Questions and Answers
From the grade 5 students in Division 1 at Braefoot Elementary School, Victoria, BC
1. How do you keep from being lonely? Do you talk to your self?
I do get lonely occasionally but I'm able to send and receive a limited amount of email every day to and from people like you, friends and family, so that helps. I also talk on my Ham radio to other amateur ham radio operators in the countries that I sail by like South Africa, Australia and New Zealand. So, with all those people to talk to and keep in touch with, I am very rarely lonely. Oh yes .... and of course I have myself to talk to which is usually pretty funny. I've found that I'm not bad company and the funny thing is I find myself listening to myself.
2. How's your food supply? Do you crave anything? What is the first thing you will eat when you get home?
My food supply is gradually dwindling. I don't have any fresh fruit or vegetables left and my supply of chocolate is getting dangerously low. I don't think I'll starve or get scurvy though. I crave a few things - fresh fruit, ice cream, tomatoes, fresh bread, eggs and salad. Of course, all the things I don't have. The first thing I'll eat when I get home will be a large home cooked breakfast with eggs, tomatoes, mushrooms, whole wheat toast, ham, bacon, sausages ....Oh and coffee!
3. How much weight have you lost? Are you concerned about that?
When I left I weighed 175 pounds I would estimate that I now weigh about 150 pounds. Sailing a boat single handed is very physically demanding so I burn off all the calories I take in and more. I'm not concerned about it at all. I feel great.
This information came from a research geologist and geophysicist about the nature of the ocean floor Glenn is sailing above.
The Falkland Islands are an exposed part of the South American continental shelf. They became separated from the main continental mass during the break-up of the supercontinent Pangea and Gondwana about 180 million years ago. As Glenn passes by the Falklands he will sail across a small and narrow oceanic plate called the Scotia Plate that, about 10 million years ago, broke off the South America Plate when it rotated counterclockwise to close the Panama. To the east, the chain of South Sandwich Islands are volcanoes called a volcanic island arc. These are similar to the volcanoes forming the Andes, Cascades, Aleutians etc that form when oceanic crust is being subducted beneath an over-riding plate.
I've read about Donald Crowhurst and the stress and mind games he went through before the end of his trip. Has there at any time on your voyage been the feeling of stress, loneliness or mind games? How do you think you will adjust to land life again and going back to work?
I'm very familiar with Donald Crowhurst's story. I read a book on his trip entitled A Voyage For Madmen, written by Peter Nichols. It chronicles the greatest of races, to be the first person to sail around the world single-handed non-stop and it delves into the impact of Crowhurst's folly on the rest of the fleet. Your question about feelings of stress, loneliness, and mind games. I've experienced all of those to varying degrees throughout the trip. I thought a great deal about my mental capacity to take on a trip like this. I set a goal and in order to achieve it I knew I would have to leave my family. Even though it's been tough at times for all of us, it's been an adventure and there have been some very positive aspects to it. That said, it's difficult to keep it all together all the time because you are absolutely on your own. So I have to work at it. Every minute, hour, day, week, and month till the voyage is done. There's no turning back and it's easier to go forward. I don't think I'll have a problem going back to work because there's really no choice about it and I enjoy what I do. I think I'll adapt well when I'm back on land as I have many interests. I love the outdoors and in Canada, particularly Vancouver Island, there are so many exciting places and activities to explore. I'm also an avid gardener, and I'm looking forward to doing some of that. I can't ignore, however, that I have salt in my veins so I'll need to pay attention to that. The most important thing for me when I get home is to spend time with my wife Marylou who has been so very supportive of me throughout the voyage. You ask how I adjust to leaving home and my family. I miss my family madly. I'm aware too that I still have 10,000 miles to go and there is no doubt in my mind that I will have negative feelings but I will carry on knowing I have the support of my family and so many wonderful friends around the world. As I have said in the past, it's their support that gives me courage.
How much did the refit cost?
A bold question indeed. From the time we bought Kim Chow until I sailed her away, I spent 3000 hours of my time on the refit. As far as what that cost, well it was cheaper than buying a Hinkley 40 ... but not by that much. In the end, I got a boat I know every square inch of, and I have the pride that comes with doing the work myself. I'm very proud of the way Kim Chow turned out and she is certainly taking good care of me now. What goes around comes around.
From the Grade 5/6 class at Edenwold School near Regina, Saskatchewan.
1. Have you seen any unusual creatures?
I haven't seem any more jelly fish in the shape of pigs lately but I did see a shark that was 2 metres long swimming around the boat the other day while I was becalmed. No so unusual, but I also saw a seal sleeping with its fins up in the air. When I first saw it, it looked like a lump of wood floating in the ocean.
2. Have you seen any penguins or seals?
Yes, I have seen a seal but no penguins yet.
3. Are you getting low on food and water?
Last week, there was an amazing rain storm that lasted for several hours which was great because I was able to completely fill my water tanks. I am very careful about how much water I use for cooking and bathing so this rain storm was a very welcome occasion. Gradually, I'm eating up all my food but I think I will make it home with the supply I have. I don't have very much chocolate left and only one bag of chips and one jar of salsa.
4. Have you ever gotten sea sick?
Oh yes ... very, but not on this trip. I usually get sick for the first few days before I'm used to the motion of the boat. Then, after 3 or 4 days I get my "sea legs" and all is well. To avoid getting sick those first few days, I take Gravol which gets me through until I am used to the motion.
How has Kim Chow performed going upwind?
After thousands of miles and so many different wind and ocean conditions, I would have to say Kim Chow has performed very well. Keep in mind, most boats would never, in their whole lives, go to windward as much as Kim Chow has on this trip. Not only that, but in so many different weather conditions, from beating into 10 metre waves against 40+kts of wind to ghosting through the ITZs. Under all these circumstances she's made the ride completely tolerable.
5. What are the dangers going around Cape Horn?
The weather and sea conditions are the most dangerous elements of rounding Cape Horn. The wind blows from the west (the direction I am sailing) and the storms can move very close together with very high winds, up to and more than 60 nautical miles per hour. This generates large waves - up to 10 metres. This can make sailing against the wind difficult, so it's important to shorten sail early and if necessary, use the serious drogue to control the speed and motion of the boat. The serious drogue is a line about 350 feet long with 130 small parachutes attached to it. It is towed behind the boat and has the effect of keeping the stern into the waves. When the drogue is in place, all the sails are taken down and the tiller is firmly lashed in the centre of the boat. The drogue slows the boat down and keeps it going in the right direction. It's something that is used as a last resort against strong winds and high seas. So far, I have used it only once a few weeks ago in winds of 50 knots and 10 metre seas and it worked well although it's challenging to get the drogue back into the boat after the storm has passed.
Have you considered doing a presentation about your voyage upon your return? It would make a great event and be an inspiration to many other sailors.
Yes, absolutely. My wife Marylou is a communications and public relations specialist who manages and updates our website. She will be organizing a number of events here in Victoria and possibly elsewhere if there is interest. Watch the website for dates and times. Thanks for your interest.
Which radio frequency are you using and is it possible to connect with you?
Because I'm constantly moving and changing time zones, I'm having to change radio frequencies and schedule times often, so it's difficult to set a regular schedule. When I move into the Pacific again I'll try to post my schedule times and frequencies. Stay tuned
What sails are you using to weather?
I have a main with three healthy reefs in it, yankee on a roller furler, and a storm staysail hanked on to an inner forestay. For the Monitor self steering to function well, it's important to have a balanced sail combination. As the wind builds I adjust my combination of sails starting with:
1. Flattening reef in main; full yankee
2. One reef in the main; one in the yankee
3. Two reefs in the main; one in the yankee
4. Two reefs in the main; two in the yankee
5. Three reefs in the main; two in the yankee
6. Three reefs in the main; storm stay sail and hankee yankee
7. Three reefs in the main; hankee yankee
8. Hanky yankee only (hanky yankee is only about 8 square feet and just holds the bow in to the wind)
Do you think this voyage will change your plans for the future?
Yes, I think this trip will change my plans for the future. How, exactly is hard to say at this moment. I am sure "re-entry" will be a challenge. I will sit down with my wife Marylou and together we'll decide what's next. One of the difficulties of course is that being on my own for so long, I'm probably unaware of some of the changes that have taken place. I don't have the same context. I'm also aware that I'm only a little over half way so there is still a long way to go.
Is it different both logistically and psychologically than what you expected?
What do you think about a rigid boom vang?
My thoughts at the moment are that I still have along way to go, and I know the most difficult part lies ahead; that is, rounding Cape Horn. Logistically so far, things have turned out as I had thought. I've been able to cope with most of the situations very well. One surprise, and something I couldn't have anticipated, is the wonderful contact with the amateur Ham radio operators from NZ, Australia and South Africa. Speaking to them each evening, it's difficult to say I'm alone. Their support has been overwhelming. One of my friends said to me before I left, "Make sure you enjoy every day as the chances of going that way again are slim". Take today, for example. I am becalmed about 30 miles from my waypoint that marks the beginning of the Atlantic Ocean. I could feel pretty frustrated about that but there is little or nothing I can do about it so I focus on something else and I know the wind will come. That is a situation that occurs often on board and most of the time I cope well with it. Ask me that one again, in say five months time.
I have never sailed with a rigid boom vang. I use a block and tackle which I move from one side to the other when I'm tacking. It serves the purpose well, but at times it's awkward. It's difficult to find the perfect running rigging and like many things it's a compromise.
Could you be in the South Atlantic at a time that was better for the wind and current?
The timing of this voyage was planned specifically around being at Cape Horn at or before the end of April beginning of May, and it looks like I'll be there around that time. The challenge for me as a circumnavigator is choosing the best time to leave Victoria to take advantage of weather and currents all the way around the world. And that is just not possible. So far on this trip, I have sailed through three areas during cyclone season; the west coast of Mexico, the South Pacific and the South Indian Ocean. I've been lucky and haven't encountered any cyclones that came too close but they were certainly there in all three areas. The head winds are blowing more strongly now (Mar. 3) in the area of the South Atlantic which is typical and in fact is desireable for me as opposed to being becalmed. Contrary to what you might think, the wind is not on the nose all the time. Typically, it starts to blow westerly when a low approaches from the west. It then shifts to northwest of the front and then southwest on the back side of the low pressure area. At times, a high moves down and interferes with that pattern which means the wind blows from the east, northeast and southeast. This is the situation I found myself in a week or so ago and I was able to make four 100+ miles for those four days. As far as avoiding adverse currents ... the only thing I could have done was to go the other way!
Name a few single handed circumnavigators that inspired you to take the ultimate yachting challenge. What was it about their voyages that had a special impact on you?
When I was growing up their weren't many books in our house although both my parents read a fair bit. Those books came mostly from the book mobile that stopped at the bottom of our street in Gordon Head. The books they did buy were for my Dad for birthdays and Christmas. They were all about sailing adventures in small boats. The first one I remember was Trekka by John Guzzwell. The book documented the building, outfitting and sailing of Trekka around the world by John. What was special about John was that he built the boat himself in Victoria behind a fish and chip shop on Fort Street. He mentioned using the furnace room of the old YMCA to dry glued parts for his boat. The old building stood on the corner of Blanshard and View Streets where I often went as a kid. John departed Victoria in September 1955 and returned in September 1959. I was nine years old in 1959, and it was the pictures in the book that captured my imagination, creating one of those childhood memories that filled a spot in my curious mind and never left. I fantasized in my nine year old mind what a great adventure that must have been, and like an addiction, I was hooked for life. That image of being on the open ocean in a small boat has never left me to this very day. Every time I see a well found small boat that feeling rushes through my veins and my heart races. The other books that graced our small book shelf included names like Miles and Beryl Smeeton and their boat Tzu Hang, Sir Alec Rose, a native of my Mom and Dad's home town of Portsmouth, and his boat Lively Lady, Sir Francis Chichester on his yacht Gypsy Moth, Sir Robin Knox-Johnston on Suhaili, then Chay Blyth on British Steel. They all added to my addiction to the point where I became incurable, and fantasized about trips I would take in small boats single-handed around the world. And here I am. Almost forty years later, and half way around the world fulfilling my life's dream. I am thankful that I was able to grow up in home where I was exposed to that stimulation, however small it was. One never knows what a child's mind will do with the smallest thing, and how it can turn into a life's ambition.
I am an eleven year old home schooled student. Why did you want to sail around the world?
It's a small question but not so small an answer. When I was a boy, a seed was sown in my heart that connected me to the sea. I was born with a natural spirit of adventure always wondering what was around the next corner, what that island was like, or what's that country like across the water. As I grew, so did my horizons until I realized the horizon to reach for was to sail around the world single-handed, nonstop west about. It’s important to nurture your dreams as a young person …no matter what they are. You never know where they will take you. Listen to your heart.
Are you a fan of the roller furling system and how dependable has it been so far?
For short handed sailing, roller furling is the way to go as far as I'm concerned. I have a roller furled yankee and a spare yankee. I recently had a mishap when I was changing the #1 for the yankee. I got the yankee half way up and it jammed. The result was a shredded luff tape. Unfortunately, the furling line got caught on a rising wind and I had to work fast while the waves broke over me. I really had no choice. It was "do or die". That yankee is presently in the forepeak with half finished repairs. Being single handed means you have to think way ahead and consider every possible outcome. Next time I will be careful to wait till it is dead calm before I make the next change. If I had crew, I would most likely go with a hanks system. My storm staysail is put on with hanks and it's always hanked on - at least in the Southern Ocean. It's also close to the mast so not too much of a problem to get it up and down.
Glenn, I see you wear glasses. When I sail in bad weather, I can't see a thing, so I go without and squint. How do you deal with this issue? Do you carry spare glasses?
I also have problems with my glasses in the rain and from sea spray. Sometimes I just peel them off put them in my pocket. But without them, I can't see the GPS which means I have to keep putting them on and taking them off. There are a thousand little annoyances like that every day but that is my world so I cope with it. Yes, I have several pairs of glasses with me.
Have you been sailing since you were a kid and how long had you dreamt of doing this trip?
My earliest memories of being on the ocean are from the age of about 5 or 6 years old. My dad and I would start out very early in the morning from Victoria to Sooke hauling our small boat on a trailer. We would fish at Otter Point in Sooke (off the west coast of Vancouver Island). I started sailing in my late teens. I started by taking courses - mainly keel boat sailing, and I crewed on racing boats in Victoria. I believe crewing for other people is where I learned the most. I read the stories of Robin Knox-Johnston, John Guzzwell, and Miles and Beryl Smeeton, in my early 20s and have dreamt of going sailing offshore ever since.
How do you feel about being away from your family?
I miss my family enormously. My two daughters are in their early twenties and getting on with their lives. I hope it may be good for them to see me getting on with my dream, so they can get on with theirs. My wife Marylouise, I miss terribly and it's only through her understanding that I feel ok about being away and fulfilling my dream. Her dream is to write a book so I hope in some small way I can provide some material.
What is the west about record that you are attempting to break, and who holds it at present?
There have been only 4 single-handed non-stop west about sailors. Three of those were sponsored. The record I wish to set is to be the first person from North America to sail single-handed nonstop, west about, for which there is no speed record.
How big was your tuna? How did you prepare it? How did it taste compared to canned tuna?
The tuna were all about 15lbs. I cut meat off the tuna as soon as it came out of the water and it tasted like candy. I had a tough time not eating too much of it raw. I don't have refrigeration on board so later in the day I fried it in butter and then made a fish stew. The rest went to my entourage of feathered friends which provided huge entertainment value. Unfortunately I only have one tuna lure left and still 15,000 miles to go so not sure how to use it wisely. Any thoughts? Besides tuna I caught a large perch type of fish and it was also delicious. Does it taste different than canned? ...absolutely yes.
Do you carry amateur radio HF transmitters and if so what bands and frequencies do you work?
I have an ICOM m-802 SSB-ham radio with an automatic tuner and about 100 sq. ft. of copper mesh laid on the inside of the hull below the water line going from bow to the stern attached to an insulated back stay. I talk every day to other hams, some more than 5000 miles away, mostly on 20 and 40 meters. It has been an extraordinary experience talking to other amateur radio operators. For a single hander like myself I have met literally hundreds of very interesting and caring people on the ham radio, and I thank them for their continued interest and support of my voyage.
What will be your next land sighted?
Most likely the next land I will see is Cape Flattery which is at the entry to the Straits of Juan de Fuca. I purposely stay off shore and try to not get any closer than 50 miles to any land. When I'm near shore, it means I have to stay up all night to make sure I don't get too close.
What kind of sea conditions do you expect around Cape Horn and how long will it take?
I expect it to be really rough and take at least tree weeks to double the Horn. That means from 50' degrees South on the Atlantic side to 50' South on the Pacific side. The distance is about 1600 miles, and considering I may encounter several lows (storms), it may take me three or four weeks. When Miles and Beryl Smeeton doubled the Horn west about in 1969, it took them 14 days and to my knowledge that still stands as a record for a boat the size of Tsu Hang, 46 ft. I am prepared for it to take me that long and longer if necessary. Of course I hope it's shorter as then I am truly on my way home!
What do you do about night watches and when do you sleep?
The question about night watches and sleep is an age old and very controversial subject. First of all going single handed is breaking the rules. So much for that. In my situation being so far from land and shipping routes, sleep is not a problem from a safety point of view. I set the Monitor self steering vane, go below and sleep. I am at the age where nature calls at least once, sometimes twice in the night so that's a convenient time to also check the GPS to see if we are still on course. I poke my head out to make sure all is well then rush back to my warm bunk and if there is too much noise, put in my ear plugs (industrial strength and an absolute must) and try to go back to sleep. When I'm close to land and the shipping lanes, life takes on a very different pattern. I sleep with an oven timer set to 15-30 minutes and I get up to look around quite often. One thing to remember is that as humans we have definite physical limits. We must have food, water, keep warm, although too much heat will kill us. The same is true for sleep we can only go without sleep for so long and one of the pitfalls to these weaknesses is that our judgment is severely diminished by lack of sleep, too much heat, too much cloud, not enough water, and the keen senses that we rely on to make good decisions gradually break down. So, finding that balance between losing your marbles and making it on your own single-handed safely is an interesting proposition. There are also many electronic aids to help the single hander. I believe that radar with the alarm set is a good idea. Also there is a new devise called AIDS, I think, and it's also good. Basically by the grace of God go I. One last thing ...the feeling of empowerment and accomplishment from a single-handed voyage, even if it's across the bay is, in my mind, one of the best feelings of accomplishment one can have!
How do you cook without wasting your fuel/propane?
I waste nothing. I make a stew about once a week and keep that going for as long as I can. When I make tea or hot chocolate I only heat what I need. My meals are very simple. Porridge for breakfast, noodle soup with added beef, fish, chicken or turkey for lunch, and for dinner it's rice and stew.
Do you use propane for heating and cooking and if so how much have you taken? Do you wish you had more?
I have 10 - 10-lb bottles of propane for cooking only. I have no direct source of heat on board, just warm clothes and good food. Do I wish I had more... not yet!
Are you happy with the performance of Kim Chow? Was the Offshore 40 the correct boat to choose for your venture ?
I'm happy with the performance of Kim Chow, in fact she has surpassed my expectations. Kim Chow is the fourth and largest keel boat I've owned. The smallest was a 26 foot Haida Sannu II, which I sailed across the Pacific in 1997 mostly single-handed, except for one passage and several Island hops with my wife and two daughters on board. These two boats are vastly different but travel at about the same speed. The big difference is Kim Chow is much more comfortable and sea kindly. Doing a circumnavigation west about means, of course, I will be on the wind for a lot of the time so I must be able to point high and beat into a sea way and she has more than proven capable of that. At times I've had to beat head long into 3 metre seas and 20 kt winds for 18 to 20 hrs at a time and I still covered 150 miles. At this moment, however, I'm at about 45' South, 68' East, and spent the whole night running before 10-15 kts of wind so the idea that I would have the wind on my nose for the whole time in the southern ocean is not quite true.So many things play into the choosing of a boat. When we chose Kim Chow we didn't it wasn't with this passage in mind. Marylou and I fell in love with Kim Chow because she is as the saying goes "pretty on the wall, pretty on the water". A man once said to me if while rowing out to your boat you turn and view her from a distance and the sight of her doesn't quicken your heart, sell it! Marylou said after crossing the Pacific in Sannu II she would rather not go to sea again in anything less than 40 feet. We had always planned to go offshore again so Kim Chow ,as well as being pretty, is a good sea boat and so far has taken good care of me. The other part of your question was is she the correct boat? I don't think there is the perfect boat. She may or may not be the correct boat, but for us she was the only boat we had and I believed she could do this passage after I overhauled her and brought her back to better than new condition.
From the students at McLean Elementary School near Regina, Saskatchewan
1. How did you take your picture?
I attached my camera to the end of a stick and used the automatic timer. How do you like the photos?
2. Have you seen pirates or do you think they have seen you?
Thankfully, I have not seen any pirates and as far as I know …? No one has seen me, thank goodness. I’m not sure modern day pirates would be interested in being out here in the middle of the ocean but if I come across any what do you think I should do?
3. When did you grow the beard?
I started to grow my beard as soon as I left Victoria in September.
4. What gave you the idea to grow the beard?
The main reason for growing it was to save water by not having to shave every day. I have since shaved it off and I have also shaved my head, also as a way to save water. I didn’t intend to shave my head but the haircut I gave myself was soooo bad, I was left with no option. It’s growing back, but the beard is growing much faster than the hair on my head. It feels cool, …no actually it feels cold and I have to wear a fleece hat to keep warm.
5. What is your favorite football team?
B.C. Lions of course, if you mean Canadian football.
6. When do you think you are getting home?
I think I will be getting home sometime in July.
7. Are you going closer to Africa or Antarctica?
When I pass by the Cape of Good Hope off the tip of South Africa I will be closer to continental Africa. When I pass Cape Horn I will be very close to the Antarctic Peninsula. The Cape of Good Hope is the second Great Cape I will have passed. If you follow my route on the map can you name the first?
8. Did you see anything unusual?
Yes. The most unusual thing I saw were jellyfish shaped like a piggy bank. Not just one but hundreds and hundreds of them all together. I sailed through them for hours. I used a bucket to get one out of the water to have a closer look. The jellyfish had four short legs, a nose just like a pig, ears and inside their transparent bodies were three black organs one of which could have been a heart. They were about seven inches long and if you blew air into it, it would probably stand about 5 inches high. I am very curious to find out what they are called. Maybe you could look it up on the web for me and let me know what they are called.
9. Did you think the albatross was a pterodactyl?
No, I had not thought of them that way. Albatross are very large and impressive birds so I suppose you could say they looked a little prehistoric.
10. How has the weather been?
The weather has been better than I thought it would be at the latitude I am sailing, between 40 degrees South and 43 degrees South. At this latitude it is typical weather - changing all the time. It goes from warm and pleasant with light wind to very stormy with winds up to 30 knots and waves 4 meters high.
From the grade 5 students in Division 1 at Braefoot Elementary School, Victoria, BC
1. How did you hurt your ribs and have they healed?
I was leaning out through the life lines to scrub the side of the boat when a large wave made the boat lurch suddenly and the wire life lines went up in between my ribs. I don't think they were broken but I think the cartilage that holds them together was damaged. They're fine now... thank you for asking.
2. We know you have seen many types of birds. Have you seen any unusual animals? Have you seen any sharks?
Your second question about any unusual animals is a good question, and the answer is yes. One particularly unusual organism comes to mind. Actually there were thousands of them and I don't know what their scientific name is, but maybe after I have described them you could find out what their name is for me. They are a type of Jelly fish. When I say that what kinds of shapes and characteristics come to your minds? Well these were shaped like old fashioned piggy banks. Do you know what I am talking about? Think of a little pig about 6 inches long and standing on four short legs with a round nose and large ears, if you can imagine, that is what these jelly fish looked like. I was able to scoop one out of the water in a bucket to take a closer look. It was completely transparent like regular jelly except there were three small dark coloured organs inside its body. I felt if I could blow air into its little body and plug the hole, I could stand it up on its feet. The water was filled with these curious creatures and I sailed through them for several hours! What are they called? The second part of your question, have I seen any sharks? Yes, several, swimming around the boat when I was becalmed. They are very beautiful when you see them swimming slowly by in the sunlit ocean. I have found several flying fish on deck in the mornings as well. They can fly for over one hundred meters and to watch them fly in Kim Chow's wake by the hundreds is truly an amazing spectacle. I have also had fish take shelter under Kim Chow when we are becalmed and using a piece of rope played with them. I have seen whales, dolfins and sea lions as well, and of course there are many beautiful birds. As a matter of fact there were twelve yellow nosed albatross flying round Kim Chow this morning.
3. What is the size of the biggest waves you have seen so far?
The size of the biggest wave I have seen is 5 metres. It was off the western entrance to Foveaux Strait at the south end of the South Island in New Zealand.
4. How powerful is your solar panel?
I have two solar panels on board, and I believe they are 400 Watts each. I also have a wind generator and because the wind blows more than the sun shines here in the Southern Ocean it produces most of my electricity that powers my lights, ham radio, and my computer.
5. What has been the most difficult part of you trip so far?
Being away from my wife Marylou and my two daughters Nicola and Claire has been the most difficult part. The next most difficult part has been to keep dry!
From the grade 5-6 classes @Edenwold School near Regina Saskatchewan
1. How do you sleep without the ship getting lost?
I have a machine that is run by the wind that steers the boat to whatever course I set. That way, while I sleep or while I am sending email I do not have to steer. I also have a computer that receives signals from satellites that tell me where I am anywhere on earth. It is called a Global Positioning System (GPS) so I can wake up at any time and push a button and it tells me what my latitude and longitude are. I plot that on my paper chart that tells me where I am and if I need to change course. I then go up on deck and reset the self-steering to a new course.
2. What happens when you run out of food if that happens?
If I run out of food I will have to pull in to a port and replenish my supply or I may be able to get some from another ship. I can also catch fish. I have already caught a tuna.
3. How fast do you go in a day?
So far the fastest I have traveled is 9 knots while the boat was surfing down the front of a 4 metre (12 foot) wave. That time Kim Chow was going 9 knots but only for a second. My average speed is about 4.5 – 5.0 knots. In one 24 hour period I travel about 160 nautical miles. So far, my average is about 100 nautical miles per day.
4. What will happen when you get to the Southern Ocean?
The Southern Ocean lies from 40 degrees South to the Antarctic. In the Southern Ocean, the weather will be very stormy and cold. There are many storms there and the waves are very high.
5. Where do you get fresh water?
Kim Chow has water tanks that carry 80 gallons which is not enough for 10 – 12 months so I collect water from the sails when it rains. First I let the rain wash the salt water off the sail and then I have a funnel that hangs at the goose neck which is where the boom connects to the mast. From there a pipe goes into a 5 gallon plastic container. Sometimes it rains so hard that in 5 minutes I can fill 2 of those containers. I treat the water with a special chemical which makes it safe to drink, and then I pour it into the water tanks.
6. Where do you get your food?
All the food I need for the next 10 - 12 months I bought and put on board Kim Chow before I left except fresh fish!
7. Can you stop your boat?
Yes, I could stop the boat whenever I want but on this trip I am trying to set a world record. Part of the regulations is that I do not stop anywhere until I get back to my home n Victoria, British Columbia. The record I am trying to set is for a solo, non-stop circumnavigation west about.
8. Who is steering the boat while you sleep?
My Monitor self-steering vane is steering the boat all the time even when I sleep and while I am down below writing this email.
9. How do you sleep?
Last night I slept very well. I went down below to my bunk and pulled the "lee cloth" up around me which stops me from falling out of my berth when the boat rocks from side to side. I use a sleeping bag over me as my blanket. I went to sleep at about 9:30 p.m. I woke up at about midnight and checked my course on the GPS and came up on the deck to check everything. All was fine so I went back to sleep and woke up this morning at 5:00 a.m.
10. Are you scared?
No, I am not scared but sometimes I worry about things like the weather and the sails.
11.Where are you?
I am about 600 miles off the coast of New Zealand. (November, 2007)
12.Are you going to do that again?
I haven't finished this trip yet and if I am lucky enough to finish, no, I will not do this again but I still want to sail to other places in the world.
13. When do you expect to be back?
I expect to be back in July, 2008.
14. Are you going to continue sailing?
Yes, I hope to go on a trip with my wife Marylouise and my two daughters Claire and Nicola. If you are interested in looking at another trip I did with my family, go to www.isealife.com click on Cruising Stories and scroll down to Sannu II.
15.How long have you been traveling?
Today is Day 54.
16.Was it an expensive boat?
Yes, it was to me.
How much sleep do you get each night?
On average, I get about 6-8 hrs. It's not always a matter of the number of hours I get, the quality of the sleep is really important. Sometimes it's fabulous but often it's frequently interrupted so when I wake up, I'm still tired. I don't function well when I'm tired so I try to make it a priority to get the sleep I need even if it costs me some miles. As a single handed sailor there is, of course, no one else to do the work. I know if I don't take good care of myself, the trip will not go well.
You usually stay quite far off shore, as you described, to stay out of the traffic. When you get to Cape Horn, what will your approach be and how close to shore will you be sailing?
I don't know at this point what my precise route will be. It all depends on the weather and sea conditions at the time. I am of course monitoring the weather very closely on a daily basis and as I get closer I'll be in a better position to plan my exact route. Most likely, I will sail east of Staten Island then take a wide berth around Cape Horn and head southwest until about 75 degrees west and then make my way northward.
Do you ever have the opportunity to collect rain water for personal use, or do you have to rely on your on board water supply?
I've filled up my water tanks twice so far on this trip and at the time they were less than half empty. The first time was when I sailed passed Bora Bora (French Polynesia). The second time was last week. When I passed Bora Bora, I collected rain water through a funnel connected to the gooseneck (where the boom connects to the mast) with a hose into 5 gallon plastic containers. Then, I treated it before putting it into the on board water tanks. This last time I collected about 5 gallons using a pot held by hand under the aft edge of the sails during a rain storm. It was long and tedious but I was determined to get water. The next day while I was on a broad reach with no sea coming on deck it rained for several hours and I bypassed my deck drains directly into my water tanks so I had the whole deck as well as the sails to collect from and in about two hours the tanks were full of drinking water. I also collect water from rain showers in buckets sitting in the cockpit. This water I use for bathing and rinsing my laundry after I've washed it in salt water. I also carry a back up manual water maker for emergencies.
Do you look forward to having chores to do, or do you look forward to finishing your chores to do something else?
Here's an example of some of my daily activities, chores included. I can be called on deck at any moment to take sail in or let it out or just to satisfy myself that we are still on course. Every time I go on deck it means suiting up in my rain gear so that the only exposed skin is a band across my eyes and my hands, this takes time and must be done properly otherwise I get wet. Keeping things dry is very important as there is no heat to dry things out. There is an awful lot of water just out side the hatch and it is constantly trying to get inside the boat, everywhere. Communications takes about three to four hours every day. The boat is constantly moving so finding a place to sit and write on the computer takes a special talent especially when you always need one hand to hold on. I make three healthy meals every day plus snacks. The list of jobs is endless. I vacuum once a week and do laundry when the weather permits. Keeping an eye on all the systems on the boat requires constant vigilance. I check things all the time from the top of the mast to the keel under the water. Chafe is my biggest concern. I walk around the deck checking the shackles to see if they are all tight. I like to write in my journal every day as well, and I am reading a least two books at any one time. Navigation also takes time. Now that it is getting cold - 8' C today there is a build up of condensation in the boat. All the communication equipment must be kept dry so after every use it is all put away in waterproof bags. My days are full and usually start at 6 am and go right through till 9 or 10 p.m. Finally, I'm up every night at least twice to check my course and the sails.
Why do you wear ear plugs to sleep?
The noise on the boat is constant. It is a cacophony of noise made up of many relentless elements - the sound of the ocean either over the boat or under the boat or both; the wind -either roaring or whistling, or both, the rigging and sails constantly taking the strain and movement. The boat is never still, it's always moving so every thing in it moves and makes a sound - the cans in the cupboard, the stove, the pots and pans, the books in the shelves. Inside the boat is like a drum with all the noises magnified. Most of the time I get used to it and it doesn't bother me, but when I try to sleep, it can be distracting. I can't turn it off or get off the boat so the only respite is ear plugs.
What is your line of employment?
I'm a carpenter and do mainly renovation and some seismic work.
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