lot of you are watching the wild weather that is brewing down here. More on that tomorrow.
Sunday, March 14, 2010
Every big event that has taken place during my trip seems to be maddeningly calm and slow. When I left Marina del Rey, there was barely enough wind to keep my sails full, I almost crossed the equator twice in one day because there was no wind and a current pushing me backwards and now I have a good day with lots of wind but I get into the "Roaring" 40s and my wind dies. Next thing you know I'll be down at Cape Horn up on deck in a swimming suit reading a book!
As frustrating as it is, I guess I am really lucky to have such calm weather so far, even if it doesn't make for many exciting stories. The wind is beginning to pick up so hopefully I'll be able to make up for the slow day.
My chart desk seat is much more stable. Whether thats due to the Velcro thats all over the bottom now or just because of it being calmer out I have yet to find out. It was nice to have a little bit of calm weather and sun to give everything a good check over, finish up a few jobs, and get the batteries nice and full from the solar panels.
I'm about two weeks away from Cape Horn now and very excited to be getting so close!
Well, thats all for now. Thank you all for your comments! I really enjoy hearing from everyone!
Saturday, March 13, 2010
I've got seas of about 15 feet, not that huge, but they definitely make for a bumpy ride! The cushion on my nav station seat keeps sliding under the desk everytime a big wave comes. Its making writing this a little difficult, typing a few sentences in between sliding under the desk.... I'll have to rig up something to hold it in place.
I was informed by a friend the other day that its spring break, so I decided that its about time I pulled out the school books. That lasted for a good half hour, then I decided that I shouldn't over do it on the first day, climbed into all my foul weather gear and spent the next few hours up on deck. I love being outside weather its flat clam or rough. Its my favorite thing to do whether I'm working on something out there or just sitting on deck watching water rush under Wild Eyes. Even on the worst of days, when you're not feeling so great about being in the middle of the ocean all by your self, there is something about being up on deck that makes any sad or lonely thoughts disappear almost immediately.
Yesterday I went out to try and get some good pictures for the blog. I ended up spending a good hour out there, getting soaked, and not getting one picture that showed what its really like out here right now. Pictures are great and do show what things are like out here better than I could ever describe them, but they still don't seem show it as it really is.
Its about 70 degrees out right now!! Better go find my jacket!
Friday, March 12, 2010
1) Abby's batteries are charged with a combination of solar, wind and diesel. The solar and wind have been doing a good job of keeping up with her daily consumption. She has augmented that with occasional use of diesel engine charging and has run her engine an average of a couple hours a week. There have been some weeks where she didn't run the engine at all and some weeks where she no wind and little sun. At this rate, she has enough fuel on board to continue for 7 more months. She does not use the engine for propulsion.
2) Some people have asked why we doubled the battery capacity in Cabo and some even suggested that just adding battery capacity wouldn't solve anything. Abby will experience days with lots of wind and lots of sun and some days with little wind and no sun. The smaller batteries did not provide enough capacity to store all the energy that was produced on the good days so much of it was wasted. The larger bank allows her to store the excess energy to get her through the days with no sun and no wind.
3) In Cabo, we fixed the alignment of the alternator pulleys but were unable to increase the size of the pulleys to improve the belt cooling. There are two alternators and a ballast pump that all have separate belts. Abby checks these each week. We do know they are running warmer than we would like. With her approaching Cape Horn, we felt that it makes sense to change one of the belts "just in case". We don't want her to have to deal with a failed belt if for some reason she should she need the engine to charge or to move the boat.
4) Abby is not in a race. It is Abby's and her team's goal to get her around the world successfully and safely. If it takes a week or two longer because of safer routing decisions, so be it.
Also, Abby is not throwing things like used fuel containers, fuel filters, etc. overboard. She is keeping these with her, primarily because of environmental considerations, and she might need to reuse things like belts later in the voyage.
Hope this helps!
Thursday, March 11, 2010
Swells are picking up.
Wednesday, March 10, 2010
I did my first interview in a while, and it was surprisingly enjoyable! I had been getting pretty sick of them by my departure, but a good break from all of it has been just enough.
I'm running my engine for a bit right now to charge up my batteries enough to last through the night until the sun is up again tomorrow, but from the sounds of things I'm going to be needing to change the alternator belt pretty soon. Its such a beautiful night, running the engine really ruins things. But only about a half hour more and it will be good for the night. If the forecast for tomorrow doesn't change, I'll be getting a good blow, 20-30 knots, so that should be fun.
Well, I'd better go check on the engine.
Tuesday, March 9, 2010
Doing some home decorating!
For a while it had been getting really cold! At night it got all the way down to 70 degrees! (well, its cold compared to how it has been!) Now that the cold front I was near has passed and the current front from the NW is warm it is warming up a little. 78 degrees tonight!
Sunday, March 7, 2010
I've got a few more questions from you guys, here they are:
How do you keep from being bored? Well, keeping the boat up takes a lot of time. Other than just sailing, there is usually always some sort of job for me to do. And of course, on days like today, cold and rainy, its perfect weather for a good book and hot chocolate :)
What are you eating? I am eating Mountain House freeze dried food. Its pretty good, even after eating it almost everyday for one meal or another. Mountain House is definitely the best freeze dried food out there. But as with anything that you eat for weeks at a time, you get a little tired of it.
Well, I know this is a bit of a short blog, but I've got a few things I need to do before it gets much later. I'll blog again tomorrow!
Saturday, March 6, 2010
Picture of Mr. Doggie: Mr. Doggie was given to me by Jimmy the day I left Marina del Rey to keep me safe on my trip. He's done a good job of it so far! :)
Friday, March 5, 2010
Thursday, March 4, 2010
Also, I have a little wind, not much but a good enough amount to keep moving. The bad news is its still coming from all over the place. I would rather have wind like this than none at all, but it looks like I'm in for another long night. Last night a didn't sleep much because the wind is changing too often and I keep having to change course. I slept a little today so I'm not really that tired.
Then there is a system sometime this weekend that is supposed to be pretty gnarly. I think I would have to classify this as good news though. I'm really excited as its going to be my first big front since leaving. The boat is ready, I'm ready, and I knew that sooner or later I would get into something big.
I've got a list of questions here from you guys:
Do you have paper charts? Yes, I mainly use my chart plotter, but in case my electronics were to go down, I have paper charts for my whole trip.
Why is your course so far off Cape Horn? Right now I am heading pretty much straight south. The wind is coming from an angle where I cannot sail south east (more towards Cape Horn) When planning routing you have to look at all of the wind patterns. Soon I will be into the southwest winds which will give me a good position for heading east to Cape Horn.
Are you out of fresh food? Yes, I have been for quite awhile now. And no, I don't do any baking.
Will I go to Easter Island? I'm not planning on it. Since I was able to re-start from Cabo san Lucais I am still hoping to go the rest of the way with out stopping.
Is your AIS working? Yes, my AIS is working, both transmitting and receiving. I had been having trouble with it at first but it is up and running now.
Re: reefing in 5 knots In the picture in my last blog where the main sail is reefed, I had to reef so that I could reach to hook the main sail back to the truck on the mast. It somehow unscrewed itself. Its much more comfortable to have the sail to sit on while sitting up on the boom and I took the picture while I was up there. Don't worry, that reef came right back out as soon as I was done.
RE: outer track for staysail sheet: There is an outer track for the stay sail sheet and jib sheet, but as I have had the jib out for most of my trip so far I leave the jib sheet running through the outer track. If I was going to have my stay sail out for any length of time I would switch them.
P.S. Jimmy, Mr. Doggie is doing very well! He seems happy out here but I think he misses you.
Wednesday, March 3, 2010
Tuesday, March 2, 2010
The wind has died down a bit today. My average speed was about 6knots so I'm still moving along - just not as fast as I would like to be. I was having a lot of fun with the 20 knot tradewinds!
From the weather report it looks like I have a cold front I'm headed into. I had hoped to hit it at a better angle but nothing is for sure with the weather. There are all kinds of wind angles and strengths where I am headed so it will be interesting to see what I get. According to the grib files (the weather forecasting software that I use on the boat) there won't be over 35 knots. I have a weather router who sends me reports every few days as well. He really has a much better idea of what is going on out there because he is looking at more than one weather model. I like to look at the grib files because it is really great to have all the details right here to look at as well.
Grib files for tomorrow.
Its over a month since I left Marina del Rey and going on a month from leaving Cabo. Before this, I had never spent so long at sea alone, but it really doesn't seem like a big deal. I am hopeless at keeping track of time out here. Day after day I do the same thing, so the days really blend together. There is everyday maintenance, or rather, maintenance prevention, of just going over the boat checking everything, checking lines, sails, belts, filters... cleaning off solar panels, tidying up the cockpit, topping off the water tank.
So far I've had very few problems, and anything that has happened I've been able to take care of before its turned into any big problem. I've patched up my gib, changed the engine diesel filter, cleaned out the water maker filter. I've flushed out and refilled my water tank (I had been having problems with the water being dirty, but its all cleared up now) and tightened the alternator belt a few too many times. Tightening that belt has got to be one of my least favorite jobs as it requires a few more hands then I've got, but I have to say, I'm getting pretty good at it!
Today I did laundry and its all hanging out side right now, hopefully it will dry before I get any squalls or much more wind!
My buddy charlie (a pelican) and me. I've lost my hair brush again, as you can probably tell.