Looking Back & Signing off on 2016!

Here on the shores of Lake Michigan, we’ve experienced our first snows, which put an end to the suspense as to when the mild fall would move over so that winter could get on with it. I’m usually fine with snow, at least up to half an inch, but 3 inches forces you to reconsider and put aside the flip-flops and boat shoes. My winter chukkas now sit prominently near the front door.


It was a great summer season, but like most of them, it passed too quickly. With that in mind, there are a few things I’d like to catch you up on.

As most of you know, The Atlantic Cup Race and the Atlantic Cup Kids Program took up much of the first half of my year. It was an amazing experience for me and for the many kids who came down to the docks. I’d like to share with you a new great pro-looking  Atlantic Cup Kids program video up now on YouTube. You may notice an older, white-bearded guy rolling the cart and hoarsely singing – that would be me. Forward it or share it and help spread the word!


My personal thank yous go out to the many people who helped with the program, who gave time and energy to the kids, and those of you who supported it financially. We are very grateful for all your support.

This fall, we also learned the Atlantic Cup had accomplished something quite amazing that you won’t read about on the front page of the newspaper; so this time, I’m going to loudly ring our own bell! Owing to the hard work of the entire race staff, led by our sustainability expert, Brian Funke, and with the inspired support of 11th Hour Racing, The Atlantic Cup became the FIRST sporting event in the USA to receive an ISO 20121 certification for sustainability. Let me explain just what this means. The ISO (International Organization for Standardization) develops and oversees an international certification process, which many companies go through to meet or exceed certain performance standards to become ISO accredited companies. It’s a very rigorous certification process and I find it just way cool that The Atlantic Cup, and no other event - not the US Open or Wimbledon, not even Major League Baseball with the Cub’s “green” Wrigley Field, has EVER received this certification.


This is a result of the hard work, commitment and leadership of Julianna Barbieri and Hugh Piggin at Manuka Sports Event Management who run the Atlantic Cup Race as well as the entire staff and all the competitors who each believed in our collective responsibility to serve and maintain our environment. As a proud member of that team, I want to extend my congratulations to everyone associated with the Atlantic Cup. Here’s a link to the whole story: http://www.atlanticcup.org/sustainability

And, if that bar isn’t high enough for you, The Atlantic Cup is also the only regatta world wide to achieve platinum level status in sustainability from Sailors for the Sea - a leading conservation organization that engages with sailing and boating communities toward healing the ocean. 

A couple other notable events took place this summer. We had another great Mackinac Race (my 30th) – spending 30 hours sailing from one storm cell to another. I don’t recall seeing so many thunder and rain squalls and rapid wind shifts in any of those previous years. Here’s a video I shot after a night of getting knocked around big time!


Lake Michigan continues to be a seductive and unpredictable demiurge. Today however she looks calm and relaxed, her edges white with the froth of toppling wavelets as she absorbs the spinning snowflakes.


Back in August, I played the role of Official Observer for Scott Wolford’s world record marathon swim attempt. This young man…(51 years old – Ha!) was planning to set an unassisted, world record of 120 miles by swimming from Chicago to Michigan and back. I was proud to be invited to help with his efforts and record the event for official review.

Unfortunately, the weather stopped Scott after about 19 miles, but with the energy he exhibited climbing back on the boat, I’m certain his efforts next summer will produce a new world record.


Besides being a crazy good swimmer, Scott is dedicated and committed to teaching children about the environment and clean water. His children’s book, Gino the Minnow is legendary. Check out Gino’s or Scott’s sites on Facebook. Gino the Minnow or Scott Weston Wolford. Now there’s a good Christmas present idea for your kids.

The rest of the summer here on the Great Lakes included a few other races and some very pleasurable sails with friends. My days of late have been filled with various types of work; an article I penned for Sailing Magazine - a kind of beginner’s guide to shorthanded (or single-handed) sailing is right HERE in November’s issue.

Out of the water, a custom-made kitchen cabinet package I designed and built was just  installed in a special use residence in Evanston, IL. And then there was Thanksgiving… where as each year for the past 20 or so, my house becomes full of family and friends. It was an especially great year to be together and to be thankful for each other.

We look forward to the coming New Year with great hopes for the completion and publication of my book Spirit of the Dream, which is undergoing final edits. We also hold our hopes high that we will stand up and dedicate our collective energies to tackling the many challenges that our world, our environment, our kids and our families must face.

May your holidays be grand and may our light shine bright in the New Year!

And as the French say, Au Revoir (meaning “until later”)

- Dave and Franklin

A Storm of Bodacious Videos

While maintenance and repair work continues on Bodacious Dream here in Wellington, I’ve found some time to review the many hours of Leg 2 video and photos I took on the voyage here from Cape Town, S.A.

It’s a Very Wavy World Out There - 42.568808S, 120.320942E

As you may recall, during that 7000-mile leg, we encountered quite a few tenacious storms – or what the weather people call “strong frontal passages.” I compiled some video clips from some of the storms into two briefer and more watchable pieces. I did some simple edits on them … which is all I can manage at the moment. Maybe soon, we can do a cool edit, but even without a thrilling musical soundtrack, you should still be able to get a feel for what it’s like out there on the open ocean when the winds and seas are “up.”

At the same time you are experiencing loneliness and fatigue, you are also carried along by something both energizing and mesmerizing.

To remind you, these cold fronts blew up from the South (Antarctic) and progressed westward providing us with westerly winds that pushed us towards New Zealand. They generally announce themselves by a couple days of northwest wind, which then builds into the 30-knot range as the front passes through, after which the winds switch over to the southwest before gradually fading out.

Dave_Foulies_350One particularly interesting storm I wrote about previously, involved a spin-off of a low-pressure system from a cyclone, which teamed up with a passing cold front to amp up the winds and make our sailing a couple levels more extreme. While the strongest part of this front/low passed rather quickly over a 24-hour period, it was a week-long event of sailing as fast and as far east as we could to get in front of its path, so it could push us along instead of smacking us in the face. In the end, we did make it east of the storm, but just barely. During the height of the storm, we were clocking winds around 50 knots – and you’ll see in one of the video clips, the TWS (True Wind Speed) reading on the instrument panel showed gusts to 40 knots!

No matter how senseless and arrogant we humans are about using up the ocean’s resources and wasting its precious beauty, it’s hard not to think that it is the ocean that will have the final word.

While all of this seems a bit edgy to the uninitiated, rest assured that Bodacious Dream is designed and built to handle these conditions, and in fact, is much more adept at it than I am! It’s specialized and custom-built for such tasks, whereas we humans are generalists who must keep adapting by learning new tricks. At the same time that the tempest tosses you around like a toy, you can’t help but succumb to the storm’s seductive beauty. To be in the center of such oceanic intensity, all the while knowing that there is so much more potential scale and force there yet to be unleashed, is humbling to say the least.

Coming up next, in a few days, will be some video that shows another side of Earth’s majestic powers. I’m talking about the glaciers of South Island, New Zealand. Stay tuned for that, as I think my visit to the glaciers was one of the most awe-inspiring experiences of my life.

Hope you enjoy the videos. I have a lot more footage and will try to compile them into more videos for those of you that have the time to watch.

Thanks and more soon….

- Dave

P.S. As a bonus for those of you who consider yourselves “veterans” of the sea, I have included another video of around 6 minutes in length that is mostly me talking through a week of strategic adjustments that I had to make in order to deal with the storm.

A sailor’s way of thinking about storms

After the Deluge

Well, it’s been quite a week here on Bodacious Dream! If you recall, last Sunday, I said we passed the 3000 miles from Cape Town waypoint. Well, this Sunday, we passed the 4000-mile mark, which leaves us with something like 3200 miles before we reach Wellington, New Zealand and the completion of Leg 2 of the Circumnavigation!


As I was going back through the trip logs on the computer, I noticed that Bodacious Dream and I have logged nearly 30,000 miles together since she was launched in late 2011 in Wellington, NZ, and right where we are headed next. Amazing how the time and the miles fly by!

I’ve been onboard for every one of those miles … some in New Zealand, then after she was shipped to Charleston, SC, racing up the Atlantic Seaboard, then into the St. Lawrence Seaway and to Québec City, followed by a trip across the North Atlantic, in and around France, England and the English Channel – then down to Portugal, back across the Atlantic to Antigua in the Caribbean and back up the Atlantic Coast for the Atlantic Cup this past spring before prepping and launching the Circumnavigation which has taken us to Bermuda, Cape Town and now 4000 miles through the wild and desolate Southern Ocean. Such is the life of a vagabond sailor! At this point, both the sails and I are beginning to show some signs of wear and tear – but onward we go, into the wind – and daily grateful for the chance to do so!

In the last update, (the one before Tegan’s Science Notes) I said that we were looking for one of these now famous Southern Ocean cold fronts to pass us mid-week, and that we were setting up for a showdown with a cyclone by Friday. Our strategy at the time, was to sail with the winds of the cold front, as quickly east as possible in order to get us to a position about 95E Longitude which would put us just in front of the cyclone come Friday night.

38.57215S, 100.361912E
A lonely bird in grey seas … 38.57215S, 100.361912E

We sailed well and tapped some of the power of that cold front Tuesday, but fell into light winds on Wednesdays. Stressed at the possibility of NOT getting ahead of the cyclone, which would deliver us headwind punches (right on the nose) instead of the MUCH preferred tailwinds (from behind), I worked extra hard all day Wednesday trimming the sails, until the winds filled back in late Wednesday night.

By Thursday, the path of the cyclone had become clearer … and we could see it wasn’t going to play fair. We had expected it to move south and diminish in strength, and then hitch itself onto another passing cold front to form an even more powerful cold front, passing through our neighborhood at about 85E Longitude. As we tracked its progress though, we could see it had decided to zero in on a little sailboat called Bodacious Dream and to change its course to the southeast with the aim of crossing our path at around 99.5E Longitude. Fortunately, Bo is a quick boat and we were able to beat the cyclone to 99.5E and get ourselves to about 100E before the cyclone caught up to us and gave us the tailwinds we wanted! I know that all may sound a little abstract, like blips on a radar screen – but let me tell you, when you’re dancing all around the deck, doing everything in your power to extract a couple extra knots of speed … it’s all very real … but very fun too.

38.57215S, 100.361912E Grey and white … 38.572169S, 100.361104E

The flip side of the story is that though we got the tailwinds we wanted, we were close enough to the cyclone for those winds to be rather substantial! For the next 18 hours, Bo and I sailed through tempest winds from 35 to 50 knots and seas the size of small countries. Bo handled it with class and dignity, while I cowered down below decks waiting for something to go wrong! LOL!

There was one rather funny moment I’ll share. The winds had gotten into the 40-knot range, which was pushing Bo just too fast for safety into the waves in front of her, and so the only option I had was to go forward onto the bow and take down the small orange sail that was flying. Normally, this is an everyday job on a sailboat and done without much concern, but when the winds are gusting over 40, and the boat is flying along at 12 knots and crashing into and bouncing off of waves, it’s really quite a thrilling (and at the same time, discombobulating) experience. With all my gear on and my integrated harness and inflatable life vest, I clipped on my tether and ventured forward – bouncing and stepping across the deck like an uncoordinated booby bird doing the Charleston. Once to the bow, I tackled the flogging and soaking wet sail and pulled it down like I was wrestling a small animal. Once down, I began to tie it to the deck so it wouldn’t blow away. Just then I heard this rushing sound pushing my ears. I looked up and was eye-to-eye with a huge elephant-sized wave, which smacked me solid, drenching me in a torrent of water. I couldn’t help but let about a laugh – the totally disproportionate size advantage that ocean has over humans is inherently comical whenever ocean decides to exercise it.

Anyway, I went back to tying down the sail with I heard this “pop,” followed quickly by my automatic life vest inflating, leaving me on the foredeck with this huge tire around my neck … making it doubly difficult (and triply comical) for me to finish my task! But finish it I did, and got back below decks, deflated the life-vest, replaced it with another, all the time wishing I’d have had some video of all that! I guess it’s good to know the life vests work, though they’re only supposed to inflate when fully submerged. I guess that wave was even bigger than it looked!

38.57215S, 100.361912ELost horizons … 38.572138S, 100.361666E

Well, the storm was everything it was forecasted to be and lasted a full 24 hours. I’ve had very little sleep since it began, but fortunately, the forecast for the next three to four days is for some far more relaxed sailing, so I hope to use the time to catch up on my rest and get some warm food in me. It’s now about 18 hours since the storm passed, but I guess nobody told the waves that, because they are still burly and strong causing us to shudder and shake with each big roll. Oh well, what to do, but look to the horizon (if you can see it for the waves) and to whatever tomorrow might bring.

And, with about 500 miles to go before we are officially ‘underneath the down under’ (Australia,) I’m getting excited at the thought of hot showers, fresh food, cold beer and seeing old friends in Wellington. I’m figuring maybe 18 days. As you probably know by now, my mind can’t help but take miles, time and speed and turn them into a series of math problems.  So, let’s see … if there are 3200 miles left to Wellington, New Zealand and I am making 7.2 knots average a day, how long will it take me to get there?? Have some fun of your own folks!

Until later,

- Dave, Bodacious Dream and (the math challenged) Franklin

Be sure to check out our new Explorer Guides!
The mailing list sign up, as always, is here!

https://goo.gl/maps/Kp6pnAlmost down under down under … 41.81022S, 110.78864E

Stormy Beauty

The past week has been an interesting one out here on the Southern Ocean. Six days ago we crossed the 2000 miles from Cape Town line and just yesterday we made that 3000 miles from Cape Town. Turning around and looking the other way, it’s about 4000 miles yet to New Zealand. So on we go!

Early in the week, a series of cold fronts and low-pressure systems brought prolonged heavy winds and big seas for days at a stretch. Each day was pretty much the same as the one before it … more big winds and more big seas! Bodacious Dream and I handled it well, but we sure could have used a bit of a break. Like them or not, these are the prevailing conditions at the moment, and until I get about 500 miles further east, they will likely continue.

aquamarine_south_55039.5612499S, 70.330989E 

In the meantime, getting to experience storms up close, you begin to appreciate them not only for their great strength, but also for their great beauty; the size and shape of the waves, the rhythmic intensity of the winds, the swirling curtains of rain and the constantly shifting watercolor shades of grey. I try to capture some of these elements in my photographs, but they rarely show the bracing brilliance that you feel moving through the storm-charged air. As I’ve never before been in such extreme conditions for such an extended period of time, I am finding it all just mesmerizing. (I’ve shot quite a bit of video though, and once I’m back in Internet range, I’ll begin to upload some of it for you to see.)

So, what do you do when it’s storming out? Basically, you hunker down! You keep yourself wrapped in your foul weather gear, and at the ready to kick into action to address any situation that arises. In between times, I often sit below in the companionway and watch the storm (and time) go by. Occasionally, I read a bit from one of my books, but it’s a challenge to let your mind relax and drift away when all that’s going on around you is of such pressing importance and so incessant in its demands on your attention.

Not having a new video to send you, here is a video shot in the days before arriving in Cape Town taken in the gray morning after a long night of wet and windy weather.

Dave doing some hunkering down from the end of Leg 1

One of my little tricks to stay focused is to draw up a time schedule for extended storms. On it I mark for each hour the things I need to do; charging batteries, checking for water, navigating, making notes in the log, circling the deck and double-checking my gear. When each hour has passed, I cross it off. I do this on the sidewall of the cabin down below, and I find it helps to pass the time … but more importantly, it’s my way of making sure I don’t forget something very important in the process.

In harsh weather, the simple act of preparing and eating food takes on a new level of difficulty. Boiling water in rough weather is not so easy and can even be dangerous. Fortunately, the freeze-dried packaged foods CAN be eaten with cold water … but they’re certainly a heck of a lot better with hot water! So it is that cookies, crackers, cheese, beef jerky, chocolate and candies become your go-to snacks, though I sometimes have to scold myself to not eat so much of the candy!

When the wind is building up, one of the more difficult tasks is getting the mainsail under control. This is the large sail on the mast. It has a number of what are called “reef” points that allow you to reduce the size of the sail so that there’s less of it there to catch the more bullying winds. When the winds get to 30 knots or more, I pull the mainsail down to the storm “stub,” which is just a small bit of sail material above the boom. Sometimes, I take it down all the way. This can be rather difficult because when you get to that point in the storm, the winds are pushing the sail against the mast and rigging, making for a lot of friction which requires a lot more effort to take control of the sail. I occasionally find myself hanging my entire 210 pounds from the sail and it not moving at all!

BoDream Mainsail
My old pal, the mainsail …

When that happens, I have another system I use. I go up to the mast, climb up on the boom, hook a line over a part of the sail as high up as I can reach, and then bring the line back down to a winch, and then winch down the sail. Then I do the same thing again, and again a third time until I have it all down to the boom! It’s quite the physical feat, especially when you throw in wind, rain and waves, but it’s a necessity too … so you try to do it sooner than later. That’s not always a choice though, as sometimes the wind will just show up unannounced, in which case, it becomes a super handful of a job. But the good thing is that once the sail is down and tied to the boom, the boat becomes a lot easier to control because the small sail on the bow “pulls” the boat along, like it was a trailer behind a car as opposed to what happens when the mainsail is doing the work, where it’s more like a car “pushing” the trailer.

You know, now that I think about it, there are a lot of conversations going on between me and various parts of the boat … and the one I have going with the mainsail is among the most … well, comical I suppose, because it’s a bigger beast to tame.

By the way, in the Explorer Guides that we launched this past week in our previous BDX post, there is one called “Sailboat Glossary” that shows a picture of a single-masted sailboat like BoDream and shows you the names of all the main parts. Check it out, if you like.

Sailboat Glossary
From one of our new Explorer Guides

Well, it’s getting close to dark here, and predictably, the winds are supposed to build up again tonight and then even more tomorrow, so I want to get all my gear and schedules in order so I can keep control of this here boat. I guess sleep will have to wait until another day. I do get some sleep though over the course of the day, but it’s not easy when the winds are up and storms are shaking the house.

I’ve heard a lot of you have had it rough too with the recent and fiercely cold winter storms. I sure hope it’s breaking where you are and that the temperatures are starting to climb up again.

Be back as soon as I can …

- Dave, Bodacious Dream (and the soggy) Franklin

P.S. And you can always sign up for our email list … right here!

38.4578S, 86.5598E 38.4578S, 86.5598E 

Schooling in Wild Wind and Weather

Albatross_200Saturday marked one week since leaving Cape Town, South Africa on a course through the Southern Ocean towards Wellington, New Zealand. The Southern Ocean is known for its cold northward flowing waters, its extreme weather but also for its large population of Albatross birds, who have the uncanny ability of seeming to fly forever without ever flapping their wings! This first week, I didn’t make the 1200 miles I was hoping for, as so much time was spent trying to escape the clutches of those high-pressure weather systems that keep the southern tip of South Africa insulated from the steady march of cold fronts that move southwest to northeast off the Southern Ocean.

This mix of cold fronts which are low-pressure systems, rotate clockwise here in the southern hemisphere while the high-pressure systems rotate counter-clockwise – and which generate a mostly steady stream of westerly winds, which is what I need to ride to get me to New Zealand. The dynamic combination of these two systems is what generates productive sailing winds. However, this past week, the highs have dominated the region and I have only had two cold fronts pass, one rather weak and the other last night rather robust.

Coming as I do from the far milder climes of the Midwestern Great Lakes, I am having to quickly learn these new weather systems and waters and to synchronize my experience and intuitions with this new ocean. Overall, this has made the past week pretty challenging. However, as the blustery front moved on today and the 30-knot winds diminished, a more steady westerly wind developed that allowed me to sail quite quickly through last night with wind speeds in the 17 knot range. That pace is more manageable on a boat like Bodacious Dream than the far pushier 30-knot winds.

Bodacious Dream, being a racing boat and so light in weight, can really move! While other world-crossing sailors often have larger, heavier boats and can make use of all the wind 30 knots can provide, I only need 15 to 20 knots for a really quick ride. So, when the winds get much higher, it becomes a lot of work for me to single-handedly keep this racehorse under control and not have her gallop off too fast.

splash2_550Earlier in the week … 35.394364S, 13.294403E

I know all this high-pressure, low-pressure extreme weather talk is dominating my narrative since leaving Cape Town, but that’s what’s happening, my friends! So, to recap, here’s the pattern as best as I can explain it.

The routine repeats itself every couple of days. First off, the winds begin to build up from the north and the northwest as a cold front approaches, pulling the winds from the high-pressure system in toward it. I set my course to the east and sail with those winds and watch for the telltale signs of the approaching cold front, typically about 24 hours away. Once I see squally conditions forming, I know that the front is approaching and that at some point, without warning, the winds will start to diminish, indicating the coming of an abrupt wind shift over to the southwest as the actual line of the front passes. At this time, I gybe the sails, but keep the boat on the same course, which means, I move the sails to the OTHER side of the boat and keep on sailing. Often, for an hour or two, the only difference is a change in temperature downward until a few hours AFTER the front has passed, at which point the clouds start to part and the sun begins to shine. Then, maybe 6 to 8 hours after that, the skies have cleared up and we continue sailing eastward on the southerly breezes … UNTIL they shift around to the north again and the pattern starts all over again.

I’m not even going to TRY to explain this map! 

This basic pattern is the one that is expected to continue for about 5 weeks, until we hit New Zealand where more local weather conditions will dictate different strategies for our arrival. This is probably why the Southern Ocean is so often referred to as a “desolate” sea. How many people would want to put up with these kind of knockabout conditions, unless it served some larger purpose, as it does in my case!

So, my daily routine has readjusted itself to match up with these weather patterns. This means that unlike at home when you get up and start your day, out here, I never quite know when the day begins as I am almost always somewhat awake and working to manage the boat or take care of something … sleeping only for brief intervals of 15 to 20 minutes. Such short intervals bring a little extra peace of mind as well as allowing me to keep an eye on the boat and to look out for other ships.

A not untypically beautiful Southern Ocean sunset … 40.54816S, 34.195064E 

In the midst of all this, I try to hold to some semblance of a personal routine as well. I’ll share that with you, if you care to read a little further.

Around sunrise, I take a couple of quick naps and then toast the day with my personal favorite beverage … an orange juice box! I’ll then set up the computer and send out a position report, as the Spot Adventures tracker, which did that automatically on Leg #1, isn’t active in this “desolate” part of the world. Once that is done, I’ll check instrument readings and write in my ship’s log the goings on for the past hour or so. After that, I might settle down and read for a bit or watch the waves and the sky.

I don’t generally take a lunch, but rather snack on foods through the day. Beef Jerky, crackers, cheeses, fruits and chocolate make up my most important food groups. At least a couple of times during the day, I’ll take over driving and allow Otto, the auto pilot a chance to relax. Once sunset happens, I leave it to Otto drive through the night. All through the day, depending on the wind direction and speeds, I make adjustments to the sails, plot navigation and make notes in the ship’s log. As I said, higher winds mean more sail adjustments … from reefing the mainsail to reefing the jib to taking the jib down and resetting it again.

I like to have my dinner late at night, after the sun has set and the winds have stabilized for the night. I’ll search through my “pantry” of freeze-dried foods and pick out something that sounds good … not that the choices aren’t already well known to me! Somewhere between 22:00 and 24:00, I’ll boil my water, mix up my food and then sit out on deck and dine al fresco under the stars! Something about the setting makes the food seem worthy of a five-star Michelin award – though last night the outside deck was closed due to inclement weather!

Franklin, Food and Fine Reading

I’ll then spend the rest of the night reading and napping on and off waiting for dawn to arrive at which point the routine begins all over again.

I wish there were more exciting events to report, but for the past few days, life has been a bit mundane … with the exception of the occasional big waves that crash over the cabin top and deck, the 30-knot winds and the incessant squally rain of last night. But aside from that, there’s nothing too exciting going on around here! Believe me, last night, even though all my Midwest friends tell me how cold it is there right now, I still found myself wishing I was there … that is until the clouds broke and the sun started to shine again!

That’s it for now … Wow, the new year is almost upon us! All good wishes to all of you for a great one!

- Dave, Bodacious Dream and Franklin (my bouncing buddy)

Currently @ … 39.803250S, 35.970750E 

The Bumpy and the Not So Bright

As the weekend approached, we picked up some decent winds which kept us just ahead of an approaching cold front. The winds got up to 25-30 knots from the northwest just in the direction we are heading … so over our left shoulder. This was a good sailing angle that although it was bumpy and very wet, bought us some good distance. In instances like this, I have to throttle back the boat some since I’m a crew of one and can only manage so many things at once … and have to rely on Otto (my auto-pilot) to drive. At one point, Otto got all nervy and took off on a wave and wind gust, topping 17 knots!

Here’s a short video from earlier in November that captures a bit of the last day or so.

Gray Skies and Chompy Waves  

As was expected, we met up with the front Saturday afternoon, which brought with it an instant wind shift of almost 90 degrees to our right. This shift literally came in an instant, and it took me a few minutes of scrambling to straighten out the boat as we had been on a port tack for most of the past few weeks.

To make things more interesting, at the moment of the shift/gybe, Otto, my steady second in command, decided it was time to pack it up and freeze in position. This made things quite interesting, as I made a number of attempts to reset him to no avail, leaving me no choice, but to switch to the backup auto-pilot. I suspect the gybe set off a sensor or something, that now I’ll have to find and fix. But in any case, Otto2 is driving and doing just a fine a job. (Thank goodness for contingencies!) I’m hoping that when the winds settle down – maybe by Tuesday, I can pull Otto and repair him. This isn’t an easy job in the harbor, so I expect it will be no piece of cake to do while sailing.

Grey SkiesGrey Skies and Grey Bird

The new front is pushing winds at us from the south, which down here is the equivalent of a cold front, and when you toss in a misty all night rain, it makes for a few fairly unpleasant nights of sailing. We expect these winds to persist through at least Monday before settling down some for a couple of days. In the meantime, we should be making some good mileage and time, but at the cost of a bumpy, wet and sometimes anxious ride.

0.06210 W, 33.96854S0.06210 W, 33.96854S

Presently we are crossing through the 1000 miles left to our destination and are hoping to keep a 200-mile a day average for a couple more days. After that, we’ll see what the weather has in store for us.

So, from the Deep South Atlantic, where it’s pretty cool – maybe 50, wet and woolly, or as the Brits would say … “quite sporting” … we’ll press on … with Cape Town on our bow.

- Dave, Bodacious Dream and Franklin (even he’s had enough bouncing!)
0.06210 W, 33.96854S

Breezy Angles and Inner Debates

Catching up with you all on the weekend out here in the watery world. Decent breezes and good angles kept us averaging around 9 and 10 knots for most of the last few days – just the right speed for providing you that sense of forward progress! At the moment, as dawn rises on Saturday after the full moon sets, I’m closing in on the waypoint where I’ll start to make the big turn east and set up the final 2200 mile run to Cape Town.

http://goo.gl/maps/V5eeM26.92078W, 29.67041S

After consulting with our weather gurus at Commander’s Weather this morning, it’s looking like I should arrive at the waypoint just about the same time as a passing front that may give me some weather issues, but they don’t look to be really bad ones. The winds will be from the North (by northwest) and then switch to the southwest, but either of those directions should push me towards Cape Town, so that’s good. I may have to endure another day or two of squalls and higher winds, but the results should prove all positive. We’ll see how it all plays out by the beginning of the week. The thing about weather that you have to get used to out here is that it never stops! It just changes either slowly or quickly from one state to another, from weaker to stronger and back again … and those changes may proceed as predicted, or they might not. There’s never a guarantee that nature will play nice with your human plans.

Friday was a great day for drying out things, and I’ve got lots of foul weather gear and clothes strewn around the cockpit to give them a chance to fully dry out.  Regardless of what they say, nothing out here is water-proof and breathable … you’re either sweating faster than it can breathe or the water inevitably works its way through whatever material is covering you. I expect my pants could stand up by themselves with all the salt dried into the weave!!

A toastThe photo on the right here, that’s from last weekend, on the evening after we crossed the equator … when I opened the bottle of Irish Cream that my friend Joe Harris had thoughtfully provided. You can see the splash there … as tradition requires … a little onto the deck as a toast to Neptune, to the good ship that bears you and to this newbie equatorial crosser.

The other night, a visit from a bird initiated what would be a long night’s encounter. It hovered around the high corner of the stern for a while, then flew to the bow and jumped out in front and led us on for a while. Then it circled around a few times before trying once again to land on my head! I got some great photos of him flying by, but I can’t upload them (perhaps) until I get to Cape Town, as our KVH satellite system is out of range this far south of the Equator. Nonetheless, he did land and settled into a spot on the sail that is sitting on the weather rail trying to block some of the water that comes into the cockpit. Not more than 20 minutes later, another bird arrived and did the same thing, this time settling in on the edge of the splash guard where he could check out the first bird. From time to time all night long, they’d get up, fly around, dart in and out of the rigging and then settle back down and rest. Not sure where they might be headed or coming from, but it was nice to have some company through the dark and windy night. I thought all the spray might drive them away, but it never seemed to phase them. We are all clearly a bunch of tough old birds out here.

32.7234W, 1.8690S
Not exactly the bird in the story … similar but different … This one at 32.7234W, 1.8690S

Some days keep you busy, other days, you spend the extra time doing battle with your own mind. Yesterday, I was experiencing frustration with the wind and the instability of the boat, not to mention my desire to just point the bow to Cape Town. A lot of arguments ensued with both sides of the argument being vigorously debated by me, and all of which I won handily. I’ve learned that when frustrations arise, it usually means I’m either tired, hungry or in need of a break in the routine. Last night, I did my best to shut down my thoughts and I spent the night napping in my standard 15-20 minute intervals. I didn’t even try to do any writing, reading or other work, just tried to relax and rest … and this morning, I felt a lot better and pretty refreshed!

Today, Saturday … has been a good day and I’ve only a couple of hours left until sunset. These middle of the day hours, it’s necessary to get out of the cockpit and out of the sun. The cockpit is just too hot, because the sun is behind the boat and the cockpit coverings block the breeze. I generally spend a few hours below doing some work, thinking, napping, reading or writing.

Today has included a bit of everything, not to mention coaxing the wind to increase some, so I don’t have to change sails! If I were racing, I’d be changing sails without question, but today, the sail options all fell into the “overlapping” part of the chart, meaning I could go with any of three different sails. However, if the wind lets up even a knot or two, I really should have the spinnaker up, but if it increases a knot or two, jib and main would be best. I was feeling like I wanted a day off, and as it was almost Sunday, I did my best to talk the wind up a few knots which meant we stayed with what we had up.

Having wiggled my way out of that chore, I did add some water to the ballast tanks to help offset the wind. There are two ballast tanks on each side of the boat – the bigger one is 480 liters and the smaller one 270 liters, which makes for 750 liters total on each side. This ballast water weight makes the boat more stable and faster, and helps balance out the boat against the force of wind in the sails. At capacity then, the weight is roughly equivalent to having 10 guys sitting on the rail.

As I write this, I’m now sailing at about 9 knots which should translate into about 225 miles for the day, which is just what I need to make that waypoint by Monday and still stay ahead of the front! Typically, the winds ease up about sunset, and then come back a couple of hours later. Maybe I’ll have an easy night of it and not have to work so hard. If so, think I’ll go out for a movie and a pizza! (LOL!)

So, on we go…. sailing through the South Atlantic on our way to the southern tip of Africa!

- Dave, Bodacious Dream and the especially convivial Franklin
26.92078W, 29.67041S

Sunshine and Squealing Winds

Following our slow trek south, once we found the trade winds last Saturday, life took quite the dramatic turn. From days of frustration with slow going, we were suddenly thrown into days (and nights) of constant squalls and struggling with the heaving waves, quick wind changes, steady pounding as well as the squealing sounds and lack of sleep that accompany them.
November 1, 2013
A moment of “relative” calm … 44.8432W, 20.3332N

Last night, Thursday, was a night of incessant squalls, during which an analogy for them jumped into my mind. Imagine crossing a 6-lane expressway where there are a lot of bigger trucks mixed in with the cars. So, the trade winds are similar in that there are lanes of clouds (cars) right next to lanes with squalls (trucks.) And since I can’t run fast enough to go between them without getting hit, I just keep getting run over by the squalls – again and again.

Sea DragonNow that I think of it though, if this were a thousand years ago, and there were no expressway analogies, I can totally see how sea dragons would be a logical alternative. In fact, I’m finding it’s kind of hard NOT to personify the weather … especially when there’s no one else on board with whom I can commiserate.
Typically on a regular night, by midnight, the squalls have calmed down, and we only see a couple more before dawn … but last night, they never stopped. From the time the sun set, to well after dawn, they just kept coming … so, with my first mate, “Otto” auto-piloting the boat, I ran around making adjustments to the lines, as we ploughed our way through the chaos of increasing wind speeds, sudden shifts in wind direction and the constant and crazy waves.At present, we are less than 400 miles from our waypoint, which is where we will cross into  the 100-mile band of sea known as the “doldrums” (again, that’s the low-pressure area around the equator where the prevailing winds are almost always calm.) In joking with the weather gurus over at Commander’s Weather, they are assuring me that by Saturday, I’ll be complaining about not enough wind. So, it’s always something, isn’t it?
November 2, 2013Where in the Wide World We are … 37.96625W, 11.67275N

As all this action has pretty much consumed my day and nights, I haven’t seen or done much else. You can bet the local sea life knows where to go when weather’s like this. For us, with no shelter and about as far from an Irish pub as one could be, we must proceed with our regular but now increasingly difficult-to-perform tasks. Especially challenging is boiling water and pouring it into the freeze-dried dinner pouch at night; lately this is being done with great care I can assure you.candy wrappersDuring one of the bigger squalls last night, a big wind shift caused the bucket of seawater that contained my little citizen-scientist project of decomposing aluminum foil from the candy wrapper to tip over. But I can say, at this point, 50% of the foil was still intact with the balance broken into smaller pieces. In time, I suspect it would all disappear. How long? Not sure.

I’ll finish with something from the “too-beautiful-to believe” file. On Wednesday night, the winds dropped into the high teens, which made for more comfortable conditions. As I sat there in my spot in the cockpit, looking aft (backwards) out of the boat, I saw the first of what turned into a flurry of shooting stars. I was blessed with many more that night – several dozens of stars fell across the night sky. If I remember correctly, this is the time of year for the Leonid meteor shower - and I guess I had the perfect seat for it. I remember late in our sailing season back home (in Indiana,) some of the older sailors trying to get me to go out on the lake and watch the Leonid shower. I never went, thinking how cold it would be. Now I can see why they went, and why I was silly not to as well.

OK, that’s about all I can think of right now, except that it sure smells like an old sailor lives onboard this boat!

– Dave and Bodacious Dream
37.96625W, 11.67275N