If you've been following this madness for any amount of time, you'll have noticed I'm always broke. There are a few generous sponsors on the right hand side of this page, and numerous individuals who've helped me out, but life hasn't always been rosy on the high seas. Work has been a constant issue, and living in the USA hasn't helped - I'm not on a work visa, and so working here is difficult. I won't go into the technicalities, but trust me, the American visa situation is a maze beyond my cognitive abilities. So when I stumbled across a job that would let me work from anywhere, talk about sailing, and be part of something exciting, I was happy beyond belief. So if things around here have seemed a little quiet, I guess it's in part to being preoccupied with a job (a nice change). Say hello to Bluemapia.com, and say hello to a bunch of my photos and videos, geo-referenced all the way from the UK to New York:
Bluemapia is a social networking website dedicated to documenting the globe with photos, videos and useful information for sailors. It's the place you go to when you're wondering what an anchorage actually looks like, or are curious to find other sailors who've been to the places you're interested in yourself. I'm under zero obligation to talk about Bluemapia here, but I actually think it's cool enough to warrant a mention - So if you're interested, sign up and let me know what you think!
For those not in the northern hemisphere, the cold is definitely upon us. I managed to mostly avoid winter last year by sailing south, but unfortunately Constellation is utterly land bound, and in dozens of pieces this winter. I fear I'll forget how she goes back together; there seem to be pieces everywhere... Nights on the boat have been cold and uncomfortable. You can (sort of) get away with a tiny boat if you spend the majority of your time outside, and only sleep inside. However, when it's too cold to be out and about, life becomes slightly maddening. Last week I had a terrible case of cabin fever, and dearly wanted to strap the anchor to my foot, and jump into Long Island sound - As you know, I work on a computer, and with Constellation being such a small vessel, with such a tiny amount of room, trying to be productive onboard for hours a day, is a terribly difficult task (to understand what I'm trying to express here: Try doing your job in a space 8ft long, 5ft high, and 6ft wide, with a computer on your lap). I know I know, there are a ton of staunch small vessel boat owners out there frowning right now, as I tell it how it is: Small boats are great for sailing, but having lived on one for 1.5 years, my patience is waning...
As for that trucking idea (constantly on my mind), it seems this economic issue has diminished the Australian dollar to such an extent against the US dollar, those dreams of overland travel seem to be getting costlier and costlier - As if it wasn't expensive enough already - Sponsorship is also now a dwindling business, when companies have better things to do with their money (like pay employees), than help Australians with questionable methods of travel...
You're all yelling 'Panama Canal, Panama Canal' in your heads right now... I can hear you from here: But as far as I'm concerned, it's a terribly normal way of getting around the continent. Not to mention the demoralising problem of sailing over your own wake - Miles gained in a small vessel are painfully gained, and going backwards is soul crushing. The whole overland thing was an idea to do something a little different; something unusual and self-propelled. If you're one of those that think going over land is 'cheating', I think going through Panama is even more so - Tens of thousands of people died for that canal, not to mention all those political issues behind it. In my mind, there are only three legitimate ways of getting around the continent, using your own means: 1) Cape Horn/Straight of Magellan. 2) Overland. 3) NW passage. All those are out of the question in a 26ft boat, except for #2, or of course Panama. Going the Panama route has its own set of obstacles beyond any ethical reasons, and one of those is time: The season to head back to the Caribbean is after the hurricanes, and before the winter gales. That time is right now. However, sailing right now is completely out of the question. I get a lot of email saying 'hey, why have you stopped sailing, you should keep going!' and the answer to that, is there are seasons to sailing - You can't simply sail whenever your heart yearns for a new port, as romantic as that sounds. For example, if you want to cross the Atlantic from Europe, you have from late November till about May to do it (from the Canaries). To sail south from north east USA, you have the first two weeks of November to leave. To cross the Atlantic from the USA, you can do it in May or June, etc etc. So if you miss those dates, you more or less wait for the next season - Ok yes, it's more complex than that, but that's the crux of it.
So I feel it's all a really telling time right now, to work out how things are going to move forward. I seem to have several problems, and few answers... I have considered other options, such as selling up for more livable boat and traversing Panama regardless, but how that could be achieved I have no idea, without adding several years to the voyage. But, if you'd like to own a Contessa 26 in New York, I'm all ears. Haha!
A big hello to John of Yatton in North Somerset ;)
This time last year, I was in La Coruna, Spain.