See Moli at Angel Island on August 11th

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On Saturday, August 11th, Moli and I will be attending the Ocean Cruising Club’s annual Bay Area potluck, held this year at Angel Island. Tony Gooch, who sailed Mo as Taonui for many years, will also be there.

The potluck is open to non-members, so bring your own food and drink and come on by to meet Tony, Mo, and me, and explore what the OCC can offer.

For more details, including Ferry Schedule to Angel Island and RSVP, see here.

I joined the OCC at Tony’s suggestion (he is a Vice Commodore of the club) just before commencing the Figure 8 back in October of 2017 but never dreamed I’d ever need its resource. Below is a short piece I wrote from Hobart, Tasmania for the OCC Newsletter describing in some detail just how wrong I was…

From the OCC Newsletter | June 2018 | www.oceancruisingclub.org

Southern Ocean Adventures

Randall Reeves gives an account of his travails in the Great Southern Ocean while safely berthed at the Royal YC of Tasmania on 30th March 2018:

When I bought Moli (formerly Tony Gooch’s Taonui) in Homer, Alaska in 2016, I was largely ignorant of her resumé. The only hint the then owners gave was that I should expect the boat to be recognized on waterfronts the world over with the exclamation: “Oh, that’s Tony’s boat.”

Soon after, I returned Mo to San Francisco and began a thorough refit in preparation for my long-planned Figure 8 Voyage (www.figure8voyage.com). During this process, Tony and I became frequent correspondents. His considerable high latitude experience and in-depth knowledge of the boat were invaluable, and though he had moved on to boats with far less sail area, he remained interested in the kind of solo, ocean marathon projects I envisioned, even to the point of flying down to be a docent on Mo while she was on display at our local spring boat show.

So, when Tony suggested I join the OCC, I felt I couldn’t very well refuse, even though I doubted I’d ever use its resources. After all, I’d been singlehanding in small boats for years without incident.

On 28th October 2017, I began my Figure 8 Voyage, an attempt to circumnavigate the American and Antarctic continents in one season, solo and largely non-stop. Sixty days into the leg from San Francisco to Cape Horn, Mo lost her ability to self-steer some 560M W of Chile when a knockdown threw seawater into the autopilot junction box. Two days later, a non-serviceable (welded) part on the windvane snapped. Now 600M W of Chile, I suddenly found myself hand steering for Ushuaia, a port I knew only as a name on the chart.

At this point, Tony stepped in to alert the Ushuaia OCC Port Officer, Roxanna Diaz, of my eventual arrival. When I steamed into the city’s crescent bay below black-rock, snow-capped mountains, utterly undone by a week of 12-hour tricks at the tiller and capped by a final two days without any sleep at all, Roxanna immediately whisked me off to the various agencies who needed to put their stamp on my entrance, and then (kind soul) led me straight to the yacht club’s hot showers with heated floors. Within three hours of my arrival, I was officially checked-in, nominally clean, and napping while Mo tugged gently at her mooring lines.

I departed Ushuaia on 12th January 2018. Mo’s systems had been repaired. I was rested, stuffed with roasted lamb and infused with Mendoza Malbec, and confident in my resumption of the Figure 8 – a lap of the Southern Ocean, then on to Greenland and the entrance to the Northwest Passage, non-stop.

On 18th February, between the Crozets and Kerguelen Islands at 46°S, Mo and I were overtaken by a large low-pressure system that I had been tracking since its inception off the coast of Rio de Janeiro. Though winds of 40–45K were not as strong as we’d experienced in the Pacific, the seas were tremendous, tall, steep and breaking continuously for 100 and 200 feet. During the height of the low’s westerly phase, Mo was knocked down three times, the last of which broke a window in the pilot house directly above the two electronics bays, soaking everything save the chart plotter, the VHF radio, and a Garmin InReach. An earlier knockdown had bent in the starboard aft rail over the winches. Two hours later after I (too late) deployed the Jordan Series Drogue, I noticed that Mo was lying a-hull. The drogue had parted at the lead eye-splice.

Once again I found myself limping towards refuge, this time to Hobart, another port known only in name. Again, Tony Gooch stepped up to provide me with routing advice during the month it took to make port, and to arrange for my arrival with long-standing OCC Port Officer, John Solomon.

That leg ended with a bang. The upwind approach to Tasmania’s South East Cape reached its climax at dawn as another intense low, that we’d been racing for a week, sought to push us back to sea with 45K north-easterlies and a short, vertical and diabolical sea. We were a mere 6M offshore, but the fight to achieve safe harbour took us well into the day. Mo’s anchor didn’t rattle down in the protection of Lady Bay near the S entrance of D’Entrecasteaux Channel until mid-afternoon.

Sun-up next morning was clear and still. We weighed for Hobart via the D’Entrecasteaux Channel before breakfast, an easy 40M motoring exercise, or so I thought. By noon, winds were 30K from the W. By the time we crossed North West Bay (at the N end of the Channel), winds stood at 45–50K. Mo’s gunnel dipped the water though we were flying no sail.

Near Cartwright Point in the River Derwent a few miles S of Hobart, I heard Mo being hailed on the radio. “Moli, Moli … Solo Mio.”

This was OCC Port Officer John Solomon: “Randall, all of us in Hobart wish to welcome you and thank you for the big winds you have brought with you. As if yesterday’s low wasn’t bad enough, this current low has just knocked down two trees on my property. Typically, March and April are such lovely months …”

At 1600, Mo pulled into Constitution Dock, the customs entry point. Soon after, John Solomon arrived to escort Mo to her temporary berth in the Royal YC of Tasmania marina.

“Well now, that’s very satisfying,” he said as he climbed aboard. “That’s the second time I’ve climbed over that damned rail of yours. Did you know this yacht used to be called Taonui, and her owner, a Tony Gooch, once sailed in here after a breakdown? I helped him move the boat to the club just as we are doing now. You’re a Yank, aren’t you? Well, that’s OK, I guess.”

At the club, John immediately introduced me to anyone who would hold still: “This is that Yank who’s just sailed in from Cape Horn. He started from San Francisco, a city in Southern Canada. He’ll need your help with a broken window, a broken rail, engine repairs…” And just like that, people materialized who knew what to do.

My intended non-stop voyage S through the Pacific, around the Southern Ocean, N to Greenland and the Northwest Passage has included two stops so far, both of which have been made more efficient, more comfortable, and much more fun due to the assistance of Tony Gooch and my membership of the OCC.

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