Adventure

The last two years in 45 seconds

I recently noticed cobwebs developing on my website when I saw the last published date was July, 2015, almost two years ago. The acceleration of time over the last several years has become more and more noticeable... My inability to update this site has perhaps been a combination of not feeling that I have anything adventurous to post about, an unconscious concentration on other social platforms, (blogging has become unfashionable, apparently), a difficult period in my personal life and a move interstate. The promise of a short film 'The Voyage of Harmony' had a setback with the unusual corruption of video working files and the parallel failure of my backup. I'm usually extremely good with keeping data safe (it's part of what I do) - thankfully I was able to retrieve my work eventually, however unfortunately it demoralised me in the process. I do however plan to have a first cut ready for screening at the Adventure Travel Film festival in Bright this summer.

I've always dreamt of living remotely faraway in my own home - this was achieved late year when I moved to the end of the earth: Tasmania, Australia.

In all my travels I had always wished I had a 'base' to come home to, a place to recharge and dream from. If you are ever in Tasmania, get in contact, I'd love to host you.

I've been working on a small shipping container cabin, made from a 20ft container which was already on the property when I purchased it. I hired a crane, moved it onto pillars and started work. I will do a full blog post on this little project when it's finished.

Within my the main business where I spend the majority of my time, we made our first (small) acquisition and bought a Brisbane-based company - this was a strategic purchase primarily for the infrastructure. I then went on a roadtrip to pickup a van full of servers and bring them back to Melbourne for deployment.

I've also been working on various side projects, including small-scale manufacturing and product design, something I've wanted to do for a long time but never had the space or the resources. I became obsessive about industrial sewing machines and industrial fabrics, eventually putting a small label to market. This work has slowed recently for lack of suitable workshop space, however I'm working towards resolving with the above container studio.

In August 2016 I did some drone work for a chef on Satellite Island, a private island in Tasmania.

Satellite Island, Tasmania from nickj on Vimeo.

Adventure-wise not a whole lot has been happening, with my energy dramatically funnelled elsewhere - primarily into the projects above, my work and other more personal things. Although I have some plans!

2016/2017 has been full of dramatic adjustments, although I'm beginning to feel whole again which is perhaps why this post has materialised after two years. I have other projects and work under wraps, which I will write more about soon!

The Good Ship Harmony, Car vs Drones

This year I've been quietly trying to finish a short film on crossing the Pacific in SV Harmony in 2013, which has proved more difficult than anticipated. To keep me motivated and usher it along, I've created a short trailer for the project:

Between working on Serversaurus, and moving out of the city to live by the ocean as a means to spend more time surfing, I recently worked on a Vice Creators Project called Car vs Drones, where I led the drone team - here is a behind the scenes documentary:

The final piece:

This was a big budget production, directed by GMUNK and shot at Docklands Studio 1, here in Melbourne over the course of two days, with a series of custom made QAV400 quadcopters and 8 drone pilots.

Land voyaging

Soon after selling Harmony, I felt a pang of captivity - owning a boat is as much about enjoying being out on the water, as it is a symbol for something freer. Unable to own a boat for the foreseeable future, and being land-bound, I decided to buy an old Toyota Hilux which in my mind is a little bit like the land equivalent of a Contessa 26: Relatively small, cheap(ish), underpowered, as capable as anything in the right hands, and bulletproof. After a few solo weekend adventures across beaches and into the high country, I assembled a motley crew and headed off to South Australia - one of the few places where you can drive along the beaches, and really get away from it all. These are some images from our adventures across the sand and salt.

In the spirit of boating, my Hilux is named Heidi. MV Heidi to be precise.

Bon vent!

Interviews & Harmony for sale

My dear ship Harmony is currently in Sydney harbour, and I'm now open to all reasonable offers for her purchase. I can't afford to keep Harmony in Sydney endlessly, nor can I bear the worry of her being on a mooring unattended when I'm not nearby. It's time for her to be taken into the hands of someone enthusiastic who wishes to sail away on a great adventure. Full photos, and details are available on my for sale page. Get in contact and make any offer.

In other news, I was recently on TV for the Adventure Film Festival in Bright a few weekends ago, where Between Home was screened.

I was also speaking on ABC radio with Richard Stubbs - interview embedded below:

American Samoa to Australia

15nm out of American Samoa, the wind died, and the sun set. The forecast showed zero wind for the next several days, and I was forced to start the engine or drift. I started up the engine at nightfall, and Chris attempted to sleep through the racket, as I sipped coffee and steered into the shore lights of Samoa. Everything happens slowly at sea, especially when it comes to making landfall. When in the deep ocean I have the odd sensation of feeling very safe, yet carry a deep underlying fear at the same time. Near land, my fear turns into pure anxiety and practicality - suddenly there are mistakes to be made where things can become very bad, very quickly. There are objects and signs of humanity to navigate around - both physically and metaphorically, as things become seemingly serious again. The dreamscape of an ocean fades to be replaced by the mixed joy and madness of civilisation rapidly appearing over the horizon.

Nearing the entrance into Pago Pago, the confusion of night compounds as our digital charts become more and more useless. Buoys don't correlate with our reported position, and breaking seas seem alarmingly close. I pull out of the entrance and circle around, as Chris pulls up another set of charts to navigate on. Finally things begin to make sense, as we pass big green markers with numbers matching the numbers Chris is yelling from the companionway.

To port the golden arches of McDonalds appear, and as we motor deeper into the large, protected harbour, we end up downwind to the SeaKist tuna cannery. Each landfall always has a unique smell. I recall rounding Cape Finisterre in Spain, to the smell of fish and woodsmoke, or the sweet smell of dirt and flowers while arriving into Western Samoa five years ago. This time it was a combination of fish oil, McDonalds cheese, and diesel fumes.

It was 6am and I hadn't slept all night. We dropped anchor, to be woken up at 7.30am by the sound of electronic church bells. Reluctantly waking up, Chris and I dropped the dinghy and rowed ashore for breakfast. With nothing but the McDonalds open, we found ourselves overlooking the harbour, drinking hot coffee and eating egg muffins in chilly air conditioning. Part of me was disgusted, yet another part of me secretly enjoyed the dry conditioned air and greasy food, after months of incessant equatorial heat and steamed rice.

We spent our days in American Samoa eating lots of bad food, as if to make up for lost time at sea. While rowing across the anchorage I bumped into an old friend I'd met years earlier in Tonga. He'd made the Pacific his home, and lived easily as an American citizen in the US owned island. We hung out, went to night markets and waterfalls, traveled around on colourful buses with large sound systems, and waited for good weather.

As the days meandered on, the smell of the cannery lessened, and Chris and I became increasingly bored. We were burning through what little cash reserves we had, and it was just one more ocean passage before we were home. Frustratingly the weather didn't want to cooperate. We waited and waited, slowly ticking off jobs each day, until we bit the bullet and left on a less than ideal forecast.

By late afternoon Samoa was but a distant island on the horizon. We'd amused ourselves for a couple of hours by sailing out of the anchorage. Making dozens of tacks from cannery to McDonalds and back until we were out. The weather was idyllic and we thought a nice easy night was in front of us to ease us into ocean life again. Unfortunately soon after nightfall we were reefed down and howling south by southwest.

Resting on watch, the radio came alive asking if we had a visual. Chris and I both flew out of the companionway to see another yacht less than a hundred meters off of our starboard side. While I stayed below shouting into the radio for them to veer away, Chris took the helm and pointed us hard to port. The vessel next to us refused to make course modifications, and I have no doubt that without taking action we would have collided.

The following week howled and we decided due to wind direction to sail over the top of Fiji. Passing over the top and down towards New Caledonia, light airs arose, and we began struggling for every mile. Some days we made less than 30nm, as we fought to knock miles of the large MILES TO GO numbers on our GPS readout.

As Chris fiddled with the shortwave radio receiver for news of the football grand final, I watched the GPS with a combination of delight and sadness. Another voyage was coming to a close as each minute passed, and I knew full well it was going to be a long time before another one would be on the horizon. Chris and I had spent hours and hours in the cockpit of Harmony talking about our next trips. Our next adventures. Our dreams. Being at sea is like having a license to dream big. The limitless horizon makes everything seem possible. On land there are a million obstacles right in front of our noses, physical or otherwise, which horizons simply don't render.

The meditative days of staring at waves on an infinite horizon were soon interrupted when Chris decided he wanted to get off the boat as soon as possible. We were headed to Sydney, but Coffs Harbour was our closest landfall. After all these days at sea, Chris didn't feel he could make another few days to Sydney, and so we headed for the entrance lights of Coffs Harbour, the port I had sailed into on my last voyage. As if to taunt us, the wind died again, and we lit the engine again for a long night at the helm, watching tiny lights become increasingly larger along the Australian east coast. By 4am, Harmony lay at anchor with her quarantine flag flying in a light northerly breeze. We'd done it. In less than three months, Chris and I had sailed a really long way, tackling broken booms, rudders, electrical storms, gales, dragging anchors, sharks and the insanity of equatorial doldrums.

At 9.30am we sat in the cockpit as Australian Customs & Quarantine read us our rights. Because of our change in arrival ports, we hadn't provided the mandatory 96hours arrival notice, and now faced hefty financial fines. I had a strong sense of deja vu, and I wondered why on earth I had decided to sail another boat into Australia. Each and every time it is fraught with nothing less than bureaucratic hell. Chris and I sat for an hour to questions about our whereabouts, our prior travels, and whether I had lived in Illawarra before. Customs & Quarantine had some kind of full personal report on each of us, and they prodded and pried to see whether we would lie and tell some kind of misinformation which didn't correlate with whatever file they were looking at. I was furious. After months of freedom and pure adventure pulsing through our veins, we listened to useless bureaucratic verbiage flow across the cabin, as I tried to focus my mind towards the distant shores of Suwarrow. I wanted to turn the boat around and head off to anywhere but home. I wanted to escape the cascading misery of bullshit which modern man continued to put up with through never-ending inertia... For all the modern wizardry and shoulders we stood upon to be here, my blood boiled at the lunacy of it all - the sharp change in experience from living life on the high seas to the madness of arrival was really just a bit much. But I calmly answered each and every question. I complied and played the game because there was nothing to hide...

My fury slowly diminished as I hired a broker to handle the importation of Harmony into Australia. A process which could have taken up to a month, involving complicated quarantine checks ended up taking less than 48 hours - it was a completely different experience to when I imported Constellation four years ago. My initial anger was soon replaced by joy - Harmony was imported, Chris and I were safe, the paperwork was all signed and delivered, and soon friends from Sydney flew up and generously treated me to lunches overlooking the harbour. Days later I was at my desk and it felt as if I'd never left.

It's extraordinary how uniquely adaptable we are - this adaptability being both a positive and negative trait. Without our immense ability to adapt, we wouldn't be able to go off and do ludicrous adventures in small boats, nor put up with the insanity of modern life - it's a double edged sword. And so today after a month and a half of city streets, it's life as usual: The sea is a distant memory, the phone rings, I field dumb questions, and tell the same stories over and over again. I'm enjoying the safety of life aboard land for now, away from a sea of endless abyss and the constant fear which is secretly relished...

It is the end of this chapter, with my dear boat Harmony already up for sale... But a great joy exists in the deepened knowledge that a moment at sea, is more real than a thousand moments in a world contrived by others.

Marquesas to American Samoa

We hauled anchor out of Hiva Oa, raised the mainsail, and keenly watched our repaired boom under full canvas. Was that flex? How much flex is too much flex? How strong is this wood boom compared to the original aluminium extrusion? Who knew. Powering downwind between Hiva Oa and Tahuata, we spotted a sailing boat in the distance, as it vanished into an inlet on the lee of the island. With good wind and several hours of daylight left, we decided to meander around the corner and see what the anchorage looked like. On approach the masts appeared, along with a small white beach lined in palm trees and crystal clear water in the foreground. This was the Marquesas we were looking for. After over a week of rain, a heaving anchorage, and a long row ashore, we simply had to stop.

With the anchor down in clean azure water, the anchor chain was visible and arched all the way to the sandy bottom. I jumped overboard for a swim. Any sailor worth his weight in bronze, is constantly on the lookout for anomalies. Checking, listening, watching parts move, halyards potentially chafing - a keen eye and ear for trouble. I swam around and checked the rudder. Two large cracks along the cheeks had made themselves apparent, and flexing the rudder by hand expanded the cracks. Unfortunately this was a fairly serious show-stopper. The three most important things when sailing, are to keep the mast up, the water out, and the rudder on. Making things even more difficult, we were now in a fairly remote anchorage without access to any parts. Chris and I discussed our options. Can we pull the entire rudder off underwater, haul it up on deck, and re-glass it? If not, what could we achieve with the boat in the water? We decided we needed large stainless rod, and some kind of flatbar to make a repair good enough for us to continue on.

Our new friends from Hiva Oa on SV This Boat, Jim & Amy, happened to turn up later in the morning, and I rowed over for a second opinion. Jim said 'I can give you as much help as you need, just let me know when' - tomorrow? Sure. But we needed stainless rod. Jim mentioned that Suzie, an Australian from another boat in the anchorage, would be returning from Hiva Oa via the cross-island ferry. We got a hold of Suzie's number, and texted her over the satellite phone. Yes! She would stop by the hardware store and pickup what we needed. Later that day, poor Suzie, who had been running around picking up things for everyone, arrived, holding the exact parts we needed in her hands. We woke up early, Chris had freshly baked bread ready, and I cooked our unrefrigerated bacon, scrambled eggs, and percolated coffee.

We spent the entire day in the cockpit with hand drills, tiny useless electric drills, blunt old bits, and hacksaws, making our repair. To get working room on the rudder, we placed Jim's dinghy on the bow, and filled it with water. This provided enough weight to lift the stern up high enough to work. Without the required flatbar, I scarified the windlass handle, sawed it in half, and completed the all-day repair. Fairly confident in our work, we weighed anchor the following day and set sail for the Tuamotos, halfway between the Marquesas and the atoll of Suwarrow.

Eyes on the boom. Was that flex? Eyes on the rudder. Is that crack expanding? No. We sailed on, becalmed just few days on. Bobbing around, books read, bread and brownies baked, the days drifted by, the mainsail slatted and banged - both damaging to sailor and to boat. Being peacefully adrift in the middle of the ocean, is one of favourite parts of any passage (granted the days don't turn into weeks!). We bobbed for a day and a half, the wind returned, strengthened, and gusted to 30 knots for two days. We howled downwind, fully reefed, a poled jib, and everything seemed to be holding up.

Fast asleep, the sure sound of breakage on deck. What have we lost now? The entire mast? Chris and I jumped up in seconds. The telescopic jib pole decided it wanted to collapse on itself, the jib flapped; nothing serious. The Tuamotos neared, only 60nm to the south. A strong SE wind was still blowing, and we pulled down a forecast to see how long it was supposed to last. The forecast showed strong winds for the next five days, and we desperately looked at our distance from sunny French atolls, and contemplated the alternative of solid wind onto Suwarrow. Being inside an atoll in strong wind is rarely pleasant, and we could make Suwarrow in 7 days with good wind. We changed course, and headed due west without stopping.

For days the wind blew, and we started doing our best 24 hour runs in terms of mileage - 120nm, 130nm, 140nm. One hundred short miles from Suwarrow, the wind backed, and I wondered if we would end up becalmed so close to paradise. However, the sun set, and 16kts of breeze appeared from nowhere. The following day, masts appeared in the lee of Suwarrow, and Harmony danced through the reef entrance inside the tight inner passage, and shortly our anchor was down once more.

After fourteen days at sea, we jumped in amongst the reef sharks and swam ashore. An imposing Cook Islander stood on pier Tom Neale allegedly built. He asked for our paperwork and to come ashore with passports. I was slightly taken aback - I hadn't mentally planned for immediate bureaucracy. I actually had no idea Suwarrow was a clearance port.

Coconut trees, swings, the 'Suwarrow Yacht Club', a book swap full of terrible paperbacks. A statue of Tom Neale, and cleanly swept sand paths. Charlie, the second ranger on the island handed us drinking coconuts, 'welcome to my island, this is my home'. It was his home, until he was 12. He even claims that Tom Neale was a fraud (spending only nine months on the island), a womaniser, and father of 29 children. I still don't know what to believe.

We swam, waited for the breeze to return for our departure, fished with Charlie for Wahoo and Tuna, visited outer Motus (the small islands inside the atoll reef), circumnavigated the tiny island by foot, collected fishing buoys, and for the first time on the voyage, had a moment to enjoy the hard work it had taken to get there. I arrived in San Francisco in May, and it feels like the work hasn't stopped since.

Today we are in American Samoa, re-provisioning, waiting for wind, and enjoying our brief stop amongst a people whom I think are the friendliest in the South Pacific.

Our next stop is Australia.

San Francisco to Marquesas

At 5am on June 12th, after a night of seeing off our really great San Franciscan friends, both new and old (you know who you are!), we moved over to the fuel dock for final pump-out, and to meet Rob during his graveyard shift at West Marine to pickup a fish drying net and say goodbye. Rob looked at the forecast on his phone, and said 'you know it's going to be 25kt winds and big seas, right?' Yes… But between the delays and our departure anticipation, even a gale couldn't have put brakes on our imminent departure. Motoring out of Richardson's Bay, the Sausalito waterfront was glassy-flat. As the tide dragged us out and under the Golden Gate bridge, a large tanker steamed past to port, as we trailed the edge of the shipping lane out to sea, where we would make our left turn. The seas rose, and before long, Chris and I were taking turns at laying on the cabin floor in our wet weather gear, rather miserable.

One of the (many) jobs before departure, was to replace a de-laminated tiller. I ordered in a new one, not possessing the time nor tools to fashion one myself, and stowed it in the bow. Wanting to keep the nice new tiller only until the other one was completely broken, seemed like a fair idea. I injected epoxy inside the joints, and secretly hoped I'd never have to use the new tiller at all! Three hours out of the Golden Gate, the connection onto the tiller from the windvane, over-stressed the lamination, and the tiller rapidly began to pull itself apart. Instead of attempting an at-sea repair, I decided we'd sail the 4 hours into Half Moon bay, and repair things once and for all. While happily rolling at anchor in Half Moon bay (which is where I actually departed for Hawaii from in 2009) in 22kts, I fondly remembered clam chowder bread bowls, raft ups, and Dungeness crab with friends, just four years prior. From now on, departures from San Francisco will always include a Half Moon stop. We made repairs to the boom, met a nice chap named Jim who was sailing his boat south with his pals Fleetwood Mac the following week. He handed us a hip flask of Moonshine ('rumsky = half whisky, half rum) for our equator crossing, and we motored out into the anchorage once more for an early departure. Finding an old cray net in the trash, we threw the net over the side, and surprisingly caught a large crab for dinner.

Departing without a hitch in fog, we drifted out of Half Moon, and into the open sea. Before long a shark was spotted, a NOAA research vessel, a whale, and we were well and truly off in a light breeze. As the days rolled on, winds increased, but we had our sea legs, and life aboard started in earnest. Harrowing moments included the discovery of floating bilge boards at 3am, due to the cap of the speed log coming loose. Another involved a Windvane modification which led to the loss of a critical screw and steerage one dark night. Thankfully we had a spare and soldiered on.

After a week of fairly strong winds from the NW, we began getting hints of the NE trades, which began pushing us towards Hawaii. Downwind sailing is a miserable point of sail, and I decided to stay on a broad reach, until there was enough east in the NE trades to tack due south towards the equator, and into the SE trades. This tactic more or less worked, however we ultimately perhaps pushed too far west. This made things difficult after finally finding the SE trades, as we ended up hard on the nose in full trade conditions once they were established.

From about 20deg north, conditions were light and variable, mostly due to a depression/possible hurricane in the making 600nm NE of us which was destroying the wind pattern. The cheap secondhand spinnaker I bought didn't last 30 seconds before colourfully exploding at the seams. So we were unfortunately left to do what we could with just a mainsail and 130% jib. One of the prices you pay for rapid preparation time and limited funds, is having to make do with what you have. Other than the absolute necessary gear, Harmony (much like Constellation) was really just setup for bay sailing, with some minor modifications (windvane, solar, liferaft). Crossing an ocean with just a jib and mainsail can be a real pain, and I have vowed to never leave again without a gennaker, and light air jib (drifter). Lack of sail area definitely contributed to our slow passage of 37 days from San Francisco to the Marquesas. With all that said, it's possible to sail with most any sail combination, because I'm writing to you from French Polynesia.

Soon becalmed, and baking in the hot sun, we decided to take turns jumping off the boat. Tentatively, jumping in with a mask on, and gazing at the surreal and endless blue ocean below, the feeling of swimming in the warm azure ocean after three weeks of being cooped-up in our small boat was idyllic. Soon dolphins showed up, and we jumped in again, watching the dolphins from underwater, as they dove and darted through rays of watery sunshine below our boat. With a camera mounted on a pole, Chris jumped overboard so I could take some footage of him surrounded by dolphins. Hurriedly he jumped back into the boat exclaiming we were surrounded by yellowfin tuna. As he threw out lures, I loaded the footage off of the camera - and to my amazement, we'd just shot the most extraordinary footage. You'll have to wait till the short film we're making is finished!

Becalmed on our second day, Mahi swam around the boat, and Chris tried aimlessly to catch them out of pure boredom and hunger. Swimming around they refused to bite a hook, eat a sardine, or get tricked by a lure. Eventually, Chris decided to make his own lure, and with much optimism, threw it overboard. To my surprise, we had a big Mahi on deck just minutes later. To prove it wasn't a fluke, he hauled another in, before I had to have a shot and hauled yet another into the cockpit. Eating one with rice for dinner, we salted the rest in our drying rack for another day.

The ITCZ was wide, and we crossed through it without the engine. We did engine for 15nm at one stage, but only because the engine was required to recharge our batteries after a week without sunshine - I figured if I had to listen to the stupid engine, I may as well make some ground. 1200nm out from our landfall, in moderate seas and flukey winds, we rolled one too many times with a crashing main… This led to the sound of whizzing sheets and crunching on deck. I flew out the companionway and shouted the bad news to Chris: THE BOOM HAS SNAPPED. Headlamps on, we tided it all up, furled out some more jib, and went down below to ponder our situation and try to get some more sleep. I think we both lay in our bunks for the next several hours contemplating a fix, and the ramifications of the break. At daybreak, squalls rolled in for six hours before there was a dry spell, eventually giving us the opportunity to get on deck and sort the mess out.

The boom had broken due to corrosion from a stainless vang yoke, which was attached without due caution (anticorrosive grease/plastic separator). We cut out the break, made repairs to the mast-end of the boom, and re-connected everything. We had what looked like a fully functioning boom, with one caveat: It was now four feet too short. This only allowed us to run a fully reefed main. With the first reef, or a full, we had to run the main completely loose-footed, sheeted via a yoke system onto stern cleats. This destroyed our upwind ability, and made reefing very hard. Yet, when you're sailing in remote oceans, there is no complaining or blaming to do - only repairs to keep positive forward motion at all cost. If one seeks independence and self-reliance, then one must take the good with the bad.

Just 3 hours after making repairs, immensely strong wind started blowing up from the southwest. Before long it was a genuine tropical gale. Very strong winds in excess of 35kts blew, as we lay hove-to with a fully reefed main upon our tiny jury-rigged boom. For 6 hours it blew, throwing up an awful sea. Exhausted from working on deck all day in rolling seas already, we lay in our bunks absolutely and utterly miserable. The next day we were still exhausted, the seas and winds still in a less than perfect state, and we opted to lay hove-to for a full 24 hours before the southwest winds subsided and began blowing from the northeast again.

Pushing on, we finally broke through the ITCZ and into the brisk SE trades. Having not really felt good solid wind for weeks, the SE trades were both a godsend and a bit of a shock. Suddenly we started doing 120nm days. Then 140nm days. Even with our jury-rigged main, we powered south, and spirits rose as we started knocking off real miles again.

The night before our landfall, running 4 lures off the stern of the boat, we hauled in two perfectly sized tuna. Chris sliced up sashimi, served with Wasabi and lime. Happily sitting below with headlamps on, the GPS showed just 40nm till landfall. A large moon rose, and the southern cross became clearly visible in the night sky. Everything was going to be ok. We'd made it. After 37 days at sea, and many adventures, two guys in a small boat sailed into Hiva Oa, to the sounds of roosters, superlative mountains, and circling Frigate birds.

Transpacific Preparation

Unfortunately I haven't had the mental energy to create any long-form content on this blog, so a lot of updates over the last month I've been in the States preparing have just been short updates which are quick and easy from my phone onto my Instagram, Facebook and Twitter feeds - I suggest anyone who is truly keen on following this to keep up to date on those mediums. I arrived on the 7th of May as scheduled, with only a small hiccup in transit in having to buy a return ticket for Jetstar to fly me out of the country, as I'd only purchased a one-way ticket on an ESTA visa. For anyone attempting this in the future, you must have a return ticket when flying into the USA on an ESTA visa, even if you will be departing the country by boat. The only way around this is to buy a fully refundable return ticket... And get your refund after landing (and retain proof of your exit by boat).

After a long flight from Melbourne->Sydney->Honolulu->Oakland (the cheapest route I could find on low cost airlines), Ronnie cooked up a late night storm, and I stayed with my pal Adam aboard his Cal 2-27, before he flew off to the east coast. Without any transport or method to actually get up to my boat I was a bit stumped as to how I would get up there with all the equipment I was carrying. My friend Rob, (of Rob & LaDonna fame) soon offered to drive me up to Napa so I could begin work on Harmony, and get her down into the Bay Area for further work and equipment. After four days, Harmony was moved into the work yard, her bottom sanded, painted and other minor jobs attended to before launching and setting off for the Vallejo Yacht Club where I was nicely put up on the guest dock for a couple of nights.

Before long I was across San Pablo bay tearing into the work aboard Harmony at Loch Lomond, receiving tremendous help and generosity from Rob & LaDonna, with tools, spares, help with a myriad of jobs, lots of tea, transport, cooked meals and hilarious company (R&L were also pivotal in helping me prepare Constellation and set off four years ago).

I decided this trip wasn't going to be singlehanded, and my friend Chris whom I sailed from Palau to Darwin with in 2010 is joining me on this voyage. Chris flew in last week, and since then we've been finishing off jobs, visiting Sausalito, and waiting on the final bits and pieces to arrive.

Thanks to support from Southbound Solar - if you need panels and sound advice, talk to Rob! Harmony also sports a Windpilot Pacific, rapidly shipped out of Hamburg to San Francisco by Peter @ Windpilot, and mounted with a custom stainless fabricated bracket I designed with cardboard and a biro, magically made into reality by Marin Metalworks.

We're currently waiting to depart for our liferaft, new tiller, spinnaker, second jib for downwind-twins, and vessel re-documentation paperwork. We'll be doing our big provisioning shop next week, and we hope to leave as soon as possible for the south pacific.

Some pics lifted from my Instagram feed.

Off to cross the Pacific

On May 7th, 2013, I fly out to Sydney, Honolulu, and then Oakland, California - this is the cheapest way to fly one-way to the USA. I'll get a really cheap week-long rental car, and head up to Napa, and start prep-work on SV Harmony. We'll then sail down into the bay to see friends, mount solar panels, re-do some of the electrics, seal some windows, source and mount a windvane, and head off across the Pacific, again. It sounds so simple, but the devil is in the details. Dozens and dozens of small problems need to be solved, equipment needs to be sourced (I'm desperately seeking an affordable Monitor Windvane, by the way), funds need to be scrounged, and many unknowable variables still exist. However, eventually, it will all culminate into a new adventure beyond the Golden Gate, and into the uncompromising Pacific ocean. We're bound for Sydney, approximately 7500nm (13,890km) away from San Francisco.

This voyage will have very few stops, and I may sail with friends this time, depending on how everything works out. All my possessions I own of value are for sale, because as usual, I'm broke on both money and time - another voyage sponsored by Visa & Mastercard. This old adage:

"To be truly challenging, a voyage, like a life, must rest on a firm foundation of financial unrest... Voyaging belongs to seamen, and to the wanderers of the world who cannot, or will not, fit in. If you are contemplating a voyage and you have the means, abandon the venture until your fortunes change. Only then will you know what the sea is all about." -Sterling Hayden

I created some original sailing tshirts and put up a little shop - coins raised from this will be used to stock SV Harmony up with canned stew, popcorn, and eggs - the diet of champions. 10% of profits go to Sea Shepherd, because I've sailed the Pacific before, and the commercial fishermen have won - there is nothing left. Someone has to take a stand, and I'd like to support in some small way those people.

tshirts

Rest assured I'm still working out what to do with Constellation, but I don't have any firm plans thus far, although this voyage has taken precedence because leaving SF is seasonal, and now is the time.

I'll be posting more often closer to the date, while in San Francisco, and perhaps on passage if I can figure out how to do it affordably. In other news, I needed some adventurous inspiration so I put together a little ocean adventuring Tumblr page.

Push on! Nick.