Friday, April 30, 2010
My brother, Zac, is going to be flying down which is great because he was in Cape Town last year and loved it. He knows where all the good places to go are and even has quite a few friends there. He may not be there until I leave because he has to get back to speak at the Lymphoma & Leukemia Society Regatta in Corona del Mar. I am really looking forward to having him there.
Sadly, my sister Katherine won't be able to come. She was on the list of things that I needed, along with pens, paper, books and things like that. I think my parents were a little worried I might bring her along with me when I leave Cape Town. :)
Tuesday, April 27, 2010
Today has been nice and sunny. Not the normal sort of sunny day which is more like bright fog, it was real blue sky and the sun! It was a very nice change. My auto pilot is working pretty well. Now that I am able to leave the chart desk for more then ten minutes at a time, I've been doing some house work. Cleaning things up, trying to get my bed and boots to dry out, even doing some laundry.
I have to just ask that people please not send nasty emails to Coursemaster. They have recevied a few very rude emails and I just would like to make it clear that Coursemaster has been extremely helpful spending hours on the phone in the middle of the night and during holidays to help my support team and me troubleshoot. They have offered to help me get whatever spare parts I need once I am in Cape Town. It may not look like a good idea to use the same brand of autopilot but after all the electrical work and troubleshooting I have done with my current pilots I am very familiar (more familiar than I would like to be actually) with the whole system. I have had problems with the pilots but it is not clear the cause of all of the problems. My support team does not believe there is anything wrong with the design or the way they were built. Some things just break. Saltwater may have been the cause of a few of the problems.
Even though one of my Coursemaster autopilots is working well, sailing from South Africa to Cape Leeuwin across the Indian Ocean without a backup would be too risky, so I will stop in Capetown. I would have liked to stop in Sydney and congratulate Jessica but Capetown is a more sensible decision all things considered.
I am a little nervous about getting into port. As I get closer to land I have to be very careful of ships and other boats, and then once I am there I have shallow water, kelp and other such things to worry about. It is not nearly as stressful to be in the middle of the ocean!
But it won't be long till I am back out here. Offshore, I mostly use my AIS WatchMate to warn me about the ships. As I get close to shore, I use my radar a lot more and my Watch Commander makes me check things often. Ships and smaller traffic are a constant concern as I get closer to shore. They scare me a lot more than 40-50 knots of wind and 15-20 foot seas.
Monday, April 26, 2010
I was on the phone with several of the guys on my team and we decided to try one last thing. I restarted the system, which is almost impossible when it's rough out - you have to put the tiller first to starboard, set that limit, then to port and then center it. The tough part is that to do this, you have to set it on the auto pilot display which is down below at my chart desk. By the time you've gotten down below the tiller is pretty much never in the right place. I have strings tied to the tiller and running around the poles on my dodger through the two little windows right down to my chart desk. I remember the first few times I had tried to restart the pilot without the strings set up, running back and forth millions of times and never getting it quite right. Anyway, this time after I did the restart and got things set up it worked!
It's working even better than it did the past week - no alarms have gone off all day! It looks like I'll be able to sleep in my bed tonight! I had been sleeping at the chart desk where I could keep a close eye on the pilot to make sure it didn't start steering me the wrong way. Who knows if it will make it all the way to Cape Town but it's working for now so I'm relieved and happy!
I've been working on a list of work that needs to be done and things that I need on the boat, like paper, more pens (I don't know what happens to them!) a hair brush, a kitten, my little sister, fixing my B&G instruments, a new GPS antenna, and other things like that. Nothing I couldn't live without if I had to but still nice to have. The thought of a hot shower is helping me with the thought of being on land, but while all of that will be nice, I haven't even gotten there yet and I am already looking forward to getting back out and finishing my trip!
It looks like a few people think that I am ending my trip in Cape Town. Just in case I didn't make it clear enough in the last blog, I am not ending my trip!!! I am ending my non-stop and unassisted attempt. I will continue on to hopefully become the youngest solo circumnavigator. Jesse Watson will become the youngest solo, non-stop and unassisted circumnavigator. The way I see it is that we both win which is great because neither of us liked being in 'competition' with each other. Go Jesse!
Saturday, April 24, 2010
It would be foolish and irresponsible for me to keep going with my equipment not working well. I'm about 10-14 days from Cape Town right now and though my auto pilot is working for now, we're all holding our breath and hoping it will last.
I gave it my best shot and made it almost half way around the world. I will definitely keep going, and whether or not I will make any more stops after this I don't know yet. I admit I was pretty upset at first, but there is no point in getting upset. Whats done is done and there is nothing I can do about it.
I know that some people will look on my trip as a failure because of this, and there really isn't anything that I can do about that. When you're surrounded by critics it can be hard to remember your own goals and expectations, you start to judge yourself by what other people are saying.
This is the experience of a life time. It's hard and sometimes down right terrifying, but I love it out here. My boat, my team, my sponsors, and you guys, my faithful followers are all great, and I am lucky to have you all on board. This whole trip came from a dream, a dream to sail around the world, and that is what I am doing - youngest or not, non-stop or stopping.
Friday, April 23, 2010
Today there hasn't been much wind and I was moving earlier but right now I have 2 knots and I am just drifting. I had a bit of a scare earlier today. I have had trouble with my auto pilot pretty much from the beginning of my trip and it hasn't gotten better with time. There seems to always be some new problem. As most of you know I am down to one auto pilot with spare parts for repairs but it hadn't been working all that great. It really seems like he had just gone insane - not correcting when I was off course, steering all over the place when I was on course and occasionally steering the wrong way. There is nothing like auto pilot alarms and accidental gybes at four in the morning to start off the day.
Well, this morning my auto pilot was acting normal - normal being pretty abnormal. I was fiddling around with it trying a few different tricks that usually help it to behave a little better but this time when I disengaged the auto pilot and put it back into pilot mode it didn't work at all! I could hear the engine trying to turn the rudder, but the tiller was completely loose. I could steer with my hand while the auto pilot was engaged. Long story short I talked to my team, tried a few things but it still it didn't work.
The whole time I was thinking about hand steering across the rest of the Atlantic Ocean... not a very nice thought. The great thing about auto pilots is that you can go round the clock, you don't have to stop the boat to sleep or eat, you just keep going. If I was going to hand steer I would have to stop at night to sleep which would make my progress much, much slower than it has already been.
Also, hand steering on a warm sunny day is great, but not so great in the pouring rain with no sun and weather that seems to always be extreme - either no wind or a storm. I can safely say I was unhappy about the whole thing, of course I did appreciate that it had decided to act up during day light. That doesn't often happen. In fact, the last time I had serious trouble with it was about 10 at night, I wasn't able to get it going again till about 6 or 7 the next morning, and the conditions weren't nearly as nice and calm through that long night.
What I ended up doing is wiring the main auto pilot hydraulic ram and engine in the back to the back up auto pilot brain box. And its working!! The new problem is that the transmission fluid reservoir for that ram has a bad leak. So now I'm working on getting the leak stopped.
I am also trying to wash off the notes of which wires go where off of my arm. I didn't want to forget while I was in the back as it is the kind of place that you want to limit your trips in and out of, not the most comfortable thing climbing in and out. While I was looking at the wiring diagrams, I couldn't find any paper, and the only thing I could find to write with at the moment happened to be a Sharpie. I'm a little sore, and a little covered in sharpie, but, extremely happy to be down in the warm cabin tonight instead of out in the pouring rain!
Wednesday, April 21, 2010
My dad and little brother, Toby, just did a boat delivery from San Francisco to Ventura, just a few days long, but they saw tons of whales, dolphins, and all sorts of interesting stuff. I've been at sea for almost three months and all I get is flying fish and squid! I got another squid on deck today. It's been awhile since there have been any.
I was surrounded by birds yesterday. There were tons of them all flying around me and Wild Eyes in a big circle. They stayed with me pretty much all day, but by the morning they were all gone.
Thats pretty much the highlight of my week, birds and a squid, the rest has just been gray and rainy with unsteady wind.
Sunday, April 18, 2010
Even though it's warm its grey all the time and it's been pretty foggy the past few days. I like grey, rainy weather, or at least I did back in California where there are rarely two grey days in a row! During my time down here I have had an overdose of cold and cloudy weather, of course, I'm probably going to be complaining about the heat and sun once I get home!
This ocean seems to be taking awhile to cross. Everytime I turn on the chart plotter it seems like I haven't moved!! When you're out here and waiting for something day after day after day, and it takes a lot longer then planned it's hard. But I'll be out of here eventually and be onto the next ocean! In the mean time I'll get some good work done on my book and get to read my three real books, over, and over, and over again! (that was a little bit of an exaggeration... I have a few more than three)
Thanks to everyone for the suggestions for book titles! I've been thinking lately about what to call it, but haven't had any great ideas myself.
PS Thank you also for the tips on repairing my Kindle. The charging port is corroded and nothing that I have tried has helped. It is just way too damp down here for non-marine electronics. My iPod has survived but I don't listen to it much and it has a Pelican case designed just for iPods.
Friday, April 16, 2010
There is something about heading the right way, even if you're not going all that fast and it's cold, wet, and gray. It's so indescribably awful to not be able to head the right way, or even drifting backwards. After one bad night like that it doesn't matter how fast you're going! Just as long as you are going the right way!
The wind should pick up a bit tomorrow and I'm hoping to get a few good days of easting in. Sorry there haven't been any pictures on the blog lately, I have been having some trouble with my camera. I'll get some more up as soon as I can!
My Kindle has finally broken. Right when I was in the middle of a good book too! I do have a few books I brought along just in case something happened to the Kindle, but with the way I read I don't think I'll have enough to last the rest of my trip.
I'm reading "Do Hard Things" by Alex and Brett Harris right now - it's a great book! I also just started working on my book today. I'm kind of having fun with it! I'm glad I'm staring to work on it now, I think it would be a lot harder to write it if I waited until I get home to start.
Wednesday, April 14, 2010
The swells are still pretty big, but they're beginning to die down a little. Just last night I had about 30 knots with gusts/squalls getting up to 45 knots. There has been a nice sort of pattern over the past week. I get some nice, steady wind for a day or two and then I get a day of calm weather to clean up and fix everything that broke in the rough weather.
Now that I'm done with my jobs I wouldn't mind a little bit more wind... I did finish fixing the wind generator and get a few other jobs done as well as going over everything on deck. It doesn't look like I will have much wind for awhile. Tomorrow will probably be about the same as today and not until Friday will the wind start to pick up much.
Things are getting a little bit dryer down below, but even though it's calm and getting right up to 60 degrees during the day things still take forever to dry. Must be the salt water.
A few days ago I got to see my whole family on Skype! I got to see my little brother Benny just before he went to bed but he wasn't in the best of moods. Of course, through the whole thing my brother, Zac, was in the background making faces at the camera - such a great big brother! It was really good to see everyone! None of that would be possible without the Thrane & Thrane Sailor 250 that allows me to get online. So thanks to Thrane for getting behind me.
At least I am getting some good nights sleep!
Tuesday, April 13, 2010
She has had a series of cold fronts that have brought pouring rain, heavy winds and gusts as high as 40 knots. Tonight's forecast is for 25-35 knots of wind with possible gusts of 40-50 knots. She is sailing under staysail alone tonight for safety, though during the day she carries a triple reefed main sail as well. She likes the speeds and the surfing conditions.
The guys over at Commander's Weather are amazing. Abby loves her forecasts. She says they are like driving directions. Their meteorological knowledge and routing experience have kept her with a nice balance of safety and good winds. She is becoming very knowledgable about weather systems and patterns...among many other things, especially electrical systems (thanks Scott and Jeff!).
Last week she had an email from Laura Dekker, the young lady out of Holland who is hoping to begin a solo circumnavigation this summer, Karen Thorndike, the first American woman to solo circumnavigate as well as keeping in touch with Alessandro di Benedetto, the amazing Italian solo circumnavigtor, and Jessica Watson, whom by now all of you must know!
Speaking from a mother's point of view, I have to say that although Abby wouldn't mind some warmer weather and sunshine, she is really enjoying her trip. She has passed from the honeymoon/thrilling phase to the reality/marathon phase. Every time I say to her that I wish I could transport her for the day to come home for some TLC - she declines the offer!
So rest easy dear bloggers. Our girl is well and hoping for a bit more sleep tonight. I know there are a lot of people praying for Abby out there. Tonight would be a good night to pray for her to have a safe night.
Sunday, April 11, 2010
I recently discovered that one of my wind generators had a few broken blades. I think a bird might have hit it, poor thing. Luckily, there was no wind at all earlier this morning and I was able to get out on the rack at the back and take the blades off. But now with the wind picking up I can't put the wind generator back together. So, I'm waiting for it to die down again.
It was sunny out all day which was a very nice change - sunny and 65 degrees! Even with the warm weather and the sun, getting things to dry out is really hard. At least the the roof isn't dripping from condensation any more! I'm also able to leave the door open more often now which helps a lot with airing things out .
Congratulations to Jesse Watson for returning to Australian waters. I can only imagine what that feels like. Just under 10,000 miles until I am back in the Pacific...
All for now,
Friday, April 9, 2010
Things have been pretty normal out here lately, I've lost my hair brush again, my boots are still wet, and I still haven't caught any fish. Since I don't have a whole lot to write about tonight I thought I'd answer some questions from the blog.
How is the school work going?
School is going alright although I actually haven't done much at all. There always seems to be something more urgent to do out here. I know sailing around the world alone may not really be the sort of thing that will help me when I get back to school or in college, but, I am learning a lot out here even if I haven't been doing much history and science.
What are you eating and will there be enough if the trip is longer then expected?
My food is pretty much all Mountain House dehydrated food with some dried fruit, nuts, energy bars and, of course, chocolate! I haven't eaten nearly as much as my mom, Kristi Morrell, my dietician, or Melanie from Mountain House thought I would be eating. So I will still have plenty of food if the trip is longer then expected.
What system do you use to get Internet, how long can you be on the Internet?
I have a Thane and Thane Sailor 250 satellite system to go online and I can go on pretty much go on whenever I need to. I get charged by the megabyte so I do have to be careful not to use too much. GMPCS has sponsored me for some of my airtime which really has helped alot so thank you again to GMPCS!
Well, its pretty late over here, so I'm going to get to bed.
Wednesday, April 7, 2010
My second auto pilot is working very well. It is exactly the same as my other auto pilot. If some thing does go wrong with it I have enough spares between the two auto pilots that I should be able to fix it out here. With all of the troubleshooting I have done, I know these things inside and out so at least I have that experience.
It certainly would be an uncomfortable ocean crossing if I had to hand steer all of the time, taking breaks to sleep every now and then. But I am sailing around the world after all and a little discomfort is to be expected. My team and I have thought everything through and feel very comfortable with how things are at the moment.
I've been able to head north a little more lately. It will be nice to get up into warmer water. I had been warned about the waters around South Georgia Island. I had been keeping a good eye on my water temperature gauge for any drops in temperature. Any sudden drops could have meant an iceberg in the area. The sea temperatures have been around 45F and the air about 50F during the day.
I haven't had any more ships now that I'm away from land. Being well over a hundred miles from any land, I can sleep with out worrying quite as much. I really do like being out in the middle of the ocean much more then being close to land. I'm pretty happy that I'll have a few weeks before I get very close to land again.
My hands and feet are pretty well healed from their cuts and bruises. You bloggers sound like my mom! And yes, I brush my teeth but it has been too long since I have had a warm shower!
Monday, April 5, 2010
So here I am now on my way. The winds have been unusually light but have now picked up to a nice 15 knots with Wild Eyes making around 7.5 knots headed almost directly east. I am waiting for the wind to shift to the NW so I can head more north.
I've been sailing along with a fleet of fishing boats since this morning. It was a little scary at first having fifteen big boats just a few miles away. They had all been going along in a pretty strait line following each other but now they've stopped and I just passed them. It was pretty cool to be able to actually see other boats and know there were other people so close. I felt a little like sailing over and saying 'Hi', but decided since they were fishing it wouldn't be the best idea.
There have been some rumors going around saying that I received assistance from my dad when we were trying to meet up around Cape Horn. I was a little sad to hear people saying stuff like that when I have written on my blog about how we were never able to meet up. My goal is to sail solo, non-stop and unassisted around the world but if I did need assistance I would be the first to tell you. It is not planned but if I end up stopping or if I need to get help, it's not the end of the world to me and I don't look at it as a failure. Many boats on round the world voyages need to stop for mechanical issues. Besides I'm out here for an adventure, and it wouldn't be an adventure if everything went according to plan. I would hope that my word is enough, but if it's not, my dad was on a boat with three other people who will all tell you what happened.
On a happier note, I got a lot done this morning. It was a little bit of a pain having no wind, but I was able to do a lot of work and get things all cleaned up down below as well as get a good hour of much needed sleep. Its been a hard couple of days out here. I haven't slept much at all being so close to shore and with so many fishing boats every where. My AIS is great and I love it most of the time, but lately it's been going off constantly. Last night I had 20 boats on the screen at once -it was a little crazy.
So, it was good to get a quiet morning and now things have picked up and I should be able to make some good progress tonight.
I know there are also questions on the autopilot repairs. I will send out an update on that soon. As of now though, I am not planning on stopping at Stanley on the Falkland Islands.
Saturday, April 3, 2010
Friday, April 2, 2010
I saw land yesterday for the first time in, I'm guessing, two months. The land I saw was Staten Island, just east of Tierra del Fuego and the Strait de le Maire. It was a little terrifying to be so close to land after so long as you are constantly watching out for it, but it was very exciting to see! It made me miss being on land a little bit... but not that much. I'm still very happy out here!
It's very exciting to have finally rounded Cape Horn and to be in a new ocean. It's great to have started another big leg of my trip. Repairs are going well. My water maker is working and so is my auto pilot, though we're still working on fixing my main auto pilot.
It will be nice to get up into warmer water and sunnier weather. Well, the wind is beginning to die again so I'd better go pull up some more sail.
I'll post some pictures tomorrow.
Thursday, April 1, 2010
After much long and lengthy discussion, Team Abby has decided that to be certain that everyone in the official yachting world fully accepts the fact, that you truly sailed around the world solo... we have decided you will need to sail around the world twice, just to prove to them that you indeed actually did it.
But... now, don't freak out... hear us out on this... At least on the second lap, you will be able to do it on the equatorial route where it will be much warmer. See, that's not so bad now, is it?
Now, we know that during this long discussion, the subject of pirates did come up, with everyone's concern that there is a real danger they might stalk and kidnap you for ransom somewhere during your second lap around in the equatorial waters. And we know that the possibility of pirates totally freaks you out. So, as a solution, Scott offered to put in a call to his friends he knows in the US Coast Guard, (he has had many encounters with them, usually on random boat safety inspections where he regularly gets written up for not having any of the required safety items, but that's another story) and managed after much whining and pleading on his part to get them to agree that for the portion from the eastern Mediterranean Sea, where you will enter the Suez Canal, and all the way across the Indian Ocean, and past Malaysia where Zac had his close encounter, they will follow you with either a Coast Guard Cutter, or a US Navy Destroyer, but always keeping a distance of at least a nautical mile, yet remain close enough where you could call them on the emergency VHF hailing frequency if you see any boats approaching you suspect maybe might be pirate boats. (Them flying the black skull and crossbones flag is usually your first clue, so watch for that.)
I know, this sounds like a really big deal, but they assure us it really isn't because the Coast Guard and Navy already have ships on station in the Indian Ocean, and they are bored out of their minds because the pirates are really hard to find... and they figure that Wild Eyes would be a lot like honey attracting bees... it will draw the pirates out so they can capture them just before they get to you. But, it get better... since they know you are bored out of your mind at times as well, they have agreed to tutor you, via the VHF radio, in all that school work you have been so carefully avoiding on your first lap around the world. Just think, with the Coast Guard sailor's help and encouragement, you might actually get through your freshman year of college too!
And, just in case the pirates slip by the Coast Guard and manage to kidnap you anyway, we have started a PayPal fund, managed by Jeff, to raise the ransom money we will use to buy you back. Jeff reports that so far, he has raised $38, which we all feel should be plenty of money, we hope.
See, so it's not looking so difficult after all is it? Think of all the benefits... a tan in the tropics... lots of (hopefully cute) guys, just a little older than you, to chat with for days on end. Who knows who you might meet?
Anyway... enough about the benefits... We at Team Abby just wanted to let you know, as soon as we made the decision, that we thought a second lap to assure everyone that you actually did sail around the world would be necessary, just to be sure, and that we have made every and all arrangements that you would be safe doing it... and we want you to know...
... that since today is April 1st,
Yuk, Yuk, Yuk, from Team Abby. We really had you going, didn't we? No? :-(
You are doing great Abby... keep it up! And, you really really only need to go around just once....