Fundraising in the 21st Century

It wasn't long ago, that aspiring adventurers would shimmy up to the Royal Geographical Society, with polite invitations, noble yet firm handshakes, and an air of sophistication, to charm the powers at be for possible funding and support for their proposed wanderings. Devoid of Powerpoint presentations, I imagine Shackleton during that heroic age of antarctic exploration, standing on a small stage at a Society function, fumbling with large dusty globes, charred maps and stories of a theoretical point on the earths surface he planned to reach - Pitching a journey from England across the oceans and ice pack, in order to trek to a point on earths surface, where the imaginary lines of coordinate parallels all converge into one: The south pole. Today it's a little different. For those that have watched my journey since this blog began in 2006, you may have remembered that I had a Paypal donate button (controversial for some, apparently!). I had asked people who enjoyed my writing, videos, and photos, to make a contribution to keep me going. I figured it was like a voluntary donation for reading a free book... Some months ago, I pulled all the data down from Paypal, and put it in a spreadsheet. I was surprised to see that over my sailing and blogging heyday, I had raised close to $10,000. It only ever trickled in; a few dollars here and there (with a few notable exceptions), but it really added up, and my trip probably wouldn't have happened without it.

Some may or may not know, that I also work with Roz Savage on her website - Through my company, we sponsor Roz by building, hosting & maintaining the current incarnation of her web presence, which is her primary medium for getting her environmental message out, and maintaining contact with the outside world while she rows across oceans.

With all this in mind, we recently we launched an early release web application to assist in adventure fundraising, coming up with the idea over a few drinks at a dim bar in Melbourne, when Roz flew through en route to Perth and explained her by-the-mile dilemma. The current implementation was rapidly deployed to fit with Roz's departure schedule some weeks ago - The project is called Nomaddica, and is currently still in private testing, but with any luck we will add features and make it public in the not too distant future. You will see Roz has been using this app to raise funds by the mile for the last several weeks, and has been quite successful... If you're interested in learning more in the future, sign up by clicking the 'get invite' link located on Roz's project page - Perhaps while you're there, consider supporting her efforts! You could also contact me personally if you had a specific and upcoming project in mind where Nomaddica might be useful.

And so on the topic of fundraising... My friends Ben & Teresa from the US East coast are raising funds to go on an epic sailing voyage in search of an iceberg, and to make a documentary on sailing, simplicity, adventure and the environment. They're using Kickstarter to raise awareness for their project, and in just 13 days the campaign ends - So if you love sailing, want to see more documentaries from grassroots sailors and documentary film makers... Then pretend you're at the Royal Geographical Society, sipping cognac and watching adventurers pitch their ideas at the monthly dinner banquet... And watch their pitch video:


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!


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!


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!


Constellation gets attention, new film

Sailing on your own all the time isn't easy. Nor is finding the motivation to work alone on your own boat, especially when you're not going anywhere soon. Working alone, can be characterised as a series of events related to figuring out how things are attached to the vessel, and more importantly, how to un-attach things from the vessel. All screws are usually through-bolted on the other side, leaving you to run into the boat, put a pair of vice grips on the nut, run back out, and through great patience take something apart. So when Mari offered to help me, I was overjoyed. When he told me he was an electrical engineer, and I glanced at my switchbox, I did a little dance inside my head. It feels like just yesterday when I had that box wide open, manually shorting wires to try and get my nav lights working again. I never did, and ghosting into Greenport with the cabin lights as a poor substitute, it wouldn't be until several months down the track, that I'd realise that the North Fork of Long Island were not going to let me leave again without a completely seaworthy boat.

So Mari dropped by, and asked what needed to be fixed... It was difficult trying to explain that everything needed to be fixed. I didn't want to scare him off, but I had to be honest: Constellation was built in 1972, and I had kept things barely working through lack of money, proper tools, and a second person to help me make real repairs. The Austrians are meticulous, the Australians are adaptive. I had adapted to a boat that had so many 'quirks', each individual system required special knowledge just to make it function, or knowledge of where the breakages were so as to be extra careful. Nevertheless, Constellation is an incredibly well built and seaworthy boat, straight off the rack. So while I may have been less than savvy from a number of different angles, my decision on her as the boat that could do it, was sound.

We carefully took each leaky window out, drove back to Mari's workshop, cleaned, straightened, drilled and sealed each window, before mounting them back and marveling at the possibility of a dry interior. Of course, it wasn't as simple as that, taking several days of somewhat irritating and gooey labour. In the meantime, Mari either didn't sleep, or had engineered several more hours of daylight onto the average day, and rebuilt my electrical panel. It now sports new switches, an LCD panel, displaying volage & current, both in and out (ie. charge from the solar panels), and even has descriptive labels! Not so long ago, the 'EMG/NAV' switch could have turned on any number of things, depending on what state of mind I'd been in at the last at-sea re-wiring exercise.

While all this was underway, the amazingly generous Mike Acebo of the Brewer Yacht Yard in Greenport, put two people on the job of sanding and antifouling the bottom with Interlux Micron 66. Mike has been instrumental in helping me out here in Greenport, yet I'll dedicate an entire post to his generosity at a later date.

As the antifoul dried, Mark from Doyle Sails dropped by with my foresails recut to suit a furler, and a new sail cover. Mark was disappointed to hear I was trucking the boat, thinking I wasn't a purest... He had a change of heart when told of my intentions to cycle, and so I was forgiven to contemplating the use of land to transport a boat.

There are still many jobs to complete, yet at last things are feeling more upbeat. When Constellation came out of the water, I knew it was going to take such an enormous effort to get her back in. My friend Walter and I put together a list of things 'to do' one rainy night, and the next day I looked at it with an air of depression... Yet now things now are coming together, and slowly Constellation will return to a state of seagoing glory.

Thank you so much to Mari, Mike, Nino, Rick, Walter and Mark for everything: Not only for the assistance, but also for the morale boost it provides. The wheels of this whole thing are still churning forward, even when at times it all seems ridiculous and even laughable!

And on the topic of ridiculous, I've put together a new video about my trip from the Caribbean to New York. It somehow blew out to 33minutes in length, and I apologise profusely for even thinking I could entertain you for that long, while I gawk and moan at the camera for 28 days.


Generous America

When I met Rune Monstad in the Canary Islands, he had cycled from South America right up into Canada, before flying to Europe, and is now en route north through Africa, as part of his bicycle circumnavigation. We had a lot in common in our attitudes about what we were doing, and were also equally dogged about finishing what we'd started. However broke, however tired and however angry, we both talked about the incredible generosity we'd encountered along the way, both grateful and suprised at how people reached out in all manner of ways. Rune couldn't stop talking about how good America had been to him, and right now, I couldn't agree with him more. Here at the Brewers Yacht Yard in Greenport, people are helping me left, right and centre to get Constellation seaworthy again. A furler is being installed, my sails are being converted and repaired by Doyle sails, there is talk of a Furuno radar, new standing rigging, and a replacement boom. As a result of a frontpage article in the Suffolk Times (viewable here), I regularly get referred to as 'Nick' from people I've never met in town, with the article spurring on numerous invitations for dinner, barbecues, offers of assistance on the boat, wine from Long Island wineries, and even a recording studio offering to do a recording, based on the premise of the article mentioning I had a rusty guitar!

If all that wasn't enough, recently a family motored into the Marina to meet me, holding up the paper to passers by, asking where I was. After a brief meeting, they were back the following week with a proposal: What if a party was thrown to raise money to truck Constellation across America? I was speechless, and I think all I could muster was a 'Are you kidding? Really?' I was bowled over by the idea, and within a few days, invitations circulated, the party had a date, and Constellation and I may just get across this great continent as planned! I'd been depressed over the enormity of the scheme, it all be very well to have an idea, but a whole other problem to make it happen. The cost of trucking a 3.5 ton sail boat from New York to San Francisco is no small sum, and sailing back to the Caribbean and through the Panama Canal is also no small feat... The Northwest Passage may be 'open', but Constellation told me in a dream, she was no ice breaker, and while Cape Horn beckoned (ha!), I'll save those latitudes for the aluminium expedition ketch I spend too much time thinking about. So this party nears the end of the month, and with it brings great excitement at the thought of getting closer to solving the age old problem of getting into the Pacific from the Atlantic.

If it seems this blog may have become slightly neglected since I arrived here, I must apologise, it probably has, yet only for good reasons: Life has been full throttle, traveling in and out of the city from Long Island, visiting friends, relatives, racing boats, and generally having the time of my life. I've already said that sailing north from the Caribbean was a really good decision, but I have to say it again: Sailing north from the Caribbean was a really good decision.

I mentioned some months ago that I was going to Vancouver for a wedding, and that time has come. I'm terrified of doing the Best Man Speech, which is by far scarier than doing a solo transatlantic... All I can say is, it's lucky I bought more than one bottle of Mt Gay Rum from Barbados; I'll have to take mouthfuls of the stuff prior to toasting the the newlyweds, balancing a fine line between doing the speech in a pirate voice and actually not embarrassing myself nor the groom.

I haven't been doing a great deal of sailing recently, so I hope my land based adventures are enough to keep everyone interested. Below are some photos of a trip to upstate New York:

Doing what I do best (bailing)

Me, Ryan, Tow, Lake Waccabuc
My brother and I

Rock jumping
Rock jumping

Ryan, Tracy, Katonah
My brother & Tracy

Next post from latitude 49.25 longitude -123.13.


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!')


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.


Barbados, Sonimtech

Well, I think I've posted enough about the Atlantic - It's time to move on! Arriving in Barbados after Europe was a culture shock - I did very little research on the country, (other than how to sail to here), so everything was a suprise; when traveling, I always think it's best to have zero expectations, so you can never be disappointed! Upon docking in Port St Charles, I had to see Customs, Health and Immigration. This was all a big deal in comparison to Europe, where if you are an EU citizen it's quite literally plain sailing (except for Portugal, who like paperwork...). Everyone was incredibly friendly, and I guess that set the tone for the rest of my stay. The Immigration department insisted I drink plenty of Rum, meet a local girl and party hard. He said you only live once.

In Port St Charles, they have a small marina with private berths, and a few 'visitor' berths. Of course, they really only want visitors who sail enormous yachts (ie. greater than 100feet). Naturally, Constellation didn't fit that criteria, but fortunately she fit the 'Oh my God, you sailed the Atlantic in THAT?' criteria, so I guess you get a little bit of respect, for insanity rather than the size of your wallet. The dockmaster was however fairly adamant that 'small boats stay in Bridgetown' (which is secret code for: Please leave, your size is hurting the look of the superyachts!). So, it was a gentle sail down to Bridgetown, where I anchored out the front of the yacht club.

To travel throughout Barbados, there are several choices. If you have money, you can take a taxi. If not, there is the public bus system and the private bus system. The public system run ordinary blue buses, but the private buses are slightly smaller and yellow, or there are the mini buses, called 'ZR's'. If the slowness of my voyage had been less than thrilling, the private buses made up for it. To describe a typical journey: As the private buses work on commission, they race each other for customers. On one bus, they purposely blocked traffic so a competing bus couldn't overtake! Sporting Magnaflow exhaust systems, graffitied dash boards, the drivers wearing racing gloves and spoilers, these guys get you places, quick. The stereo system blurts out banging hip hop, the school kids sing pitch perfect to the lyrics, and the grandmas nod their heads, syncopated. The radio station they play is also interesting, the DJ insisting on singing over the top of the current track, and dimming the song to exclaim 'yo yo, let's party till luncheon' or something similar - I'm just imagining a station in Melbourne with one of our horrible breakfast radio DJ's singing over the top of Hotel California... An awful thought. The smartly dressed school boys (their uniform obviously still around since British rule) wear insignias reading 'Fear God, Think Clean, Aim High'. As you can imagine, I alighted for the beach bar with WIFI, thinking with cleanliness, but fearing rain over other things of a higher nature... Besides, I don't think God ever intended us to fear much of anything, but it was a complex argument to pose to the kid sitting next to me, while the reggae was turned up so loud.

Upon first impressions of the Caribbean, it really does seem everyone is quite simply, cool - I've been transported back to being the dorky kid at school... Even the old men have an aura of coolness I could only aspire to. I guess here I'm the dorky white guy, and that in itself is interesting. With the majority of 'native' Barbadians coming from a lineage of sugar cane slaves (of African lineage), it's a new feeling being well in the minority after Europe. The last time I felt like I was being looked at as a curiosity, was an accidental tour of some less than intelligent places to be walking in Bronx during 2004. The difference is, everyone here is immensely friendly and open. It's difficult to get used to people saying hello to you on the street, and not wanting anything. Coming from a culture where you don't get anything for free, the 'Bajans' are on the whole lovely and friendly people. Just yesterday while I was out 'exploring' the countryside near the Airport, I had ran out of change - A man at the bus stop insisted he give me the exact coinage for the fair (they don't accept anything other than the correct money). Not to mention Martin who I had been conversing with via email who provided a lot of pilotage info for my arrival, and handed me some money before departing on his own Atlantic voyage, exclaiming 'a donation for your trip' - Thank you kindly Martin.

After marveling at the colour and warmth of the water (this took a few days...) I proceeded onto the more bureaucratic aspects of my stay here, namely my requirement for a US visa. I visited the embassy, and was told to fill out a form online... I did that, and went back the following day, spending two hours waiting in various lines and sitting in offices waiting for my number to be called. Eventually number 62 was called up, and I had the opportunity to talk to a real person, at which point I was told I needed proof of employment, and a bank statement showing I had sufficient funds to enter the country! As you can imagine, I've been sailing since August of 2007, and employment is not really my forte. Neither is sufficient money. With the help of a former employer, I procured a letter and a bank statement, which magically did the trick... I also needed to provide a form because I'm male, and between the age of 16 and 45, which has something to do with terrorism. I had to list all the countries I'd visited in a tiny box within the last ten years; a list extending off the side of the page... Eventually I soldiered back to the embassy with all my paperwork, and arrived at 0730, exiting at at lunchtime, with my visa approved, being sent on to St Lucia early next week. Great day! Next time I decide to sail into Fort Knox, I think I'll better prepare my entry - For example, getting this visa months before, ie. when I was meandering through Europe or getting myself stuck in various places for lack of cash.

After my embassy delights, I had to extricate a Sonim XP1 mobile phone that was generously donated by Sonim Technologies, from customs at the Airport. After providing a commercial invoice stating a demo value, the cheeky people at customs opened the package, and Googled the phone online, and took the duty value from the most expensive retail value they could find! The duty was calculated at 20%, even though the package stated 'yacht in transit'... Personally, I think it was illegal of them to charge me duty, but I couldn't find specific documentation to say I was essentially 'stateless' and exempt - I tried the 'I don't have to pay duty on retail items, why should I pay it on items posted to me as gifts'? They didn't get it. Thankfully Sonim fronted the duty bill, which is most appreciated - Thank you to Angela at Sonim Tech in San Mateo for the phone, and also for all the assistance in actually getting my hands on it! Having destroyed one phone in the North Sea, I think the XP1 is better built for the task of sailing and being constantly dropped!

My second real gripe with Barbados, and something that kind of tainted the nice stay I was having here, was being told I had to pay $50 to leave the country, when I went to get my paperwork stamped at customs. No one ever told me of this charge, and it certainly isn't documented anywhere (there is one place it mentions a $25 charge if you're over 5 tons). I spent a lot of time petitioning the clearance fee, spending four and a half hours at the customs office. I know, $50 doesn't sound like much, and I've paid much more for marinas in Europe, but nowadays I just can't afford it, and that money could be a week or two of food... Even though this all really annoyed me, the customs guys made me coffee, and even fed me cake! So, what can I say... The people are fantastic, but rules maybe not so much, especially for small-time sailors. Barbados is a convenient place to stop if you need a US visa, but due to the clearance fee (and this is really only applicable to poor small cruisers), and general cost of things in Barbados, I would have to recommend that people continue on the 70nm to St Lucia. This is a disappointing recommendation, but the Barbados government don't really seem interested in small cruisers entering their country, and I guess that's what's going to eventuate: Already I've met several people who've said fewer and fewer people are arriving via private vessels (except the super elite).

So today, I head off to St Lucia! I'll leave at night to sail in the cool of the moon, and arrive with plenty of daylight as I sail into Rodney Bay. Below are a few photos (a hard reset on my screen-less digital camera brought it back to life!)

Sunset, Carslile Bay, Bridgetown, Barbados

Luckily 'Constellation' has a good 'Constatution'...

Constellation, at anchor in Bridgetown

Carslile Bay, Bridgetown, Barbados

More photos at the usual place.

-moby nick!

I'm off to bridge the Atlantic, alone.

This is the post I've been dreaming of writing since the day this project became a reality, when I signed the paperwork for Constellation in August, 2006. I literally cannot believe I'm here, sitting on an island off of Africa, departing for the Caribbean, tomorrow. I'm speechless, which is why I'm writing. I won't be speechless forever though, because while I sail across the Atlantic, I'll be dropping updates back to the site as an audio podcast. Which means, you'll be able to hear my silly voice telling you all about my adventures via satellite phone, from the middle of nowhere! The podcast will be available to play within each post update over the following month, or you can subscribe via iTunes. Read more about it all on the new Podcast page. Remember, while I'm out there sailing, it's possible I will be closer to orbiting satellites than I will be to land! Chew on that for awhile...

While you're chewing, I'll explain what's happening, where I'm going, and what I'm doing it all for.

Each voice podcast will be an un-rehearsed update on my trip, including our current position. I expect it will be quite different from my posts up until now, as I will have limited airtime, and speaking is quite different from writing! Very special thanks to Marty at Autosystems for assisting with my satellite communications costs, and also for agreeing to coordinate and manage the technical aspects of website while I'm at sea. If you're enjoying the podcast, leave a thank you comment for Marty, I know he'd appreciate it! I will leave an update roughly every 4 to 5 days, so if you do leave any comments on the posts, maybe he can even read a few out to me, to keep me going! If you're feeling really keen and have the time, it would be great if someone felt like transcribing each podcast as a blog comment. This will allow people who can't listen to the update still keep know what's going on. Also, if updates suddenly stop, keep in mind there is a far greater chance of technical problems than anything more serious (ie. phone failure, electrical system meltdown, aliens attacking satellites etc).

Within each post, a player will show up which looks like this:


Subscribe to the podcast here (cut and paste the url into the podcast subscribe box of the latest version of iTunes) Or get notified of new updates via email here.

The most important thing of all though, is what I'm hoping to support via my crossing. For a long time now, I've wanted to try and do something good with my trip. So, it is here that I will announce my attempt to raise money to help Oxfam Australia build bridges in Cambodia. I will call this project 'Bridge over the Atlantic', and you can read exactly what I'm talking about, how to help, and more on my new Fundraising page. I will not double-post everything here, so I urge you to read the full details of my fundraising campaign via the new dedicated area, if only because I think you'll quite like the idea! With each significant ocean passage over 1000nm, I will attempt to raise funds for a unique and interesting cause, each one being different and taking part in another area of the globe. You all know I rarely have a dime to my name, but, for this crossing, I would like to forget about my own problems, and use my crossing to generate goodwill for others. If you run a website, consider linking to my new fundraising page, or alternatively, if you have a printer and a large workplace, think about printing off one of these flyers to rally support!

Unless there is an unscheduled stop in Cape Verde, I'll be back to my normal post routine in some 30 days, live from Barbados - For now, each post will simply be titled 'Bridge over the Atlantic, Day X'.

Thank you so much to everyone who takes the time to read this site, to all the wonderful people I've met in the Canaries, and to the sponsors who continually get me out of a jam! Thank you to Martin & Loopy in Barbados for the local pilotage info, Fudgie for everything, and Rich for the weather routing assistance. And last but not least, a big HELLO to all the 3rd graders at Rippowam Cisqua in New York!

Till the Caribbean, moby nick.