Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Cape Horn at Last

I rounded Cape Horn today!!

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

Update from Home Base

Just a quick update from home base...

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!

More tomorrow....

Marianne (aka Mom)

Monday, March 29, 2010

Another Day at 56 South

Its been a pretty nice, normal day out here. The wind has been a little lighter. I've had about 25 knots all day occasionally picking up to 30-35. I've been making around 8-9.5 knots with just my little stay sail up! I had been worried that pulling down my whole big main sail would decrease my speed quite a bit, but I was happy to find that it hardly slowed me down at all and is making it a lot easier for my auto pilot to stay on course. I have been gybing at least twice a day as Wild Eyes doesn't sail well DDW (dead down wind). It means that instead of making 200 miles of progress each day, I am sailing a little off course all the time and making more around 150 miles on course. A little frustrating but not much else to be done.

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

A Pretty Good Day

Things have gone pretty well today. I've had about 35 knots and 20 foot seas. It's supposed to die down a little tonight but pick up to a nice 30 knots tomorrow. The autopilot has been doing great. I had a few problems with it this afternoon and was a little terrified at the thought of another night without it but it only took a few minutes to get it fixed and now it is running fine again. Salt water had gotten onto some of the wiring of the remote pilot which was messing up the connection.

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!


Auto Pilots and Washing Machines

I had an interesting night Thursday night. I had some problems with my auto pilot. I spent a few hours in the middle of the night in the tiny aft compartment trying to figure out what was wrong with it. I spent the rest of the night hand steering waiting till day time to give my team a call. It was really a very miserable night outside with freezing waves crashing over the boat, pouring rain, and 30-40 knots of wind. Not the most fun conditions for being outside hour after hour after hour.

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

Some Good Progress

Last night the wind picked up around midnight. I was in a squall with about 30 knots for awhile and then it died down a little but stayed at a nice 20 knots for most of today. A nice change from the past few days! I had full sail up because of how light the wind has been recently. It was a little crazy in the pouring rain, pitch black out getting all reefed down. It only took a few minutes but my beanie got soaked through! Its my favorite one, and its quite upsetting to have it all wet and cold!

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

Rocking and Rolling

Another day of hardly any wind. I'm just rolling around barely moving. If it weren't for getting so close to Cape Horn I would probably be pretty miserable right now! I should be at the horn by Monday as long as the wind picks up soon. I'm so excited! I can't wait to get down there. It is such a huge milestone. My dad is planning on coming down to 'visit' either by boat or plane so that will be really great!

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!


The Furious 50s

I have just left the roaring 40s and entered the furious 50s! Of course, I have about 7 knots tops right now but I am sailing along at about 6kts. Not all that furious... but I've still got a ways to go so I wont start getting impatient about all this calm weather yet. Its a bit uncomfortable out here at the moment. I'm going pretty slow and we have 15ft swells right on the beam, rolling around like this makes every thing hard to do.

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

A Knock in the Night

Today has been a pretty quiet day with not a whole lot of wind. I'm just slowly headed towards the horn. Yesterday was pretty much the same until the evening. Last night was a little exciting. The wind picked up to 25-30 knots with a large swell that unfortunately was on my beam. At about 2 in the morning, I was asleep down below when I woke up a little dazed, wondering how my dishes that were kept in the sink had made it all the way into my lap all the way across the cabin!

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

Prepping for Weather

Another cold, grey day out here - if 55 can be considered cold? I've got about twenty knots of wind, but am heading east and not heading there all that fast.

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

St Patty's Day Gale

Well, things Have started "roaring" a bit to day. Its actually not really roaring, more howling. I'm in my first real gale right now!! Just a small one, with the wind about 35knots and some nice 10-15 foot or so waves. Its been cloudy and rainy all day long, but the sun came out tonight for a few minutes just before going down making a very pretty sunset.

Its not exactly the type of weather for running around up on deck but it looked so nice out tonight that I suited up to go and take a 'quick' picture. I ended up out there for a good long while. It was very wet out there and before too long I was quiet drenched as my hood kept blowing off letting every wave that hit go right down into my jacket. So, I'm not exactly happy with all the pictures I ended up with but my fingers were too numb to push the buttons on the camera!

After being outside for a while the 60 degree cabin feels nice and warm. Sixty degrees isn't all that cold but when it is when you've spent most of the past month in 100 degree weather, so hot you can hardly sleep at night. Going from that to 60 degrees in three short days really makes it feel absolutely freezing! But the nice thing about cold is that you can always put another jacket on!

In answer to a question from the comments, no, I don't have an Eskimo suit :) But I have something close!! A survival suit. Its big, orange, like a full body life jacket and impossible to move in. Its for if I decide to go for a dip down around Cape Horn. As of now, I have no plans for using it, but just in case! I also have lots of different kinds of layers thanks to Patagonia. I even have some high tech wool that Steven Mann said was the best of all.
As far as the weather goes, tomorrow will be the day to decide what course to take over the weekend. Tropical Storm Tomas that formed SE of Fiji is headed south and at this point if I am on a collision course with its mighty remains if I continue SE. The conditions where we are supposed to meet on Saturday night or Sunday morning are 50-60 knots of wind and seas to 30-40+ feet. I'm sure that Wild Eyes and I could handle it if we had to but if we can avoid it, we probably should. That isn't all that is going on down here. I still need to get south quickly after that system passes because there are more fronts on the way.

For now I'm having quite a bit of fun in this gale. Everything about it seems so much better than a nice calm day (in its own way, calm days are nice every now and then too!) All the noise, the waves crashing over the boat and water getting right up to the window as we speed along!
Happy St. Patty's Day!


Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Now This is the 40s

Things have been going well out here. Unfortunately, I don't have very steady wind but I'm still managing to make some progress. Its starting to get really cold! Its still quite possible that I'll be up on deck reading a book when rounding Cape Horn, but I'm beginning to think that while out there I'll be in an Eskimo suit...not a swim suit.

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

Into the Roaring 40s

I'm into the Roaring 40s!! I crossed over into the 40s late last night. The skies didn't turn black, there was no roaring wind or crashing seas, no pouring rain or anything else. In fact, all there was to hear was the occasional flogging of my sails as the little bit of wind I did have faltered in and out.

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

A 200 Mile Day

Its been a lot of fun out here the past few days. I've had around 30 knots, I'm headed almost right for Cape Horn, and I'm going fast!! Yesterday I got up to 16.6 knots! Today has been a little lighter but not much. Though doing any work is pretty difficult and it had been gray and rainy, I'm really enjoying everything out here.

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

Notes From Team Abby

A few members of the team got together this morning to answer some of the technical questions regarding Wild Eyes:

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!

Team Abby

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Small Blog and Photos

Just a quick blog tonight. I have made good progress today in great winds. I have 30 knots out of the N which is good for making progess SE. I have to dig out another propane tank and fix a new leak in the water ballast but I will get a longer blog out tomorrow.

Swells are picking up.
A wet ride today!

Still a beautiful sunset.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Windy & Sunny

Today has been sunny and windy. I've got 12-15 knots coming out of the NE and I'm surfing down the swells going a nice 8.5 knots. It was pretty cloudy this morning but cleared up in the afternoon and was a really nice day.

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


Beautiful sky
Well, I've avoided another storm that I thought I was going to get into. Commander's Weather have been doing a great job keeping in me out of the contrary winds. Even though I had been looking forward somewhat to my first gale out here I guess its better for the boat that we missed it.
I had been stuck in a frontal zone for the past several days which is why I have not been sailing south but east and even north. If I headed south I would have ended up in strong S and SE winds. The wind has shifted to the NW now but I will keep sailing east to stay in these good winds as long as I can and then duck down to the SE, towards Cape Horn, hopefully Thursday. The weather down here is always changing and always brewing up some kind of trouble. I'm around 2500 miles from the Horn now and I'm getting super excited to finally be doing this!!
Other than counting down the miles to Cape Horn daily, there hasn't been a lot of excitement out here. Its rained almost all day long the past two days so I've been staying down below a lot. So things are pretty normal and time is flying by out here.

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

Raining and Easting

Its been cloudy and raining for most of today. I've got a good 15 knots of wind and am making around 8 - 9 knots. Everything on board is ready for the bit of rough weather that I might run into in the next day or two. I've had to use my engine for charging for the first time in about a week. It had been really great being able to run off solar and my wind generators only. I'm hoping I don't have to run it too often. My wind generators are great when there is enough wind, but it takes a lot of wind to get them generating enough power.

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

Heading South and a Bit East!

A bit of wind!

The winds shifted around so I've stopped heading SW. I can now head SE which is a big relief, I was beginning to get worried about running into New Zealand sometime during the night! Well, I'm not really that close to New Zealand, but it feels good to be heading more directly towards where it is that I'm supposed to be going.
The winds also picked up to a nice 15 knots. I'm finally moving and going at a steady 8 knots. The past few days I had been going about 4 knots which isn't exactly standing still but 8 knots is the kind of speed where you can look at the speed gauge with out feeling depressed!
It has gotten really cold out here recently. It must be all the cold fronts that are around here bringing cold air from down south. Last night it got down to 70 degrees! Seventy degrees probably doesn't count as "really cold", but I did have to put a jacket on! Its been really nice having it so much cooler out. Its made everything a lot easier including blogging. It had been so hot and miserable down below that I just ducked down below to write my blogs real quick and then was back outside dumping buckets of water over my head! With the cooler weather I've been able to spend a lot more time down below now, and its been nice.
Most everything on board is working at the moment, so I haven't had a whole lot to do. I've been working with Scott, from my team to try and sort out some small auto pilot problems, going over every thing everyday as usual, and tossing the occasional flying fish back into the water.
I still haven't had any luck fishing and I really haven't seen any sea life. I'm a little surprised by how little sea life I have seen so far. When I first left Marina del Rey, hardly a day went by without having dolphins playing around the boat. Around Cabo I saw a few whales but since then I haven't seen a thing. I do know that there is something out there, as I am on my third fishing lure!

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

Video Blog #1

Okay, not sure if this will work. I'm sure you'll all let us know!

Thursday, March 4, 2010

Good News and Bad News!

Good news! I found my hair brush! I had been thinking about dreadlocks, they would definitely be easier out here... but, I don't know, I guess they're just not really my thing. Forks work very well for brushing hair. When I was sailing down the east coast with my dad and brother I forgot a hair brush and had to use a fork for ten windy days, but my hair was a lot longer then, its easier with my hair as short as it is now!

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

Happy Feet!

Today has been a very slow day. I haven't had over 5 knots of wind all day and its been coming from all over the place. My clothes survived the night outside, they even made it through a squall! Its all safe down below now.

Wild Eyes does really well in light wind. In 5 knots we were doing about 4kts, but its not going to be fast enough to get me to were I needed to be to use the cold front to push me down to the Horn. Luckily there is another front coming on Monday or Sunday, so I should be able to use that.

I was doing some cleaning today (again) and I found the book I had been reading! I keep on misplacing it. This time I was quite sure it was gone for good since I hadn't seen it since Cabo. The book is the Hobbit. Its not really the type of book that I usually would read but a friend gave it to me way back when I was in Rhode Island picking Wild Eyes up and its really a good book!

Now, if the wind will just stay coming from one direction for more than ten minutes, I'll be able to find out what happens to Mr. Baggins and the dwarves!


Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Weather & Work

Cool shot...

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.