Call for Crew

This and the next few posts are being added significantly delayed because Paul forgot the email address he set up to post to this blog by email.

May 28th, 2016

Well, we are less than a week away from our arrival in Hawaii and we’re starting to plan the next leg of our journey (editors note: actually we are now in Hilo, as of the time of this posting). We intend to depart Hilo headed for the Marquesas on June 10th (weather permitting). Average passage time is 3 weeks, and it’s a good idea to add at least a week if not two in order to allow for weather conditions (i.e. we could delay our departure date due to weather). We have space for one or two crew members, and the only cost would be your airfare and a share of the food & fuel. This will be be a challenging passage across the equator with a mix of upwind sailing in the trade winds and crossing the ITCZ (doldrums w/ squalls), so be ready for an adventure! Anybody who does the passage with us is welcome to spend as much time as they like on the boat once we’re in French Polynesia. No sailing experience is needed, and as long as we have a common acquaintance I’ll trust that you’re not secretly an axe murderer. If you’re interested, please email me using my sat phone email which is my FCC call sign at My FCC call sign is WDF7269. (While we are in Hilo I can also be reached at my personal email, or via this blog’s contact form).

UPDATE (6-5-2016): We now have a full crew for our trip to the Marquesas!

Three Days at Sea

This and the next few posts are being added significantly delayed because Paul forgot the email address he set up to post to this blog by email.

May 16th 2016

We are now three days into our first true blue water passage. We departed Port San Luis on Friday the 13th (a date selected to ensure the best possible luck on the journey), after refueling subsequent to a two day motor down the coast. As luck would have it we have stumbled into a marvelous 7 day forecast of fair winds and a stable high pressure pattern to the Northwest, in a season when that high pressure system is notoriously unreliable and had previously failed to develop. The result has been three days of excellent sailing, despite a bit of unsettling swell. The beginning of our passage hasn’t been without its share of mishaps, including: running over a 4 foot log that made quite the unsettling “BOOM”, and an incident with the water maker, wherein a valve left in the wrong position by yours truly resulted in the entire contents of our primary water tank getting pumped overboard. Luckily there was no damage from the log, and an extra 8 hours running the water maker replenished the water supply. Happily we’ve been getting excellent mileage out of several of our recent installations and upgrades, including our new autopilot that steers a course relative to the wind, our wind generator that helps us keep up with the power requirements of said autopilot, and our water maker that has kept our water supply at maximum despite the occasional operator error.

As we pass the 20% mark in our voyage to Hawaii, one thing in most striking: the incredible vastness of the Pacific. We’re just a fraction of our way across this expanse of blue, and yet the remarkable emptiness is palpable.

…But First

An ounce of prevention will save your bacon. –Kent Parker

All I can think about at this moment is how much I wish I was out there sailing on the open ocean. But all I’ve been able to do for the past month or more is tackle one problem or project after another in order to prepare for that journey. One day, as I was working on several of these projects simultaneously, one of my crew members pointed out that I was experiencing the “but first” phenomenon. I wanted to get one thing done, “but first” I had to do something else. Life is full of fractals, or self similar patterns, and I get the feeling that this is an example. Just like on the small day-to-day projects, where one thing leads to or necessitates another, our larger goals require or necessitate other, sometimes unpleasant or seemingly tangential efforts.

Just a peek at the rot in our samson post. I didn't have the heart to take a picture of the whole thing when it came out.
Just a peek at the rot in our samson post. I didn’t have the heart to take a picture of the whole thing when it came out.

So what have we actually been up to? Well, our stuffing box was either leaking like crazy or overheating like a furnace; it turned out our prop shaft was warped so we had to spend a week on the hard getting that straightened. Then I discovered one of our samson posts was rotted out so those had to be pulled out and are being rebuilt. These aren’t the kind of problems that we could put off or quickly patch up ourselves. Meanwhile my crew is probably ready to mutiny after so many delays, and our bank account is slowly trickling down into the bilge. Sigh.

But there are, of course, upsides to all of this. Lots of the smaller, nice-to-have projects are getting done in the meantime. The dollars and time that we’re spending now are really investments that I hope will ensure that we don’t have catastrophic problems down the road (see the excellent quote from our surveyor above). And at the end of the day Serenity is in the best shape she’s been in since we bought her (despite the fading brightwork).

Getting our prop shaft pulled by our good friend Michael (the guy with the giant wrench)
Getting our prop shaft pulled by our good friend Michael (the guy with the giant wrench)

This experience, like many challenges worth undertaking, is like climbing a difficult summit. You may not really know what you’re getting into when you set out. And along the way it may seem like the road ahead is insurmountable. But when you finally achieve your goal, all the hardships endured throughout the journey make the accomplishment that much more significant.

Down to the Seas Again

I must go down to the seas again, to the lonely sea and the sky,
And all I ask is a tall ship and a star to steer her by,
And the wheel’s kick and the wind’s song and the white sail’s shaking,
And a gray mist on the sea’s face, and a gray dawn breaking.

I must go down to the seas again, for the call of the running tide
Is a wild call and a clear call that may not be denied;
And all I ask is a windy day with the white clouds flying,
And the flung spray and the blown spume, and the sea-gulls crying.

I must go down to the seas again, to the vagrant gypsy life,
To the gull’s way and the whale’s way, where the wind’s like a whetted knife;
And all I ask is a merry yarn from a laughing fellow-rover,
And quiet sleep and a sweet dream when the long trick’s over.

~John Masefield

I’ve spent a good portion of the last five years asking myself “why did I come back?” But the truth is the last five years have been their own adventure. We’ve spent time with old friends and made new ones. I tried another startup, where I learned a ton, and got almost as much out of failure as I could have out of success. I spent three years working with one of the best teams I’ve ever had the pleasure to be a part of and which I will sorely miss. And we revisited old neighborhoods and haunts, rekindling old hobbies and discovering new ones. But through all of that there was always, in the background, a yearning to return to the “vagrant gypsy” life*, to the rolling gray sea, and to the peaceful island cove.

Now the waiting is over. As of today I’m a vagabond once more, and we are on our way to cruising the high seas again. This time around we plan to venture further then we ever have before, and face challenges against which we have not yet been tested. Namely, we are sailing to Hawaii! From there we hope to continue on to the South Pacific, but time will tell. We plan to embark in April, and I’ll be making a few posts as we prepare for the journey.

Since I haven’t made a post since we left Mexico, here are some photos from the last five years:

Created with flickr slideshow.

* Using the words of John Masefield for poetic reasons. I realize some people don’t care for the word “gypsy” as it is used by some as a slur, and I prefer vagabond myself.