People

Sailing with Tobias Fahey

Last week I had the great fortune of getting a sail in with Tobias Fahey, aboard his IOOD50 (International Open One Design 50), in Tasmania. This year, Tobias will be attempting to become the fastest Australian to circumnavigate the globe, singlehanded and nonstop around the great capes. The boat he will be sailing was originally built specifically for voyages such as these, designed by Graham Radford and built by infamous Australian adventurer Don Mcintyre ten years ago, as part of planned one-design circumnavigation race which unfortunately didn't happen. Just a few weeks ago I also had the great pleasure of meeting Don in Melbourne, when he visited me at the new co-working space I built with my pal Marty. Don was flying through Melbourne (metaphorically), on a mad trip north to pickup some kind of inflatable flying boat. Don has more energy than anyone I've ever met, and so many great stories, one could just sit there and listen to him recall his life for hours, if not days, without closing an eye. He's an amazing ambassador for encouraging adventure to young Australians, and everyone should take a minute out of their lives to zoom around Google and read up on his various projects and adventures, spanning oceans and frozen continents. Sailing with Tobias was a fun experience, as I've never been aboard a large, highly strung offshore racing boat before, as generally I toy around on small, slow, full keeled boats where 5kts is deemed 'fast'... Tobias is a true waterman, living in a house of his own construction over looking a beautiful bay, where he sails and catches lobster, abalone and fishes for food. A sailor, surfer, diver, and really nice person, Tobias is taking on a huge personal challenge and dream to depart this October, at the young age of just 26. Take a look at his website, send some words of encouragement, and watch his undertaking unfold at tobiasfahey.com.au.

Below are a few photos, and a short sailing vignette as we sailed around Frederick Henry Bay, not far from Hobart.









Nick.

The Bristol library elevator is broken, I bought a harmonica.

I get a lot of emails from people saying 'cool trip, I'm doing my own... Xyz' ... Which is awesome. Some of them are more interesting than others, and some peter-out after just a few months - Reality, other commitments, and often finances bring the house of cards (dreams) down. But this one piqued my interest... A proposed sailing voyage that starts off with a roadtrip around America, living on burgers, and discussions on camera with his dog, beside rivers & truckstops... Fast forward to today, and it's a familiar story of being broke with a busted van, an old boat, and no one to help him out... Floating around a bay in California, looking for a way to survive, and live out a dream of sailing off over the horizon. This is the kind of adventure I can appreciate. His name is Jordan, and he left Oregon last year, to drive around America with his dog, shoot video, think about sailing, and maybe prove to some people (and probably himself), that he'd make an interesting story & an interesting individual to support his ultimate aim of leaving the docklines, on the dock.

"So today I wake up in my broken van out front of Cat Womens house. Nora chases the cats for a while and I get a hot shower. Later we stroll down to moss landing, about a mile from Sally’s. I talk with the Harbor Guys, they’re cool. They have slips available, they don’t run credit checks, and can get me in whenever I’m ready. Now I just have to come up with the slip fees and deposit, much cheaper than Monterey Bay Boat Works. Still lots of money for a guy who just bought a boat, and broke a van..."

He has 180 videos on Youtube from his adventures so far, and I hope he keeps up the video and writing - I'm looking forward to watching the transition from the road to the water... Aboard his Pearson, in Monterey Bay...

And if you're curious about the title of this post, it's an old Twitter update from Jordan - The fact he cares about the library elevator being broken, is because he's paralysed from the waist down. Check out his website here...

See you on the sea sometime Jordan!

Nick.

The loss of Wild Eyes

Now that we've heard that Abby is ok (she is still floating out there, but, according to all reports doing as best as as one can in such circumstances), the question I have now, is what will happen to her boat? Reports indicate that other than a dismasting, the boat is actually fine - No water is entering, and the keel is still attached. All good things. As a French fishing vessel approaches Abby and her boat, I can't help but ponder the fate of the Scot Jutson designed Open 40 Wild Eyes, formally known as BTC Velocity and raced by Alan Paris in the 2002 Around Alone - Fun fact: Wild Eyes is Canadian designed, Australian built, Australian patrolled and French rescued! Will a salvage be attempted? Will the family ask the fishing vessel to attempt some kind of insane crazy southern ocean tow? Will they leave a beacon onboard and hire a salvage team? It's highly unlikely the boat is insured, and if under charter I imagine an agreement was made, whereby the vessel would be paid for in full, at its former asking value of $150k (as advertised by Regatta Management of New Jersey when Wild Eyes was for sale last year). She was under charter for $60k / year, which is less in comparison to the S&S 34 purchased by Don & Margie McIntyre, which was given/leant (I don't know which) to Jessica Watson... That is however an apple & orange comparison, and next to useless since the cost of a boat is actually only a fraction of the overall cost of such an endeavour...

Adding up Abby's 'Platinum level' of sponsorship request yields a sum total of $430,000. Comparatively, Jessica Watson asked for $205,000 for the naming partner (who ended up being Ella Bache), and four principle partners at $20k / each, bringing her asking sum total to $365,000. Who actually knows whether these goals were reached, but those were the asking numbers. I should think the maintenance and costs of maintaining an Open 40 would far outweigh the tried and true Sparkman & Stevens... And the whole point of the temperamental Open 40, was speed in order to beat the non-ratified age record that Jessica now holds... However, that was soon quashed by equipment failures in South Africa - Mike Perham had the same kinds of issues with his chartered Open 50, seemingly stopping at every continent - These Open spec boats need a lot of love, and a lot of money to keep running in the conditions required - I really don't think they were designed to do more than one circumnavigation... Ok, so that's not entirely true, the success of Steve White aboard Toe in the Water in the 1998 Vendee was impressive on all counts, with him sailing an 'ancient' Open 60 built in 1998, as the newer boats fell apart around him... I also have a strong suspicion that Mike & Abby had very little experience with pedigree boats like these, and so their temperamental speed machines struggled between oceans. Steve White had no teams or people to help his campaign, and probably knew Toe in the Water better than the designers and builders combined. He was so entrenched in the endeavour of his Vendee campaign, his house was mortgaged, and he and his family were living on the boat in a French shipyard... Now that's dedication.

Anyway, it's a sad day for yet another Open spec boat, but at least the sailor in question will live to tell the story, which no doubt will be a rather lucrative one... Should Abby be under jury rig now, like Mike Golding in Ecover 3 was in 2008, headed towards Perth from 930nm out? Who knows, I'll save the criticism for others, it's all just an interesting story... Here are some images:


Before

After

Here is a video I found of what a dismasted boat in the southern ocean looks like - In case you were wondering. It is Mike Golding aboard Ecover 3 with a jury rig - If I remember correctly, his speed was about 4-5kts:

So, if you were interested in getting a free Open 40, there is one floating around 40°48′S 74°58′E.

nick.

We're home at last. In 743 days.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

nick.

Volunteering, Red Cross, Samoa

I'll leave the photos and video to do the talking, but I'm sticking around a little longer here in Apia, Samoa to volunteer with the Red Cross. I took this media while out today, volunteering on the worst affected area: The east of the island. Thank you to Weide, Stuart, Mark, Benjamin and Lidia for their donations to the sailing kitty - I will be using the donated money to cover the costs of staying longer here in the marina. I cannot stay long, due to the weather situation (I'm always... Late in the season). However I will stay for a bit longer, and think about departing early next week.



The start of my second day with the Red Cross





Recovering a body


More photos online here. Nick.

Tsunami in Western Samoa

As Constellation rumbled, I jumped out of my bunk at a well practiced speed. I can pull myself up and out with one hand, and be on deck in seconds from a deep sleep... Usually it's because Constellation is getting slammed or a squall has snuck up at night, and we're blasting upwind as the windvane struggles, but this was a new sensation... I stood in the cockpit and watched everyone else in the marina doing the same - The marina pylons rumbled, the docks shook. It seemed to last minutes, and then nothing. I meandered around the dock to talk with an Irish singlehander about his trip, thinking a tsunami was unlikely, as did everyone else. Then the alarms sounded, and the streets of Apia began to flood with people, as everyone jumped into any car heading to higher ground. I ran to Constellation, got my passport and wallet, and ran out of the marina. Eddy's began forming in the marina, as I considered taking Constellation out into the bay... But I knew there was no way my engine could move against that surge. My decision to stay was sound - I would have knocked around the marina in the surge and simply damaged other boats. Two large yachts departed under full engine - They strained, and began to go backwards on the second surge, as Apia harbour began to drain. The surge reversed, and thankfully the boats then rode it out of the channel to safe water. I sat near Aggie Grey's hotel, watching. It was not high ground, and in hindsight, not the most intelligent of decisions. I guess the feelings I experienced were those of people watching fires approach their homes. To go or stay? I watched the harbour recede several times, but with every surge, the danger seemed to lessen. Eventually Police drove by and said they would arrest me for disobeying orders, and demanded I seek higher ground. So I went to the third story of the hotel and waited. I had my laptop and desperately wanted to get online to see some real data. The hearsay was absurd, with nobody having any real information. Internet access across the island went down, and so I waited... Eventually things seemed to go back to normal, and the hotel gave us free breakfast... I walked into town, and was told to leave again - The town was deserted, except for what seemed like potential looters loitering around. I returned to the hotel and waited. No taxis, no people, no internet, and my visiting parents were on the south of the island, staying virtually at sea level in palm huts. Eventually data networks came back online, and I researched the USGS and other government sites for real data. I saw where the earthquake pulse came from, and realised the south of the island would have been most affected. Many locals said there was no damage on the south, but the reality is - It was chaos and no one had any idea what was happening, and with no major media, there was no real news. I attempted to call the resort of my parents, only to get a disconnected line. I returned to the marina, and heard the south was devastated... I ran to my local friend, and we immediately drove south. Everything seemed relatively normal, until we got to sea level. The wave had come at least 150ft inland. Driving along the dirt road to the remote resort, it was clear the water had come in high. Local houses and boats were trashed, rocks strewn across the road. We talked to locals who said everyone had been evacuated to the local church, and so my parents were found safe, but bruised and shaken. While we can pack up and leave, our condolences go out to the family of Virgin Cove Resort, who must now return to lost homes and businesses.

The large reef that surrounds most (if not all?) of Western Samoa offered some protection to the wall of water that hit my parents. The palm huts they were staying in were run down, as my dad was swept into the jungle, across volcanic rock. My mum sought refuge above a cistern as water rushed around her. They were interviewed by an Australian newspaper - Online here.

Thanks to the generous Aggie Grey hotel, and also to Bruce, the regional sales manager for Virgin/Polynesian/Pacific Blue - Who gave up his personal room and drove my parents to the airport this morning at 3am.

I am trying to figure out a way to assist here with Australian aid workers, but, it seems nearly impossible to figure out how to help here... There must also be remote islands who have suffered and will not receive help... If anyone knows aid organisations that are accepting volunteer help, please contact me.

And so now... Constellation and I have experienced tropical waves, towering swells at sea, dodged hurricanes, earthquakes and tsunamis.

And we're still not home yet.

Nick.

Western Samoa

The trip south to Samoa from Palmyra Atoll afforded steady trades, and good sailing, with only a few days of wind that might have tended on the 'too strong stop spilling my coffee!' side. Constellation averaged 110nm days, and I know she could do another 20nm a day, however as I always have, the sailing was more about conservation of the boat, and comfort for her crew than speed. During nights, I reef the main, roll in a bit of jib, and soldier on through the dark nights. Signs of life all the way from Hawaii were scarce: One tuna clipper, and one airplane. It felt lonely out there. Nearing Samoa, the wind died, and as I normally do, I became antsy and irritated. Thankfully after a bout of heavy squall activity, the wind re-appeared, and destroyed my entrance schedule into Apia, Samoa (perfectly timed until the wind stopped...)- We entered at 02:30am. Nervously listening to the waves crash upon the reef to starboard, the port authority directed us to anchor, and after 32 days, we'd officially made it to a south pacific island. Unable to clear customs and forced into the marina (cheekily, anchoring and staying at the marina costs the same...), the quarantine flag flew, yet security didn't mind me going into town without clearance - I would have died, sitting on the dock watching people eating real food, and drinking cold beer after so long at sea, bound by the gates of the marina. As Monday rolled around, we were visited by five state departments: Immigration, health, customs, agriculture and the port authority. All those names might seem intimidating, but really, you just write your name, address, and boat name on five different pieces of paper, holding different titles...


Arrival, Apia, Samoa

For the first time in awhile, Constellation was not the smallest boat in the harbour. There lay, a boat registered in Copenhagen, a 25ft yacht. I was livid! Yet after that particular boat left, life went back to normal, where Constellation was dwarfed by what seems to be a dominance of 40ft+ boats - Many registered in Australia, and New Zealand - Home seems just around the corner.... The shops are full of Maggi Two Minute noodles, Milo, Vegemite, Tim Tams... (Apologies to non-Australians, none of that will make any sense). It's beautiful here, and the people are extraordinarily friendly - The Samoans appear to have held onto their culture more than any other place I've visited, and it's refreshing to be on an island that hasn't been completely overrun by colonialists. It isn't devoid of missionary success though, however I guess that's another discussion best saved for my non-existent blog covering geopolitical musings and island theology... !

I've experienced much of the island with the friendly help of local Samoan, 'Time' (pronounced ti-may), having the opportunity of seeing a Samoa not everyone gets the opportunity to experience - This weekend I have been invited to a local wedding, and even a spot of night bat hunting! Yet as with every landfall, it isn't long before ones mind starts wondering to the next port of call. I feel a tinge of melancholy and excitement about seeing the east coast of Australia on my Pacific charts. The official two year anniversary of this voyage passed on the 17th of this month, but really, this is all I've done for three years (the first spent paying for the boat, among other things). While I'm sure it will wear off very quickly, I often yearn for a dose of my former reality: The ability to lay in a bed and bend my legs completely, to buy a coffee on a whim, or see long lost friends. I know some of you are sitting there, scoffing at that idea, but what can I say - I do know wanderlust will hit me again like a freight train soon after this is all done, but I have to be somewhat honest - I am getting tired. Not tired in a bored sense, but tired in an emotional sense. Thankfully the very thought of these beautiful islands and my distance from home, keeps my motivation strong, even on the worst of days. Anyway, I think you came here to hear about paradise in the south Pacific, not the idle whimpering of a palagi... Here are some more photos.

So, the next stop is Fiji. I will leave next week, and after that... Who knows. Maybe a straight hop to mainland Australia. Or maybe I'll scrap all that and visit Tonga en route... Or Wallis Island, or Norfolk Island, or maybe even Lord Howe. There is a lot to see, but limited time as another hurricane season follows me around the globe. Every boat I seem to meet is high-tailing it to New Zealand - I would love to touch the north island of NZ, yet it would mean waiting another several months before I could make my passage across the Tasman Sea...

Nick.

Snowstorms, Christmas

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

Constellation, Greenport, NY

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

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

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

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

Nick.

Little People, Home Sweet Home

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

Questions with 3rd grade

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

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

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

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

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

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

More frequent updates on the horizon, promise.

nick.

Constellation, Cape Cod, Planning

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

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

All new panel electrics

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

Constellation, Long Island

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

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

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

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

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

nick