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.