Sunday, December 18, 2011


I am back on the boat with all the stuff...  For those taking notes, Thrifty is the only rental car company that would allow me to take a car into Mexico with just a California driver's license and a Visa debit card.  Everyone else wanted a major credit card and/or a return airline ticket out of Arizona.  There are two check points going south for customs.  One at the border and one about ten minutes south of Nogales.  I got the green light each time so no hassles.  The general feel for driving in this area given all the media coverage about how the drug violence has made Mexico unsafe is that it is all propaganda.  I did the trip between Tucson and Guaymas three times as I had to return the rental and get back down via bus and if the number and vibe of the military inspections is any indication, there isn't a whole lot going on.  Even driving in the dark on a Friday night felt fine. 

The rate of exchange for the U.S. dollar is close to 14 pesos.  With fewer tourists and this great rate, Mexico is a deal right now.

The dry and hot climate has had an effect on the boat.  There has been some damage to the rudder as part of the original wood has dried to the extent of cracking through the fiberglass cover and separating from the shaft.  Photos and updates as I tackle this and literally dozens of other projects.   There is a friggin buttload of work!

A big thanks to everyone that made my stint in the U.S. happen.  There is no way I would have been near as successful without the support I received.  It is a nice reminder that the "single handed circumnavigation" really isn't that single handed at all...  Thanks again!

Saturday, December 10, 2011

News: Man To Sail Around World To Decrease Awareness Of Important Issues

ENCINITAS, CA—In a completely inconsequential event that has already captured the imaginations of thousands, amateur sailor Michael Gilmer, 29, announced Monday he would be embarking on a sea journey around the world to actively decrease awareness of significant global issues.

Gilmer's expedition, which will cover approximately 28,000 nautical miles and bring absolutely no exposure to any urgent environmental or social causes whatsoever, is expected to last roughly 90 days and draw millions of eyes around the world directly away from events of actual, crucial import.

"I hope to use my lifelong love of sailing to take part in a completely irrelevant novelty stunt that in no way benefits humanity," Gilmer said of the non-news event that will needlessly cycle in and out of the top spot on news websites for weeks. "The goal here is to really make people think about a young, overconfident asshole on a boat rather than any pressing matters of substance that actually affect people's lives."

Added Gilmer, "Even if just one person reads a news article about my pointless ego trip instead of a story about the global financial crisis, then I've done my job."

The utterly irrelevant boat ride, which Gilmer plans to document by video so that people can oc-cupy precious hours of their time watching clips of a self-satisfied little shit in a cramped sailboat cabin as if it were an actual event of significance, will in no way address climate change, ocean conservation, unemployment, workers' rights, cancer research, or any wars or conflicts anywhere in the world.

Gilmer—whose inconsequential personal history thousands of Americans will actively choose to make space for in their long-term memories—told reporters he has been planning his meaningless and distracting journey for quite some time, citing his own completely self-serving narcissism as his sole inspiration.

"I saw so many people out there refusing to take time out of their day for bullshit media sideshow events like mine, and I thought, 'Something needs to be done,'" said Gilmer, whose circumnavigation will actually be covered around the clock by real, paid journalists whose job it is, ostensibly, to bring the most significant issues of the day to the American public. "The fact that I'm getting this much media attention already is a real blessing for me and literally no one else."

A number of major corporate sponsors whose only concern is to have their names attached to a big news story with lots of coverage have already pledged to donate a dollar for every nautical mile Gilmer sails, with the money going to help offset the cost of his travels rather than toward a charity devoted toward the betterment of the human race.

In addition, dozens of major news outlets have already promised they will act astonished and impressed by Gilmer's completely unconstructive accomplishment, a landmark that many, many others have previously reached, going back more than a century, and that is in no way worthy of nationwide, let alone worldwide, recognition.

"It won't be easy of course; there are going to be some rough winds and huge waves that I'm sure you'll hear described as though they were the kind of thing that had an effect on the famine currently ravaging Somalia or something," said the man who with every word he speaks magically decreases the number of words printed on the subject of AIDS in Africa or the potential for democracy in the Middle East. "But whenever things do get hard, I'll just remember what I'm doing this for and take comfort in the fact that the hearts and minds of literally thousands of people are stupidly invested in me."

At press time, something was happening in Washington.,26640/

Sunday, November 20, 2011

the next chapter

I have always considered it bad taste to rant.  In a way it is openly admitting that you are an unhappy person.  The fact is that everyone knows the score anyways...  And if they don't already, what makes you think you'll make any difference?  Ranting also blinds you to the fact that there are others out there that get it. That you aren't somehow unique.

It has taken some time here in the bay area to find my "tribe" but it happens.  Slowly... 

(I even found a cafe that bans laptops!)  

I will be heading down to the boat in Mexico soon, (within a few weeks) and although part of me is glad to continue with getting back to the boat and possibly writing the  last chapter with Pelican, part of me is also a little sad about leaving the bay area.  Imagine that.  That is a really good sign...

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Not out cruising... (or) What if Van Gogh had access to Photoshop?

I think sharing some of those Tikopia images was about the end of what I have to offer this blog.  I will resume when I get back down to the boat in Mexico, but for now, although there is plenty of non cruising material to blog about, I rather take a break.  Kind of my own private rebellion from seeing how the bay area has turned into such a technocracy...  Witnessing the obsession with all the mobile products makes me think of the line about "preposterous gadgetry" again...  They even took the word, "cloud" away! 

I recently saw someone with an outlandish mohawk and they also happened to be wearing one of those laminated employee ID cards around their neck.  When did sitting for hours on end in front of a computer screen at a video game company equate with any edge?  What amazed me the most is not how the mainstream coopts everything interesting the marginalized create or how icons evolve and have their meanings change but how this person did not have any fear or even the idea that "authentic" punks might beat the living crap out of him for being a nerdy poseur...  The other thing I noticed is that there aren't punks in SF anymore, authentic or not. 

I am really glad I was out cruising before offshore internet access became standard.  No internal debate and no facing the realization that you haven't really left at all... 

Three months back in the bay area and I already sound like a ranting Luddite.  Is it too soon to dream of going cruising again?

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Tikopia - trading pic

The keyword "Tikopia" has generated a lot of traffic to this site so I have recently uploaded the few pics I have on my surving laptop.  Eventually there may be more if I have someone clean out the old hard drives from the dead laptops.  (Use the search blog feature to find the other Tikopia posts.)

This shot is of the trade I did with Simeon.  Everything he gave me is in the foreground - traditional belt and clothes and everything I gave him is to the left.

Monday, August 15, 2011

Tikopia huts


Sunday, July 31, 2011

Cultural Diversity...

I don't really do souvenirs.  I have been on other cruiser's boats that are decorated thoroughly with shells, carvings, relics from dives, you name it, from all the various places they have visited throughout the world.  Once in awhile I do come across something that pushes that particular button and I literally have to it. 

While in the Solomons, I learned that the people on Malaita Island hunt dolphins and use the teeth as a form of currency.  This is rare as most people have a reaction to dolphins that remind me of the section in one of Moietessier's books where he is trying to convince a fellow sailor that hunting dolphins for food isn't such a good thing.  His arguments are along the lines of how they aren't fish at all and that they are playful, intelligent, etc..  While in Honiara, I met an American expat that had a "dolphin eco tourist" lodge that was pretty much a front for an operation where he would use natives to catch live dolphins and then sell them to rich Saudis as pets.  Needless to say, this particular expat had embraced the dolphin hunting culture with enthusiasm as the laws regulating his chosen business were pretty lax.  On a less grand level, involvement with this "taboo" culture found its way into me as the desire for a token souvenir.  I tried all the tourist jewelry stores and got the reflexive politically correct reaction and the cold stares.  I ended up in the market talking to Malaita women selling vegetables and soon had a whole gang of them around me trying to shake me down for as much as they could when one of them finally decided to sell the necklace from around her neck.  The valuation process comes down to counting all the teeth in the necklace and comparing them for quality to agree on an acceptable average that then translates to a price per tooth.

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Tikopia Guestbook images

I have a few items from Tikopia looking for a new home.  I blogged about them here.  

Here are a handful of pages from the Tikopia guestbook.  Tikopia was one of my favorite places that I visited on my trip.  An island that still has traditional Polynesian culture but is politically and geographically part of the Solomons. 

Today if one visits a remote place where the wildlife are not afraid of humans, one is surprised.  Humans haven't been part of the environment long enough in these few places for the animals to realize they need to get the hell away.  Tikopia felt like this but with the difference being the way the indigenous population understands white Europeans.  For the past several hundred years with all the various explorers, missionaries, trading companies, WWII, etc., Tikopia came through with minimal impact.  Of course there has been some, but not enough to essentially displace their original sense of identity.  In Vanuatu, where I had spent over a month cruising immediately previously, there was a long history of occupying Europeans. Not all the memory was bad and in fact the older locals I met wished independence had never happened.  Even with some positive view of European influence, the difference between Vanuatu and Tikopia was light years in terms of how they understood their standing in the world. Note that the physical distance between the northernmost part of Vanuatu and Tikopia is only 140 miles! 

Any backpacker visiting remote places has their share of of anecdotes that reveal "cluelessness" about the outside world.  I remember being in the villages of Nepal on a trekking trip years ago when a local, upon hearing I was from America, asked how Michael Jackson was doing as if he and I were neighbors in the same village.  In Tikopia I remember when one of the chiefs explained to me that they had heard about the tsunami of 2004. He proudly explained how the 1000 or so Tikopians pooled their resources and were able to collect a total of $75 that they sent to Indonesia.  Normally, I would chalk this up as another example of "cluelessness" but the thing about Tikopia was that it didn't feel like cluelessness at all... Instead, every example of how their understanding of the world as a place not dominated by hundreds of years of white colonialism  made me question what sort of foundation and identity my own society had given me...

*Other Tikopia blog posts in archive (June 2008)

Friday, June 24, 2011

Poverty induced Vegetarianism in Papua New Guinea

Two laptops were destroyed in less than four years of cruising.  One was an Itronix GoBook Max military specification model.  I still have the hard drives but haven't had a chance to retrieve a lot of photos and other data.  The remaining laptop has a few backed up photos including these I took when provisioning in the largest supermarket I could find in Port Moresby, Papua New Guinea...

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Always cruising...

Returning to the United States after being away cruising for nearly five years without a single visit back is something worthy of its own blog.  The changes in the country and in myself, the identity challenges of reentry, the reactions you get from people when you tell them what you have been up to...

With eyes that have seen many destinations, the bay area now looks overrated and with its cost of living, it isn't a very good deal.  There is little energy on the streets here except in Chinatown.  The Mission with the twenty something bohemians seems more like a token gesture than a place of ferment and revolutionary ideas.  The Castro that once felt like one of the most sophisticated neighborhoods now feels as if their strengths wouldn't work anywhere else. Labels like "liberal mecca" seem so out of place...  The most intense energies seem to be hidden deep in the confines of tech campuses with the only discernable surface indications being droves of foot soldiers stressed out trying to stick to tight personal schedules. 

I spent a few weeks in Phoenix and there the lessoned learned which has been reinforced here in the bay area is that one must have an explanation for oneeself.  You cannot simply just be.  Without an "in" nothing will happen.  Everyone is a specialist executing their own unique individual agenda.  As a result, even the simplest interest takes the form of an overly complicated niche.

I naively thought that returning to the US and the bay area would be the end of my trip.  Now after these observations, I remember how another couple who completed their own circumnavigation and subsequent reentry explained to me that I have been out cruising long before I cast off the lines and that I will continue to regardless...

Monday, May 9, 2011

Bankruptcy of reason?

With my recent posts, I feel the need to chide myself for the number of times I have used the word "dream." There is nothing more offensive to my cynical side than having to slog through some sentimental mush let alone being the one responsible for creating it. If I had a dedicated internet connection offshore, there might have been posts from the times where I was cursing and swearing that the boat, the sailing, the whole thing was a miserable mistake and that I made a promise to never return to sea if I got through the current mess... And those physical and fear oriented challenges are the easy ones. Cruising as a lifestyle is fraught with more profound negatives like the transient nature of relationships because of the continual movement, the fact that most cruisers drink more alcohol out cruising than they did on land because of the increase in down time, or the minimal connection to people in countries visited because of language barriers.
These negative aspects are not unfamiliar to those chasing their “dream.“ One could argue that this is infact what gives the dream such allure. Dreaming of casting off the lines and traveling the world in a boat or whatever method is not on the agenda for the masses of “normal“ people. What makes the dreamer different then? Sterling Hayden has, in a way, dismissed the notion of privilege, To be truly challenging, a voyage, like a life, must rest on a firm foundation of financial unrest. Otherwise, you are doomed to a routine traverse, the kind known to yachtsmen who play with their boats at sea… “cruising” it is called. The phenomenon that Hayden mentions is the “cruising” that is sold to us. It is a product marketed to upper middle class whites approaching retirement. There are cruising grounds all over the world that cater to this breed of sailor. Mexico is a good example for California and Pacific NW sailors. These sailors are not dreamers. Maybe some start out as dreamers but quickly sober up when it starts to get messy. Don’t get me wrong. I am not condemning this style of sailing and I admit that I am a good portion cruiser myself. Money lubricates and the more of it the better, but would you still go if you didn’t have it?

With privilege or money removed from the equation, because it doesn’t create an “authentic” experience, the essence of the dreamer is revealed. What is left is a type of insanity. “You have to be crazy to do something like that” Insanity may be a bit dramatic word choice (I have even heard “love” substituted), but it captures the crucial aspect that the dreamer is thinking against his own interests. Much like how awareness of the void gives us a vantage outside our natural rhythm, the dreamer too is fixated on something he imagines as transcendent. I remember meeting an Argentinean single handler in Colombia who told me about his misadventure in the San Blas. He required the assistance of several other cruisers to pull his boat off a reef. Turns out he was motoring slowly at night without charts only using his depth sounder as a guide. As he related the story, I tried all forms of questioning and reasoning to get him to see the irrationality of his approach. It wasn’t until I gave up and told him that it was the stupidest and most foolhardy thing to do that his face cracked and lit up in a smile…

Everyone has a sense of where their comfort zone ends. When we encounter someone whose limit is a bit farther out, we often label them as “crazy.“ This feeling of seeing the insanity in the dream is the exact effect the classic work, The Circumnavigators by Don Holm triggers. Although Don is a confessed dreamer that never cruised himself, his work is focused on facts and doesn't come off with any motivating agenda for the reader to go follow their own dream. This is partly why The Circumnavigators is such seductive reading. The real power with this work is in the exceedingly eccentric nature of the facts the author spent a lot of effort collecting. The book is filled with little gems like how after a dismasting during a capsize off Cape Horn, time was spent first sharpening all tools prior to starting emergency repairs that demanded immediate attention! When the depictions of the sailors and their stories start to become larger than life, it depends on the reader's own reserve of dreaminess whether the work inspires or is simply a description of madmen...

Here is an excerpt from the intro;

This book is my attempt to pull together the best and most representative of these voyagers, and to try and define for my own personal satisfaction and curiosity, if nothing else, many of the underlying reasons that motivate a man to leave the comforts of an established society and bounce around the world at an average rate of five miles an hour in cramped, damp, and often extremely uncomfortable quarters.

Who are these people? What are they really seeking? What motivates them to undertake the risks involved in crossing vast oceans in tiny ships, frequently alone, always dependent upon the prevailing winds and currents, subject to all the raw hazards of the open sea, the possibility of accident and sickness, fearful uncertainties of the unknown, and the inevitable and exasperating red tape of many petty customs and port officials in foreign lands? Certainly, there is nothing easy or simple about a blue water voyage.

Are these people seeking adventure? Romance? Escape? Or are they really searching for meaning in their lives? Do they desire fame and fortune? Or is it just an impulse for achievement against overwhelming odds?

Are they anachronisms in a world that no longer has use for explorers and pioneers? Are they bums, dropouts, copouts, or just plain nuts? Do they have something that you and I do not, besides money? Or, as one psychologist opined, are they just people with suicidal compulsions, their voyages being spectacular manifestations of it?

Here then are the most notable men and women who have circumnavigated the world, and especially those who have solo navigated. World voyagers are the elite of modern travelers, and circumnavigators in small ships are the nobility of the elite. The solo circumnavigation is the epitome of all personal odysseys.

Saturday, April 30, 2011

Blisters can be a good reminder...

Most of the hundreds and hundreds of blisters that were visible when first hauled are now gone as they were all in between the actual fiberglass and whatever outer coatings previous owners or the original builders had applied.  Now that the fiberglass is all laid bare, you don't have to be a chemical engineer to recognize the result of "laminate hydrolysis" in Pelican's hull. The outer layer of fiberglass matt in the affected area has turned milky white and is not translucent like the unaffected areas.  Water had slowly combined with the soluable components of the resin and had robbed the layup of its strength and rigidity.  This area is riddled with blisters (many ground out and filled over the years).

The reality is that the boat is slowly dying.  Polyester resin as a boat building material doesn't cut it.  The vehicle of my dreams, my floating sanctuary, it isn't exempt from the forces of decay?  Is nothing sacred?  Unfortunately not.  The ugly truth lurks everywhere, always coming back to remind us of the unacceptable fact of our own eventual annihilation.  And that is perhaps where the good news lies.  It is in the ability to put it into perspective.  At 46 years of age, a few millimeter loss of hull thickness really ain't that bad... At this rate, Pelican will still be out sailing long after you or I will be.

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Still in Marina Seca Guaymas...

A friend of mine in Thailand recently sent me scanned versions of the write I up I received back in early 2009 in TTO magazine (thanks again to Sarah Dixon).  I have put the rest of the scanned article on the page that originally contained the link to the online version (now dead). 

One of the benefits of having a bit of cruising experience is understanding the range of cruisers out there.  The couple of weeks I have spent here in Marina Seca Guyamas has been a reminder of this as the range has significantly narrowed.  I have met cruisers who are surprised and even shocked to learn I have just recently completed a singlehanded circumnavigation aboard an Alberg 35.  I guess I don't fit the profile...  (Maybe it is the hank on headsails).  One thing I do know is it says more about their lack of exposure than anything about me.   There is no profile!  Some may think an Alberg 35 too small a boat.  What about Carina whom I met in Thailand when he came along side looking for a ride to the beach because he has no dinghy (boat already is a dinghy).  Others may think I am on too low a budget.  What about Emily, whom I first met in Mexico, whose first cruising boat cost $900.  I met her again in Panama City years later circumnavigating on her second boat which cost a whopping $12K (sponsorship help).  Others may think that a circumnavigation is too vast an undertaking.  What about Bob and Glenda on Nero whom I met in Madagascar who are on their fifth circumnavigation.   The farther you get away from the marina back home, the less accurate the yachtie stereotypes become...

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Marina Seca Guaymas

The blisters were pretty bad this haul out...  Bad enough that the dreaded, "Have to remove the Gelcoat" option became a reality.  I probably won't go all the way to the bottom as there are only gelcoat blisters below where I have already ground.

This project would have been a nightmare in the states.  Just finding a DIY yard with affordable lay days, no enviromental restrictions and a hot dry climate would be next to impossible.  Then, imagine looking forward to spending any amount of free time holding a seven pound grinder at shoulder height for hours...  That is the problem with trying to squeeze in your dreams around the 9 to 5 .  It is hard enough to find time to do laundry let alone grind gelcoat off a boat hull.  At a certain point, you have to quit the job and make do with what you saved.  Of course I will have to head back to work for another spell but for now, with this project, I can do an hour of grinding, bullshit with my yachtie neighbors, do another half hour of grinding, bullshit with my yachtie neighbors, do another fifteen minutes of grinding, bullshit with my yachtie neighbors...

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

The page turned...

It really feels like the end of the trip...  Isn't there some god awful Randy Newman song about not going sailing anymore.  Geez, if I am having associations like that, I must be feeling it.  The plus side is I get to enter into refit mode.  Plenty to do and no better motivator than being in a yard.

Monday, April 4, 2011

Guaymas, Mexico

Straight shot from Mazatlan to Guaymas.  Took over a week...  Man, there is so little wind in Mexico.  I remember being warned about Asia but this coast is like Zen master level of patience...  The plus is that the Sea feels like a lake.  No swell at all.  Even with a five knot breeze one can sail as there is no swell to spill the wind.  I pretty much stayed in the center of the sea, tacking back and forth, always within sight of one coast or the other for most of the time.  I have already become used to Mexico which is mostly tones of brown meaning rocks and sand, but when I came into Guaymas and saw a hill covered with green, I was confounded until I realized it was all cactus!

Tomorrow I will hopefully find out when I can get hauled...

Friday, March 25, 2011

Mazatlan, Mexico

     I have been in Mexico a little less than a month now.  Stops have included Santiago Bay, Melaque, La Cruz, San Blas and now Mazatlan.  I had thought more than a bit about what it would be like to cruise Mexico this time around.  It is nice to see how places like San Blas still remind me of the artwork found in that old classic travel guide, People's Guide to Mexico.  Other places like Banderas Bay have changed substantially.  There is now quite a marina planted right at the base of town in La Cruz!

     In 2007 when I was in Neiafu, Tonga, I met another male singlehanded sailor also in his thirties who upon meeting me, displayed the not so uncommon alpha male behaviour of having to assert himself as the more seasoned of the two of us. Within minutes, there was mention of an 80 knot experience, successful navigation of the pass at Mopelia and a visit to Beveridge Reef which he bragged was not in the pilots. While continuing to list his exploits, most of which involved unnecessary exposure to danger, what struck me the most was his use of the words, "real cruising.” 

     I have heard California sailors say that Mexico is not "real" cruising.  It is not far enough away!  You can hop from marina to marina and never anchor out! There is no doubt that the San Francisco Bay Area based sailing magazine, Latitude 38 has transformed the cruising landscape here with events like their Baja Haha which now boasts hundreds of participants.  Other events like Sail Fest and the Banderas Bay regatta are equally popular so, yes, one can spend the entire season occupied within this world.  Mexico is not on any of the regular circumnavigation routes so there isn't much diversity within the cruising community.  I have seen one European boat since I got here... My visit to La Cruz confirmed that for many, cruising is the experience of other cruisers.

     I guess what it comes down to is that people cast off the lines for different reasons.  There is a big difference between chasing a dream and pursuing a well defined goal.  I feel this difference when I listen to some sailors talk about boats.  They talk up the virtues of one design over another until it becomes obvious that the boat is less a boat and instead some manifestation of their alter ego.  What are you gonna do with the boat?  This part is always assumed when it shouldn't be.  For me, I knew enough that when I first saw Pelican, it was without a doubt not my "dream boat" at all.  I too had my own ideal vision and having already cruised a Pearson Vanguard, I knew a lot of the Alberg 35's negative qualities.  Unfortunately, I also knew what it was capable of.  It was almost like a test to see what my priorities were.  Do you want to cross oceans visiting remote places or do you want a nice boat to go yachting in a relaxed sailing destination like Mexico?  I had to make a choice and the one thing I am very glad of is that what I thought to be true turned out to be.  You don't need your dream boat to cross oceans and see the world.  

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Making it official

(Click on Map for larger view.)

I keep the record of my journey up to date on the map above.  The March 2011 post follows below,

Well... I guess I will do this now and get it out of the way. Mainly so I can start sounding like an old salt and laying down the wisdom! Actually, it does feel nice to say I made it around the world singlehanded.

I missed my goal of putting less than 500 hours on the engine. Final tally from when I first bought the boat in Seattle, WA to here in Manzanillo is 680 hours. I will say that I would have made that 500 hour mark if I hadn´t done four months of backpacker charters in the San Blas. Had to use the engine there to stay on other´s schedules so I easily put over a hundred hours on the engine in those four months.

Right now I am working on getting the boat to somewhere in the Sea of Cortez and pulling it out of the water. The boat is now for sale but it is hard to sell a boat in Mexico so one plan is to refit the boat and sail it across the Pacific again to Australia or New Zealand. The boat is worth more in those places and of course this would be a great excuse for visiting the South Pacific again. Now that I have already done the South Pacific once, I know where to go. I would completely skip the much overdone ¨milk run¨route. On the other hand, if I sell the boat now, I would be that much closer to the next adventure... I could of course do the bash and get the boat to California but it is probably not much easier to sell a boat up there.

Anyways, we will see. I will keep the blog going with more reflections on the trip in the coming weeks. There will not be as much sailing anymore though. This last passage was it for awhile. La Paz is now hundreds of miles away and no longer thousands...

Monday, February 28, 2011

Bahia Santiago, Manzanillo, Mexico

Made it in today... 24 days.

I might try checking in tomorrow into Mexico or wait until the winds stop blasting and head over to Barra. Santiago is a nice anchorage but a bit incovenient.

The plan worked well initially. I was making about 80 miles a day along 10 North. Let go of the Spinnaker halyard like an idiot and I was in no mood to climb the mast at sea so I only had use of the 125 using the boom to pole it out... 450 miles below Tehuantepec there was 15-20knots but with a huge 10 to 12 foot swell! I heard on the net that there were storm force winds up there. At about 100 west I started to get antsy and was afraid of a hard beat up to close the mainland after listening to a boat headed from Cabo to Galapagos report daily conditions. I made the turn sooner than planned but what the hell.... I lost all wind at about 13 north. It absolutely died at about 13 N and 103 W. Then after several really low mile days, I got close enough to the corner that I had 20 on the nose for the last three days. I tried holding out for Barra but just didn´t have it in me. Santiago is only 20 miles short so no biggie.

That is the sail report. Other item of most interest is cleaning an explosion of growth on the hull when becalmed and being visited by a mixed school of dolphins and huge yellow fin tuna. They came quite close while I was in the water. Plenty of that being made conscious of my own creatureliness by heavy eye contact with the dolphin creatures.

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Mexico bound

I am off for Mexico. I will use the Papagayos to shoot out offshore, then will stay at ten degrees north until about 105 west to skirt the areas of calms off of Central America and mainland Mexico. I will also pass several hundred miles below Tehuantepec but should still get a boost as the winds are really blasting there this time of year. Landfall somewhere in Bahia Banderas, maybe even Cabo, but at least as far west as Barra de Navidad.

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Cocos Island

I hadn´t heard about Cocos Island until I reached Shelter Bay Marina about a month ago. This is surprising as I cruised Costa Rica in the mid nineties and have talked with dozens of sailors who have been to the Galapagos, yet no one had ever mentioned this island. Jacques Cousteau described this island as the most beautiful in the world and it also happens to be the largest uninhabited island in the world as well. Divers seem to be more aware of Cocos as it is often listed as one of the top diving sites. Part of the reason why this island is unknown is not only because of its isolation (300 miles off of Costa Rica and 400 north of the Galapagos) but because the only way to visit the island, aside from having your own boat, is to take a liveaboard dive trip which costs about four to five thousand dollars for seven days. Being a national park, there are no facilities onshore for overnight guests and there is no airport. There were only eighteen people on the island and they were either park rangers or scientists. Besides Pelican, the only other boats at anchor were two dive boats, the Argo and Wind dancer, and a National Geographic research boat...

Here are some radom shots of the boat graffiti at Chatham bay. It was quite a feeling reading the names of all the past sailors to have visited the island.

Monday, January 31, 2011

In Costa Rica for a short bit

I am in Bahia Samara in Costa Rica.

Here are a few more photos of the Panama Canal transit taken by the boat we rafted up to.