I am writing from the top floor of a pretty terrace house in inner-city Melbourne, staying with the friend of a friend, truly homeless. As I look out of the window, writing upon someone else's desk, the sky is grey, there is the sound of birds and traffic (rather unlike the sea), and it is three hours after arriving at Melbourne airport from Sydney. This morning I packed the old windvane paddle from Windy the Windpilot, and a set of charts for Palmyra Atoll into my backpack, started up a borrwoed two stroke outboard for the last time, and buzzed onto the dock at Cammera Marina, in Sydney. It was humid and rainy, and the last filmic moment of this whole crazy voyage, was Constellation fading away into the background as I motored ashore. She sits on a mooring in Sydney, the keys are hung up in the office, and a fresh owner has taken over with new dreams and impending oceanic madness...
The last month has been spent moving Constellation from Coffs Harbour to Sydney... Originally I thought I would have the gumption and technical resources to sail her to Melbourne, however as things ended up happening (always by the cusp), we sailed no farther than Sydney harbour.
In some respects it is a very sad day. But in others, as one door shuts, new ones open... As they already have... I may not have Constellation the physical object, but what memories! And those memories can never be taken away, or even sold.
I plan to write an exhaustive post on the statistics of this voyage, and thank all those that have helped me come this far... But for now, just a farewell and a few small images from the last month...
Me and Chris, the new owner.
Flying from Newcastle to Coffs with Chris
Downwind to Sydney
Catching a tuna the first night out
On the public dock at Port Stephens (thanks Brad!)
Great friends and amazing supporters of my trip, Paul, Duane & Marty
Moving all my personal stuff off of Constellation
Thank you everyone,
So I've been home in Melbourne for the last couple of weeks... Staying with friends, couch hopping... But something is missing... Constellation is nowhere to be seen. Thanks to encouragement and support from friends, I've decided I must keep sailing, and arrive officially 'home' to Melbourne. I will pick Constellation up in early Jan, and sail nonstop to Sydney, and then hopefully nonstop to Melbourne. I don't think it's going to be a particularly enjoyable sail (due to weather and the nature of the Australian coast), however it must be done!
There needs to be more:
Just a very short post to say I'm 622nm away from Palmyra Atoll, having left Kaneohe Bay on the 17th of August (I think? Time eludes me). All is well, except, as can only be truly experienced on a Contessa 26, the worlds wettest sailing boat, everything is wet. Not quite everything, but brand new leaks have appeared on various deck fittings and otherwise, which I guess will be plugged in Palmyra. It was slow sailing the first three days, getting becalmd, and then not having any wind but a big swell - Needless to say, we bounced around, feeling miserable. The wind then picked up in the vicinity of 25-30kts, and only today really has the wind calmed to more pleasant trade wind strength.
I'm sorry the tracking map has stopped working... How annoying. I spent many hours revamping it for the Pacific, only to start receiving messages from people saying it was down. Hopefully the 'shore team' (umm... Marty...) will fix something up until I get online again. [Update: August 24. Fixed it! Marty.] My Twitter updates etc should still be hitting the frontpage everyday though... In the meantime, if you're a Google Earth fan, you should be able to download this to view my current track.
Ok, back to sailing!
I am now 624nm from Hawaii, which is roughly 1200km... Or, in more practical terms, possibly six days of sailing... Mostly things are going well, however I am somewhat disappointed in my progress, and a little annoyed at the tradewinds. There is of course no point in being annoyed, however when one has expectations, I guess it becomes disappointing when things don't go as hoped. Which of course, is why ridding oneself of expectation and assumption is always a step in the right direction! Easier said than done. I've spent many days playing with rig combinations to maintain Constellation on a straight course for my destination, yet nothing is ever perfect. Every boat has its best point of sail, yet I've not yet found Constellation's most favourable downwind configuration. Which is kind of amusing, because I spent about 25 days in the Atlantic going downwind, and I've just spent over a week now in the Pacific doing the same thing... The problem here is, I have some daft belief that I can go downwind comfortably and quickly. Unfortunately, those two things don't go hand in hand, although I do continue to try... I've tried 'wing on wing' (twin jibs) in varying combinations, mainsail plus wing on wing, and the the standard calm-seas downwind rig of the 'butterfly' which is the mainsail sheeted right out, and jib (in my case, poled) on the opposing tack. So what works? Nothing really. But, to be honest, the technicalities of all this are probably tedious if not boring for most - Besides, it all just gives me something to do during the day.
Day to day, nothing much of interest has happened... No more whale sightings (I did see some near the coast of California), no more dolphins, and only one, mocking bird (not in a literal sense): A rather large bird that appears whenever the squalls do, and flies in circles above me, dipping and arching its wing in contour with the waves, as it vanishes beneath the crests... I'm not sure why it visits during squalls, but, it has done so like clockwork.
While on the topic of squalls, I have to say the Pacific has thrown up its fair share. Compared to the Atlantic, where squalls also frequented, the ones in this ocean come more frequently and are more unpredictable. My Atlantic squalls were always generally rather placid. The trades were blowing at 20kts consistently, and the squall would blow through with an additional 10kts of breeze and be done. Out here, I can never tell how hard it will blow, and just yesterday a small looking cloud set, kicked up both foam and spindrift, which I haven't seen in awhile. Today, squalls have come through in varying force, but most of all, they've wrecked the trades and kept me from going many miles done... The Pacific trades have also been light and inconsistent just generally - The NOAA GRIB data reports usually around 15kts in my area - They always over-report, and I would expect it's more like 12-15kts. This is all due to the Pacific high, and maybe it just hasn't properly settled yet... Or maybe, this is just how it is.
All in all, I don't have too many complaints, although I am looking forward to a quiet sleep at anchor or tied up somewhere, and maybe some fresh fruit...
Thanks as always for the nice messages people send me. Hello to the Waddle family, and for those sending me email addresses to reply to, I will do so from land.
It's been a long time coming... I haven't had much motivation since my last post. The weather tended light for several days, and then turned right on my nose - So I sailed close hauled for several days, and dealt with the corresponding change in swell direction and wind, as it swung back around to the north west. Rainy miserable weather prevailed, and Constellation and I beat upwind, and then beam-reached through a cross swell... And eventually made it out the other end into the tradewinds. I think I spent two full days lying in my bunk with my face in the pillow, whining to myself. The price of sailing above about 30degrees north is that one has to sail back through the variable/horse latitudes, and find the sometimes elusive stable winds and weather... Nevertheless, we're here, and as I speak, Constellation is powering along with twin jibs set and a full mainsail up. During the nights so I can sleep, I reduce sail, but we still seem to be managing about 120nm days, depending on how eager I am to maintain decent sail area. Several things have broken onboard, but none that could hold us still. The track for the port sheet has lifted, and water is coming in from the deck. Two of the newly bedded stanchion bases also appear to be leaking, and so I have towels all around the place trying to keep things dry. It's annoying, but nothing much beyond that. Today, for the third time on this trip, the boom flew off the maintrack. It was a stupid design to begin with, but I guess one must remember the majority of this gear was not meant to be put under such stress loads, 24hrs a day, for weeks at a time... Poor Constellation, she was just meant to daysail around the Solent... Anyway, I permanently center bolted the maintrack, and then distributed the load to the boom through two blocks instead of one. I think now it is fixed for good... Not pretty, but fixed.
Otherwise there is little else to report. Tradewind sailing is... Incessant swell kicking the boat left and right, and the practice of balancing sail, windvane, and whisker poles (thanks Roya!) while maximising speed, and minimising stress on the boat, and on the living environment... There is nothing worse than flying along at 6.5kts and careening sideways down waves in the name of progress, while you try to sip your tea.
Thank you so much to everyone who has been sending me messages - They've been very amusing, and keep me going - I really appreciate it.
My track has been updated, and I sincerely hope it reflects my progress... I guestimate another 9 days of sailing, if I can maintain 120nm days...
Thanks Marty for getting this post up!
Campaign Progress of the required users
of the required placemarks
Thanks so much to everyone who read my last post and call for help - As you can see from the above numbers, things are going well. But, the deadline to get those bar graphs up to 100% is the end of this month! If you haven't already, please read this post and help me get across the Pacific!
So, other than working on Constellation (many great things are happening onboard - I'll write another entire post dedicated to that... ), I've been hanging out with Stephane... ! Stephane and I tried to meet in New Jersey, as I arrived from the Caribbean, and he departed for Europe... Unfortunately, we were about a week apart! He has come back to work and continue his voyage... It was fun talking with him... Comparing notes... Laughing at having the same superstitions and similar experiences aboard our little Contessa's.
Stephane has now gone back up to Canada for work, and so I'm again left to my own devices, preparing Constellation with all the great people I've met here in Greenport.
I'm going to miss this place... A lot.
While crossing the Atlantic, I will be sending back audio updates with my position and reports from the high seas. You can subscribe to the podcast with iTunes using the following feed URL: Bigoceans | Tiny Boat Podcast (cut and paste the url into the podcast subscribe box of the latest version of iTunes).
Alternatively view all my podcast posts here.
I am raising funds to build bridges in rural Cambodia - Please read my Fundraising page for more information.
Short documentary trailer by DNR-Productions
Getting your Bearings / Sea Fever from nickj on Vimeo.
Short clip I assembled myself while at anchor... I was so bored. This has nothing to do with the work of DNR - (You can tell!)
Monnikendam to Willemstad; The beginning from nickj on Vimeo.
Another self-made clip on my voyage from Lisbon in Portugal, to Las Palmas in Gran Canaria (The Canary Islands)
Lisbon to the Canary Islands from nickj on Vimeo.