Another week or so has passed and I am still on Majuro Atoll, now very solidly in the middle of an 80 or so hour dinghy build. Today was a big day; the 10’8” plywood and fiberglass hull of ‘Little Quiver’ was cut into two separate pieces. Perfectly according to plan, the front piece stows easily into the aft piece. This entire small boat building process has been highly educational and pretty fun, just very time consuming and a lot of work. At the end of the day, I think this boat will be really neat and should perform well. I am stoked to finish up the project and get her into the water.
There was some major confusion when stitching the dinghy together as the instructions pretty explicitly state that the two bottom panels of plywood, which form the bottom V of the hull, should be installed upside down. I was inclined to look at it backwards with a few stitches – thinking surely the instructions couldn’t be wrong – but when I un-stitched and tried the other way it all made sense. The ‘stitch and glue’ method of boat building is pretty cool, as soon as it’s stitched together, the tension of the stitches and how that pulls on the panels pulls shape and inherent stiffness into the panels. Sort of how like bicycle spokes work to pull tension on the rim and make the wheel much stronger. Once glassed together with bulkheads all attached, she already feels like a solid little rowboat.
As well as oars, I also need to sort out some form of propulsion. To me, a sailing rig still makes infinitely more sense on a dinghy like this than does an outboard motor and the gasoline that comes with it, but I suspect i’ll eventually get both. For now however, I am focusing on getting a sailing rig. I’m not quite sure what i’ll end up with, spar-wise, but it will be a single sail on a single mast, way up forward. I plan to make the boom high enough, so that even with two people under sail, one could carry a couple of really big boards to the surf break. There are going to be some custom modifications as well, a good idea I got is to add a ‘starboard’ or similar plastic polymer rub rail down the middle of the hull for pulling it up a beach somewhere. Fortunately this little boat shouldn’t be very heavy. Beach landing and pulling up a beach should be relatively easy. Not quite sure of the name yet, perhaps ‘Little Quiver’ or ‘pequeno barco’, quiverito, or – in wake of today’s major campaign announcement – I may even name the little rowboat ‘Bernie’.
Upcoming plans are looking more concrete now. When I finish the yet-to-be-named dinghy of QUIVER, Kristen should again be back on Majuro, and we plan to take off to Ailuk Atoll, and then onto Likiep and Kwajalein Atolls before leaving the Marshall Islands and heading towards Micronesia. From there, I think I have pretty much decided that I am going to head towards Guam. For a number of reasons, it makes a lot of sense, though they do lie in a region that can get typhoons any time of year, and often do. Interestingly enough, the gribvs (weather files) are currently showing a little low that developed right here in the Marshalls and then went just south of some places where i’m about to head to, and then is supposed to track for Guam as what would be a Category 1 or 2 hurricane in the states. In February! Needless to say, i’m keeping a very close watch on the weather while cruising this region of the world, or any other for that matter.
Loving Majuro. This is a rad place – not without it’s own problems – but lovely on the whole. I have very warm feelings towards the people. I find most of them to be very genuine, friendly and kind. I have met some really cool locals and some westerners and ex-pats as well. The islands themselves are fantastic. There is surf everywhere if you look for it, and there’s huge lagoons, full of fish, with big fish swimming around right outside. This place is amazing. I am very deeply into a book called “The First Tain of Civilization” by Francis X. Hezel, and I find it fascinating. The book is a history of the Marshall Islands and the Carolines (most of Micronesia) between the 1500’s and late 1880’s. I’m in the 1850’s- 1860’s right now, which is after the first big whaling boom, generally when things had declined quite a bit economically, and these remote islands were left to figure out their place in the world after temporary economic prosperity and trade, and all of the problems that come with that.
Nearly two weeks after arriving in the Marshall Islands, I have yet to leave Majuro Atoll and am now firmly behind the “schedule” that I had in mind, but it’s all good things.
Firstly, my partner Kristen came to visit for 6 days shortly after I arrived in Majuro. After 17 days on the boat alone, it was nice to have some company and even better to have a partner in crime to surf and explore Majuro with. We surfed the entirely fun little wave that I had found at the Bridge, at one point getting SIX people out, almost all from the cruising crowd! There’s usually no one there! We also sailed QUIVER to a nearby islet within Majuro Atoll – called Anemonet Island – where you can pick up a nice mooring in a very protected part of the lagoon. Even in pumping NE trades, we could swim in super calm, clear waters with a ship wreck, a helicopter wreck and a plane wreck all nearby in pretty shallow water. As well, we day-sailed, paddle boarded and found little tidal waves to surf at high-tide in between the small islets. They are small waves, but oftentimes peeling nicely, i’ll bet that with a better knowledge of the tides and the islands, one could find some pretty good ones. Dinner with cruising friends, restaurants, the national museum… that stuff is all way more fun with someone, so it was definitely a treat to have her here, and stoked for her return for the upcoming journey.
About the same time that Kristen was here, I came to a stark realization. I do not have a good dinghy onboard. During my cruising exploits on small boats in the past, I had relied on an inflatable kayak, which is what I also do on QUIVER. (and I have a nice one at that!) This truly is fine for one person, but for two people living on a cruising yacht and oftentimes attempting to carry surfboards to shore, it’s just not feasible, nor fun to get wet every single time you want to go ashore or carry any cargo.
I have decided to build an 11-foot plywood and fiberglass hard nesting dinghy that will row, sail and have potential for a 4-horse outboard. When nested on deck, forward of the mast, the dinghy is just 6-feet long due to it’s nesting feature. The local canoe shop, which is a non-profit that helps teach canoe building to at-risk youth, has very generously allowed me to build the dinghy at their shop and use their tools. I am blown away at how nice those guys are and I am going to try to make a rad video documenting building the dinghy, some interviews, and finally some footage of delivering sails and supplies to the canoe fleet at Ailuk Atoll, a couple hundred miles north of here. As coral atolls with very little on them that were oftentimes devastated by storms, the Marshallese have historically had to be excellent navigators, and their canoe builders are renowned for their unique and highly advanced single-outrigger sailing boats. To build a dinghy in the WAM shop with these guys is pretty awesome. More to come on that. I’ll put together a video and a bunch more photos.
As mentioned above, I am planning an exciting trip here in the next couple of weeks, once the dinghy is done. The new plan is to sea-trial the dinghy locally and perhaps sail over to nearby Arno Atoll to score surf, and then to sail a couple of hundred miles north to the very remote Ailuk Atoll. The canoe shop has asked if I could drop off some sails and supplies to them and I have agreed. Supposedly, this is one of the most active fleets of traditional Marshallese sailing canoes. With a population of just 339 (2011 census), they still live very traditionally and sailing canoes play a really huge role in their daily life. As a sailor and a human, i’m honored to be able to help them in some small way and hopefully re-pay Alson and the guys at WAM for their generosity, in some small way, and continue to perpetuate the ‘iakwe’ or ‘yokwe’ spirit of the locals. ‘Yokwe’ or ‘iakwe’ is an all-encompassing hello/ goodbye/ love/ good-happy vibes word like aloha is in Hawaiian, and bula in Fiji. I am blown away at the generosity and kindness of people here.
After Ailuk Atoll, which could be a 250-mile reach or even a beat upwind, it will be all downwind again for the foreseeable future. We plan to sail to Likiep Atoll – where my new local friend is from – to deliver supplies and visit the locals, and then over to Kwajalein Atoll to potentially drop off crew and then provision the boat on base, since I should in theory have base privileges.
Kristen is going to fly back into town for this Marshallese cruise and my new local friend, originally from Likiep Atoll may join and get off at Kwajalein. After that, I plan to sail downwind to Kosrae and Pohnpei in Micronesia, but then it starts to get to be decision time…. In my very first stop – the Marshall Islands – I am multiple weeks ‘behind schedule’ and honestly, I wish I could stay here a few months and really cruise the Marshalls and look for surf. But with cyclone season approaching in May, I would need to either A) stick to plan A and try to get to Indonesia by June to fulfill work commitments. B) Make a plan B and go to somewhere else convenient to fulfill work commitments or C) stay put in the Marshall Islands for close to a year and do the cyclone season (summer) here.
I am beginning to lean towards Plan B. I knew that I was setting myself up for a hectic schedule of a whole lot of sailing and very little actual cruising to get to Indonesia by June. Pretty much the moment I got to the Marshalls, my desire to actually see the Marshalls went up by 10,000% and one thing led to another and now i’m delayed here a bit and could easily spend a season cruising this place. I’t’s amazing here, staying is still not entirely out of the question at this point. An un-planned benefit being that I could fly out of Kwajalein on a military hop to/ from this summer, which would save me a ton of money. And then that got me thinking… Guam is only like 1,700 miles away and is only my current trajectory westward in the trades. It would be an excellent plan B where I could stash the boat this summer in a proper marina and also fly back to the west coast and hawaii for work using same military hop/ retiree benefits. The more I think about it, the more that plan B begins to make sense… although I think Guam can get leveled by a hurricane at any time of year, so it’s less than ideal as well.
Needless to say, i’m keen to get my dinghy built, get the boat re-fit a bit, do this Marshallese adventure and then get westward to Micronesia. Loving the Marshalls however, much more to come!
s/v QUIVER is officially underway on her global surf chasing odyssey! 17 days and change, and around 2,170 miles since leaving Kauai, QUIVER is moored inside the lagoon at Majuro Atoll; the most populated island in the Marshall Islands. The passage itself was great! The boat worked well, weather was helpful, all systems worked, I ate very well and also caught a lot of fish. At the end of the day though, 17 days alone on a small boat gets tedious after a while, and so the arrival into Majuro has been made that much more special. Also, Kristen again arrives in just an hour and a half and we will be able to explore Majuro, and possibly the atoll next door. She is only here for six days however, so will not be joining for the cruise.
I am beyond stoked to be cruising again and have already met several cruisers whom I connect with. There is a lot of knowledge to take in and learn, and that’s what I’m again reminded by. Sure, i’ve done a bit of sailing, but i’m still a rookie cruiser compared to these old salts. Also, there is a lot of local knowledge to learn about cruising the Marshalls.
My initial impressions of the Marshall Islands and the people are very positive. This place is rad, I can’t wait to see more of it! I will write more as I get settled in. I came here with an initial plan of going to Alinglaplap Atoll to surf, but have found out that due to the surf lodge and the quality of the surf, the local fee is $250 to visit the atoll. Basically, the local government realizes that foreign yachts will pay $250 to come surf the atoll. I’m undecided on how I feel about that. Due to the people i’m meeting and things i’m learning, I think I may be sailing northwest to a very remote atoll called Likiep Atoll. It’s out of the way, but in this journey i’m on, LIkiep is calling to me. I would then have the option to stop in at Alinglaplap, or Kwajalein Atoll, on the way out.
I am waiting on a couple of packages in the mail, the boat needs a bit of work, Kristen is visiting, and it’s nuking windy right now… so i’ll be staying put in Majuro for at least another week. I have been here 4 days right now. After Kristen is back home and the boat is ready to go and the wind lays down a bit, I will likely head out. For the time being, I am enjoying meeting local people, finding local adventures and working on things I need to work on.
Two people informed me of a surfing wave, near the bridge, on Majuro Atoll during my first day here. On day 2, I unpacked the mini bike and rode to the wave to scope it out. The next day, (yesterday), I took one of the super cheap taxi cabs to the bridge and surfed the wave solo. I ended up meeting an American, who stopped while driving to watch me, who lives here and is looking for a surfing partner. Also, another cruiser and an arriving crew want to surf and Kristen arrives…. so we could have a full line up at the bridge this week! I had not seen anyone surf the wave when I surfed it, and I found it to be a decent wave that is probably pretty reliable. Also, it is protected and side-offshore to the wind, so it was very surfable even in nuking tradewinds. I hope to surf the bridge many more times before I leave here. I am incredibly amazed that on the most populated island in the Marshalls, I found a wave on Day 2, with no one on it, and then surfed it, again with no one on it. On an island with no surf! There are waves everywhere and that’s the point of the trip. I have now heard repeated rumors of another wave up by “Rita” or something, not far north of here, easily accessible by taxi cab.
I am very compressed for time here with this good wi-fi. Much more to come.
Aloha from Majuro and so many mahalos to all who supported me and the journey, and showed love to us when in the islands. Mahalo nut loa, or as they say in the Marshalls, Komol Tata (thank you very much).
There are two main ways to follow QUIVER while at sea:
SAIL BLOGS – I can blog from sea and post it to another blog page via satellite communications. That address is https://www.sailblogs.com/member/svquiver and there is also a link on the main menu of this site called “Sail Blogs”.
TRACKER – I have a Delorme/ Garmin inReach tracker which should be running most or all of the time. You can view that link at https://share.garmin.com/svquiveror you can click on the “tracking” link on the main menu of this site.
Well, the title above says it all… Today is the day!!! I will be setting out singlehanded from Nawiliwili, Kauai, bound for Majuro in the Marshall Islands, some 1,915 miles away. The boat is packed, it’s ready, I have tons of food, and the weather looks not that great – light and rolly at the start – but it’s time to go!
A big focus of my trip is going to be film. As a recent graduate with a Multimedia degree, and someone who sails and works in sailing media, I want to both document the journey and work on my constantly developing professional skillsets. As such, I have started a Patreon account, which can be viewed at www.patreon.com/svquiver. Patreon is a platform that allows film makers and other content creators to make content, post it, and then have that content financially supported by people all over the world. The better your content – and therefore the more people want to watch your videos – the more money you stand to make per video. Pretty simple, really. Here is my Patreon trailer:
New way to follow while QUIVER is at sea
While I can’t update this actual blog from sea by myself, I do have an Iridium Go! satellite hotspot device that allows me to blog from sea and post, with a photo, at a different address. I plan to post almost daily entries and some small-resolution photos which can be viewed at https://www.sailblogs.com/member/svquiver . I will likely copy/ paste these “Sail Blogs” passage entries to this site once I reach land on the other end of each passage. There is also a “Sail Blogs” link at the top of the site now.
QUIVER has been in Kauai a few days now, after what was pretty much a picture perfect crossing, all things considered. Before arriving, i had contemplated a very quick turn around; to shove off solo for the Marshalls almost immediately after my crew left. As the high of yet another landfall set in, and the realization that I was back on the island that made me actually fall in love with Hawaii… I have decided to prepare for my voyage at a relaxed pace and enjoy Kauai a bit. My first few days here have been amazing. Once all is said and done, I think I will have spent 7-10 days in Kauai before shoving off for Majuro. I intended to leave over the weekend, but it looks like massive swell and no trades, so a Monday – Tuesday, January 14-15 departure looks more likely.
Kauai is why
After my other two crew bailed on the whole first leg of the journey, I was left with a decision to make for this Kauai passage; to recruit more crew or not, for the trip to Kauai. I was indecisive and non-committal, but in the end, a friend recruited me. My old sailing friend Sean Doyle – whom I sailed my first Transpac with in 2011 – asked me at the going away party if he could join for the trip to Kauai. He’s a fantastic sailor and a good guy, so I said of course. A few days later, he followed up as to when I was leaving, and then booked a ticket for him and a friend. Kristen had been wanting to go as well, and so my decision was made organically; I would sail with a crew of 4. I was personally looking forward to potentially getting some more practice with the boat solo, but I have plenty. I would rather share it with friends.
After a final, somewhat unexpected Friday night in Waikiki (that was spent running errands and doing last-minute laundry, not sailing), we departed Hawaii Yacht Club just before our midnight goal; around 11:30 pm. Right out of the channel, we were under sail with the motor off and had good, sporty breeze up to 23 knots in the first hour or so. Sean and I traded off the helm and broad-reached at good speed with a reef in the main and the #4 jib. It was beautiful night time sailing, off the breeze, gybing downwind towards the west side. We made it down to the second reef for a while and then shook it, and went to a full main as we crept along at 3-4 knots in lighter winds in the shadow of Barber’s Point, Oahu, anticipating a wind-fill. In the morning, it went very light – to my surprise – so I fired up the motor for about an hour, before shutting it off and switching to the big genoa. The breeze kept filling throughout the day, but only to about 16 or 18 knots at maximum, making for a very nice sail, though not very fast as it was generally on the lighter side of that wind speed and we were constantly hampered by a left-over, confused sea state from the very strong trades from the days before. After a fantastic day with great company, we were just an hour short of our goal of arriving by sunset, instead witnessing the sunset at sea before sailing in at night, and sailing all the way on to the loading dock in Nawiliwili, still with plenty of time for a nice crew dinner at Duke’s on Kalapaki Beach.
The next day (Sunday) was epic! Sean and his friend Kami had a Jeep rented and Kristen and I hopped in for an island adventure. Sean had a surfboard and Kristen and I grabbed two of my short boards. Sean wanted to drive to a remote beach, that in hindisght, was the perfect call to score surf. Based on a very modest swell forecast, I was actually open to not even bringing boards; I didn’t think we would score. Fortunately, I was very VERY wrong. Sean took us down a long dirt road to a beach on the NW side of Kauai, called Polihale Beach. In big swell and wind, it doesn’t work very well and gets gnarly quickly. In very modest NW swell and glassy, windless conditions, this beach works VERY well. It was super fun! Completely unexpectedly, we found extremely fun surf. We were stoked! To get down to the surf was an adventure in it’s own right, requiring us to offroad our rented purple Jeep through loose sandy beach terrain. We got down there just fine, but quickly got stuck when trying to leave. Fortunately, some offroad-savvy locals walked up with a pressure gauge and 4 tools to quickly lower our tires to 20 psi. After lowering the tires and a few quick pointers from a big, burly, longboard-surfing local, we got out of the bind no problem. Thanks for the aloha Kauai!!!! The guy that hooked us up with the tire-pressure tools can be seen longboarding (from my drone) during the video of us surfing at Polihale.
And then there were none
Sean and Kami left Sunday night and Kristen the following day, leaving me all alone to prepare for my upcoming journey. It was a great weekend with some great folks, leaving me further energized and honestly fine with going solo to the Marshalls. Everyone here has been really friendly and my friend Craig is here on his boat, SARASVATI. He has offered to help me grab supplies with his vehicle.
Still plenty of things that I want to get done, but in typical me and QUIVER fashion, there has been plenty of distraction and procrastination. The boat is working well and continually cranking out miles – more than 370 since my university graduation less than a month ago – but there are a million little jobs and big jobs that aren’t done yet. Jobs I had intended to have done, but clearly won’t be done before leaving for the Marshalls; and I don’t intend to delay my departure any more than I already have.
Loyal to the Foil
Very near to the yacht harbor, there is a small surf wave at a beach called Kalapaki Beach. It’s far from a secret, it’s right in front of a resort with a board rental shack and surf school. I’ve surfed that beach many times in the past, but not since March 2017, and so it’s very different. Why, you ask? What could possibly change so drastically in two years on one wave? Answer: hydro-foils. In just two years, hydrofoils have gone from a sideshow oddity in their infancy to mainstream adoption. With Kalapaki being a deep (enough) area at seemingly all tides, with a consistent, daily mushy little wave that oftentimes never actually breaks, the break is seemingly custom-nade for foils. Once realizing this was a foil wave over the last two days, I surfed it one good session and looked at it four times, and decided I would foil it. I hadn’t foiled in more than four months, since I cut myself in the face with my own foil and got 11 stitches.
Yesterday afternoon, I put together my brand new Blue Planet 1440cm foil and bolted it to my 6’11” foil SUP. I paddled out, quite a long paddle from the harbor, and proceeded to totally re-gain my foiling confidence in one, prolonged, ultra-memorable session. When i showed up to the line up there was a guy learning on a SUP foil and another guy killing it on a shortboard prone foil. Very timid, I caught a couple waves and popped up on foil before coming back down, without falling off my board. I got my bearings and within an hour was launching on long glides, all the way down the line, just like four months ago. By the end of the session, I was catching some long glides back and forth and pumping all the way into the inside section. Nowhere near like the guy on the shortboard but I was frickin’ STOKED on how I was riding. At the peak of the session, foils outnumbered non-foil boards! There were over 10 foil boards in the line up and about 7 non-foil equipped boards. It was kind of insane. At one point, I was on a long party wave with a longboard, 3 foils and a six-man canoe. I pumped a couple times and managed to connect the section to a long right before going up to the canoe’s ama and then carving off to the left. They were on their own wave of the day and everyone was yelling “chee-hoooo!!!! paaaaaartttyyyy waavvveeee!!!!!”. To say it was a good moment that I will long remember would be an understatement. Ronnie’s back. And to think, all that fun on a 1 to 2 foot wave. #loyaltothefoil.
I’ll write a little update before shoving off for the Marshalls, but I fully intend to be at sea within a week. Aloha.
The going away party is in my wake and 2019 is here; that means it has truly become time to get QUIVER off the dock and get this journey started. After returning from Maui, it has now been confirmed that my two crew who were going to join for the first leg have in fact both bailed. So in addition to preparing the boat and trying to stay on schedule, I have had the mental shift of preparing for a solo passage; not a bad thing, just different.
While I don’t take this double-bail scenario as a compliment or esteem-builder, I also don’t take it as an indictment of myself or the program. I have a lot of confidence in both QUIVER and in myself. If someone wants to back out of an incredible adventure because they don’t like a certain aspect of it, then they should certainly trust that instinct. I am certainly happier to go solo than with someone who isn’t into the journey, myself, or the boat.
I have mostly finished up my final jobs and chores on the boat, lots of mundane tasks. Still plenty to do, but there always is. I will continue to chip away at things and be to a certain state of readiness and then I will leave. There is obviously no way that I am going to have everything done that I want to do to the boat before leaving; some stuff will just have to get done along the way. I will have plenty of time to work on the boat while cruiing, after all.
One of the final things that I was waiting on should be here today. My final drone that I purchased, so that I have a back-up for boat launches, says that it is in Hawaii and is coming in hot to my UPS box. With this refurbished Phantom 4 that I bought for under $600 from the DJI site, I will now have four drones onboard (2 Mavics and 2 Phantoms). I will be launching a video and Patreon account soon, but as the journey actually gets underway, I plan to continue filming and creating content that I hope to eventually monetize. Having just graduated from university with a degree in Multimedia, this is one of my biggest goals of the trip; to make rad content that people want to watch and which moves me forward professionally. The drones are in addition to a lot of other media gear onboard.
Kauai is QUIVER’s next destination, and once this final drone is retrieved and some more final chores are done, we should be under way. It looks like it’s going to be really windy Thursday into Saturday, so I believe that we will wait until Saturday morning super early to leave. Basically on the back side of the breeze as it begins to taper off, but with one good day of breeze to get to Kauai. Hopefully i’ll be there just a few days and then setting off for the Marshall Islands. I will likely have a couple friends onboard for the Kauai trip, but as of now am still planning to sail solo to the Marshalls.
With just a couple of days before my scheduled departure from the Hawaiian Islands, s/v QUIVER is back in Honolulu after about 230 miles of sailing to Maui and back, including a fishing trip and a pit stop on Molokai. Two days after my graduation from Hawai’i Pacific University, I took off solo for Maui in strong, fairly northerly tradewinds. The plan was to sail over there in under 24 hours and dock up about a day before two families of friends and a new crew member arrived to spend Christmas in Maui.
A humbling, breeze-on trip to Maui
While the plan basically all worked according to schedule, there was still plenty of excitement along the way. Sailing off the Aloha dock at Hawaii Yacht Club, I quickly scooted out the channel and put the boat on a close reach towards Diamond Head. By the time I was halfway there, I was already going down to the second reef in the mainsail, with the #4 jib set. With the Monitor wind vane ‘Tanguy’ engaged, we started cranking out miles in 22-25 knots upwind on a port tack, moving well into the channel. Still on the wind, QUIVER and I rose up and over massive seas, taking several over the deck, slamming hard off of some and generally just pounding around upwind. It was super windy, rough, upwind, brutal sailing on a small boat, to be sure, but not that bad if you just ate something simple and hung out in the bunk.
Once south of Molokai and very close to the island of Lana’i, the wind had really started picking up, with sustained wind speeds now between 28-33 with gusts higher. I had the #4 up, but should have switched to the storm jib in the really strong stuff. Or the third reef. About a mile before I would have hit the beach on Lana’i, I decided to let Tanguy tack and he get blown back, so I then took the tiller my self. I also attempted to tack but hit a wave, stopped, and was blown back. At that moment the boat decided to move backwards instead of tacking, the load on the rudder switched sides and the tiller snapped off at it’s base. While quickly contemplating what to do, I looked at the wind speed and time; 35 knots true and somewhere near 1 AM. Down with the jib, I then broke out some tools, an extension cord and my drill and went to work jury-rigging the tiller. Since only the aft-most 7 or so inches had broken off, it was fairly straight forward to merely un-bolt and remove the broken piece, install the new shorter tiller back in place, drill new holes to fit the tiller/ rudder head bracket, and go on with my way. Once the tiller was in place, I was able to engage the wind vane and began sailing under double-reefed main and no jib for a few hours before re-hoisting the jib. Lee way increased, boat speed decreased, the pounding stopped and I went to sleep in a messy, wet cabin down below. The breeze continued blowing hard and the following morning I was smashing to Lahaina on a close reach in 33 true, doing 7.5 knots and higher; hand-steering with a beer in my hand at 7 AM. The stress of the night before was almost entirely gone.
Once to the light spot, I made my way into Lahaina, docked up, had a huge meal at a local bar and crashed into a coma. I had identified some weaknesses, both known and unknown, shaken the boat down (quite literally) and again been humbled in the channels of the Hawaiian Islands. A day later, my two best friends from California and their families showed up for a week of ‘friends and ohana’ Christmas on Maui, which was very very very special and just what the doctor ordered before leaving on a big trip. Also arriving was my buddy Jose Miguel Castello from Indonesia. He has a newer Beneteau named ‘Carthago’ currently in Fiji, and i’ve known him since my days in San Francisco.
Christmas on Maui
It was a rad week of touring around Maui, getting in family time with my close friends and adopted nieces and nephew, and re-connecting with both my favorite island and a lot of my favorite people in the Aloha state. We surfed, sailed, saw whales, sailed again (did’nt catch fish), drove to Hana and all the way around the island and did so much in a short amount of time. My close friend and on/ off partner of the past three years, Kristen, flew in on Christmas Day, and we joined a lot of the Lahaina fleet for an incredible day sail that lasted until sunset.
After a final peaceful, fun evening in Lahaina, we departed Slip 99 in Lahaina harbor at 6:30 AM and started motoring towards Molokai, sailing to a schedule as I had an eye appointment in Honolulu the following morning. With a forecast for no wind, a very light northeasterly filled in and we carried the full main and big spinnaker almost all the way to Kaunakakai to pick up my buddy TK, our third crew for the first leg and fourth crew for the day. Molokai Steve drove us around to grab some lunch and more provisions, as the light winds meant this was turning into my very longest Maui return ever. We again left with the spinnaker and made slow but steady progress until we reached the Kaiwi Channel, and we had to basically motor the last 40 miles, or 8-9 hours. There was plenty of NW swell in the water and sloppy seas, making the mainsail slat back and forth while powering along at 4-5 knots. The motor had one little hiccup where a cylinder appeared to misfire for a minute, perhaps passing a piece of dirt past a fuel filter and disrupting an injector, but other than that it was a good final shake down for my power train and other systems.
Back in Honolulu at 4:15 AM after a 22-hour journey, I had to sleep a few hours and head to the eye doctor for some retina scans, and then it was back to working on the boat and running errands. Grabbed a bunch of final tools, supplies, propane and other stuff yesterday and going to make one of my final West Marine runs in just a little bit.
My buddy Jose, who arrived from Indonesia has unfortunately decided to back out of the trip. I am not 100% sure why, I think it was a combination of a few things; partly being that he did not like being on someone else’s boat and not being the captain. As well, coming onto a 40-year old 34-footer after being on his newer 40+ foot Beneteau was a major reality check for him. As well, my friend TK, who has long planned to go on the trip is acting extremely flaky at the moment, as if Jose’s decision is of significant impact. This is very surprising as he’s sailed on the boat and hung out with me a lot, including multiple inter-island trips, fishing trips, day sails and a 10-day offshore jaunt two years ago on a 45-footer.
The realization that my 3-man crew may become a solo mission hit me last night. After a slight mental adjustment and period to evaluate the situation, i’m actually somewhat excited about the prospect of a solo trip. Though I won’t hide the fact that I hope to share this journey with others, both for the company and friendship, as well as the safety aspect of chasing surf in remote locations. Regardless, i’ve now sailed close to 80,000 miles, around a quarter of that solo, on a variety of different boats with a variety of different crew sizes. I am confident in my vessel and my abilities. While this latest development is a surprise, it’s not anything that will delay the trip; I have no hesitation to sail QUIVER solo on her first big bluewater trip.
We got water
Katadyn Powersurvivor 40E is installed and functional. I am super stoked on this! I have always wanted a water maker and the simple, compact and energy-efficient design is great for my small battery bank and all-renewable charging set-up.
Going away party and future plans
There is a going away party for me at Hawaii Yacht Club on Sunday evening 12/30 from 7-11 pm, and after that I will do a couple of more days of preps and I hope to be leaving for Kauai around January 1, and leaving for the Marshalls a few days later. It’s a mix of all the feels, but I feel very alive and ready to go do what i’ve been talking about doing for a long time. There is always that inescapable feeling of being scared – of jumping off a cliff of uncertainty – but if my past has taught me anything, it’s that it will all work out and the reward at the end is even greater than I have been anticipating.
Since launching this website, i’ve been doing very few updates to it as i’ve been stretched pretty thin. Fortunately, as of this writing, i’m about to be able to focus almost all of my energies into sailing and getting going. I still have one silly paper to write for school, but my last final was last night. As of next Thursday, I should be a college graduate from Hawaii Pacific University, and if all goes to plan, I will officially begin cruising the next day.
The final shake down sail
A bunch of my favorite people on earth are flying from California to Maui to spend the holidays with me, something i’m super excited about , and so I need to be in Lahaina harbor about 3 days after graduation. Also on that day, my buddy Jose flies in from Indonesia to join the crew for the first leg. I just installed a new rudder and will soon be adding the water maker, so this last trip upwind will be a good shake down for the boat. Also, as far as i’m concerned, my circumnavigation will actually begin from Lahaina as i’ll be constantly heading west, and likely to hit Lahaina first on my way back up from French Polynesia at the tail end of this proposed loop around the globe. I plan to sail back from Lahaina to Honolulu around Christmas Day, once my friends have all flown back to California.
Initial voyaging plans
After a couple of different potential plans, it looks like i’ll be sailing the first leg of the trip with my friends Jose and Tyler, who both need to fly out around February 15, to resume with their own lives. That gives us six weeks to make it from Honolulu, if we leave January 1, to Kosrae in Micronesia. So that is the plan and that is the goal; Kosrae, Micronesia by mid-February. I may singlehand the boat to the next island and then I should have three friends fly into Pohnpei for 1 week of epic surfing in early March. Kristen and I would then doublehand the boat down to Papua New Guinea in mid-March. It’s a fairly hectic pace, to be honest, but in this plan I have this first year is by far the most fast paced. But to stay in the right seasons and on track for a 3-year circumnavigation, I now have some firmly set dates and way points where I want to be at. Deadlines and commitments get me off the dock and moving, and so i’m stoked to have some real, firm plans. It means i’m really going!
Jose and Tyler
One thing that I am excited about is sharing this journey with friends who are aligned with the voyage. On this first leg, i’m stoked to be sharing it with my boy TK from Oahu and Jose from San Francisco. TK (Tyler) has been a friend and QUIVER crew almost since day 1 of the boat. We met on an offshore sailing trip, and he has done a significant amount of sailing on QUIVER. More interested in the fishing than the sailing and the spear fishing than the surfing, he is an epic fisherman, hunter/ gatherer and chef. We will certainly be eating well. TK is a good guy and solid on the boat, and is also into surfing. He’s great crew.
Also joining the journey for the first leg is my old buddy Jose. I first met Jose through another buddy who introduced us, as Jose was a total rookie who had bought a boat and wanted to go chase the dream. A few years later, he has become a seasoned sailor who has sailed his Beneteau 423 Carthago to New Zealand, and back and forth to Fiji a couple times. Along the way, he himself has become an avid surfer, diver and fisherman, and he is a good friend.
It will be a ton of fun to share the first leg with these two guys. I think we will all be able to learn a lot from one another, and should all be able to sail the boat well, charge ourselves into pretty good surf, fish, eat well and enjoy the trip. With two solid crew and a good wind vane on a downwind passage, the first leg will hopefully be an extended offshore fishing trip where we eat a lot of good food and enjoy a good time before surfing in the Marshalls!
The new blade
Once upon a time, almost exactly 10 years ago, I lost my first boat La Cenicienta at sea – 800 miles offshore of California – due to rudder failure and essentially the failure of metal components that were metal fatigued over a long life of use. This occurred in really heavy weather that was on the outskirts of a Category 4 hurricane. Ultimately, I lost the boat at sea and ended up in China, and the rest is history.
Since then, I have added a new rudder on every single boat that I have taken far offshore. As all of my boats have been 30-40 years or more in age, the stock rudder is of the same age and is quite likely compromised in more ways than one. If you analyze offshore races, deliveries, cruises or other trips, rudder failure or steering failure is cited as a reason for abandoning the voyage or losing the boat entirely, in a very high number of cases. When I first hauled the boat out and saw that the 40 year old rudder was leaking water, I knew it wasn’t a matter of if, but when I would replace the rudder. That was over a year ago
Once I had a bunch of measurements and photos, I was able to make some cool diagrams, I contacted my old buddy Donald Proul at Foss Foam in Newport Beach, CA. I had installed Foss rudders on both MONGO and LOOPHOLE before heading offshore. Being a Cal 2-27 and 2-29, respectively, Don had an off the shelf solution for those boats, as he was the original builder of the rudders for all of the Cals and many of the other boats of the So Cal boat building boom of the 1960s. For QUIVER however, he had to figure out a custom solution that would fit my boat well and then devise a rudder post that would work well.
Several months later, the transaction actually took place and a few weeks after that I had a beautiful new rudder in a crate, being dropped off at Hawaii Yacht Club by a friendly delivery truck driver. Life couldn’t have been better. A couple weeks after that, I un-crated the rudder and measured it and realized it was 8 inches shorter than my stock rudder, which is not what Don and I had discussed. I knew Don would make it right, and so I e-mailed him and told him of the error. He immediately knew what had happened and within days had drawings for a new rudder, which is apparently an adapted version of a ‘newer’ Carl Schumacher design for an Express 37. I agreed that it looked great, and Don made one up very quickly and shipped it to me at no cost. No hassles or anything else. He is a truly good guy to do business with, I feel bad they lost money on the deal, but so goes life.
A week or two ago, the new rudder showed up and looked awesome, and just this week, my long-scheduled haul out arrived and we managed to get the rudder installed in two days. Due to scarcity of both time and money, we didn’t even touch the bottom of the boat, just a quick rudder swap. On Tuesday morning QUIVER came out of the water at Keehi Marine Center, and my good friends Dillon and Jackie were there while I hauled out. Dillon stayed for a while and was a huge help in getting the old rudder out, test-fitting the new one and then hand-delivering it over to PDF to get the rudder dialed in. Once there, Jimmy Maynard of PDF got the rudder to the machine shop and got the post cut down to the proper length and the hole for the rudder head drilled. They had it back to me in a matter of hours and the work they did was exactly what I needed. I also had them make some custom Delrin washers to protect the rudder and the boat. This was sourced through a third party and while the parts came back nice, they were way over budget for what they were. With the rudder back in the boat the first evening and ready to splash the second evening, Kristen and I slapped on two coats of bottom paint.
By Thursday at noon, QUIVER was back in the water. I took on 20 gallons of diesel to my almost-empty fuel tank at the Keehi fuel dock. I put in 4 gallons in March for spring break and have been going on that ever since; we don’t motor much. I am curious to see how long this 20 gallons will last, I hope it’s until Indonesia. Once off the dock, I set sail and sailed home solo in puffy, strong trades. With a reef in the main and the #4 jib, the rudder felt great, though with only one short upwind sail – less than 10 miles – it’s hard to really evaluate the performance. For sure though, with the shaft greased and all the greasey grime removed from the rudder tube on the boat, the helm feels significantly lighter.
I like drinking water…
…. which is why I bought a water maker. In the past, I didn’t have or want to spend the money on a water maker, and so went without one. A few water jugs was more than sufficient and cost 50 bucks total. When contemplating taking multiple people across oceans on a 34-foot vessel, a water maker becomes significantly more important. When I decided I wanted a water maker, I then had to decide whether to build a custom one or get an off the shelf unit. At the end of the day, i’d rather work and make more money and/ or try to get a good deal on the product than try to design my own kit and make a DIY solution. Once I decided I wanted an off the shelf unit, I was pretty set on the Katadyn Power Survivor 40E. It was the only unit I found that seemed so well suited to my program, so I sent some emails and found a way to get a deal on one. Thank you to Katadyn for helping hook me up with your product!
I just got the water maker and think I have pretty much figured out how and where i’m going to mount everything. It’s going to be a very simple, minimalistic race-boat type install. At least for now.
There’s no way i’m going to finish all of the projects that I have planned before leaving, but have just recently completed the life raft install, bought an EPIRB, had paper charts printed, bought the relevant chart ‘chip’ for my B&G chart plotter, and a lot more.
QUIVER is currently on jackstands in the boat yard for a 2-day rudder swap. Life raft is bolted on, watermaker just arrived in the mail this morning and i’m sitting in class at a final right now. Super busy trying to finish up school this week and get ready to go, but it’s all coming together nicely. Stoked to be leaving for Maui next week and then around the world at the new year! Here’s a quick video trailer of the upcoming trip.