Generosity

We're home at last. In 743 days.

It was a long final passage from Tonga... I don't really even know how long. I left sometime in October, and I arrived yesterday. I don't count days anymore, and I think in this last passage I made my peace with many things. I spent several hours every single day just staring at the sea. I have a pose in the cockpit of Constellation... I don't know what it's called, I haven't named it. But I stand bolt upright without holding onto anything, and surf the boat for hours at a time, just looking at the horizon and thinking. It's clearly meditative, but not in an intentional sense. It's simply a hypnotic trance one is drawn to without any real thought. I've been scared of the sea for a very long time. I came close to drowning once; I was pulled out beyond the breakers by a rip. I gave up, and sank to the bottom, and my feet touched the sand. Instantly I regained my composure and came back up to keep fighting. I was rescued.

When I was nineteen, I went surfing with a good friend, and I turned the body of a drowned swimmer face up who was not so lucky in a rip of his own. I pulled him to shore, and nearly drowned myself out of exhaustion in doing so. He was heavy, I was tired, and his family screamed at me because I couldn't hold the man's head upright out of the water when his waterlogged body was dragged ashore; even though he had clearly been dead for upwards of twenty minutes.

Everyday for the last two and a half years I have been scared of the sea. Every night on passage, I would get into my bunk, turn the light off, and wonder if I was going to wake up. I would get up regularly to maintain a semblance of a watch; glance out of a port hole, see the familiar and wondrous scene of rushing water, stars, whitecaps and silvery reflections, and put my head back on the pillow, again wondering whether I was going to wake up. I wondered many times what it would feel like to be hit at sea. I've played the scenario over in my head a million times. Some nights I would sleep with my grab bag.

And so last night, after several days of difficult weather, I arrived on the shores of Australia. I had no real idea what I would feel. Excitement? Depression? Sadness? I guess a bit everything really. But at the heart of it, I felt a fearful weight shed from my shoulders. I've maintained an intense personal motivation to keep moving, even when I didn't really know how. There is no particular point to any of this. And I've known that since day one. What is the value of crossing oceans in small boats? To prove a point? Reinhold Messner would say it was the sign of a degenerative society. For some things, there is not always an eloquent or sensible explanation. Often times those concepts are best left to simmer.

Am I depressed? Is this a rambling flurry of post-adrenal thought? No, not really. I've never felt more overjoyed and elated; wondrous, and the exact opposite of all those things...

I did my very best to take everyone along with me on this trip, through the web, via my sporadic and sometimes random writing, videos and twitter updates. And the surprising result is, I've had the most incredible outpouring of support over the last three years - More than one could possibly imagine. I guess I'd just like to point out, that I really, genuinely, I could not have come this far without the hundreds of people who showed their support in many different ways: I've received literally thousands of satellite SMS messages over my two ocean crossings, full of encouraging words; hundreds of positive comments across multiple networks... People have given me their own hard earned money for no other reason than to see me succeed. Companies have given me things and supported me with equipment. People have written me messages and said I've inspired them to leave their lives of ordinariness and lead more fulfilling ones. The list is endless... I've not really done any of this alone; solo, singlehanded or otherwise. I'd be arrogant to say I had - I may have been the helmsmen, but that's it...

Thank you so much, to everyone who has shown any interest at all in this endeavour. This isn't my last post, but it is certainly the last post of an era...

nick.

Thanks, Hurricane Felicia, Route, Video

Firstly, I have a bunch of people to thank. To begin with... All those great people who sent through donations while I was sailing to Hawaii or sitting in port - You know who you are, but many people don't: Debbie, Deborah, Terri, Julio, Weide, James, Gillian, TV Navigation, Kevin, Bain... You guys (and girls) are awesome. You all made my life much easier in port - I could afford to provision with some decent food as opposed to junking it with Ramen noodles, which make me utterly miserable. They make Constellation miserable too, because I get cranky and yell into the wind more (like a crazy person). And speaking of nice food - Special thanks to Adam for the Trader Joe's care package, posted from San Francisco and full of tasty treats. After my cries at the cost of a new sail to replace my 20 year old UV destroyed genoa... Dave Benjamin of Island Planet Sails, out of Alameda, offered to help with a deep discount on a new cruising genoa. Still stuck for funds, but wanting to take up Dave's offer and sail off with a reliable sail, my good friends Mari and Paul came to the rescue (again...) with some extra funds. For those who follow regularly, Mari is the amazing person out of Greenport that fed me, lent a car, helped rebuild Constellation and even re-wire her for the Pacific, while I was on Long Island... Paul is my friend from Melbourne whom I had the first chance to talk about sailing many years ago, and who came to visit me in Southampton, and even organise accommodation for me in Melbourne when I visited over Christmas. Two great friends, and a nice sailmaker = Constellation gets a new Genoa... So, that's the story on why I was waiting around for a new sail. It arrived, and is fantastic... And somehow Dave rushed it through in two weeks. If you're buying new sails - Let Dave help you, he ships anywhere, makes nice sails, and is a really nice guy. Thanks also to Ken for being the postbox for the new sail, and hand-delivering it to the club.

So... The Hurricane. You can see what it's up to on my new tracking page. I left Waikiki Yacht Club, bound for Palmyra two days ago, and swiftly turned around. I was spooked, and rushing out because my Visa expired. I called the coastguard and discussed my problem, and then promptly returned to the Waikik Yacht Club - Who've been extraordinarily patient with me and my need to stay in port (either waiting for a new sail, or waiting for hurricanes). I erred on the side of caution with Hurricane Felicia, even though I did my fair share of research - Watching historical data, and current modeling. I think I would have been safe to continue my passage, but, it was a risk, and as someone else mentioned - Better to be sitting in port wishing you were sailing, than sailing and wishing you were in port... In a faster boat with crew, it would have not posed a problem. But in a slow boat with no crew, I think maybe it's nicer sitting at the yacht club, listening to old salts at the bar discuss high winds and surging seas, than have to experience them. As soon as the Pacific basin clears up, I'm outta here. As for my Visa... Customs and Immigration were completely understanding, and even came to my boat to fix up the paperwork and help me out. Nice.

For those curious on where I'm going, and what I'm doing, my route is fairly simple, and I'm looking forward to nice sailing with a perfect wind-angle for my next leg. As already noted, I plan to head for Palmyra first, the small Pacific atoll just over 900nm from Honolulu. Palmyra has a really interesting history, and is currently a Nature Conservancy, run by the US government - Read the Wikipedia page for better information. I've been given permission to visit, and can't wait to enter the reef-shark infested lagoon that has had its entrance blasted out by dynamite, and who's shores sparkle with blue crabs. Located 6degrees above the equator, the Atoll is 3ft above sea level, drenched in equatorial heat and haunted with ghosts and a curious past. Hiding (supposedly) Spanish bullion and the body parts of a double murder, Palmyra is the kind of island I've been waiting to visit since the inception of this voyage. Of all the oceans, (as with most people), the Pacific conjures up mystery, intrigue and a phenomenal sea-fairing history. I simply can't wait to explore these odd places that are virtually inaccessible except by private vessel. After Palmyra, I hope to visit Western Samoa, and then hop across to Fiji and then I don't know... Maybe the (also) strange Lord Howe Island before Sydney... But we'll take it one island at a time.

Since I'm land-bound again, here is a brief video of my first Pacific leg. It isn't really as comprehensive as my other videos, but you get the picture... And besides, there is only so much film one can make about bobbing around in the middle of nowhere!

Nick.

Thanks Waikiki Yacht Club!

I just realised how long it has been since my last update... In fact, my absence could nearly be classified as a blog black hole since I arrived in Honolulu - But only because so much has been happening! As things wind down in Hawaii, and I prepare to depart again on another long ocean-journey, I must first thank my incredible hosts in Honolulu - The Waikiki Yacht Club. Yet I guess the story of the WYC really starts just two days after my arrival, when I met Nicole Bilodeau, the Program Director for Roz Savage (if you think I'm mad, she's a whole other kind of crazy!), who connected me with all the friendly people at the WYC. It being possibly the busiest time of year for everyone at the club, with the large Transpac fleet about to arrive, I was surprised and grateful at the positive response - To my great relief (I was having severe difficulty finding somewhere to keep Constellation that I could consider being able to afford) and appreciation, the club opened their arms to me. So I've been docked here, in one of the nicest clubs/marinas I've had the pleasure of visiting on my entire trip, for the last three weeks, enjoying Honolulu, provisioning, and repairing Constellation.



Not only did Constellation have a nice slip to stay in, but I had full run of the club facilities in a beautiful location, which was also central to all the big shops I needed to re-provision in (thanks Nicole for ferrying me around so I could buy beef jerky by the armful!). My stay here has been longer than initially intended, with a new genoa being built which now appears to be stuck somewhere in a Kentucky mail center for no logical reason (if some of you remember, I waited 8 weeks in the Canaries for my solar panels... Fingers crossed this isn't Spanish Post Redux!). I'll dedicate another post to my other adventures here in Hawaii, including a 5 day sail up the west coast of Oahu and details on my new sail in another entry - I really just wanted to dedicate this entry to thanking everyone at the Waikiki Yacht Club; in particular each and every member, who are technically the collective sponsors of my stay here - Special thanks to Kat Petron for liaising and understanding my predicament, and to Commodore Bill Foster, Vice-Commodore Jim Ewing, Jack Peters and everyone on the Board for making the joint decision to host me so kindly.

Nick Jaffe, Waikiki, Oahu, Hawaii.

Half Moon Bay, Thanks North America!

I spent a fruitful and productive week in Sausalito, at Schoonmaker Point Marina, thanks to Rob & Adam. I spoilt myself to Mussels Bleu at the nearby French restuarant, thinking it might be my last nice meal for a very, very long time... However, I'm still on the west coast, so maybe it was a premature indulgence. I sat at the bar and recalled stories to the French maitre d' of my most glorious time in Brittany, France. Still one of my most favourite destinations so far - Nights spent calculating the best time to navigate 8kt races or 10m tides, and gazing at the infamous lighthouse posters in every French tavern, depicting post card images of 30ft waves crashing over their tops. As if the slip wasn't enough, Rob & Adam kept helping with the many projects aboard Constellation - Mounting deck winches donated by my friend Bain at the Berkeley Marina, figuring out whisker poles, visiting the Latitude 38 headquarters, running me to and from West Marine for parts, backwards and forwards to many stores to get final provisions and all manner of other things - Three weeks worth of aimlessly running around doing things on my own, were done in a week... Rob even broke out the sewing machine to make Constellation a nice set of protective weather cloths to guard the cockpit and myself from incoming waves - A modification I've wanted to make since day one. LaDonna of Latidue 38 vacuum packed beans and rice for provisions - In my first meeting with this salty pair, they exclaimed "we'll send you off with 25lbs of beans and rice" ... And so they did! Thank you Adam for the PFD, safety line and everything else you parted with... I hope the motivation is even stronger to chase me across the Pacific and retrieve it all!

Without the assistance Marcello and Massimo of Bluemapia.com, no provisions would be onboard, and Hawaii and beyond may not have become an attainable possibility this year... Many thanks to my favourite Italians for not only employing me over the last six months, but for stepping up again and assisting in financing some of the many things that are required to do what I'm doing. These guys are passionate sailors who've built a great resource for the community - Use it.

Constellation has never been in better shape - She doesn't necessarily look as Bristol as I might like, however from the point of view of what I'm doing, and what she's already done, the sunbleached and paint stripped deck seem to represent nothing other the wrinkles found on a wise face. She's sporting a re-cut mylar reaching sail, new luff tape on all sails for the Selden Furlex, and a pretty burgundy sailcover thanks to Mark at Doyle sails of Long Island - I exploded my genoa in Long Island sound last year in a line squall, and Mark generously expedited a replacement across to the Alameda Doyle loft two weeks ago - Thank you so much Mark.

Bain, whom I've lost contact with, (if you're out there, email me!) ferried me around various chandleries, fed me, and just generally looked after Constellation and I in Berkeley - Along with Captain Ted I've been in great hands on the east bay. Thanks to Anthony and Jeff @ OCSC for the opportunity to do a talk on my trip, and to Karen for the helping fund the no-more-Ramen-diet I'm attempting this season.

After my brief stay in Sausalito, meeting the infamous Maria, and the not so infamous, yet humble and kind Buddhist monk Dawa, I set sail in the company of three other vessels for Half Moon Bay. Towed under the Golden Gate Bridge due to Constellations working but impossibly slow little diesel thumper, I was eventually untethered and let to roam free for the first time in the Pacific ocean. The weather was kind, and I set Windy the Windpilot on a nice tack heading West.

My friends in company eventually radioed and reminded me that we were actually supposed to be going south, but I was enjoying the sail so much, I setup a 2nm tack before bearing down on Half Moon. In light southerly winds, the other three boats needed to sail backwards and around in circles, so as not to leave me behind, before we eventually ghosted past the placid looking big wave surfspot, Mavericks, and through the breakwater into the bay.


Photo Courtesy Latitude 38 / LaDonna

Rafted up, and into town for clam chowder (one of my reasons for visiting America - To sail past the Statue of Liberty, and eat bowels of chowder), the next morning Captain Ted and I bought a Dungeness crab for brunch. I've never claimed to be a tough man. I couldn't kill the crab, and so Rob did the honours, and I steamed the catch. Eating out of a bucket off the transom with butter, it was quite the occasion. My first Dungeness. LaDonna wrote a piece in Lectronic Latitude on the send-off party.

And so, as the now trio of boats motored out of the breakwater, I ran in circles and said my goodbyes over VHF. I thought in two days I would be gone... But here I am, waiting on the weather. I have a long and lonely six months ahead of me, as Constellation and I attempt to do virtually the entire Pacific (and then some), within six months. Actually, lonely isn't the right word, but I will certainly be alone... And so the weather patterns are clearing, and the NW winds are set to resume their pattern, and I genuinly feel this weekend is going to be my departure window. I write to you from the anchorage at Half Moon Bay - These bits were posted by solar power.

I suspect my next post will be from the high seas - Remote updates will be zapped over satellite, thanks to Serversaurus.com.

Thanks for everything North America, now I have to get back to following the setting sun!

Nick.

Talk at OCSC this Wednesday

For anyone in the Bay area, I'm doing a talk at OCSC this Wednesday evening, at 8:30pm. The talk is free for members and non-members, so all are welcome. I'll be showing photos, videos and, obviously talking... Details here. I've sailed over to Sausalito now, and am staying in a slip donated by Adam & Rob for the week. The tentative plan is to head down to Half Moon bay this weekend, and then depart for Hawaii from there. Constellation's rail was under the water for most of the sail over, and some new problems have arisen. The usual: Water ingress from a few new spots, and one that just won't give up... If 3M or Sikaflex would sponsor me, I'd be happy to just poor it over the entire deck and be done!

Nick.

We're going west, Overland trip abandoned

Campaign Progress

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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.

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.

Snowstorms, Christmas

I feel so terrible, enjoying a lovely warm summer, riding my bike with friends, having barbecues... All the while, Constellation is battling sub-zero temperatures, snowstorms, loneliness and a lack of love...

Constellation, Greenport, NY

Thanks so much to Jeff W. of Greenport for the photograph - !

Also many thanks for all the votes in my recent attempts to win over the ING $10,000 'My Dream Is' competition - [update] Winners already announced, we didn't win! As they say in Germany... 'Schade'. Nevermind, I've gotten this far; we're unstoppable!

Now, since I'm not doing much sailing at the minute (take a look at that photo up there again), you should go and see what Lee Winters is up to - He's just started his dream of sailing solo around the world, with Jargo his boat, and his gorgeous malamute friend Georgia. Lee is also responsible for a very possible change of plans next year... Don't worry, the voyage is definitely not going on hold, but only getting slightly more mad. More on that later...

If I don't post before 25th - Merry Christmas to all those who celebrate it! With particular attention to all who are alone for whatever reasons. Two Christmas's ago I was in England, alone on a freezing boat with a stupid idea, a six pack of Tesco's mince pies, and tea candles to heat the cabin:

Nick.

Little People, Home Sweet Home

I'm not even going to apologise for going on all these blog holidays... Actually no, I can't help myself, I'm terrible, I'm sorry... Apologies also go to all those people who write to me, and get replies weeks later, or have their words drift into binary obscurity as emails back themselves up thirty pages down. So now, from the comfort of the worlds smallest continent, I'll try and explain. Two Friday's ago I had the fun opportunity to talk to a bunch of little people. While I tried to make funny jokes about visiting Columbus's house in the Canary Islands, and the reason for painting Constellation red was purely to increase her speed, questions about deadly snakes and whether Tasmanian devils really exist abounded. In all reality, I feel that little people are able comprehend killer animals better than small boat voyages - One seems cool, and the other makes little or no sense. At my uncles school I spoke to three classes of third graders about sailing, Australia, venom and geography. It was great fun, and I've decided to sell Constellation and invest my money in time machine research, because having your lunch made everyday, getting half day on Friday's, and playing with toys for 70% of your time, is awesome.

Questions with 3rd grade

For some reason the above photo is my most viewed on Flickr - If that's because it looks like a little person is giving me the finger, you'd be wrong - I believe I was actually getting the thumbs up for suggesting the idea that all Australian animals are either weird looking, or trying desperately to kill you.

After nervously standing among the little people to talk, it was soon time to board a Qantas 747-400 back to Australia. Oh! How did that happen? Well, the short of the long, is that one can only stay in America for 6months before overstaying a B1/B2 visa, and potentially never being allowed to re-enter. Don't mention Canada, because their border doesn't count for 'flag poling' (exiting the country to renew your visa). Therefore I had every intention of visiting Europe, as London was the cheapest destination across the Atlantic, and Australia was out of the question. That was of course until my family pooled all their hard earned frequent flyer points together, and coupled with fees & charges, I managed to buy a ticket for less than a return trip to the United Kingdom. I kept everything hush hush, poised for a great suprise on home soil, and managed to stealthily keep my arrival under wraps and shock those that thought I'd be at least another year until Constellation's bow bumped into Australia.

It's been a great reunion, and while I've just spent two years and seven months noodling around the planet, all my friends have all been doing exceptionally well in their endeavours, and it's being such a treat to see everyone after such a long time. I continue to be essentially homeless here, and will remain so until January, when I am set to fly back to chilly New York. I've been propped up in spare rooms, childhood bedrooms and friends houses through upstanding generosity over the last week, and must thank all involved (you know who you are).

Coming home has also had its elements of complete strangeness. On the one hand, I need to look at my own photos and pinch myself, in order to make sure I've actually done what I've said (you know, all that sailing business) - As in, I wonder if I ever left. Yet conversely, I feel like a stranger, trapped in a familiar dream, almost as if I've stood still and everyone else has kept walking... Or maybe instead of walking forwards or backwards, I took a left turn down an unnamed street in an unnamed city. Really, I have no idea, and this is probably my jet lag talking... I hate jet lag, and every day at 2am New York time, I want to curl up and hibernate.

So other than general strangeness, what else has changed? Well, it seems everything is 30% more expensive, and by the tone of my friends, their wages have not increased in equal proportion. Which is of course standard story - If you artificially increase the price of things just a little bit more every month, no one notices, and no one complains. There also seems to be a myriad of fresh petty laws, Police Hummvees lining the city streets, and a wave of inner city violence to boot. Maybe it's connected to the price increase of sausage rolls ($3 guys, where are the protests!) and rent... From the looks of things, the only safe activity these days is to stay at home and play Nintendo Wii.

Anyway, it's definitely a clear sign of old age when you complain about the cost of living and violent crime... So, before I begin ranting and raving, let's leave it at that!

More frequent updates on the horizon, promise.

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