Hello! Ia Orana! Bonjour!
It has been quite a trip so far this year filled with amazing people I have met and stunning natural scenery. Since I left Oregon in August 2014 I have sailed over 7000 miles including 4500 miles solo. I have traveled the entire West Coast of the US down into Baja and the Sea of Cortez, and back in April I crossed the Pacific solo just under 27 days to Nuka Hiva, Marquesas. So far I have explored the Marquesas Islands, Tuamotus, and Society Islands. I am currently in Huahine, French Polynesia and I will be staying here in the area through Cyclone season. I was only expecting to stay three months in French Polynesia so I could sail to NZ by October, but unfortunately I had to haul out in Tahiti to strip the bottom paint and topsides back to gelcoat, and repaint the entire hull. I also replaced a thru hull, rebuilt the rudder and its components. It was an incredible amount of work that lasted almost 26 days and was grateful to have my brother Nate there to help me, who I flew out to help and sail with me.
Unfortunately while I was working in the boatyard in August, I was running an errand on the skateboard and a car hit me at a stoplight and left me with an injured left wrist and broken radius head. To complicate things I was working on some rickety scaffolding two days later to finish some last minute epoxy fairing and fell about twenty feet straight on to pavement. I ended up suffering a concussion, damaged tendons in my ankle, and well…I landed on my arm that was already broken! I was lucky that was all that happened from that height and I could continue to finish the haul out, which was only about half finished. After a few hospital visits they got my casted up to my shoulder and had to keep that on for about 6 weeks. I am still dealing with complications in my elbow to this day, but it seems to be slowly getting better and started surfing again this past week (although surfing a reef break is a bit intimidated).
The haul out was a necessary evil, but doing all my own work saved me close to $7000 US and was a great learning experience. It was quite expensive for this type of project, but a great accomplishment for my brother and myself (Pictures on website). Once I was back in the water I returned to the anchorage near Marina Taina in Tahiti. I found it extremely difficult to manage a broken arm in a cast up to my shoulder and being on a boat so made the choice to leave Antares in Marina de Papeete until I could sort things out with my visa. I was only given until November 2nd to stay here on medical exemption, but it was not going to work because I would have been asked sail away from here with an injured arm and limited options for places to sail this time of year. With this in mind, I made the choice to fly to New Zealand to obtain my Carte de Sejour (One Year Visa) out of Wellington and get my RYA Yachtmaster’s Offshore Certificate. I obtained my NZ Working Holiday Visa, back in April but with the short amount of time in NZ it was hard to find work and had a lot to prepare for in obtaining my Yachtmasters, which ran all of November.
After arriving into Auckland on September 13th, I sorted out a cheap camper van within a few days and headed south to Wellington to get my visa. The whole process was not as bad as I expected and getting all the paperwork together only took a few days. The guy at the embassy even put a rush on my visa for me so it was ready for pick up when I returned from the South Island. I ended up living in the van for about 6 weeks traveling all the way down to the South Island Fjords and back to Warkworth for the start of my class on November 2nd. While traveling I did some sailing on Lake Tuapo where I was offered a job as Skipper on a 1947 California Schooner that would have run the summer season, but unfortunately would not work with having Antares back here in Polynesia. I also was able to get out for some racing on boats in Wellington and Auckland, which was a nice change of pace from my cruising. The sailing I have done the past year has been mainly finding a way to balance the sails to steer and setting the wind-vane to do all the work, only tacking if there is a sudden wind change.
Once I got back to Warkworth, I ended up staying with an amazing family who lived about 20 minutes outside of town in the countryside. They had a guest house just behind the main house which overlooked endless, lush-green hills. They had some beautiful riding horses, but of course I couldn’t ride because I am deathly allergic, so I kept Pekin ducks some company. It was a relief to have some space to live in outside of the van and the sailboat, which I have called home for the past two years. Living in small spaces is a unique, yet challenging opportunity at times.
As many of you know I just started sailing about 2.5 years ago so getting my Yachtmaster’s was a lot of work. I first took a week theory class that focused on navigation, pilotage, weather, and navigational aids, which was followed by a series of three tests. The next couple weeks were consumed by a series of classes (STCW95) that included fire-fighting, safety at sea, and first aid. To get commercially endorsed I also had to take a series of radio exams and a professional practices course that are administered by MCA. In the final week I spent four days training with our RYA instructor to master techniques such as docking, blind navigation, lights and signals, and a variety of man overboard drills under sail. On the day of the examination we were put under watch by a separate examiner who turned out to be an Auckland Harbor Pilot, which meant there was not much room for error. We were run through a series of test individually, acting as skipper and were asked to perform a variety of blind navigations, taking fixes, docking under sail and motor, and performing man overboard procedures. Myself and the other student Hanes passed the examination around 11:00 PM that night and were keen to celebrate with a glass of champagne on the mooring at Waiheke Island.
I was glad to finish this examination early as I was flying out four days later out of Auckland and had a lot of things to get ready before I left including to sell my car, which I luckily was able to sell a week before. As I left Auckland I felt extremely accomplished having received this certificate and now with a full year visa in French Polynesia.
Antares is an old boat, which means there is always something to do on it, usually quite vital, but I have managed thus far to get by with fixing things alone. I am going to be hanging here in the Societies for the next few months so I can try to land a delivery job or crewing gig for a 3-month stint. There are a couple places to leave the boat if I get a good job lined up so I will be searching for something starting after the 1st of January. I tried to sail to Marquesas Islands from Papeete on December 9th, but I was taking on water through a deck fitting and the waste tank bag overfilled with incoming sea water so had to divert to an island about 14 miles West of Tahiti called Moorea.
I am aiming to continue my trip West this following year, but unfortunately before I think of crossing the Indian Ocean next year I am needing to resupply the funds for a new headsail, mainsail, and possibly new rigging. Antares’ rigging is over 10 years old and pushing the limits of its reliability at this point and with crossing such a vast amount of Ocean, I am wanting to make sure I know the rig is reliable as are the sails. I am feeling more then ready to continue my solo around the world trip but in the meantime I will be looking for funding from my future work endeavors and crowd-sourced funding. I will be launching a crowd-funding campaign at the first of the year to raise money for launching a number of products from LifeLine Explorers and continuing the around the world sail. There are a number of incentives that will include Lifeline Explorers apparel, Hi-Res Photographs (Framed) that were selected for World Surf League’s “Ride of the Year” and “Tube of The Year” awards, contribution to scientific research, and the chance to have me as your skipper aboard a charter destination of your choice. I will follow up with another email and link to the funding campaign soon. I would greatly appreciate any support as I try to continue circumnavigation. In the meantime I hope you all have a wonderful holiday and feel free to write anytime. There are not many cruisers out here at the moment so I have been soaking in the the local lifestyle and trying to learn French.
Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!