Costs

Entry, Constellation for sale

Nearing Australia, I saw another sailing vessel and radioed to ask if they knew whether Customs ran 24hrs or not. The radio crackled, "Customs? Where are you coming from, over?" ... "Tonga" ... "Tonga? Please repeat, over", "Tonga, in the south Pacific" ... "Oh." The message was relayed to the VMR station, and thankfully Customs awaited my arrival, as we flew into port at 7kts with a racing tide behind us. I radioed again to await direction, as you must be invited into harbour, you cannot simply sail in. I was given the all clear, and sailed in. Several people saw the yellow quarantine flag, and for those that knew, they realised I had come a long way. Some waves from other boats and many strange looks. I motored around and berthed, the Customs agents said "where is your welcome party?" and I said "You're it, make some noise!" ... And so after nearly two and a half years, Constellation was firmly tied up in Australian waters. There was no one I knew in Coffs Harbour, and so my arrival was like an arrival anywhere else... Somewhat lonely. In fact, it was much like my "official" departure from Holland, where I simply slipped the lines, said goodbye to the dockmaster, and began my 28,000km voyage to Australia in a small boat. Maybe it sounds a little sad to some, but actually, I think there is something mildly romantic about the idea of departing and arriving quietly, as if by secret from long voyages. It reminds me of Bill Tilman, undertaking enormous trips through Greenland, only to arrive as if nothing had happened a few months later and tying up at his berth in Lymington.

As Customs searched my boat, removed a lot of my food and a few trinkets, I watched on slightly nervously. Not because I had anything to hide, but because it's strange having someone go through your home. Everything was wet or rusty, but eventually the paperwork and search was over, and my latest problem arose: The tax and import duty on Constellation. I hadn't planned for such an expense - I thought I had 12months to go through the process, but apparently that wasn't the case. So the very next day, I was on the phone, calling, emailing, and researching the problem. By 4pm I had a customs broker working on the case, and 4 days later Constellation was imported. I had no money for such a thing, but, through the graciousness of friends and their credit cards... Constellation officially became Australian (well, from a tax perspective!).

Jack the filmmaker arrived some days later to sail south with me and film, but after all the tax problems and stress of the whole ordeal, I had to get off the boat and go home... So, on a train we went, and rather quickly, we arrived in Sydney. It's amazing how much faster you can get places, when you travel at speeds faster than 4kts...

So what's next? I don't know. Well, that's not entirely true, but, in regards to Constellation I'm not sure. I sent out a Twitter update a week ago exclaiming she was for sale - And she is. Many people messaged and said 'No, you can't sell her!' But unfortunately, that's really how things must end. I can't really justify the expense of putting her in a marina so she can be sailed around the bay on sunny weekends in summer... It's sad, and I wish I could just build a museum for myself, and put her in it, but alas, unless the six figure book deal and equally profitable film distribution arrangement appear from nowhere, that's it. The sale from Constellation is also what will fund part of my future ideas and projects... So for anyone interested, you can contact me, or just out of general interests sake you might be interested to see what's onboard in her for sale listing. Presently she is on the east coast of Australia, tax paid and would be suitable for an Australian, New Zealand or European buyer because there is nothing else you need to hand over for governmental revenue collection...

Tomorrow I will fly sail at 600kts upwind, and be in Melbourne for a month while I sort myself, my finances, and everything else out...

nick.

We're going west, Overland trip abandoned

Campaign Progress

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of the required placemarks

I'm still rallying people to help Bluemapia support my voyage across the Pacific - ! Click here to find out how to help Bluemapia support my Pacific crossing, and also learn how to win a brand new SPOT messenger. If you haven't already, please read this post and help me get across the Pacific!


There is an awful lot going on. To summarise, Constellation is being trucked mid-next week! So it's all go go go... ! Unfortunately my dreams of riding that enormous bike Lee Winters gave me, have fallen through. It's a long story... But, it basically came down to bureaucracy and time, so we're heading west as per the plan next week without further delay. Remember, I need to be ready to make for Hawaii by early May. The boat will need to be re-assembled on the west coast, which will be quite a big task alone, and I suspect there will invariably be some teething problems due to the modifications and added gear that's now onboard.

Jack the filmmaker arrives tomorrow from Germany, to keep the (figurative) celluloid rolling, and Monday week I fly out to Denver, Colorado... After which we will drive the rest of the way to San Francisco to meet Constellation on the other side. I had such grand and wild plans for this overland voyage. Remember, I was going to ride a bicycle... Do work for charity... There was a big list of things I had planned. But reality caught up with me, and those things fell through. It's disappointing on the one hand, but on the other, it just means I'll have to come back at some stage, and stay true to my word.

Constellation is coming along beautifully. I'm getting so much help with everything, it really still amazes me... I will write a proper parting letter detailing what wonderful things have been going on before I leave, but in short, John the engine mechanic (who has since been given the name 'the engine whisperer') managed to get 'August the mighty Yanmar' running again. There still seems to be some starting issues, however John, being a true engine whisperer, believes it is fixable. Personally I'm getting close to the point of throwing it in the trash, and buying a sculling oar, however, I will give the whisperer the benefit of the doubt, and let him whisper... Poor 'August', the tiny one cylinder diesel... He just wasn't built to go around the world... Thank you John, I hope the next time we meet in earnest, all engines will be perpetual motion machines with only one moving part. Until then, keep whispering.

Mari, a true gentlemen and endless supporter of fine boating electrics, my antics, and this entire project, continues to help out on anything and everything. I'd be lost without Mari, but he requires an entire post (soon to come) to even scratch the surface of his extraordinary spirit and assistance.

Instead of writing to you from the cold port bunk of Constellation, I'm actually living in luxury. I came back to Long Island in winter, and Walt the Salt has put me up in a little house just minutes from the marina. I have a big warm room all to myself, in a nautically themed cottage. Not only that, but more often than not, Walt cooks a big dinner to keep the fat on me, for the upcoming period of month-long ocean passages, powered by cheap pasta. Everyday I come home and ask him questions, or get advice on the best way to do things. Imagine having a boating magic eight ball in your back pocket... That's Walt...

I turned 28 last week, and today marks 550th official day this voyage has been underway. That doesn't include the year I spent paying for, and working on the boat in England... Jack wrote me a funny email the other day, and said I'd told him on camera that I expected the voyage to take between 'six and nine months' ... I nearly fell off my chair in laughter! But here I am, on the greatest adventure I will probably ever have, propelled by the nicest people I'll probably ever meet... And what crazy hard fun this all continues to be...

I recently had an opportunity to talk with Peter Mello as part of his podcast. It was a fun interview, and I really appreciate him taking time out to talk to me. You can listen to the interview here. Peter also gave me time to discuss the Bluemapia sponsorship proposal, as well as an opportunity to talk about Bluemapia as a whole, which was very nice.

So, as always, thank you to everyone, and I'll try to write again before we keep heading west.

Always west.

nick.

Sailors, I need your help - Win stuff!

Campaign Progress (read below to see what these numbers mean):

of the required users
of the required placemarks

As avid readers will already know, I went back to Australia for a couple of months to see family, and also to work in order to pay for all this madness. I managed to get quite a lot of work done, and was able to put together enough money to truck my boat across America, as per the plan. However, past that... The budget doesn't allow for much else. That all being said, there is a way out of this, thanks to the founders of Bluemapia.com - The same company I've been working with, for the past several months. They've put together a sponsorship package which will provide me with the much needed funding to cross the Pacific this year - However, in return I need to achieve certain goals on the Bluemapia.com website. To briefly explain, Bluemapia.com is an online web application which allows users to freely sign up, and contribute sailing related media and information. The concept hinges around user-generated content, termed 'placemarks'. A placemark is a piece of information (photo, text, video etc) directly related to a specific point on the earth (a waypoint). My goals are to get 300 new users on Bluemapia.com, and 600 new placemarks. That might seem like a lot, but it's not - There are thousands of monthly viewers reading this website, and a large majority of them are sailors - You already have the knowledge, and I'm kindly asking you to consider putting it on Bluemapia.com to help me out, and also to help build up a phenomenal sailing resource. It costs nothing to signup, and everything you submit is Creative Commons licensed - That means it's yours forever.

For all your help, and if these goals are met... I've organised some cool stuff to give away: Through my own volition and unrelated to the Bluemapia.com sponsorship arrangement, I'll be giving away a prize each to the top three placemark contributors. They're all solo sailing related, and will be shipped to wherever you are in the world (including the three great capes!):

First prize - A SPOT Messenger - Update your position via the push of a button, to notify your friends and family, while also publishing it live to the web.
Second prize - Four sailing books every solo sailor (or, for that matter, every sailor!) should own: Sailing Alone Around the World by Joshua Slocum, Maiden Voyage by Tania Aebi, The Long Way by Bernard Moitessier, Alone through the Roaring Forties by Vito Dumas.
Third prize - Sailing the world alone - A DVD documentary on the 1994 singlehanded BOC Challenge.

To take part, assist in my passage across the Pacific, and contribute your sailing knowledge to Bluemapia.com - Sign up and start adding placemarks. A counter will be added showing how progress is going in the coming days.

Thank you Bluemapia, and to everyone who continues to read this site, write comments, emails, and just show an interest!

Nick.

Back in New York, Plans for '09

I felt like I'd been home for awhile... But, after returning to New York, time has once again sped up, and less than a week later, home feels blurry, and distant. Memories are so subjective, so false, so fleeting. Yet I have been listening to music which was on repeat throughout my trip over the past few days... Thoughts of living in England in the rain appear vivid; being tied up next to a bridge in Holland, the barges steaming by and consequently pushing Constellation against century old canal walls. The panic of collecting diesel in Brest to cross the Bay of Biscay, taking mid-night taxis with trunks full of jerry cans, fuel spilling on deck. It's these memories which are explicit in retrospect, but impossible to convey after a recent bout of questioning... Just before leaving Australia, I went on local radio, was interviewed for two small newspapers (read one of them here), and said goodbye to friends who all ask 'why?' ... There is no simple answer. All I can rebuttal with is a confused look of 'why not?' It is of course far more complex than that, but there are no more questions, only actions, and this is what has been going on for 514 days. But it's more like 954 days since the inception of this voyage. That's two years, seven months, and eight days... But what extraordinary days they were! And what extraordinary days are in store for 2009. I've been lax on posts since I went home. I had little sailing news, and was concentrating on working, seeing friends, and riding my bicycle. Through great fortune, my good friend and fellow sailor Paul, connected me with Stephen and Magda, who generously provided me with a room to stay for my time in Australia. They run a great little warehouse with student accommodation in Melbourne, and donated one of their rooms to me, and ultimately to this project. Without their assistance in providing a roof over my head, I would have been stuck paying rent, and would not have been able to save what I've managed to over the past several months, to make this year happen. My sincere thanks goes out to them for such generosity - My mother says I have good merit, which I am absolutely conscious of; I'm writing here, and about this, because of other people. I planted a seed; and people everywhere watered it.

So through my living in Australia, I worked on my projects, survived the heat, and roughly planned 2009. Remember, I wanted to ride a bike across America? It was supposed to be a pedal powered one. However, Lee Winters, that lovely man who recently crossed the Gulf of Mexico on the beginning of his circumnavigation, in the name of helping children find a home, gave me this:

Honda 1100CC

It's not exactly a bicycle, but it does have two wheels... This monster lies down in Texas, waiting for me to figure out how to integrate it into a kind of sailing / Easy Rider type adventure. Don't forget there is a film being made about this whole trip, and I can already picture a wide open ocean; pan to desert scene across Arizona... It makes me laugh just thinking about it. This trip has mostly epitomised the nature of going with the flow - It wasn't until I reached the Canaries and had too much time to think about things, that I decided to sail to New York and go overland... And it wasn't until I was driving down the Long Island Express that I decided it would be more fun to ride across America and see the country. And now, through Lee's generosity, I just might be doing it while sitting above 1100CC's of engine. Thank you Lee, you're a gentlemen, and I urge everyone to spend more time following his adventures than mine - His intentions have greater purity; the type that are infectious, and heart warming. We could all do more for the world while following our passions, and he's doing it, now.

After landing in Los Angeles, my passport was inspected, and I was whisked off to the Admissibility Review room. It's the special room made for people who tick the box on the entrance sheet saying 'I have been arrested', or 'I have been denied entry to the USA'. I ticked no to all those boxes, and even arrived in the country with a real visa, unlike most people who just take advantage of the Visa Waiver Program. Basically, I did everything correctly, and then some. But no, it wasn't enough. I waited for three hours, and was then interviewed and hassled about my intentions to enter America. No offence to Americans, but really, I have better things to do than try and enter your borders and stay illegally. I don't fit your profiles, I have no record, I've only ever followed the book. As I sat in the room, I wondered about how much I would get for Constellation. I wondered if she was worth anything, to anybody. Forlorn, frozen, in pieces, I thought not much. But, I was later released, only to be 'randomly chosen by the TSA computer for full screening.' And so, I stood there, arms in the air, legs spread, patted down, bags bomb dusted, shoes off, laptop opened, 20 minutes before US Airlines flight 32 departed for New York. I made it, the flight was crowded, I was tired, I landed, and by the end of the week I'll be back to my boat.

Prospect Park, Brooklyn

I have a long way to go this year. Over 7000nm of sailing to go... That's 12,964km's. But 2009 is more than likely the year I will also finish. I wonder if I can drag it out any more? What on earth will I do when I finish? Many things. Many things indeed!

Rough sailing route for 2009

-Nick, Brooklyn, New York City.

Boat Trucking, Brewer's Greenport

My return ticket to New York is now locked in for the 6th of February! It's been a very productive and fun time in Australia, however soon it's time to resume things and continue the trip. Thank you to Mari for the latest photo of Constellation - It was nearly 39C (about 103F) the other day here in Melbourne, and as can be seen, it's considerably colder back on Long Island:

Constellation, transom, Greenport

Right now, I'm getting quotes and trying to organise the somewhat complex overland trip that has to happen this year. I expect to be trucking Constellation sometime in April, and for myself to be over on the west coast for when she arrives - This is for a scheduled departure across the Pacific in May or early June... Right now I've been getting quotes from uShip.com, and the best one so far is around $3,500. If anyone is familiar with hotshot trucking, or has any contacts in the industry who might take a backhaul west, please let me know. I need to confirm a trucking solution very soon, to ensure everything goes to plan.

Much work remains to be done on Constellation, however I hope to get 90% of it done before going overland. With the generous support of Mike Acebo who runs runs the Greenport Brewer Yacht Yard, Constellation has been under his care ever since I first docked way back in June/July of 2008. Mike and everyone at the marina has been exceptionally generous, and we're also hoping to re-do Constellation's rig, and install a furler on the foresail before leaving New York. Without the support of Mike and the Brewer yard, there is definitely, and absolutely no way I'd be moving on this year across the Pacific. So, if you're ever on a boat in Long Island, be sure to visit Brewer Yacht Yard in Greenport and say hello!

In other news, Lee Winters has successfully made it across the Gulf of Mexico. I watched his position closely over the last week, and this evening he managed to jump behind an island in Mexico before the wind picked up too much. Lee's expression of 'crying for the first time in his adult life' and the elation you can detect in his latest blog post, brings back tremendous memories of my own sailing last year... Simon has also just made it across the Atlantic ocean alone, from the Cape Verde islands - He hasn't updated his map yet, however I know he's quite happily anchored in St Lucia, the Caribbean!

The feeling of achievement, relief, sadness, and pure joy after a long distance passage alone, is nearly incomprehensible to someone who hasn't done it, yet I can assure you that both Lee & Simon deserve a really big pat on the back. Congrats!

Nick.

Australia, What's next, Photos

Happy New Year! I've had a comment and quite a few emails asking what's going on. Well, not a lot really... The project is still on, and I'm at home in Australia working, and scheming for the next leg. I'm still adamant about trucking the boat, and will do so sometime in April. We'll go somewhere on the West coast of the US (obviously), most likely Berkeley because I have a couple of contacts in the area... I also like Ginsberg, and I hear he wrote a poem there. While my blogging has slowed down, the project hasn't - So for anyone thinking I've just thrown the towel in, you'd be more than wrong... ! It also remains to be seen how I will get myself across the country, as the original idea of cycling may have changed slightly in recent weeks.

I continue to work with Bluemapia.com, which has been fantastic - If you're a sailor, go there, sign up, and share your tips & info on your local sailing area. When not working with Bluemapia, I have the great fortune to be working on my own ideas. They involve the web, and sailing... And another project may involve helping someone else begin an enormous and seemingly impossible voyage. More on all of that some other time.

After Christmas (which involved no snow) I went on a small trip - Photos are below. My return ticket to New York is booked for the 19th of January, however, due to a lack of housing options, and the fact it's much easier for me to survive here than in a foreign country in the dead of winter, it is more than likely I will stay another month or two. There is little I can do on Constellation right now, and she will probably not touch the water again until April or early May. Much work remains, and she's in a state of disarray, however 2009 is set to be the year Constellation is more seaworthy than in any other time of her life!

Cooring

Pink Salt Lake

Cape Horn

Salt Pan, Cooring

More photos in the usual place.

Skandia week is coming up, and with any luck I might get to sail then... I may finally get to write about sailing again!

Nick

$10,000 prize - Vote for Constellation!

My dream is to finish this voyage: To truck Constellation overland to San Francisco, sail the South Pacific, ride a bicycle across America, and sail through the heads into Port Phillip Bay, Melbourne - I'd like to achieve this by the end of 2009. ING Direct in Australia are offering a prize that could make that happen - They're offering $10,000 as first prize for their 'My Dream Is' competition. This voyage fits perfectly into the criteria, and so I've entered. The competition rules encourage entrants to include ING branding in their photo - I've attempted that, and I hope the message of what I'm trying to do comes across.

Click on the above image or here to vote and rate it as '5'. The public choose the top 100 images for the competition, and then after that, it's up to panel at ING to decide who's dream is worth funding!

It will only take a minute of your time, and doesn't require you to fill out a form, enter your details, or anything else - Just a mouse-click. Voting stops on the 14th of December. (Note: The site takes a while to load properly - Give it a second)

Thanks everyone! nick

Bluemapia.com, Seasons, Trucking

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.

nick.

Constellation, Cape Cod, Planning

Wow, sorry for being so terrible on updates... I've been busy with a new job (yes, I have a job - More in another post!), a little traveling and more work on Constellation, as she continues to get revamped for the voyage ahead. While I haven't been great on posts, I do upload photos and other things periodically - The frontpage always contains all updates related to my trip - Photos, twitter, blog etc. Mari, who has been dedicating a lot of time and effort to help me over the past month, continues to assist, and Constellation is really coming together. We've even managed to build a new boom from a Catalina 30, that was lying in the yard in gross disrepair. With all manner of noisy tools, we cut two feet off the end, re-fashioned the end-boom roller fitting, and made various other modifications. With most of the new boom finished, we mulled over how it was actually going to connect the boat, at which point Mari disappeared to his computer and made an Autocad drawing of the stainless pieces we needed. He then emailed off to his friend Peter in another state, who had the pieces made and Fedex'd back - Genius! Thanks so much to Peter for helping out! If I hadn't ended up being surrounded by engineers, I would have been left to fashion it Nick style, which no doubt would have involved lashing the boom to the mast with tin wire and electrical tape.

While Mari did beautiful things with hot air guns and soldering irons:

All new panel electrics

I pulled the starboard toe rail off, and re-bedded it in an attempt to stop the mysterious leaks I'm encountering. Constellation continues to look forlorn on land, but, of all the boats in the yard, she definitely looks like she's sailed the furthest, and in my opinion, looks pretty cool with all that gear hanging off the stern (not including the fenders)!

Constellation, Long Island

My new job allows me to work from anywhere (perfect!), so I took the opportunity to visit Cape Cod in Massachusetts. I'm really falling in love with the North East of the USA... And I'm putting on weight as I sample as many New England Clam chowders as possible. I've even had lobster roll or two, in attempts to make up for overdosing on Ramen for the past year. I might grow a big bushy beard and start wearing flannel.

The US media continues to attract my attention with its madness over the economy and the election. I remember how lucid and relative things felt, when I was somewhere about here. It's places like that where you have happy existential moments, if you can imagine such a thing.

As to how Constellation will get to the Pacific, I still don't really know. I do hope with my new job I will be able to save enough to truck as planned, and as the petrol prices seem to have plummeted of late, maybe it will become more affordable. I've recently heard rumours that boats have traveled overland via the Canadian railway, but I can't really find any clear evidence or services. Is there anyone out there that knows something about this?

I'm very much looking forward to some deep offshore sailing with Constellation, and I really just need to get to San Francisco for an April/May 2009 departure. I now look at a map, and while we have a long way to go, sailing direct from San Francisco to the Marquesas, or even Fiji direct chops off a massive part of my voyage in a single stretch. If all goes to plan, I may very well be in Australian waters by this time next year. That may sound like a long time, but it isn't - It's just around the corner... Around this time last year, I was in France just about to do my first big offshore leg across the notorious Bay of Biscay, and I remember it like it was yesterday. Back then, I was terrified but adamant... Unsure of how I could keep things rolling. But we've come a long way since then, and now it's all just a matter of more hard work, time, and good fortune.

Thanks everyone for your continuing support and good wishes - I continue to get emails every week from well wishers, and they never cease to amaze me!

nick

Manhattan, Long Island

At the scheduled rendezvous time, Tony showed up in his boat. I sat in my cockpit, expecting a sail boat to appear at the Coney Island anchorage, but low and behold, a twin hulled powerboat showed up, and Captain Tony was at the helm. Who is Tony? There are so many great characters who I meet along the way, you're forgiven for not following this sailing soap opera's list of top celebrities! Tony helped out with Commanders Weather forecasts, and also sent through weather updates and eddy coordinates (remember him? I do.) so I could actually make landfall, instead of spending my time as flotsam in the Atlantic, when all I really wanted was a bagel with cream cheese in New York. So for the first time I met my weather saviour, and he'd now just offered to dedicate a day to following me into Manhattan to photograph my approach. As you can imagine, photos of yourself sailing when you're singlehanded are most always impossible, normally achievable only by sitting in the cockpit and pointing the camera at yourself, which always makes me feel like Narcissus re-incarnated. As we motored along, I did 3.8kts, which is 'August the mighty Yanmars' current top speed (I think there must be something wrong...), and poor Tony in M/V 'Sea Lion' idled their twin 140hp engines and snapped a lovely set of photos, which I am incredibly thankful for:

Me, Constellation, New York City!!#$@@!
Manhattan Approach

Of course the highlight was anchoring outside of Liberty Island, which I thought would be impossible, but the reality is, you can get really close, and if you don't mind the swell, drop the anchor and get the best view in town. As my plan was to go up to the 79th St Boat Basin, we didn't stay too long, as it's first come first served, and I really wanted a mooring for the night. I jokingly mentioned that Tony could more easily just tow me to Manhattan, to which he showed a funny grin and setup a tow rope. Constellation then proceeded to be hauled up the Hudson River at 8kts, the wind vane bracket disappearing under water, and Constellation creating a surfable wake.

Statue of Liberty
Getting towed at 8kts

At the Boat Basin, I was entitled to a mooring as far away from dinghy dock as possible... As I heaved my rowing oars back to land, a(nother) Canadian boat took pity on my back, and towed me in with an outboard. In a single day, both Constellation and Bob the Leaky Duck had tows! On land I managed to get myself so lost in the subway system, I nearly ended up back in Coney Island. My brother gave up on me, as I kept buying packets of gum for quarters, so I could try and call him. As my luck continued, I met an aspiring actress who loaned me her phone, and I eventually found my brother, who came all the way back to pick up his silly sibling who couldn't navigate the subway (no GPS signal so far underground, and the stars are blocked out... That's my excuse anyway.)

On Saturday friends came down to see the mighty Constellation, whom I brought into the marina for show-and-tell. Friends from Australia were in town, my uncle & cousin and my 'mates in the states' all came down to visit, which was most exciting; such social excitement after the great voyage!

Captain Tony wrote all my tides down for the next days voyage, and I set off with a ripping Hudson for Hell Gate. I met Phil again who had also sailed up from Atlantic Highlands, and we departed together. I was terribly lazy and just decided to follow him until we got into Long Island Sound; what a mistake. By the time I'd reached the Brooklyn Bridge, what can only be called a squall of gigantic proportions arose. I was so lazy, I hadn't even bothered to look at a chart, as Phil disappeared in a dense fog, and I couldn't figure out what was up, down, left or right. Eventually after numerous trips into the cabin, awash with rain after each trip dumped the water caught in my wet weather gear, I pinpointed where I was, as our speed mysteriously increased. By the time we'd reached mid-Hell Gate, Constellation and I topped out at 9.4kts over the ground, skidding from port to starboard in the currents, the tiller going back and forth to keep us going in roughly a straight line. A super yacht approached from the stern, doing the same 'dance of Hell Gate', overtook and honked in mutual appreciation for the British ensign (which she was also flying). (At least I think it was a honk of appreciation... It could have meant 'get the heck out of my way!')

Super-Squall

By Long Island sound, a breeze showed signs of intensifying, and I launched the genoa. Ten minutes later a squall blew through, took the wind with it, and I motored along, in search for Tony, who had again offered to come out and meet me. We eventually crossed paths, and hooked up the tow rope again, it being 4pm with still another 12nm in front of us. Back under the power of tow, we powered through the fog, and arrived at Stamford Harbour, conducting a creepy fog-bound entrance, for which I was glad to be with someone who knew the area. I couldn't see a thing, but Tony motored on, and eventually I was tied up at the Brewers yard - A very special thanks to Janie for providing a slip for two nights.

I spent two nights in Stamford with Tony and his lovely wife Eva, who showed such generosity, I'm still literally stunned when I think back to how wonderfully they helped me out. Provided with a comfy bed, delicious food, new clothes, provisions, parts and funds to keep me going, I'm humbled and indebted: Thank you so much Captain Tony and Captain Eva for your kindness.

As I left Stamford, I motored towards Port Jefferson, anchoring in the harbour for the night, refusing to pay $40 for a mooring. I was far away from town, but there was no way I could justify wasting so much money for a 'permanent anchor'. It's quite amazing how much 'transients' pay in America for overnight stays - I still don't quite understand the economics of it when compared to Europe... I only paid that kind of money once, and that was in Dover, England, for a berth no less! The next day, I decided to cross the Sound for Duck Island, and motored across on a windless day. By the time I'd reached the middle, 'August the mighty Yanmar' blew a great plume of white smoke, coughed, spluttered and died. He was not to come back to life, and I proceeded under sail, incredibly annoyed to be stuck in another motorless situation. I dove overboard to check for rope stuck in the prop, yet there was nothing but a bit of plastic and a bunch of red jellyfish.

Proceeding under sail, the God's shone down on us, and the winds increased. I had no idea what I was going to do should it die altogether... Sailing into Duck Island Harbour at night under sail, we managed to find other boats at anchor, and promptly dropped the hook. Excited by the thrill of sailing around without an engine in unknown parts of the world, I slept and waited until 12pm the following day for the winds to pick up. The sails up, anchor hauled in, we proceeded under sail for Greenport. Reaching 'Plum Gut' at a favourable tide, fighting for three hours against a SSW wind to get through. Eventually it was deemed impossible, and so the long route was taken around Plum Island, skirting the edges and risking passage through shallow waters to make up for lost time. Tacking back towards Greenport, a line squall showed it's nasty head, and I refused to reduce sail in defiance. I wanted as much speed as possible to make up for this ridiculously annoying and lengthening passage. It wasn't long before the rail was touching the water, and a gust almost knocked us over before I managed to release the mainsheet. As I made a tack, the boat seemed to de-power, as the sun drenched and tired genoa tore in three places. Slapping like crazy, caught on the port spreader, I had to knife the sail down and pack the remains into the forward hatch. Launching the #2 genoa, we got back under way, and slowly tacked all the way up to the Greenport breakwater. It was midnight, and we set course to sail right into the marina, sans everything (including an understandable chart of the tiny entrance). By great luck, a friend called, and shortly showed up with a powerboat, quite simply out of nowhere, hunting around for the Ghost ship Constellation, who had by now a fused bow light, and only the stern lamp still functioning. With all cabin lights on, I hoped we'd avoid collision and be found, which we were, and kindly towed to safety.

I haven't really explained what I'm doing in these parts, but the fight for Greenport was made because I have a slip here for summer. I'll be hanging about trying hard to figure out what's next: Do I go back to the Caribbean for Panama? Or do I go through with the crazy plan to tow Constellation to San Francisco? Time will tell!

For now, I'm enjoying great company, and am ever thankful for making the right decision to come north. America has been fantastic to me, with so much generosity and interest in my trip, I can barely walk up the pontoon without someone wanting to talk to me, offering help, or offering to make me dinner.

nick!