You’re going … Where? New Route.

So The German returned two nights later, having hitchhiked back to Las Palmas without any money, even managing to get two bus rides for free! I told you he was resilient… He stayed with me for a few nights, before I had explain that the boat was just way too small for two people to be living in. I’m not sure where he is now, but I suspect he’s probably living in a really nice house somewhere… Rent free.

Las Palmas has been kind of getting on my nerves. I have some things coming via mail, and I met someone in the Sailors Bar who said I will need to hire a customs agent to get the package released. I tell you, bureaucracy makes me so mad, my face goes red just thinking about it. There is little I can do but wait, so wait I will… I guess I chose a good place to be sitting around twiddling my thumbs though. It hasn’t been all bad, I just think I’m frustrated with not knowing when I can leave, and sitting here waiting feels a lot like being becalmed on a sunny day. I think I have some kind of nervous personality that insists I must always be on the go…

Last Friday, I met two British sailors, Richard and Carole who emailed me a couple of weeks back, writing, “Nick, we’re flying to Gran Canaria for a holiday, we’d like to meet you!” to which I responded “Of course, tell me when and where!”. So on Friday I finally had the opportunity to meet them, where they shouted me lunch at my favourite bar, where we talked about sailing, Australia and my new route plan. Thanks guys! I also met a Psychologist named Ariel in Triana for Gran Canarian potatoes and local beer. Yeah, I know what you’re thinking, “Nick should have seen a psychologist months ago”, but really, he was a very nice chap who contacted me via Couchsurfing.com, which is a great place to meet people from around the world if you’re ever stuck in a strange place. When I was house-bound in Berlin, I had Surfers in and out of my apartment like a supermarket. It’s like traveling without leaving home! Cheers Ariel!

So, I’ve been sitting around scheming, looking at my lovely new Ocean Routes of the World book, by Jimmy Cornell, which was graciously donated by Vera, in Belgium. I’ve been wanting a copy of this book for so long, but I was never really able to afford it. Thank you so much Vera! Up until now, figuring out when I can do passages has been a result of walking around, looking for someone that knows what they’re talking about (which is in itself a challenge) and asking a lot of questions (that’s not entirely true, but it makes for a good narrative). If I’m not asking people when the best time to cross an ocean is, I’m shuffling up to strangers in dark streets, trading waypoints written down on cigarette papers for my next port of call. I actually navigated down the coast of Spain with a map a teenager made for me on a napkin. The conversation was something like “Oh, yeah that pointy bit (Finisterre), uh huh, yes, round that, follow the fishing boats, look to your left for pilgrims waving on the hilltop and then go straight”. But now, I’m a competent ocean sailor because I’m armed with a book who’s tag line is “Featuring nearly 1000 sailing routes in all oceans of the world”. Even if you don’t sail, I recommend this book just to read on Sundays afternoons. It really has the potential to be a dreamy coffee table book, but without any pictures of minimalist furniture or Zen gardens. Perfect!

Now you’re squirming in your seat, wondering… Wondering where Nick the napkin navigator will take his mighty bathtub next? Cape Horn? Oh sure, why not? What about the Northwest Passage? Speaking of the Northwest passage, has anyone noticed there have been no singlehanded voyages up there by small sailboat? Find me a sponsor and I’ll bolt some steel plates onto the bow and do it! Anyway, who put this enormous continent in the way of my route home anyway, it’s so irritating (I suspect I’m not the first to have such feelings)! Maybe I should just go South right now, hop around the bottom of Africa and start a mining conglomerate in Perth? But no!

After consulting the book I’ve been so excited about, I’ve unfortunately come to the conclusion, that I’m too late to go through the Panama canal when I reach the Caribbean and start my Pacific Adventures. Not that I could actually afford to transit the canal anyway, but lets forget finances for a minute… I refuse to let cyclones or transit costs ruin my day, so with that in mind: I’m sailing past the Statue of Liberty instead. Hot on the tail of my fellow Contessa aficionados in BIKA, I’m going north, back into latitudes that don’t make me so incredibly lazy. If I’m not in 39N/S+ degrees of latitude, “siesta” means 9am to 5pm, with sleep on either side. My landing point in the Caribbean will be ‘high up’, in St Martin. I hear there might be opportunities for work there, where I hope to get a job for six weeks or so, while I wait for spring to warm things up. After re-stocking the kitty with Pirate treasure, it’s non-stop to New York City, where I’ll pan-handle on 5th Avenue for funds, as the next part of this trip takes us overland (unless my Northwest Passage sponsor shows up!). Overland to San Francisco, so I can sail under the Golden Gate bridge, to Hawaii and then on through the Pacific ocean; waypoint Melbourne, Australia. My Mum told me the interior of my boat looked like a Caravan (she doesn’t yet know how taboo that comment is!!), and so Constellation will actually live up to her interior, becoming an Airstream for ten days, as she hurtles across America, taking part in the greatest road trip of all time. View my projected route below, and click on the image for a pretty display – This version assumes I take the Canadian route which I’ll talk more about below:

(Wow, I have a long way to go…) But why New York? Well, why not? I could doddle around the Caribbean for awhile, or I could take affirmative latitude action, and add a roadtrip to my voyage while I’m at it. I have friends and family in New York, and a wedding in Vancouver in August, not to mention more family on the West coast in Oregon. Everything points north, what can I say? Ultimately, whether I stay in the Caribbean or go North, makes little difference to the overall scope of this trip – Both ways, I can’t start the Pacific until later in the year. I have no idea how this circus will be funded, but I left Amsterdam with six raisins and a bottle of drinking water filled from the Markemeer, so one can only hope my angels will follow me across the Atlantic and beyond.

So the logistics of this change of plan, will mean I need to leave St Martin in May, bound for New York City. It could become easier to take my boat overland through Canada, spending some time in Vancouver working, and as such, I have made my Canadian work permit application. Thank you America for making your immigration system so difficult to understand, I can’t even muster the energy to try and decode it. Are there any beautiful and inquisitively intelligent American women that want to get hitched in Nantucket, whaler style? In exchange for your American citizenship, you get Australian. If you have dual citizenship with… Japan, China or Canada, I’ll even throw in EU citizenship for you. Your proposal doesn’t have to be particularly romantic – If you like walks on the beach and pre-nups (no, you can’t have 50% of Constellation), that’s good enough for me!

Clearly the goal of today is just to leave Las Palmas, but right now I’m simply waiting. You’re probably wondering about what I actually need to do for my passage… In a nutshell, I need to stock fifty days of food and water, finish purchasing some items on my spares list (windvane rope, spare impeller etc etc), buy my charts, look at a five day forecast and get the heck out to sea. I’ve been hocking my charts and pilots online so I can actually afford to buy the information I need for the other side, and this week I might be able to afford a North Atlantic chart, Caribbean Almanac and projected landfall charts (I asked a local kid to draw me a map of the Caribbean, but he just looked at me funnily and sped off on his noisy scooter). I really wanted to follow the route of Christopher Columbus, but after quite a bit of research (involving an actual visit to his house, here in Las Palmas!), his route isn’t actually that great (I think his GPS must have fallen between the cushions of his couch, next to the Playstation controller), and is under a lot of dispute anyway. It’s a shame though, I was going to call my crossing ‘One degree away from the discovery of the New World’. Well, I thought it was an amusing idea…

Anyway, back to drawing squiggly lines on my globe, and calling them “possible sailing routes for 2008”.

This post was carefully crafted at sea level, nick.

18 Comments

  1. Brad Cole

    Nick,

    Been following your posts for a while now and I think if I was younger I would love to tackle a trip of this magnitude. My wife and I will be in St Martin on vacation from Denver, Colorado USA in late April, the 22nd -28th. If your there at that time I’ll buy you dinner and beers in exchange for a look at Constellation and your company. If your interested reply to this and good luck on your crossing!

    Best Regards,

    Brad

  2. Tony Two Times

    Ocean Routes of The World has inspired you to go overland ? You can’t be serious. Are you serious ? Really ? Overland ?!?! Do I smell a new website in the offing – bighighwaymaritimecaravan.com ?

    You’re not serious.

    T.

  3. Patric

    why if in fact you are able to cross Canada why would you not sail at least 1/3 of the way to Lake Superior. I read of many sailors sailing around the world, and they all have such great passion, I’m not reading it here.

  4. Danny

    I’ve been following this undertaking for the past little while and I don’t think this is a bad plan at all.
    Of course I, being one of those pesky Vancouverites, may be a tad biased.

    homeward bound by whatever means. enjoy your trip where ever it takes you
    however it takes you there, congratulations on making it this far Nick

  5. Ha! I’m glad this change of route has created some controversy. Sure, I’m absolutely serious. It’s funny how some people now think it’s a cop-out to go overland… As if going through a dirty manmade canal is some kind of pure way to sail. As far as I’m concerned, overland is more interesting, more exciting, unique, and everything else, than going through that canal. In fact, I think it’s probably more sailorly, because overland is tackling a problem with a pragmatic solution.

    Therefore, any sailors who want to complain about my route, are only able to do so only if they have circumnavigated via the great capes, or done something of similar magnitude! If you’re just sitting at home, floating matchboxes in your bathtub, come back to me after completing you’re own epic journey!

    As for sailing through Lake Superior, sure, maybe that is possible, but at the end of the day, I need to take a break and earn some money somewhere along the line.

    Did I get offended for being told I didn’t have ‘great passion’ by a stranger? Yes.

    nick!

  6. Patric

    Not trying to rain on your parade, but are you aware that the US laws for entry into the States have changed as of this January, as well to work in the US and Canada you have to apply for work permit before you lands on the shores. In the Us you are put into INC if you don’t compy no qyuestions asked. In Canada you can be detained as well but mostly they just watch you. There is such a chap right now who landed on Canadian shores who thought he could apply when he got here and was told he has to apply outside the country. He is being watched all the time. The Coast Guard checks on hm every other day. He has been warmed if he works he will be detained. The small fishing community is helping him out over winter at which time he will be heading across the North Altantic. So I would advice plan well, not to mention its a long way to truck a boat to the west coast as well.

    best of luck

  7. Ben

    HaHa passion!

    You seem to have attracted a real specimen couchsurfer in the dungeons of your respons pages. I hope you don’t miss the passion in my respons, but I would probably track his IP and put the dogs on his ass. Or otherwise be a wise man of the sea and look the other way.
    take care and good luck. Go over land why not. Read Tristan Jones, he took his boat over the Andes and through the amazone jungle. It can be done. But don’t be fooled, he was a brilliant idiot.
    One hot tip form Amsterdam: In case you really get a serious passion-deficit, try http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OhcnfadmUm0
    but don’t tell Patric.

  8. Pedro Mengas

    Dear Nick,

    I keep defending the route we discussed in Minde, Portugal: Canary, Cape Verde, Brasil, the return to Canary for second thoughs.

    In alternative, I sugest you to sail a lot around Caribean up to April, then sail slowly up the coast of the US making a lot of stopovers. In August you will go to the marriage and then you sail down (once more, slowly) to the Caribe. Then you think: shall I go through the Horn and sail the Wonderful South America? Or shall I cross Panama by land (much shorter than the US) to make fun with the Canal Pimps?

    Cheers

  9. Crusty

    No bathtub here and I keep my matches dry, for sparking up.
    If you want to see North America by land, why not? Why the hubub? I don’t think you specify if you will be shipping or towing Constellation? I could probably find you a second hand boat trailer for $800ish bucks up here (with some creative welding needed perhaps) and maybe find a beat up truck around $2000. (sheer guestimating). Sounds like an adventure and you could sleep and cook on Constellation. My only personal bias, is that the Canadian route is boring as hell, flat and empty. Very unattractive landscape. Far more interesting and pretty route on the U.S. side; though crossing the Rockies might prove a challenge. Remember too, that gas is over $3/gal here, which adds up fast. What’s the pro shipping cost? Then you could follow by train; a great trip. I once did coast to coast on a greyhound bus, cheap and you can get on and off whenever you want. I think you get a 3 month pass on a fiance visa so you can make up your mind on saying I do; maybe we could work something out =) if rainy parade is right about the new laws. its been more than 20 years since I last got one of those for a furiner, so I’ve not exactly kept up with the regs. Why don’t you start simple. Get your ass in gear and get across the pond first. That french girl must be pretty cute; the way you are hanging around in port so long!

  10. Exactly, why the hubub? I have no idea. If there is a problem with my route, there is this neat tool called Google, and you can search for people who travel on more agreeable ones.

    Anyway, my overland idea has more detail, but it’s under wraps. Crusty, are you Mormon, can I marry you and some other women to extend this three month thing, say four fold? Do let me know.

    As for the French girl, as much as I’d like to tell you that was my reason, the reality is, I’m just waiting for Spanish Post.

    Hohum, nick.

  11. crusty

    forgot one thing. pedro your suggestions are heartfelt, but second thoughts are for old guys, not young impetuous lads like nick! he can barely retain one thought at a time..two are out of his realm!
    sailing south from nyc to the carib in august is not the most brilliant suggestion. nick, check yr email for my rules on marrying. not a mormon, but you can swing all you want; sounds like you could use a bit of spice today…buck up sweety; it will all work out.

  12. Tony Two Times

    Awww now look what you guys went and done. Nonetheless this is a cool social experiment in interweb inertaction.

    Nick I admire what you are doing and am totally jealous but before you start labelling your audience, whom you’ve never met, as couch surfers and matchbox-floating-bathtub dwellers you might want to consider that your new overland mission may not exactly ring true to the name of the website.

    No hate feller. It’s your journey after all. But when you open yourself up and choose to go large on the internet Truman stylez you gotta expect both positive and negative.

    P.S. What are the chances of an invite to yours and Crusty’s pending nuptuals ? I’m not really an arse. Just too blunt sometimes. I promise.

    T.

  13. Tony2Times, i never labled my audience… I’m the one in the bathtub, and I have nothing against couchsurfers, I’m one myself. I actually don’t know what you’re talking about.

    As for my new overland mission not ringing true with the name of my website… Well, I never made a binding promise to the strangers that read this site, that I wasn’t allowed to go or sail where I wanted to…Besides, I’m still crossing two oceans, and still going from Europe to Australia, so what name were you referring to?

    Anyway, I’m actually baffled why anyone even cares, to be honest. As I said before, if there is such a big problem with my trip, there are *real* sailors on the web too, and I’m sure they’d love the additional readership!

    Anyway, now I’m taking Ben’s advice, and turning the other way.

    n.

  14. Tony Two Times

    It’s the interweb mate. Don’t take it to heart. That was my point. Besides, you’re a much more *real* sailor than me at the moment.

    T.

  15. Nick;

    Enjoy your blog and highlighted it in our podcast Messing About In Ships (episode 10). (http://messingaboutinships.com).

    Also paypal’d you a few bucks for the great entertainment value you deliver. Have a beer on me.

    Thanks for keeping alive the long tradition of seafarer storytelling.

    Fair Winds,
    Peter

  16. Anthony

    Hi Nick,

    Have been following your exploits with great interest over the past few months. Wish it was me! Think the road trip is a good idea. Gives your adventure an interesting flavour.

    Good luck…

    Carpe Diem!

    Anthony

  17. Willem

    Hey Nick,

    Singlehand sailors and Canadian Bacon are an execllent match.
    I think it’s a great plan with and it is an nice opportunity to meet some whales near Vancouver.

    Take care,

    Willem

  18. Ian

    Actually I thought it was a good idea. Everyman and his dog does the Caribbean and Panama route.
    I met an Irishman who went through the Great Lakes then put his 36’yacht (lifting keel) on a train to the west coast. Unforetunately I don’t have any further details.

    Cheers

    Ian

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