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Day 6

Noon Position: 28.22.82N, 124.07.55W
Course/Speed: S and SW 1 – 5
Wind: S and SE, 2 – 6
Sail: Close hauled under working jib and main
Bar: 1021
Sea: NW 1 – 3
Sky: Clear
Cabin Temp: 73
Water Temp: 69

Miles last 24-hours: 98 (miles through water, not made good south)
Miles since departure: 689

Mo wafted off to the E overnight and by morning was becalmed under a doughy, gray sky. We had had stars early with Orion at our bow, but the rising full moon wiped the slate clean. I made a one-pot meal of pasta and chicken and was in my bunk by 9pm.

We drifted on a flat sea till mid morning when a breeze came up from the ESE at 6 knots (a whopping big number given recent trends), and we were off on a cheery course due S. By way of celebration, I fried-up one pancake and two eggs. Did better on the pancake this time.

The beauty of days like this cannot easily be overstated, though I am willing to try…

The morning’s gray glob burned off by noon, leaving an open, powder-blue sky and a cobalt ocean to gape-at. I still have a couple pages of chores, and Mo obliged by giving me a deck with the motion of a cruise ship on which to work, but the challenge was focus when the expanse before us so clearly wanted admiration.

Though we made way, our speeds were such that we seemed not to part the water at all but rather slide atop a substance at once as clear as vodka and mysteriously opaque. Light in long streamers filtered down to depths unknowable. I could see small orbs, tiny galaxies, floating just below the water’s surface, the egg sacks of a long departed animal whose progeny would be nearly infinite if most of them didn’t become another animal’s food.

On and on we glided through what seemed open prairie; what there were of clouds were thin, attenuated, dry, and the light wind and desert sky reminded me of the Spanish Galleons that plied these waters when Sir Francis Drake came aplundring. Many struggled with similarly light winds and passages that lasted beyond their stores of water.

More than once I found myself thinking, “with such excellent, expansive views, this would be a nice place for a house.”

In the afternoon, a tropic bird, our only visitor, made several passes, but like his cousin of two days ago, remained silent during his inspections.

Now the sun is set and with it go our zephyrs. After a day of stillness beyond believing, the clank and bang begins again and I may soon drop sails, if only to preserve the delicious sense of solitude.

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Day 5

Noon Position: 29.03.71N, 124.30.46W
Course: SW / SE
Speed: 3 – 5 knots
Wind: S 4 – 11
Sail: Close hauled under working jib and main
Bar: 1020
Sea: NW 1 – 4
Sky: Clear punctuated by large cells
Cabin Temp: 73
Water Temp: 69

Miles last 24-hours: 63
Miles since departure: 591

The text reads, “Accuracy of this note compromised by cold hands and severe boat motion. Otherwise, hove to in a gale.” This came today from a friend, Matt, who is crewing aboard DRINA as she transits the Southern Ocean from Australia to Ushuaia, a village on the southern tip of South America.

Meantime, I am beating into the light, warm southerlies off the coast of Baja and am considering myself lucky to have enough wind to come about.

Took all sail in last night and drifted. Not a breath after dark. But this southerly came up at 4 am and has built all day, built to a whopping 10 knots. And the sky has cleared at last. The blue ocean is again blue.

Breeze is subsiding as the sun is setting, now down to 5 knots, and I fear may be soon gone. But tonight we will have stars!

Yesterday, boot repair. Rubber boots may be dry, but they make for cold feet, and the antidote is a pair of Uggs. Nothing beats bare feet wrapped in sheepskin, comfort even in warm temperatures. Sadly, Uggs aren’t all that rugged. This pair can say they’ve been through the Arctic, at least…and will soon return. The goop in the second photo is Freesole, a urethane coating that locks the stitches.

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Day 4

Noon Position: 29.49.54W, 124.41.42W
Course: SW
Speed: 1 – 2 knots
Wind: Light and Variable
Sail: Big Jenny plus full main and “scandalized” with the stack pack for good measure
Bar: 1018
Sea: NW 1 – 2
Sky: Gray, still. Have not seen sun since slipping under the Golden Gate Bridge
Cabin Temp: 70
Water Temp: 67
Miles last 24-hours: 87
Miles since departure: 528
Ran all night with twins poled out, but in fact they caught little air. A devil’s orchestra, they whipped and banged in their frustration and so badly that I had, this morning, to cut away chafe on the port genoa sheet where the mad dog of a pole had chewed through the cover. Day four and I’m already dealing with chafe.
An hour before dawn, I woke to find Mo making E, a nice thought, but several thousand miles premature. What there was of wind had gone into the W, and so I doused the poles and have been flying the big genoa and main since. Wind went lightly S and then SE and then W again and we slowly boxed the compass in search of a heading everyone could agree on, a disorienting experience when the sky is flat gray.

I’ve been at the tiller and sheets most of the day as this is no kind of weather for Monte.

This afternoon wind went WNW, variable 6 – 12, for three glorious hours. Monte was beside himself. He’d be happily sawing away on his fiddle back on the taffrail when Neptune would throw in a chord change. Wind would suddenly increase by 6 knots. He’d charge off WSW.

“Monte! Dude, we go south,!” I’d shout.
“What? I thought you wanted to go fast. Here is fast!” he’d shout back.
“Yes, fast *and* south.”
“Ah, but you see, Capitan, the music she does not always play in both directions.”

The wind seems to be driven by squalls but not of the kind I’ve ever seen before. These “squalls” are large and thin; they bring a smattering of rain and can take several hours to approach and pass.

The last one passed about four this afternoon, and now we are back to the cacophony of no wind.

May simply drop sails for the night.

Question: isn’t this where one might expect NE trades?

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Day 3

Noon Position: 31.02.65N, 124.56.97W
Course: S (or as south as the wind will allow)
Speed: 4 – 6 knots
Wind: 8 – 15 NW
Sail: Twin headsails poled out full
Bar: 1019
Sea: NW 4
Sky: Fully overcast with some low rain squalls.
Cabin Temp: 68
Water Temp: 66

Miles last 24 hours: 139
Miles since departure: 441

Wind continues to ease, as per forecast. The deck continues gray and is punctuated only by infrequent rain squalls that leave a light lick of rain and punch up the wind to 15 knots, briefly. Otherwise winds are 10 knots and less and make for not unpleasant sailing, except that the headsails can’t hold on in the small swell and go thwap, thwap, thwap as Mo rolls.

But sailors share with beggars that they cannot be choosers. And so we sail on what we are given and are thankful when the squalls speed things up and quiet things down.

Besides, this is fine “make and mend” weather, the old square rigger term (I think) for a day set aside for chores, of which I have plenty in preparation for the voyage proper.

Frankly, it all still seems like practice. I am flying the twins (trimming and retrimming) for the first time since last summer. Am still getting used to all the new electronic gear. Each time I drop Watsy (Watt and Sea hydrogenerator) into the drink, I cross my fingers; will it work…again? Today, I made my first overcooked breakfast burrito blob, aka pancake, with peanut butter and jam, “overcooked” and “blob” being the result of not bringing the beautiful-to-cook-with cast iron skillet.

Not much to see beyond gray sky and slate water as yet. A few storm petrels keep their distance. One gadfly petrel of unknown make passed once about noon but found nothing worth a second look. A lone tropic bird, whose tail I could not identify, dropped in just now. Last night, squid looked back at me with coppery eyes as I made my donations to the sea. Beyond these infrequent visitors, we are alone.

And on we roll to the south.

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Day 2

Noon Position: 33.20.09N, 125.04.25W
Course: S
Speed: 6-7 knots
Wind: 12 – 18 NNW
Sail: Twin headsails poled out full
Bar: 1019
Sea: NW 6
Sky: Partly Sunny, squalls, some rain
Cabin Temp: 65
Water Temp: 61

Miles last 24 hours: 157
Miles since departure: 302

The issue with Monte (the Monitor windvane) turns out to be user error. No big shock there.

At about 9am, I removed the water paddle to inspect for flaws in the latch, the spring, or the mount and, finding nothing obvious nor any visible difference between the old latch and the new one, I opted to replace the old one.

Mo has been sailing sweetly ever since.

Only then did I read the manual. Well! In section 6.5.1 are mentioned techniques for massaging the latch into place, here defined as taking to it with a meaningfully weighted hammer. I had intuited such need at 3am and have just such a hammer but had been whacking on the wrong part of the latch, hence my reference to user error.

Early in the day I reached out ot Mike Scheck, owner of Scanmar, who was kind enough not to chide me for my failure to pay attention.

As I’m loath to switch back to Otto (autopilot), who is faithful in his duties but is a whiner and drinks up all my juice when I’m not looking, I’m in no hurry to go back to the new, stronger latch…but will when the weather moderates and before I get to the true south.

Interesting how attitudes can change. Departure day and the day after were rough, emotionally. I’d have given anything to turn back. The Figure 8 felt too much. Crazy to think I could ever…

But today, after a long, deep, and delicious sleep (first long sleep in months) and a big pot of curry, and after putting Mo before the wind with her headsails flying like the giant wings of the Albatross, today…I’d be satisfied if today went on for a good many to come. Which, lucky me, is exactly my lot.

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Day 1

Noon Position: 35.40.61N, 124.45.32W
Course: SW
Speed: 7 knots
Wind: 18 – 24 NW
Sail: Single reefed jib; double reefed main.
Bar: 1018
Sea: NW 6
Sky: Full Cloud
Temp: 63

Miles since departure: 145

The Figure 8 Voyage has begun. MO and I departed Horseshoe Cove at 1pm yesterday and sailed into a fog bank that immediately erased the point on which my wife and friends stood. I turned to wave one last time and found that abruptly they were gone.

Brisk winds under the bridge backed off even before Mile Rock, and Mo, heavy with her year’s supply, was sluggish and slow as she climbed out of the slot. The small fleet of friends accompanying us to sea, Heather Richard in her lovely aluminum sloop loaded with a film crew, John Woodworth in OWL, Randy Liesure in TORTUGA, and an unknown well-wisher in ERGO, pealed off outstide Point Bonita and we made our slow way over the bar where the fog lifted but the sky stayed lead.

MO and I tacked west in search of the NW sea breeze, which we found half way to the Farallons, and here I eased sheets and made our course SW.

Tired. Relieved. Apprehensive. Queasy. Sad. Cold.

Departures are difficult for me, but usually they are done in private and at my own pace. No previous departure has prepared me for this. To leave the company of my wife … for a year … by choice. The pursuit of one dream requires the suspension of others, and I am finding painful what I know must be suspended while I am away and what is risked by going.

As the sky darkened I forced down a can of soup. By 8pm, I began my sleep cycle. Ships everywhere, so sleep was brief and fitful, though what there was, welcome.

MO rounded up at midnight, From my bunk I could feel her quicken, and on deck I found the Monitor paddle had popped out of its locked position. Re-locked. An hour later, same. I put MO on autopilot until morning and returned my attention to sleep and shipping.

Several experiments today have not revealed why the locking lever loosens. It is new and beefed up especially for the coming enterprise. But I have decided to make miles today rather than heave to for repair. Winds go very light in this sector in two days, and if I push hard I may be able to get just S and W enough to miss the worst of the coming calm.

By 10am today, Black Footed Albatross and water that is clear and blue even under this heavy sky indicate that we are truly at sea. The last ship, PELICAN STATE, is now to the S on its way to Los Angeles. San Simeon is 115 miles E. The Figure 8 is ahead.

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It’s a strange feeling being the wife of an adventurer. Strange because in the preparation stage you’ve been beside your husband. Beside him during those first tentative and curious conversations about an idea that seemed utterly insane and completely amazing. Beside him during the endless discussions about this boat or that boat when trying to pick the perfect boat for the voyage. Beside him while having your heart break when you realize that your old boat Murre, a boat so full of memories will be sold and off on new adventures with new owners. Beside him, all the way through to the constant knock at the door from the Amazon delivery guy with cases of soup stacked so high it makes you a little ill, to the tiniest lightest box with a part so small inside it makes you wonder. Beside him every step of the way.

And yet, on Saturday October 28th 2017, as the wife of an adventurer, my physical place by Randall’s side will cease. I’ll be standing on the San Francisco shore watching him sail under the Golden Gate Bridge. How I will feel at that moment, I’m not entirely sure, but I have a hunch.

“How are you ok with this?” “You’re letting him go, alone, for a year?” “Aren’t you going with him?”

These are the most frequent questions I get from Randall’s startled admirers. Startled mostly because I exist at all. Most of the sailors he knows think I’m a figment of his imagination! Shocked that not only am I supportive of this idea but a driving force behind it. As they are the most common questions, I thought I’d go on the record with some answers.

How are you ok with this?

You see, I’m a huge fan of any enormous, life-changing idea. I was at a cocktail party recently, and a guest who knew me told another person, “Be careful sitting next to Joanna. If you have an interesting idea, she might convince you to do it.” I could go on about life being short and how playing it safe is just boring, but my motivation is much more about the journey. We all struggle with figuring out WHAT we’re supposed to do with our time on the planet. Most of us have no idea and are just looking. Randall’s known since he was about 10. I figure it’s about time he went out and did what he’s supposed to do.

Aren’t you going with him?

If you follow me on social media, you’ll know that I’m liberal with the hashtag #roadwarriorprincess. The key part of that phrase is “princess.” When Randall was 10 he was getting starry-eyed about the ocean. I had the slightly over-the-top experience of staying in a luxury hotel in Monaco. That experience in French Riviera solidified with many fabulous vacations since has decided a future for me that includes adventures with fabulousness. A year at sea with no shower, no fresh fruit and veggies, and in several occasions freezing temperatures capped with no sleep does NOT sound like fun to me. It is certainly not fabulous and not fitting of a princess.

You’re letting him go, alone, for a year?

Haven’t you said recently, “I can’t believe it’s been a year?” Yes, it’s a long time, and yet it’s not a long time. I do not doubt that there will be moments that seem to go on forever for us both; however, at the year I have no doubt we’ll both say, “That went by so fast!”

Of course, there is far more depth to all these questions and more to say. If you liked hearing from “the wife at home” about my experiences during Randall’s adventures, let me know. I’m thinking of making a post on the Figure 8 Voyage a regular thing.

My hunch on my reaction on launch day? You’re only going to get humor and sass from me. Why? I’m British. Being publically emotional and deep for British people is just bad manners, and we don’t do it. So as I stand on the sea wall on Saturday waving goodbye to Randall, I will be doing my very best not to cry in front of anyone. Trying to pull off the best acting job I’ve done in my life. Pretending that I won’t miss having Randall banging around the house every morning. Telling people I won’t miss our often ridiculous and hilarious conversations at the dinner table. Not admitting that I will stand in his closet once in awhile taking deep breaths, just to remember his smell. Nope, I’ll probably crack a completely inappropriate joke and tell everyone who stands still long enough how proud I am of what Randall is doing. I’m counting the days until I see him again.

 

Randall, my one request to you. Come back to me.

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A message from John Woodworth read, “Day before departure and I see Moli is missing her prop.”

Indeed, Mo is again on the hard at KKMI Boatyard where, on Thursday, I extracted her propeller, shaft, and thrust bearing two days before she was to sail under the Golden Gate Bridge.

New Figure 8 departure date: October 28.

What’s going on?

Here’s the back-story.

In August, when I hauled the boat to inspect her rudder and drivetrain, I found that the plain bearing that carries the after end of the propeller shaft had failed. The material, a soft metal alloy called Babbitt, had fractured in several places.

View of the inside of the old Babbitt bearing. Note fractures in the casing.


What is Babbitt?


By today’s standards, Mo’s drivetrain is ancient technology. Instead of the standard stuffing box and water-cooled cutlass bearing arrangement, Mo’s propeller shaft passes through a long tube filled with grease. Two plain bearings (no moving parts) hold the shaft in place, and two lip seals at each end of the tube hold the grease in and the water out. This was cutting edge machinery when the Model-T came rolling off the line but is now only found on old fishboats.

How this shaft bearing had failed was unclear, but I decided to update the old Babbitt with a high-tech plastic called Vesconite, a product that is used as bearing material by the tugboats in the Bay Area.

While everything was apart, I also decided to replace the thrust bearing.

Once back in the water, problems with the drivetrain began immediately. The shaft tube spat its grease into the bilge after only a few hours of operation, and on one occasion, I heard the shaft squeak as it rotated. I also noted that the new thrust bearing wobbled slightly and got warmer (160 degrees Fahrenheit after several hours of hard motoring) than I thought warranted.

I’ve been working the problem with Mo in the water these last weeks. Did I damage the lip seals while installing the new shaft? Had I popped them by pumping too much grease in the tube? Had I used the wrong grease? Had I damaged the thrust bearing while pressing it in place; was the press a straight one? Most importantly, could I live with these issues for the duration of the Figure 8, including 5,000 miles of mostly motoring in the Arctic?

All this was happening in the run-up to departure. Food, water, and fuel were aboard; charts had been audited and augmented where necessary; new electronics were installed and tested. Mo was otherwise ready and the season, getting on; so, I decided to worry about this problem later. I bought great quantities of grease and explored places to haul the boat in New Foundland when I arrived in the spring of next year.

But the last straw was plucked from my confidence when I noted the new thrust bearing, a non-serviceable part, was spitting its own grease. I had another look at Figure 8 weather windows and, after a conference with Joanna, decided a two-week delay here carried less risk than a departure with such problems below the waterline.

So, we moved Mo’s sailing date from October 15 to October 28, and I hauled the boat last Wednesday.

As Mo slid into her slings, I thought I was looking to solve two problems, a leaky grease tube and a leaky thrust bearing. However, a third issue quickly made itself evident: the new plastic bearing had melted.

New Vesconite bearing going in back in August.

Vesconite bearing as found last week. Note scoring.

Thomas Merton never reached deeper into his soul than have I these last days. With so few moving parts, disassembled with the help of Caleb at KKMI and now laid out singularly on a table, one would think the problem to be as evident as a pot-hole on a country road.

It is not. Bent shaft? Nope. Misaligned shaft? Nope. Injured lip seals? Nope. Bearing swell due to exposure to grease and water? Nope. Wrong tolerances for the new bearing? Unlikely, as work was done by a professional shop. Wrong grease (Calcium-based axel grease)? Maybe, but unlikely to be the cause of such extreme failure.

Dave at The Prop Shop checking the shaft for true with a dial indicator.

Lacking a definitive culprit and with no time for further experimentation, I’ve decided to ditch the new technology in favor of the old. Though I have a spare Vesconite bearing, I’m having a new bearing machined from Babbitt. On Friday, I visited RotoMetals in San Leandro and bought nine-pounds of Babbitt ingots, and on Monday, Dave at the Propeller Shop will pour and then machine a new bearing to meet the exact specifications of the bearing that has worked in Mo for 30 years.

Nine pounds of Babbit ingots plus their elemental breakdown.

And with that done successfully, the Figure 8 will be back on schedule…

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Nope. Not expired. Neither the sailor nor the project.

Rather, a long absence from this site indicates that both have been, as can be imagined, busy. The former is readying self and boat for an extended voyage while the latter, said voyage, keeps creating previously unimagined urgencies that translate into yet more items on the task list, a list that refuses to shrink no matter how much gets done.  Which is to say, things are progressing about as they have for pretty much every expedition, ever.

Being a recovering procrastinator with plenty of experience at foregoing until the morrow the anchor-weighing scheduled for today, I have given myself a wide sail-away window, simply stated as “the first part of October.”  But even by this measure, I am well within 60 days of quitting the shore for a very long cruise. Necessarily, blogging has had to be deprioritized for a time, to be picked up again prior to departure as/if things ease off but more likely after the adventure commences.

I have been posting daily progress reports to FaceBook here, so, not all is silence.

While I’ve got your attention, let me say how grateful I am for your contributions to my Virtual Stowaway Go Fund Me campaign. I’d like to send video updates from sea while on the Figure 8, an expensive proposition, and I’ve been humbled by your interest in my project and your generosity. Most importantly, we’re getting close to the final number. Last month, media tech company, WideOrbit, offered to match contributions toward the goal, which has really accelerated our progress. So, thank you to WideOrbit and to you.

Well, since you’ve made it this far, here are a few project updates…

Moli was hauled in June by the good folks at KKMI, the rudder was removed and the propeller shaft, propeller, and stern-tube bearings were all replaced. This began as an inspection job only, but one should not go looking for problems without some expectation of finding them. In this case, the bearings were worn beyond salvage, and the 30-year old feathering propeller had several broken teeth. So, better to start fresh with high-tech Vesconite bearings and a new, four-blade propeller from Variprop. While at it, I rebuilt the Aquadrive thrust bearing.

Mo is back in the water and I’ve just returned from a couple days of put-putting around the bay at high revs and into stiff breezes and chop (an imitation of the Northwest Passage to come). Thus far the new propeller is delivering a much-needed boost in power and the rest of the drive train appears to be operating as should.

Provisioning is now mostly complete, though food-stuffs are still clogging up the living room. This week, I’ll build out storage lockers in the forepeak and begin migrating boxes and bags to the boat, much to the relief of my wife, who wants her house back.

I’m now living aboard several days a week, am sleeping in the bunk I’ll use when on the Figure 8, cooking on the new stove, re-organizing the galley, testing-out the new electronics, tweaking the rig. Mo is in a berth that allows us to come and go at will for tests of various gear. It’s time to start imagining the boat on the move. We’re getting close to the starting line…

 

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“What are the chances you won’t be ready?” asked my wife one evening.

It’s not crunch time yet, but it’s getting close. My first-of-October departure is now less than four months out, and though many, many items have been crossed off the expansive (to be kind) list, the items undone still trail to the floor. I’ll admit I’m getting nervous. At this point in the project, I’d like to be packing lockers, studying charts, testing gear; instead, I’m still tearing stuff apart.

“Zero,” I said. “The question is how much won’t get done before I go. I’ve got to ensure none of it is critical.”

This is what plays out in every adventure book I’ve ever read. Said adventurer, whether he be Shakelton or Tilman and regardless of experience, resource or expedition size, finds himself in a rush at the end. On that morning that his mooring lines slip from the bollard and his bow turns toward the horizon, he can only hope he’s not forgotten his sea boots.

For a week I was able to work on deck, a real privilege after messing about with fuel tanks and wire runs.

Where the mast passes through the deck, I installed a gasket of Spartite. The rubber shims that had held the stick in her partners for 30 years didn’t survive my mangling of them when stepping the mast in Homer, and from below I watched as she pumped and whined all the way across the Pacific. This would not do in the more serious winds of the deep south.

The rebuilt furlers, now slick as snot, were installed into their headsail foils, new halyards and sheets were whipped and run, and the sails were bent on. I tuned and then retuned the rig.

Moli looked like a rocket ship again and even went for a couple quick sails in the estuary, one with Robin Sodaro of HOOD Sails in Sausalito, whom I’m excited to announce as the Figure 8’s newest sponsor (more on which soon).

That fun past, it was time to dive back into Mo’s interior. While in Hawaii last summer, I’d spotted some hull corrosion below the insulation in the galley, and had vowed then to inspect the other below-the-waterline areas of the boat when I got home. “Inspect” here entails ripping out insulation, polishing the hull, inserting a plastic spacer (to allow air circulation between insulation and hull) and new insulation, a not insignificant commitment of time.

Another vow from Hawaii was to inspect the water tanks and measure their contents. Mo carries all her water in two large tanks in the keel, the forward of which had a habit of putting brownish sediment into my drinking glass on rougher days. Once open I found that brown sludge cowering in the bottom (easily vacuumed out), but the tanks were otherwise clean. Great.

Filling the tanks with a flow meter showed one to contain 95 gallons and the other, 101.

With luck, that will be it for interior jobs for a while. Next up? Mo was hauled at KKMI last Friday so we can drop the rudder and have a look at the post and prop shaft…

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After days with my head in Mo’s bilge or the now typical 3 a.m. wake-and-worry, I sometimes need a pick-me-up, a reminder that this part of the process does, in fact, lead to the launching of a ship into that wild blue yonder, a thing for which both ship and sailor yern.

In years past, I would have reached for a much-thumbed copy of The Long Way or Ice with Everything or any of a number of friendly volumes just to the right of the chair. Recently, however, I’ve been rereading my logs from previous voyages. Read More

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“Great literature is nothing more than an extended complaint,” said my good friend Dr. David R. Kelton. “Dante’s InfernoHamletFor Whom the Bell Tolls, and all of quality in between, can be seen as but artfully woven epics upon the theme of ‘Oh, woe is me.'”

This lesson came in response to my missive titled, “Dammit, I am so tired of boat work!” in which I made the case that moral and physical ruin would soon issue from Moli’s seven-day-a-week refit schedule.

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To me, writing up the adventure is half the fun of having it. Sinking the land, being entirely, irretrievably at sea, is like breaking earth’s orbit and entering beautiful, untresspassed, limitless space. It’s not just freeing, it’s exhilarating, and those who have followed my previous passages know this transition tends to light the afterburner on my keyboard.

But for the Figure 8, I’d like to take adventure communications to the next level. I’d like to (please forgive the mixed metaphor) stream from sea.

During this expedition, I’ll be visiting some of the remotest places on the planet, the wild Southern Ocean, the Arctic’s Northwest Passage, places less frequented than the summit of Mount Everest.

And for this attempt, I’m shooting to send back video reports of the voyage as it happens.

Amazingly, this is possible.

Yes, satellite solutions exist that allow small yachts like mine to transmit and even stream video from these remote places. But the technology is expensive, is well beyond my means.

So, I’m excited to announce the launch of a Go Fund Me campaign targeted at allowing you to join me as a “virtual stowaway” on the Figure 8 Voyage.

Want to stay connected to the journey as it unfolds? Please visit my Go Fund Me page below.

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Many thanks to the folks at Latitude 38 for their May 2017 feature of the Figure 8 Voyage.

Moli is back at KKMI and is again in pieces. The life raft, the dinghy motor, and the autopilots have all been sent out for overhaul or repair; the fuel tank lids are off in preparation for a good scrub, and the headsails are down, their furling drums disassembled on a bench in the pilot house. Tools and boat parts are scattered everywhere, creating a sense of chaos that could hardly be improved upon by a hand-grenade.

So, when Latitude’s reporter, Tim Henry, came by for a gam, I was sure it would take all the guile I could muster to convince him Mo would ever sail again!

You can judge my success by jumping to page 60 and 61 in the magazine’s electronic version, below, or simply keep scrolling…

Read More

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Friday, March 31

The show manager, Jorgen, had been quite clear. “Your vessel will be accepted into the Pacific Boat Show marina before noon on Tuesday, but after that the basin will be closed.” A reasonable enough requirement as I had known about it since the previous January.

But it was now the Friday before that Tuesday, and I had a peculiarly boat-refit kind of problem. After three months of seven-day work weeks, Mo was still in pieces. Read More

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This isn’t my first rodeo. It’s my second. I should know better.

The first rodeo was a 31-foot Far East Mariner built in 1972 that my wife and I purchased in the summer of 2001. I liked the boat because she liked the boat, whose interior spaces felt vast next to the 24-footer we’d been using for weekends on San Francisco Bay, and because the ketch rig and full keel reminded me of Moitessier’s Joshua and because it was what we could afford.  Read More

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Tony on Taonui

Nothing is quite so sobering as the realization that the Figure 8, this seemingly massive undertaking, this voyage that is a test of imagination (not to mention intellect, physical stamina, and funds), has already been done … and by one’s own boat!

Moli is a rare bird. Her purposeful, stout beauty would be obvious to a baby. But I never would have guessed that first time I Read More

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“Faye. Faye! Psst. Wrong envelope.”

When not cleaning coffee grounds from the floorboards during last summer’s 7,000-mile shakedown cruise in Moli, I kept myself occupied by shooting passage video.

The exercise was an experiment intended to answer three questions:

  1. What is the minimum technology required for video capture at sea? Read More
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IMG_9585

“I’m looking for a boat named Moli,” said a friend, Burt Richardson, as he stepped up to the KKMI front desk.

“You bet,” said Emmy, “just head to the back of the yard, make a left at the water, and keep an eye out for the covered wagon.”

The first order of business on Mo has been largely cosmetic, to refasten the non-skid tread and lay down new deck paint, jobs any novice knows would be better timed for Read More

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A brewer like the It’s American Press doesn’t come along every day.

For starters, it’s surprisingly beautiful–in the way that complexity is beautiful when rendered, reduced, refined; rethought and redrawn until what remains is the perfect balance of form and function.

I know what you’re saying, “Hey, it’s just a coffee maker!”

But, as coffee makers go, this press is Read More

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tek

In the previous post, a critical boat system–coffee making–failed in such dramatic fashion (twice) that, months later, I am still cleaning grounds from between the floor boards. Once home this launched a search for the perfect boat brewer, whose requirements are:

  1. Be easy to use in rough weather. Read More