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:


$10,000 prize - Vote for Constellation!

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

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

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

Thanks everyone! nick

Fundraising, Bikes, Trip Update

Several weeks ago, a small powerboat arrived in the marina, with its occupants holding up a picture of the article recently published in the Suffolk Times newspaper here on Long Island, asking for the 'guy on the frontage'. That was me, I was found, and so there I met an incredibly lovely family who wanted to hear more about my voyage. As they left the dock, they exclaimed 'you should come around for a BBQ!'. A week later, they were back with a crazy idea: What if they were to throw a party, to raise money for Constellation's trip across America? I thought they were joking. But, it was no joke, and so a stunning party was held at a gorgeous house on the shores of Greenport:

The gracious hosts Trina, me, Carolyn & Joe

All sorts of people came, amazing food was laid out, money was raised, and I was amazed.

Not long ago I met someone whom I told about my trip, and about the generosity of people along the way. They looked at me, and said I must have such a different outlook on life, because so many people help me, and so many people are interested in what I'm doing. I'm not sure if my entire perception has changed, but a life where you're regularly helped by strangers certainly changes your view of people in general. This party was no exception, and what a generous gesture - Thank you so much to the Ferrara family for reaching out to me, and to everyone who attended and chipped in.

At the party I also had the opportunity to announce a new addition to my travels: (Drum roll... !) As Constellation is trucked across America, I will follow by bicycle, riding from Long Island, to San Francisco. This new portion of the 'voyage' will turn my trip from Europe to Australia, into a wind & human powered expedition, making it unique among similar endeavours. I had hoped to start the bicycle leg of my trip in October, but as of today, I don't think that's possible. I still have money to make for the transportation of Constellation (among a dozen other things), as well as many logistical problems to solve with regards to repairs on the boat, and now also for cycling. I hope to ride across America spending one day a week working on Habitat for Humanity construction sites, as well as doing talks at schools in landlocked states about the sea. This all takes a great deal of planning and forethought, and so I suspect it will not be until spring that I'll be able to depart.

With this addition of the trip, I now am in great need of cycling equipment - If anyone has any ideas, or things lying around they don't use which you might think could be useful for a 3000mile cycle across the country, let me know!.


P.S Thanks to everyone who left really nice comments about the short film I clipped together.

Antigua -> NYC in 28 Days

Before I digress, I have a lot of people to thank: Thank you so much to Kevin, Jim, Phillip and Adam for sending through paypal funds while I was at sea, they were very nice arrival presents, and I really, really appreciate it. Thank you also to Marty, Adam (again!) and Mark for helping complete my Fundraising efforts. It made all my meandering around the Atlantic ocean worthwhile. Not to mention the appreciation of a local community in Cambodia who will be receiving a bridge to help them traverse their landscape. I'll be moving those funds around to get it to Oxfam over the next week. Thank you so much to Tony for watching my back on the weather, as well as sponsoring my voyage with Commanders Weather text and verbal updates. Especially big thanks for his researching my friend Eddie the eddy, who had me in his clutches for three whole days. Tony sent through the eddy centre coordinates and radius, as well as confirming my thoughts on its rotation, so I could get out of the damn thing. Thank you also to Crusty, Adam and Lenseman, as well as all the others that didn't provide names but sent through regular weather reports.

Thank you to everyone who sent messages. I received over 250 SMS's via the satellite phone, which was a highlight of the morning when I checked them. Lots of encouragement, jokes, cricket scores, weather and silly comments I unfortunately couldn't reply to! A lot of people sent messages without a name, so if you did, please email me so I can reply. And a big thanks to Marty for managing the website in my absence. None of this is properly automated, so all those updates were manually put up by Marty after receiving voicemail's from me. So many people are supporting me, it warms the cockles of my heart; it's unbelievable.

I will be at the 79th St Boat basin, this Saturday the 28th. If there are any people out there that would like to see my beaten up boat, you're welcome to come down! I hope to be there about 1pm.

Anchored, New Jersey Anchored, Atlantic Highlands, New Jersey. Photos

So, that took a while. 28 days. 2 days less than an Atlantic crossing. Wow.

When I said I thought it would take 21 days, that was worst case scenario. I secretly hoped I would do it in 16-17 days... A friend said they knew someone who did the voyage in 29 days, which I thought was a bit drastic. How wrong I was.

What an epic journey. Early on, I experienced a Tropical Wave (this is what can become a hurricane later in the year) on my second day out of Antigua, blowing through with perilous looking lightening and rough seas. I then spent a good part of one and a half weeks (all together) completely becalmed, or progressing at a snails pace. The NW winds blew smoke from fires in North Carolina all the way to my little boat in the middle of the Bermuda triangle. The fires created a ghost like haze, bright red sunsets, a stunning moon and gave electrical storms a horrifying hue. Constellation and I became the gold at the end of the rainbow, and experienced such amounts of rain, I thought we might have involuntarily become The Ark. A group of six birds followed me all the way to New York from the Caribbean, an enormous Dorado 'piloted' us for an full day on the bow, occasionally jumping out of the water like a Dolphin, before teasing the birds floating on my stern, by nipping at their feet. A school of Tuna nearly jumped onboard as I was switching to the storm jib in the very bumpy Gulf Stream, after which I received weather updates from an enormous cruise ship I had last seen in La Coruna.

I conversed with a Challenger 67 recently up from the ice pack in South America, who commented on the 'bumpy conditions in the Gulf Stream', to which I replied 'you should see what it feels like a boat a 3rd your size!'. The boom developed cracks, a reefing line snapped, and every change of wind direction required manually shifting the mainsail from side to side. When at last I thought I was on the home stretch, I became trapped in an eddy that spun me around for three days before there was enough wind to get out of it, and on my last day in its grip, I talked with the Newport-Bermuda race fleet, sailed in the vicinity of American Warship '68' conducting live cannon tests, heard the US coast guard report of an exploded sailing yacht near Rhode Island, a downed helicopter and of vessel on fire (I don't think they were connected to the warship tests!). Just 140nm out of New York, two squalls blew through with such force, we lay hove-to under a fully reefed mainsail, with windspeeds which may have topped all my other experiences. Entering into New York harbour, we were encapsulated in a fog which reduced visibility to not much further than my bow lights. Through the depths of fog, one could only hear pumping diesel engines, fog horns and gongs. I didn't see a single ship until I was in Sandy Hook, but I was constantly radioed asking to maintain course to avoid collision. There was never a dull day, I assure you!

Below is my daily log up until day 12.

Day 1

I didn't want to leave today. I tried to come up with excuses, but already I'm a day late, and everything is ready to. I motored to my favourite part of English harbour to finish packing things away, had my last Caribbean swim and pulled the dinghy on deck. This was the worst part of the day - Worse than pulling up the anchor. The dinghy is your last connection with land. I stowed it, and set the mainsail, to the applaud of a Catamaran full of Frenchmen. They asked where I was going next, and I shouted "New York City!", which was exciting to hear myself say out loud. They all clapped and and I bowed, before hauling the Genoa and exiting the harbour. Rounding the bottom of Antigua, I scared myself to death, with the crystal clear waters becoming "shallow", suddenly the bottom becoming visible. I thought I was about to hit a reef, but then realised the water was still over 30feet deep. I double checked my chart and continued on. A tanker from Venezuela came a little to close as I set my course North, after which I lay in my bunk, thinking about the long trip ahead.

Day 2

At 2am the reported Tropical Wave arrived. I tried to use this as an excuse not to leave, however it was a good opportunity to use the 40kts+ of windspeed to make good progress. An incredibly dark and ominous formation approached from the stern, and I put a reef in the mainsail quicksmart. In the distance I saw lightning, and worried about not having proper grounding equipment. I ended up reefing all the way down to the 3rd reef, leaving the jib up for speed. Within three hours it had gone, so I shook out the reefs, only to have a squall appear from nowhere 20 minutes later. I reefed back down, and by the time all this was over, the sun started to rise, and I'd hardly slept. The swell has remained from the nights weather, and we're bumping along.

Day 3

A gentle breeze propels us at a steady 4.5kts. I relish in our current rate of progress, but try not to get too excited, knowing the calms will come the further north I go. As Street says, calms are "A rule not an exception!". With only ten litres of fuel on board, I'll be at the mercy of wind statistics. The pilot chart indicates I'll be going through a belt of latitude which has a 15% chance of calms within any given month. I started fishing today in earnest, inspired by the pictures of what the Kon-Tiki expedition caught. And I'm hungry for something healthy, as all I have on board (thanks to the really, really bad and really really expensive supermarket in Antigua) is 20 packets of Ramen noodles, a bunch of plain pasta, bags of rice, four bags of flour, six packets of cookies and a bottle of chilli sauce. As a backup I have my bags of Gofi, which I bought in Las Palmas. Basically it's ground cereals, like flour, but very healthy. I hope I don't get down to that...

Day 4

Lots of squally activity overnight. The wind and rain constantly hammered through for 15 minutes, and then we'd be becalmed for another 20, the sails banging around overhead, windless. The breeze would then pick up again, and I'd have to reset Windy the Windpilot, and attempt to sleep. This continued right on until daybreak, however now things seem to have stabilised (it's 06:20). I made plaincakes (they're like pancakes, but with just flour and water), and listened to Crowded House. A tanker headed for Rotterdam skirted by my bow, and I had a conversation with the watch keeper. He was Bulgarian, and invited me to sail in the black sea! He also said the weather was fine, with a stable high pressure system overhead. He also said he couldn't see me on radar.

Day 5

I found a flying fish on deck (on my Atlantic crossing it was covered...) and tried to use it as bait, but the fish are too smart around these parts. The wind has decreased, but we're still doing a pleasant 3.5kts. I made plaincakes again, and wondered what to do with the day. Tradewind clouds are banked on the eastern horizon, with lofty cirrostratus formations overhead. I was reading Miles Smeeton and listening to my MP3 player, but it's just cut out for the third time, and I sincerely hope it l lasts to NYC - I'll go mad without music... I'll be stuck with Christian Radio on shortwave. The cabin is sweltering by 10am, and I dump water over the boat in an attempt to keep it cool, however this pen is still slippery with sweat. It may only be the 5th day, and while we are slowing down as the Trades drop out, this is the best sailing I've done. I'm very happy about everything; you could take away the land I wouldn't be too displeased (until my cookies ran out, of course). At 17:40 sailing yacht 'Eternity', under the American ensign sailed past - We spoke briefly, she was on route to Europe via Bermuda/Azores. After she sailed past, the wind picked up for the night, and we're doing a perfect 4kts.

Day 6

For the first time, maybe in my life, I don't want to be doing anything else: What's here, what's now, is finally enough. And it's funny, because what's around me is on the one hand, a complete void, yet this nothingness is rich in everything. As if nothing were everything, and vice versa. It's taken nearly 11,000km's and over 250 days en route for this feeling to arise, and I think it was worth every terrifying, frustrating and difficult moment (of which there were many)t. I know this won't last; it's a passing occurrence, but a worthy one no less.

Day 7

I was kept up all night running to and from my bed to the cockpit, as a series of squalls blew through, rocketing us forward, and then spitting us out without a lick of wind. I didn't really feel like sleeping last night anyway, so I didn't mind so much being awake. I tried to read for a while, and to coerce a few miles out of the ever-lessening wind. We're almost back up to 27degrees north, which is in line with the Canary Islands, the point of departure for my Atlantic crossing. Here is where the Trades begin to disappear, and we approach the 'variable zone'. It's still very much enjoyable out here, however I do look forward to living in a big city again. I haven't seen a movie since August of last year, and poor Constellation needs some dedicated tending to. What an incredible journey for a nearly stock-standard boat from 1972. Jeremy Rogers certainly built an exceptional little boat. There is so little wind right now, we're doing 2kts, sometimes less. I won't motor, and couldn't even if I wanted. The wind is veering slowly to the south west, which is nice because it cools the cabin, and makes the day much more bearable. It's hard to keep the sails filled at this angle, so we are heading more north towards Bermuda than New York.

Day 8

Very light and contrary winds. Over the past 18hrs we've only done 40nm. I am working hard to keep us moving, bu there si only so much I can do. I can hear the swish of Sargasso seaweed (?), as Constellation creeps over it. From our current position, it's 290nm to Bermuda, and 890nm to new York The sea has lost some of its warmth; I suspect it will also begin to lose its incredible shade of blue soon as well. By mid-morning, torrents of rain screamed down from the low clouds, reducing visibility to a few hundred metres. It created the most amazing sound against the sea, and produced more rain than I've ever seen in my life. I jumped outside with a bar of soap, and had an impromptu shower, filling bucket after bucket from the scuppers or the dripping boom. The rain was cold, and I shivered outside waiting for the sun to return and dry me out. As I waited, a great sign of biblical proportions appeared before my eyes: With a light drizzle, the sun penetrated the grey, and created a rainbow, which through the wonders of optics and illusion, ventured right to the very port side of Constellation: The little red sloop and I, in the heart of the Bermuda triangle, had seemingly become the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow! I've never witnessed anything like that before.

As the storm cleared, I tried to get Constellation going again. While I was adjusting the boom, I noticed two cracks. I moved the mainsheet to the end of the boom, and have been running it off of cleats on the port and starboard side, near the pulpit. With every tack, or every change in the mainsail, I have to manually swap over the sheet, and also be very careful not to encourage the crack any further... I was scared of the damage, and spent two days with a reefed mainsail. It seemed the cracks were 'stable', and went back to full sail whenever needed.

Day 9

Lots of electrical activity last night - I managed to cobble together enough parts to ground both backstays to Windy the Windpilot. I doubt grounding has any real effect - If you're hit, I think that's it. At around 2am, winds steadied, and checks throughout the night had us doing a good 4.5kts. This morning we're still maintaining our speed, which has made my day. There is nothing worse than dribbling along at 1.5kts with the sailings flogging overhead. Our course is directly to Bermuda, with 200nm to go. I have no intention of stopping, but I'm sailing in the vicinity because of the wind direction, and also because it is quicker for me to hop in if I need to. I'll get a weather update tomorrow, and then if I must, I'll stop, but I really don't want to. I can feel it getting ever so slightly cooler in the evenings. For the first time in what could be months, I might have to start wearing pants!

Day 10

The foresail woke me up, banging around, and I looked out of the port window to see were were utterly becalmed. After yesterdays run, I thought we'd latched onto some reasonably steady wind, but apparently that was only wishful thinking. We're now 135nm from bermuda - That's a good 24 hour run for us... However it really just seems to be the carrot on the end of the stick, forever just in front of me: And we're not even stopping there! As New York is the goal, I can't stop thinking about what on earth I'm going to do when I get there. Since the Canary Islands, NY has been my port of rest, yet I don't want to stop.... I have to keep going! But to where!? Canada? For the past 9hrs, we've been doing less than 2kts; I've been glancing at the clock only to see 45mins has past, and it's too hot to read. Ransacking the boat for something nice to eat yields absolutely nothing, except a packet of raisins from Lisbon. Some hours I want to go into Bermuda just to get a bar of chocolate. I wish I had a 'secret' stash onboard.

Day 11

I called Commanders Weather today, and the outlook is not so great. Very little wind, and what little wind there is, will be coming from the north west (where I need to go). With this news, I began motoring to Bermuda. After four hours, I realised how futile it was, for a 10hp engine to be motoring in the open ocean: It's just not enough power to make any headway. I killed the motor and scrapped Bermuda off the plan. In the afternoon a silly bird grabbed my trolling line, and I had to haul it in, and unhook it. Thankfully it was ok, and the hook hadn't drawn blood, rather the bird was just tangled.

Day 12

I'm pointing directly into a choppy swell, doing 1.5kts. The wind is from the north, veering north east, and I'm sailing away from Bermuda. I really don't want to stop. It's 21:00 now, and while we're still slamming, I can almost get Constellation on a decent tack towards NY. I hope on Monday we get some west wind, or I can get enough latitude to find these mysterious WSW winds which are supposed to frequent the area... Commanders reports they won't start until 35deg north!


Off to NYC, Fundraising, Oceanwatch

(Note: I am currently at sea, and there will be no blog posts until New York. Positions and messages will however be updated, and can be viewed on the new dedicated Latest Updates page, or from the homepage. You can now send me an SMS if you feel like it from the SMS page.)

Wow, after less than a month in the Antilles, I'm heading back into higher latitudes, to New York City! It's a long voyage, of 1552nm in a direct line from Antigua, which is over half my Atlantic crossing, a trip I seemingly just completed yesterday. With the fluky winds predicted, I expect it to also take nearly as long as my Atlantic voyage, at roughly 21 days. I'm carrying very limited diesel due to cost, so this leg will be under 99% pure sail.

Special thanks to my new American friends David and Tony - David has been 'rooting for me' (see, I'm American already!) in New York, making contacts and giving a lot of moral support. Tony has generously sponsored this part of my trip with Commanders Weather forecasting to keep me safe, and as of today the weather looks good, but rather light on the winds. Better too little wind than too much though, right? Thanks guys, see you soon!

As I have decided to skip Bermuda (unless directed that way due to bad weather or some other reason) and go non-stop, this meets the criteria for my fundraising efforts, which I vowed to attempt on all legs over 1000nm. On my Atlantic voyage I attempted to raise $675 to build bridges in Cambodia, however I was just $275 short of my target. I would like to resurrect that goal, and raise the remaining money on this part of my trip.

I would also like to raise awareness for Oceanswatch, an organisation that "in close co-operation with the world's yachting and diving communities, undertakes marine conservation projects and offers humanitarian aid to coastal communities in developing countries." I'd like to raise awareness for Oceanswatch for two reasons: Firstly, because it's a wonderful cause (that's fairly obvious), and secondly, because another historic Contessa 26 voyage is about to begin in the Atlantic Ocean by Stéphane Tremblay of Canada. From the beginning of his Peaceful Journey project, Stéphane has been supporting Oceanswatch, and I very much liked the idea of two Contessa's battling it out in the Atlantic to support such a wonderful cause together. I therefore urge you to take a look at the Oceanswatch website, and think about donating or becoming a member. Bon voyage Stéphane, safe (peaceful)journey, and see you in the Pacific!

That's it from us and the beautiful Caribbean!

Antigua Constellation, Antigua


Antigua, photos & tiny Atlantic video

After spending a few days in and around the muddy mangrove area of English harbour, I went on a long walk through some fenced off areas across the lagoon, got kicked out of some hotel grounds by security, and found the most beautiful decrepit house in the world:

Where I plan to retire... Ha! Antigua
I've put an offer in for $60 American dollars - They tell me the deal is pending...!

Constellation, English Harbour
Constellation is that tiny boat you can see through the trees.

After my walk, I found a beautiful little beach:


I sat down for a few hours, and read Thor Heyerdahl's wonderful Kon-tiki. I felt terribly guilty just sitting there on the white sand when Constellation was in need of preparation, however those feelings soon departed, as I began the construction of a raft out of flotsam and let it drift away in the bay.

Walking back, I wondered why I wasn't anchored over on the other side of English harbour, where I could go swimming everyday. I'm told Lord Nelson woke up every morning, and promptly had six buckets of water thrown over him, for his 'daily hygiene routine'. After that he drank a quart of goats milk, and then complained about the mosquitos of the previous night, loudly exclaiming "damn this infernal hole!", so the entire harbour could hear. However, I'm sure as the day went by, even Lord Nelson must have grown to appreciate his surroundings again. So I decided for my hygiene routine (and, I must admit, I haven't had a proper shower since Las Palmas in Gran Canaria, circa the 26th of March) - The closest I've come (under strict and self-imposed sweet water conservation rules) is the dumping of 2 litres squarely over my head - A mere three times since that fateful day in March. So, while I couldn't afford, nor find a personal hygiene assistant, what I needed was a daily swim. I guess that explains why Jack left so quickly... Here is my public apology!

Really, that's the colour of the water. Promise.

I edged up as close as I could to the beach, next to this beautiful Cornish Trader, owned by ex-merchant seaman Peter, from the white cliffs of Dover:

Nice Cornish Trader from Dover, Antigua

I swam over and circled his boat to check it out, thinking it looked like a beefed up Cornish Crabber, which I guess is exactly what it turned out to be. Built in 1979, Peter bought 'Rainbow' brand new, and upon asking when he crossed the Atlantic, he looked at me sheepishly and said '1989'. Ha! He's been sailing up and down these islands and the East coast of America ever since. I think he was rather excited to have met an Australian, and kept mentioning the cricket (which was currently playing on his TV in the cabin). Unfortunately when it comes to popular sports, I know very little. He kept mentioning players and cricket grounds, and I nodded agreeably with everything he said, blissfully ignorant of how good a player Brian Lara really was.

As we sat drinking tea, an enormous Catamaran with fifty drunken tourists came speeding up to our private paradise, as if attempting to play 'chicken' with our stationary boats. It proceeded to beach itself in the sand, and let loose it's store of pasty white tourists into the bay. After the noisy tourists left, a turtle swam by the boat, with what must have been fifty years of growth on its back. Someone should introduce him to International Antifoul.

During my daily hygiene routine, with a set of goggles on, I came across a pile of chain underneath my boat. I spent 20 minutes diving down to find each end of it, thinking it was probably a mooring. I was pleasantly suprised to find it had two stainless steel shackles on the end of it, and wasn't attached to anything! It's diameter was enormous, and weighed a ton - Constellation could probably anchor off the chain alone, with nothing on the other end! Getting the dinghy over, I hauled it up, to the suspicious eyes of the boats around me, who I'm quite certain thought I was a mooring thief. Not wanting to be labeled 'The Great Ground Tackle Pirate of English Harbour' (or rather, wanting to named exactly that, but afraid of its consequences), I dropped the chain and got back to my boat. At dusk I dived down and attached one end underwater to my existing chain, and will pull up my anchor when I leave, quite innocent of the fact that there is a loose 12mm length of chain attached to it. So, while I was worried about my lack of chain (remember, 35ft was all I could afford, at $2.76 a foot, duty free), I now feel confident Constellation could sit rock solid in full hurricane strength winds, and I could sit onboard cooking pasta, oblivious to the carnage and uprooted trees being flung past my port window.

I previously mentioned my camera had died on the Atlantic, which it had (it's alive again after I hard rest it). I managed to take a few photos, and found this video looking to the stern of Constellation. Other than the footage on the video camera, it's all I have, and sorry for not making it pretty or editing it - But you get an idea of what it's like out there:

While this has all been going on, I've been chipping away at the tasks that need to be done on Constellation, and also spending a lot of time collecting information for my trip up to New York. I've been assisted greatly by several Americans and Canadians, and now feel much more confident about what I'm doing and where I'm going. Not having any almanacs or cruising books on the area, I was really at a loss of what to do - I felt grossly underprepared. Nevertheless, I now have an enormous amount of information, from tidal data, charts, and first hand information and advice for my trip into New York harbour. I'll detail things a bit more in the post I make before setting sail. I said I was going on the weekend, but heck, can I have one more day in paradise before I break back into 40 degree latitudes? I think so.

Monday it is.


P.S Before I forget, I haven't blown the money I raised over the Atlantic on electric winches or rum parties - Jack had the idea of attempting to raise the remaining $275 to buy a full bridge with my North American voyage of 1552nm. So that's what I'm going to do - The $400 already raised is in a separate savings account with a rum lock on it. A 'rum lock' is a special option now offered by Lloyds TSB to poor sailors, smugglers and misfits.

P.P.S Thanks to everyone on the subscription list that responded to my 'spamming' in order to test that things were working again. If you're on the subscribe list, and are reading this but didn't receive a notification... Please let me know.

Fundraising, Days 15-30

Thank you very kindly to all the supporters of my Bridge Project, I really appreciate it (as does Oxfam Australia). I don't quite have enough to purchase a bridge, but there is still lots that can be done with the money at the Oxfam Unwrapped store - So I'll transfer the money out and go on a charity shopping spree in the next few days. Across the Atlantic I had no idea if I'd raised more than $50, and thought the idea might fizzle, however I was happily suprised! Thank you once again. The two podcasts that went AWOL when the site went down (days 24 and 30) can be played here:

Day 24 Day 30

I have a few photos on my Photos page, however as I said, my camera broke pretty early on - I have a video camera on loan from Jack, which I took some photos with, but it's really for video, not for stills!

A regular but sorry sight! Kamikaze flying fish on deck

Also a fairly regular sight - Line squalls.

Windy the Windpilot, rocking it for 2700nm across the Atlantic. Look Ma, no hands!

The last photo is at Port St Charles, Barbados, at the clearance dock for immigration/customs and health. You can't tell, but there was swell surging around the breakwater, and poor Constellation was being crushed. I put tons of lines on after that photo, and high-tailed it out of there to the anchorage after the paperwork was done with.

Check the few other photos I have (but I have tons of video, although I don't have a fast enough computer to extract it!!) here.

And last but not least, are the the days from 15 - 30 of my crossing. As I said earlier, the quotes are from books I was reading at the time.:


Day 16

"We seem to be born to be dissatisfied" -Steiner

Day 17

Felling a little stir crazy and impatient now, with still at least 12 days to go, assuming wind stays as is. Thinking way too much... It's impossible to stop all this mental junk coming into your head and invading your thoughts. On land you can distract yourself. Here there is nothing, but to battle it in an mental arena. Except *I* (or is it the id?) always lose...! Days, nights and weeks are all one. Or none. I ate jelly beans for breakfast.

"God growed us up till we could wear long pants, then he licensed his name to dollar bills, left some car keys on the table, and got the fuck outta town... Don't be lookin up at the sky for no help. Look down here, at us twisted dreamers." -DBC Pierre

Day 18

I found some old cough drops in my jacket pocket. I don't have a cough, but they taste good. The first tanker I've seen in two weeks steamed past today, and was picked up by the radar detecter. We did 125nm today.

"Those who steer a boat across the sea, or drive a horse over the earth till they succumb to the weight of the years, spend every minute of their lives travelling" -Basho

Day 19

Hairy sail change at dawn... At least the water is warm now, because I got an involuntary shower, the bow dunking heavily. But the boat is happier now, not have so much canvas up. Swell is annoyingly choppy, and we are doing 5.5kts under my smallest Jib (one before Storm jib). I would be intrigued to know exactly what speed the wind is at the moment... We did 135nm today (our record).

"We live as we dream; alone" -Joseph Conrad

Day 20

Very bad day. Squall, then contrary winds. Boat rolling around like crazy. Curled up in my bunk, bracing myself with knees and back just to hold me still. It's difficult to explain, but there is this little thing underneath your psyche out here all the time, which is silently aware that some things are just chance. No matter how good you are at sailing, there is always the possibility you will be hit with bad luck, and this is a thing that goes over in your mind out here when you're alone. You suppress it 99% of the time, but today, I guess I weakened up. I feel like crying, Ellen McArthur style, but what I'm doing is nothing in comparison so I don't. Much'o extra respect for her.

"See, it's a brave man that weeps!" (Starbuck exclaims to Ahab) -Melville

Day 21

Three weeks. Two more ships picked up on the radar detector. Today I feel much better. We're still rolling a lot, but that's life. My noodles are balanced on a washboard, on my lap. I raised more sail to ensure we did the minimum 120nm/day quota. I think we are in good shape to make landfall in eight days. Night fell with an ominous squally horizon. Reduced sail just before dark.

Day 22

Increased sail this morning, and cleaned the deck of flying fish. Man, they get everywhere! Today is as was yesterday, as was the day before, yet one day closer to land....

"I've neer been lonely. I've been in a room. I've felt suicidal. I've been depressed. I've felt awful beyond all, but I've never felt that one other person, could enter that room and make a difference. In other words, loneliness is something I've never been bothered with, because I've always had this terrible itch for solitude." -Charles Bukowski

Day 23

I have a bit of a sore throat today, which I suspect is the result of 23 days of bad food. The wind died down a bit today... Argh! I'm not sure if we'll do our 120nm today. I found a rusty old can of tinned Tesco Rice Pudding in the caverness depths of Constellations storage crannies. Great day! The Genoa is flogging in the light airs. This annoys me.

"No, I must lie alone Till it comes for me; Till it takes the sky, the sand And the lonely sea." -Thomas Pynchon

Day 24

Woke up again with a sore throat. I also feel tired. Rummaging around I managed to find a bottle of expired vitamin C tablets. I overdosed. Last night a flying fish some how landed in the cabin, and buzzed around the floor. I was asleep, and dreamt of short circuiting wires. All of a sudden I realised it was a localised sound, and thought the boat was short circuiting! And then I looked down to see a smelly fish on the floor - Still flapping, I picked it up with the frying pan and hurled it out the door. I estimate the wind to be blowing F3 now. This is frustrating, because it's consistent, and I'm concerned we've simply hit the belt of light-airs. But, it's a perfect sunny day, and the swell is much less, so I can't really complain.

Day 25

We have really slowed down now... Doing around 90nm/day. Some parts of the day I am frustrated by this, others I'm non-plussed. The only problem is, I'm really running out of nice things to eat! ('Nice' being a relative term...!)

"Without serious storms my small ship of fate sailed through the sea of life; and if on the occasion it took the wrong course, then providential navigation steered it back in the right direction". Xaver Scharwenka

Day 26

Ok, now speed is really frustrating me a lot. Forget the zen stuff, I'm fucking annoyed. I decided to try out a goosewing configuration with the rig, which all up took 35 minutes to put up, including the time to dismantle my previous setup. I smashed my elbow raising the mainsail, and it's bleeding and really hurts. I jumped around on deck yelling profanities for quite some time, remembering soon after my sore throat. Which is worse now. Finally up, it turned out to be useless. The swell simply kicks the boat sideways, and we gybe. I thought maybe we'd get away with it, but no... I should have trusted my instincts. Now I have to put everything back. We're doing a whopping 3kts, and now the wind keeps changing, so the windvane sends us off course. Already three squalls have blown over, leaving behind a windshadow, and rain. I suspect it's these squalls hovering around that have been playing with the wind. Every morning I have such a feeling of urgency, and glancing at the GPS 'To Go' field makes me furious at our slow progress. However, by mid to late-afternoon, my anger subsides, and I don't really care if we have another 1000nm's to go. Mornings are for impatient youth/evenings for more gentlemanly thoughts/and aspirations.

"Let others bemoan the maliciousness of their age. What irks me, is its pettiness, for ours is an age without passion... My life comes out all one colour." -Kierkegaard

Day 27

At our current pace we'll be in Barbados within three nights! Why am I complaining about progress again!? It won't be long before I start feeling nostalgic about this whole voyage... A tanker steamed past me last night on the starboard side. I gave it a solute and went back to bed. As you know I always salute cardinal buoys for guiding me away from dangers - As such, tankers should be thanked, for not running you down! It's hot in here... I spent the afternoon listening to Jeff Bucky bootlegs.

"Waiting for joyous tomorrows, is what kills joyous todays." Raoul Vaniegem

Day 28

Closer, closer! It's Friday, we'll be in port by Sunday. I know it. I feel i'll be stuck on the boat till Monday though due to customs clearance... Maybe I'll sneak ashore though, during the night, just to make sure a place to stand that doesn't pitch and roll actually exists.

"Three passions, simple but overwhelmingly strong, have governed my life: the longing for love, the search for knowledge, and unbearable pity for the suffering of mankind. These passions, like great winds, have blown me hither and thither, in a wayward course, over a deep ocean of anguish, reaching to the very edge of despair." -Bertrand Russel

Day 29

I was hoping to break the 30 day barrier by arriving today, but I still have 24hours to go! Nevermind. I'm so happy, I virtually done it... It's strange though, I don't feel particularly excited, or even anxious right now. I guess now I'm just so used to being out here...

"For nonconformity the world whips you with its displeasure." -Emerson

Day 30

Wow, it's done. I arrived at 14:10 in Port St Charles. I docked on the fuel birth, and stood on land. It was an incredibly odd feeling. I had to see Customs, Immigration and Health before being allowed back on my boat... I went out and anchored in Six Mans Bay. The water is warm, there are kids playing on the beach, the sand is white, and I just can't believe it. How beautiful; great day.

"The concept of freedom has two aspects; the first concerns the individual, who is free to do as he pleases; the second, more important, has to do with sharing the fruit of our free actions with others." -Lucrezia De Domizio Durini



Barbados! Thank you, Days 1-15

Wow, I've finally made it. It took a little longer than expected, totaling 30 days at sea. I could have increased speed with a better sail configuration, having sailed 90% of the way on a single headsail. Don't ever cross without at least one spinnaker pole! Anyway, it's amazing to be here, and thank you so much to everyone who donated to my Fundraising project, and to those who even sent some money directly so I could have some nice food on arrival! I'm really quite overwhelmed, with emails, comments, and a whole new list of things to do and organise. Life sure was a lot simpler at sea... But then again, that simplicity bulked up over time, and now I'm snowed under! The website has been down for awhile, and it's taken me four hours of solid work to figure out and fix the problems. Thank you to Marty for spending a lot of time also attempting to fix it, and for dealing with the podcasts over the last month - I hope you enjoyed them. I know I certainly enjoyed having 'someone' to tell my stories to. The last two are in the archives if you're interested. It was pretty neat to think I was calling from the middle of nowhere, sending information back onto the web, being listened to by many. Thanks for all the comments of support, and I must say, having them forwarded to my phone certainly made some of the dark days light again. Thanks Dad for forwarding them - Sorry I couldn't reply, but my phone is not equipped to - It can only receive.

Over the thirty days I wrote a little journal, which I'm including below. The quotes are all from books or music I was reading or listening to at the time - In the next post I'll paste the remaining 30 days.

Thank you so much to everyone, and I'll post with some photos and anything else I can think of soon - Unfortunately my camera broke, so I only have a few photos... But I'll dig something up!


Day 1

I left today, with nice winds and a birthday present at the marina office from Tudor (thanks again!). The man at the Diesel pump also gave me some tshirts and explained to his friend that yes, I was actually leaving to cross the Atlantic right now, singlehanded! To which he didn't believe.

Day 2

Conditions went from nice sailing to moderate... Feeling seasick.

"I'm a seasick sailor on a ship up north, I got my maps all backwards" -Beck

Day 3

Tired and very annoyed. Large cross swell. Thrown across cabin from bunk by slamming cross wave, frankly I'm amazed nothing broke (including me)... Constellation is a battle axe. Very little sleep and am overpowered but I'm too tired to change the headsail down.

Day 4

Everything is wet. Copious amounts of water entering the cockpit from breaking waves. Lying in bunk with eyes closed, but unable to sleep. Again, thrown out of bed violently by a cross wave. Is the whole trip going to be like this? I couldn't do 25 days of this.

Day 5

Conditions getting much better. Boat rolling a lot. I've spent so much time trying to stabalise things, but nothing works. From staysail-like configurations to even attempting to haul the storm jib up the main! (I cobbled something together, but it didn't really help). Finally got some good sleep last night.

Day 6

Called my Dad, and asked him to email Rich in Oregon for some weather advice, and to see if the Tradewinds were far enough North to consider turn for Barbados yet. (Writing again in the afternoon) The wind has strangely has disappeared! I'm becalmed! I caught an enormous fish today. It was too big for me to eat alone, and I couldn't bear the thought of killing it and only eating half. Sent it back to sea. Getting a little frustrated by the lack of wind...

Day 7

One week at sea. Becalmed all night, but at least I slept well. The wind has now turned Westerly??? Strange. At least I can sail South West quite comfortably... Lots of water over the deck though, as the swell is a little confused, and choppy. Drank coffee and ate muffins for breakfast and finished one of my books today. (Thanks Mai Ly!). Stood on deck for awhile and yelled for no real reason. (Writing again in the afternoon) Received Iridium SMS from Rich regarding weather... Which to paraphrase was "You might sail into a wind hole if you keep going that direction" ... Too late, I already did! Because of the large cross swell in the first few days, I spent too much time going West, and now I'm paying for it. Based on a projected course, Rich gave me weather updates and gave me a waypoint to aim for where I might find good winds again.

Day 8

I didn't sleep very well last night, with variable winds fooling the windvane, having me up and down out of bed trying to adjust it and get every mile out of what was available. Which didn't really add up to much... I should have just sailed in circles and gone to sleep. Depressed most of the day, and spent some time in the sun to try and cheer up. It didn't work, just giving me a headache. Made scrambled eggs with canned asparagus for lunch, and tried to read a little, while listening to Miles Davis. Unfortunately I have one of Miles' albums from the early 1990's - My god, what a terrible period in his career... I haven't plotted my position for two days now, because I know we will have progressed so little. Which would probably make my depression even worst. Ate mashed potatoes for dinner.

Day 9

It's incredible how overwhelming the smell of things is out here. The smell of a match is amazing!

"The majority of men lead lives of quiet desperation" -Thoreau

Day 10

Made pancackes and phoned in another podcast. I also received comments from the website as well as friends from home, which really made my day. That little contact lit me right up! My high spirits were dampened somewhat by a squall in the afternoon and lack of wind...

"To be truly challenging, like life, a voyage must rest on a firm foundation of financial unrest" -Stirling Hayden

Day 11

Wind still light and coming from the wrong freaking direction (West/West South West)... Really confused about the weather now. Ended up calling Takir in the Kazak ship to see how he was going. Their vessel is about 600nm in front of me, and they left on the same day! I guess in those first few days of hairy sailing they got a good few miles under their belts, and got closer to the trades before the wind change. Having said that, Takhir said there was only light wind at his current position...

"Every ship is a romantic object, except the one we sail in. Embark, and the romance quits our vessel and hangs on every other sail on the horizon" -Emerson

Day 12

Ok, new forecast from Rich, predicting one more day of WSW wind, then calm, then a reappearance of the trades! Hooorah!! Bored today. It's hot and I have another headache.

"I look out of my window in the morning when I rise, as I would out of a port-hole of a ship in the Atlantic" -Melville

Day 13

At last! The forecast was out a day on the emergence of the NE winds (a good thing). A gentle F3 wind is now coming from the North, and we're on a beam reach heading WEST!! Doing 4kts, boat stable with the main up, very enjoyable. A flat bank of clouds is overhead, extending to the horizon. The sailing is perfect!

"For whatever its merits, I would like to think that there is just as much of frustration and failure as there is of free-swinging, fare rolling times when, however rough the going, you have the feeling "Fuck it! I wouldn't swap places with anyone else for anything on this earth" -Stirling Hayden

Day 14

Wow, two weeks at sea. There is something so driving about the sun rising from the stern, and setting on the bow... It's like a the sun is giving you a navigational wink, and an aesthetic burst before illuminating another hemisphere.

"Fear by day; terror by night" -British small boat lore

Day 15

Depressed. Hardly slept last night. Boat is rolling like hell (Wind shifted to ENE am under Genoa alone). Lay on the floor of the boat, as it's the lowest centre of gravity, but still, impossible to sleep. 1700nm to go .. Boat going fast. Found my first flying fish on deck.


I'll post the remaining 15 days soon!


Atlantic Podcast Day 19

Currently I am at sea, somewhere in the Atlantic - Below is another podcast update sent in via satellite phone! Please don't forget I am trying to raise funds to build bridges in Cambodia - More information is available on my Fundraising page.

Download Podcasts (MP3)

day0.mp3 day1.mp3 day6.mp3 day10.mp3 day14.mp3 day19.mp3 day24.mp3 day30.mp3

If you are running iTunes or similar, you can subscribe the Bridge over the Atlantic podcast here for automated updates. Accompanying each update is my latest position, visible on the Position page. If you have some spare time and feel like transcribing this update as a comment, I'd be most appreciative - Thanks, and I'll be back online in the Caribbean!


Atlantic Podcast Day 14

Currently I am at sea, somewhere in the Atlantic - Below is another podcast update sent in via satellite phone! Please don't forget I am trying to raise funds to build bridges in Cambodia - More information is available on my Fundraising page.

Download Podcasts (MP3)

day0.mp3 day1.mp3 day6.mp3 day10.mp3 day14.mp3 day19.mp3 day24.mp3 day30.mp3

If you are running iTunes or similar, you can subscribe the Bridge over the Atlantic podcast here for automated updates. Accompanying each update is my latest position, visible on the Position page. If you have some spare time and feel like transcribing this update as a comment, I'd be most appreciative - Thanks, and I'll be back online in the Caribbean!