Grand Happenings & More FAQs

bermuda3_250What a beautiful night it was… followed today by an exciting morning on the sea! Under a lovely sunset last evening, after we finished off an amazing banquet of BBQ ribs, fresh corn on the cob and French fries, prepared by our very own Chef Pierce, we spent the night cruising in spectacular conditions with 15-20 knots of tailwinds pushing us along at a 10-knot average under a sky full of stars!

The night before, Monday was equally sweet and starry as well… but when it was over and the sun rose, we had a rather laughable morning when we discovered that the head (toilet) and holding tank were clogged and full! After seven fairly experienced mechanics made a few cautious attempts at unplugging the cranky system, it was heroic Jon Pond who finally (and carefully) stepped up and cracked the deck opening and let loose a geyser of ugly stuff! It’s a longer story than that, but one not really well-suited for recounting without some beers nearby… but let’s just say that next time you run into one of us, ask for the complete audio version.

tunaAfter our speedy night last night, sunrise this morning, found us about 130 miles out of Narragansett Bay. We were just crossing over the continental shelf when one of the fishing rods suddenly whined to life, signaling something hefty on the line! Bruce Dickinson and Dave Brayman took to the rod and pulled up a most beautiful White Marlin, probably about 3 feet long and 50 pounds. As Marlin is not a good eating fish, Bruce with great finesse, eased the hook out of the fish’s mouth and set her free. Not too much later, our luck was even better as they caught a beautiful 8-pound Yellowtail Tuna. This was the perfect size fish for a bit of morning sushi not to mention dinner tonight for the whole crew – all done with little or no waste… sustainability in its true definition.

dolphin_lgAs if that wasn’t enough action for one morning, soon we were blessed with a visit from a pod of dolphins… all swimming and cavorting… with one feller in particular who showed off with some great aerial skills.

Yay for the sea when it comes to life like that, leaving you once more humbled by the wondrous gifts it effortlessly brings forth!

Today is once again warm and beautiful and we’re sailing at a good pace that should have us into harbor just after sunset tonight. Here’s to hoping for an uneventful rest of the passage from Bermuda to Newport!

So let me return to my appointed task of answering some of those questions I am most frequently asked, that I began here in Monday’s post. Let’s start here.

:: Many folks have asked me… What was the most beautiful or memorable part of the journey?

This is rather difficult to pin down to one specific answer, so let me pick five things. Then again, depending on how long I’m given to ponder the question, those five choices will likely change. But for now…

biolumin_plankton_2001) You’ve often heard me tell of the beautiful bioluminescence I encountered at several points along the way that more than a few times left me awestruck. That certainly ranks in the top five.

Storms in the Southern Ocean, especially the cyclone that we outran elevated the raw force of that tempest to something of a spiritual level for me.

3) The first sighting of the snow-capped mountains of the South Island of New Zealand after the generous fishermen of Ocean Odyssey gave me additional fuel was inspiring.


4) The colors of the sunset that same night still plays on the big screen in my mind, as perhaps the most majestic of the many sublime sunsets I witnessed.

5) I don’t think I’ll get over the sense that some mysterious symphony was being played out on the wings of the sea birds as they crisscrossed back and forth behind me, sewing up the wake I’d made through their ocean.

:: Another frequently asked question is… How can you be alone for that long?

I know that many people have different levels of comfort with being alone. Some work with people all day, every day and can’t wait to get home to the quiet of their house; others don’t feel comfortable being alone for even a few hours. For me, being alone is something that I have always been comfortable with and enjoyed. I’ve worked alone on construction projects, spent time traveling or driving across county… and of course, have spent a considerable time alone sailing on either Lake Michigan or the oceans.


I think we all need occasional contact with other people and I’m no exception to that. I almost daily communicated through emails with friends and family and every few days, took a minute or two to make a phone call on the Iridium satellite phone. Still being alone has always come naturally for me and it has allowed me to build that contrasting view of life that allows me to better appreciate the times in my life when I’m wrapped in human company, as I am now on this brief trip.

Also, being alone gives me the chance to connect more peacefully with myself and to discover and experience without so much distraction, the various thoughts and feelings that rise up from within me. This trip certainly provided me ample opportunities for such experiences and reflections, which I hope before long to transcribe and share in longer book form.

:: I’ll finish for now, with this one… What was the scariest part of the circumnavigation?

This isn’t quite so easy question to answer either, because I think I know what most people want to hear for my answer. It’s only human nature to want to hear an amazing tale of a wild tempest that nearly takes your life. But for me that wasn’t the case. While there were indeed several amazing and ultra-challenging storms, which demanded some of the toughest heavy weather sailing I’ve encountered in my life, even during those times, I never felt scared.

Dave in Foulie

Strange as it may seem, those were the moments that I had sought out and prepared myself and Bodacious Dream to handle… and we did so with good fortune. Edgy? Very much so… and for days on end, I felt as though every sense in my body was pumping at 125 percent. Alert to every motion of the boat, every sound, even every change in the pitch of the wind, my mind and body processed huge amounts of sensory input to help me keep Bodacious Dream trimmed and sailing within the flow of an agitated ocean.

I’m sure to some all that seems like it would qualify as a recipe for scary, but remember, I was in a world I had grown fairly comfortable with and that I knew quite well. Take me out of that comfort zone and put me in some other world that I don’t know… and I can tell you a different story about being scared. Brain surgery, police and fire rescue, combat, raising kids even … would all scare me in more conventional ways, but being in the folds of the sea, while it can be very edgy, never pushed my scare button. I will admit though that I was on the edge of my seat for much of the voyage… as each moment out there is a one-of-a-kind roller coaster ride!

38.57215S, 100.361912E

Ok, well getting back to the present moment, I don’t want to miss the wonder and beauty of the last 100 miles of sailing with good friends on a friendly ocean day. Conditions on the East Coast will likely change dramatically in a couple of days as Tropical Storm “Arthur” builds and moves up the coast this weekend. It will be nice to be ashore for once, watching it instead of running from it.

– For now, DR signing off as part of the no longer odious and the very well fed crew of Bodacious IV under the stalwart leadership of Captain Tim Eades!

A Fun Jaunt & some FAQs

Greetings from onboard Bodacious IV, where at the moment, a stellar delivery crew and I are sailing on a beautiful cracked open reach at 9 knots! We’re returning Bodacious IV back to her home in Jamestown, RI post her competing in the Newport to Bermuda race last week. Our team here includes the likes of Captain Tim Eades, Jonathon Pond, Rob Plotke, Dave Brayman, Bruce Dickinson and “Chef” Pierce Johnson. It’s great fun to be with these guys again and sharing the sailing, the comradery and the gentle warm winds off Bermuda. We hope to arrive in Jamestown in a few days, in enough time to catch the July 4 fireworks over the Newport Harbor!

L to R … Dave, Pierce and Bruce… as Dave and Bruce fish for our dinner.

This last week before flying to Bermuda, I visited with friends over the course of making my way back home to the Midwest for a couple of days. Now while Franklin was a great listener, his conversation and range of opinions was well, limited. Fortunately, most people I meet are full of questions. Of the many questions I get asked about the circumnavigation, there seem to be a group of more common ones that I expect might be of interest to some of you as well. So, what I thought I’d do here is answer three of those frequently asked questions, and then answer three more a few days from now, in the next update. OK?

:: Most frequently, I get asked about sleep. What’s the longest time you got to sleep on the trip?

Dave's Alarm ClockAs I’ve explained before, I try to sleep in 15-minute increments. That’s the length of time it would take for another vessel that is beyond my field of vision and just over the horizon, to get to me. So, the vast majority of the time, I sleep in 15-minute intervals (with the help of my egg-timer) and in areas like the coast of Florida, I might even cut that back to 10-minute naps. I know that doesn’t seem like much time to sleep, (and it isn’t) … but you do get used to sleeping in sets of 4 to 5 of these naps with just a few moments awake in between to check the boat and horizon. In our day-to-day lives, we sleep 8 hours, so we can be up for 16 hours. I take these naps so I can be up for an hour or two during which I’m constantly looking for any opportunity to take additional naps, so that I’m most able to function if something important comes up and requires my time. I do think there were times in the deep Southern Ocean where I might have slept for as long as 45 minutes, but such periods were few and far between. I’m sure I never slept more than the 45 minutes at any one time during the entire voyage.

:: What was the longest time you went without seeing another ship?

ocean_odyssey_300The trip between Cape Town, South Africa and Wellington, New Zealand was 52 days, and I remember I saw one long tanker about three days out of Cape Town and then didn’t see another ship until I met up with the friendly fishermen of the Ocean Odyssey who lent us a hand off the South Island of New Zealand. The Southern Ocean is considered some of the most remote waters in the world and you often hear the remark, which is true, that the closest humans to us in those waters are the folks on the Space Station maybe 50 miles above our heads! From New Zealand to the Galapagos would have been the next longest time at 35 days and the last ship I saw out of New Zealand was that first night after I left NZ!

:: What’s it like to be back among so many people having been alone for so long?

dave_300Of course, coming back into Jamestown and being greeted by so many family and friends was a wonderful experience… but the hum of activities that followed and that kept me moving continuously the last couple of weeks has kept my mind from wandering much or encountering too many emotions of the sort that typically arise for people who have gone through long and challenging experiences. From adventurers who have thrown their all into achieving arduous goals to veterans of wars who have fought intensely for their comrades and their own safety, once the extraordinary conditions disappear and life returns to a more everyday pace, it sometimes happens that an energy “hole” appears… one which can sometimes suck you into some type of depression.

So far, I’ve had little time to ponder or integrate the full scope of what happened to me or what it might mean for me in the months ahead. I do know there have been times where I felt an increased sensitivity to things back on land, not yet having built up the usual calluses that help insulate you in the course of living day-to-day life. I have found myself having to manage urges to leave crowded situations, while at the same time, wanting to move closer to people and group situations. It’s pretty interesting and so far, I think I’m doing pretty well. I will stay on the lookout for interesting or challenging shifts as I move further away in time from the completion of the adventure.

So, back to the present… as we sail along listening to great music, eating Chef Pierce’s amazing cooking, telling stories and waiting for Dave and Bruce to catch us a main course for dinner tonight, I will write up another set of answers to more questions I’ve been asked. So, stay tuned for that, and I promise I will answer the one question everyone seems to ask me… “What was your scariest time out there?” But for now, I’ll leave you in suspense on that one.

From about 570 miles southeast of Newport, RI.

– Dave, among the great crew of Bodacious IV led by Captain Tim Eades

So Spill the Pleasures of Life

Screen shot 2013-10-28 at 12.44.47 PM:: LATEST NEWS: MONDAY AM – 10.28.13 – I pulled into the trade winds Sunday morning, and have since been sailing with them. Windy and bumpy conditions are making it hard to write anything. Lots of squally conditions that require constant attention to the boat. At present, I’m about 1100 miles from my first waypoint. Click the image on the right (or the link here) to follow our path on a fun site called Spot Adventures!

So, going back a few days and catch up on a few things …

:: FRIDAY AM – 10.25.13  Early Friday morning, the wind shut down as predicted by our weather gurus, and I had to turn on the motor and begin working my way south toward the trade winds … approximately 240 miles away. Initially, we moved through water which had this weird oily slick on it … not a breath of air anywhere – a kind of surreal stillness overall.

Oily Water
Oily Looking Water
– 50.4135W, 28.4361N

I motored all day Friday and for a while after sunset, when a hint of wind began to fill in. I thought perhaps I had gotten lucky and the trade winds had come north to meet me! So, I set the sails and enjoyed a night of gentle sailing to the southeast and towards my waypoint! It was easy sailing, which made napping through the early morning hours unusually comfortable … until near sunrise. At that point, the wind shifted more to the south and a sky full of squalls began developing to the southeast.

The first set of squalls missed us and I began to feel left out, as I was looking forward to another fresh water rinse. We did catch the edges of the last couple of squalls and we did get rinsed off some. You could see though that this fun would be short-lived, and soon enough fairer skies returned along with calmer winds. So it goes … puffed by the winds, rebuffed by the winds … the ways of the sea and Mother Nature … asking you to make progress in whatever way she allows. By sunset, with the winds diminishing even more, I returned to motor sailing.

Still Blue Water
Still Blue Water – 50.5058W, 28.6860N

Once I get into the trade winds, I should be able to sail pretty much in the direction I want at a pretty positive pace which should have me crossing the equator and entering the southern Atlantic Ocean towards the end of the week. I certainly hope so! At less than 100 miles a day, it feels right now as though Cape Town is a couple of years away!

Hurrican Island Outward Bound School:: RECALLING THE DAYS: Frustration in the face of nature is a constant in any sailor’s life. I remember back in the late 1970’s when I was working with one of our now sponsors, Hurricane Island Outward Bound School, that a big part of our “curriculum” and our experience was working through frustrations each and every day we were out on the water.

Putting everyday people into situations that required them to collectively problem-solve, overcome fears, and work past the fatigue and irritation can push you to your limit, but in the end anyway … leave you with many grand memories and life lessons. It usually took a week or so for everyone on the course to come to grips with being always tired and worn out, always a bit hungry, always a bit dirty but also always a bit closer to one’s core instincts and energies for life and survival.

I remember one particularly frustrating morning, rowing the pulling boats all morning up the bay and then realizing we weren’t going anywhere, because the tide was flowing in as fast as we were rowing out. But once the tide changed, life for all of us changed as well … grumpy people turned funny, hungry people turned optimistic, tired people turned excited. And, let me tell you, dinner NEVER tasted so good.

A Golden Sunset

:: ONWARD WE GO: So, recalling the many hard-won lessons of that time, I look forward to following the changes in my own attitude once the winds start to take me where I want to go. When you come to be able to put the pluses and the minuses side by side, then you can better recognize and more fully appreciate the value of each. I mean, can you ever really know the pleasure of warm and dry, if you haven’t experienced cold and wet?

So it is, I’m thinking now about things like a frosty Pepsi, hot French fries, warm freshwater showers, soft places to sit … all those things … that float out there like reflections on the water … and in contrast with what is right in front of me. Out of this back and forth … spill the many pleasures of life. That’s another advantage to logging thousands and thousands of miles … you learn to hang in there, because you know that eventually, you’ll get where you’re going.

So, at the moment, I’m about halfway between the start in Newport, RI and my first waypoint heading into “the doldrums” … it’s about 1,400 miles each way now. That’s always a good feeling, hitting those halfway points! And, if the winds provide, I can make that distance in about a week. It would be nice to end October and start November in a new waters being pushed by new winds!

More when the seas settle down.

– Dave & Bodacious Dream
46.4851W, 23.2120N

Sails Hoisted … Heading East by Southeast

Well, we’re finally on our way heading east by southeast out of Bermuda. I slipped the dock lines at 14:20 Thursday afternoon and made my way out to the “SB” buoy (“Sea Buoy” is the first buoy marking the entrance to a harbor,) clear of the shallow reefs around the entrance to St. Georges Harbor and hoisted sail. I can’t tell you how good it feels to be Outward Bound! Such a great feeling one has when headed out to great experiences. In fact, there is a Hurricane Island Outward Bound School in Bermuda as well and they came and visited me while docked at the St. George Dingy and Sport Club.

The last few days before departure have been mostly uneventful, but Wednesday night brought its share of worrisome moments. The winds built up to a husky 25 to 30 knots and the harbor was all big bouncing waves. Fortunately, Bodacious Dream was docked in a good location, slightly away from the concrete pier, but any slight shift in a wind direction could have caused me problems. Needless to say, I slept very little as I turned and shifted too with the waves and the hum of the wind. Fortunately at about 03:00, the winds let up and the harbor settled down. By dawn, I was up to take care of the last bits of business before leaving.

Bermuda BernieBermuda was a great stopover and the people were extra accommodating and gracious.

Here’s a pic to the left of 82-year old Bernie, who set the tone by helping me out when I first arrived, and who I wrote about in my Day 7 post.

There have been about three or four of us single handers hanging around the harbor, all waiting for a weather window to leave and we all crossed paths this morning at the Custom’s Office … all of us checking out of Bermuda at the same time. The others though are heading south to the Caribbean, while I head east to Cape Town, South Africa.

I’ve been sailing on an “easy reach,” meaning the wind has been from the side of the boat and this makes for easy, quick sailing. This has given me a great chance to relax, catch up on the missed sleep and organize the boat some more. Unfortunately, the forecast suggests that today will be the best winds I’ll have for perhaps a week. But you know, any chance to go sailing and in the “general direction” I want to go … is plenty welcome at this point in time.

Near Bermuda

So, right now, the seas are a bit lumpy with leftover swells from the heavier winds of the past few days, so I’m not sure I’ll be able to get the KVH satellite connect back until the motion settles down some … but when it does, I’ll upload some photos and videos of leaving Bermuda.

Still looking for my first dolphin sighting. Hopefully they’ll show up soon and cast their magic upon our marvelous expedition.

And to be sure, you’re getting the major updates, sign up for the email list here!

Until later,

– Dave and Bodacious Dream

063.0835 W, 31.5983 N



Deliverance – Story of an Early English Ship

(I have a story to tell here, but before I do, a quick weather and departure update, in case you missed it on Facebook yesterday. While the weather here in Bermuda is inviting; mostly sunny and breezy, for us, its not entirely what it seems. Those breezes are quite brisk at the moment and coming directly FROM where we need to be heading. In order to properly time our departure from Bermuda, we must wait for south or southwesterly winds, which it looks like we’ll have later in the week. We’re ready to go, but, sometimes, this is just what sailing is like … and what properly responding to your environment requires. Thanks. – DR)

Now, as I am discovering, the Islands of Bermuda have quite a colorful history. The first European vessel that landed on its shores was in 1505; a Spanish ship captained by Juan de Bermudez. Unlike many of the nearby Caribbean Islands, the island had no indigenous population at that time. In 1515, de Bermudez returned to the island that would eventually bear his name, landing a dozen pigs and sows for any unlucky mariners who might later be castaway there.

Of somewhat more relevance to the history of Bermuda is the early 17th century English ship named Deliverance. A replica of the Deliverance stands here in St. George, and I visited her the other day. I’d like to share her amazing story with you.

Deliverance in Bermuda
A replica of the English Ship Deliverance … 1609

In 1609, a convoy of nine ships, led by Sir George Sommers, left England bound for Jamestown, Virginia, to bring supplies to the new colony that had been established a few years earlier. Long before the days of weather forecasting and National Hurricane Prediction Centers, there were no ways to predict weather changes. So, it was that these ships were caught up in a hurricane. One of the ships, Sea Venture fell behind and ran aground on the treacherous reefs of Bermuda, amazingly with no loss of life. The crew and passengers spent 10 months salvaging equipment and supplies from the wrecked ship and with wood harvested from the local trees built two new ships. One was called Deliverance and the other called Patience. As the ships were small in size, the second ship was needed to haul the additional provisions and supplies they had gathered.

Once the ships were completed and ready to sail for Jamestown, they were stocked with all sorts of bounty from the local environment – live animals, pigs, fruits, vegetables and many other goods the shipwrecked survivors found valuable to their survival.

Deliverance in Bermuda

After an approximately two week sail, Deliverance arrived in Jamestown to a rousing welcome from the settlers there. Not only had they been presumed lost at sea, but the settlers in the intervening time had once again taken to suffering from starvation and such serious health issues, that their number had dwindled from the original 200 settlers down to just 60. The new supplies were critical to the colony’s survival and thus to the success of the longer term colonial experiment.

Deliverance in Bermuda

As sea-traffic between Europe and the American colonies grew in the 1700s, pirating and smuggling along the eastern seaboard of the Americas made Bermuda a welcome hideout for those who practiced such activities. From its calm natural harbors, these outlaw ships preyed on ships from Europe and the Americas right through the American war of independence, and the buildup of a dedicated U.S. Navy … which grew rather slowly out of the Continental Navy, which had come into existence when George Washington commissioned seven cruisers to intercept and capture British supply vessels.

Deliverance in BremudaHalyards at the base of the mast

It was an incredibly exciting period in sea travel, as ships of different nations fought each other and pirates too … both for their sovereignty and for the right to transport the abundant resources that the “new” world possessed.

In any case, to get back to Deliverance, it was only 40 feet long (curiously enough, the very same length as Bodacious Dream.) As you can see from many of the pictures, it was of a very different design of boat than Bodacious Dream, and even different from other boats of the period. Boats of this type sailed very seldom to windward (sailing into the wind) and mostly sailed the “trade wind routes.” Such routes were typically downwind and cleaved closely to the major weather routes.

Deliverance in BermudaAft, (in the rear of the ship) there was a large cabin for the Captain, which also held the navigation table and from which control of the ship was managed. In those days, there was a captain, navigator and a sailing crew, as well as the passengers and supplies.

To the left here, is a capstan of the period, a vertical-axled winch to apply force to ropes, cables, and hawsers.

In those days too, the tiller, which is the long arm that is used to steer the boat, was controlled by a whipstaff, a vertical pole extending to the top deck and pushed or pulled from side to side – similar to a modern-day tillers, but in the vertical orientation rather than the horizontal orientation.

Somehow, 100 passengers crowded onboard Deliverance along with all the supplies! Below, the space was divided into two decks – each with less than 5 feet of headroom! Squatting and crawling were the main means of maneuvering around the boat.

Walking around that boat the other day, and picturing what it might have been like for those 100 intrepid people, filled me with admiration for the raw courage and deep skill that those adventurous sailors of that earlier era possessed.

We may have advanced technologically, but there is still something in the encounter between humans and the sea that remains remarkably unchanged over the centuries.

– Dave and Bodacious Dream

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