Monday, December 27, 2010

Between the Oceans

Hi everyone,

Just got back to Shelter Bay (the marina at Colon, the Atlantic side) after my first trip through the Canal crewing on another boat. I went through on Christmas Eve/Christmas Day and it was a very different way to spend the holidays for sure. I'll tell the full story after I take Carmen Sandiego through, but what I will say now is that the canal is one hell of a ditch and I don't envy those who dug it out!!

I'm scheduled to go through on the 28th or 29th, so I'm quite excited to be headed for my home ocean.

Hope you all had an amazing Christmas and Happy New Year!

Cheers,

Ryan

Monday, December 20, 2010

The Forbidden Island and on to Panama

It's been a long time since my last report from Georgetown as I've spent quite a long time away from access to internet. I'll try and fill you in on what's happened since.

After a few days in Georgetown I headed south again, this my next planned stop being Great Inagua island 250 or so miles to the Southeast. My plan was to go through a small cut between Little Exuma Island and Hog Cay, where I could find my way through the reefs and thus avoid an extra 150 miles of upwind sailing to get around the shallows.

I anchored at right at the cut, waited for high tide and made my way through and then on along the shallows for the next 20 miles. Throughout my time sailing in the Bahamas, I could never get used to the shallow water, sometimes only having a foot or so under the keel. That and the upwind sailing made for quite a trip. I later learned that most boats avoid going that way through the Bahamas this time of year due to the wind and that this year was exceptionally bad. One friend in Georgetown told me that this weather was worse than some of the tropical storms he had waited out before!

Finally, the wind came around and I was able to sail much more comfortably, if a bit slow, toward Inagua. When I got there, after three days at sea, I found the anchorage to be no good with the Northerly winds and regrettably had to sail on. It was a bit of a shame because I had heard that the Island had thousands of Flamingos which I would have loved to see and I always like exploring remote islands.

I sailed past the Island and set course for Santiago de Cuba. The windvane had lost a nut which was important to keep it together and the pulpit had pulled out of it's base so I had to stop somewhere to make repairs. Besides, it was a good excuse to explore Cuba, a place I had always wanted to visit.

It was a nice two day trip and before I knew it I was entering Santiago Bay. On the way I sailed way to close to Guantanamo Bay and had a US military plane sweep low over me five times or so. No doubt they were keeping a close eye on me on their radar screens, but fortunately I wasn't boarded. It seems I cannot sail out of Port Angeles harbor without the border patrol searching my boat and yet I sailed right past Guantanamo Bay without being stopped!

I sailed past the fort at the entrance to Santiago Bay and made my way toward the marina. Just then, the outboard motor, which had been working beautifully on the whole trip so far decided to quit. I was forced to sail into an unknown harbor with no charts and a light wind directly against me. It took me ages to get in (with all the yachties in the marina watching) and then I had to deal with the entry procedures, which took several hours.

I had learned that funding had been cut for prosecuting Americans who visit Cuba and that Cubans were actually quite welcoming for Americans. In any case I had to stop for repairs and there were few options between myself and Panama. In the end I am quite glad I made the decision to stop in Cuba, as there were no problems with me being an American.

Cuba is a country that is somehow both incredibly poor and prosperous at the same time. In Cuba I saw shiny new European cars pass goat herders on the side of the road. I met people who had no money for food or shelter or education, but could somehow find enough for a crazy party at the club in the city. Cuba was a whirlwind of activity, a beautiful and tragic country whose people are incredibly kind.

The other sailors at the marina from Finland and Germany and Spain were all very nice. My friend Jukka on the Finish boat bought me fresh fruit and gave me a big bag of Cuban biscuit that looks and tastes much like hardtack. It was good because my cooking skills are very limited, and the boat's provisions consisted of mainly four things: pasta, oatmeal, spinach and small cans of mackerel in tomato paste. On the next leg of the journey a wave was to ruin most of my other provisions and I had no money to buy more save for a bottle of good, cheap Cuban rum which you can get for about $3 a bottle.

My main problem in Cuba was that I couldn't get my Bahamian money exchanged and American credit cards don't work but I had to somehow pay the marina. I didn't have to worry about starving because my new friends fed me in their homes, usually rice and fish or plantains. In the end, my parents were able to wire some money through, not an easy thing to do and it took a lot of work on their part, of which I am very grateful. I liked Cuba, but didn't relish the thought of being stuck there forever.

After five days I had made the repairs and had paid the marina. It was time to continue on toward Panama. I had hoped to make the passage in 6 days or so, but the weather had other plans. At first I was becalmed in light winds and when the wind did come, there was too much of it. We were hit by a 30 knot front, which isn't so bad except the waves were coming from two directions and created an messy sea which threw the boat about as if in a washing machine.

At one point we were caught broadside by a wave and we had a partial knockdown. Everything in the cabin went flying and a huge amount of sea water poured into the cabin, soaking everything. It took ages to get the boat under control, pump out the bilges, and clean up the cabin again which looked like a bomb had gone off. Then it took a few days of good weather to dry everything out. It was quite annoying because the wind was only 30 knots, but the seas got pretty confused. They seemed to think that there was a lot more wind!

After that blew through we had more light winds and lots of slow sailing. I was quite glad we had the AIS aboard as there were ships all over the place and I had to sleep sometime, if only in 15 minute intervals. The AIS would tell ships my location and alerted me when ships were nearby, a great help to the solo sailor.

Entering Colon at night was a total nightmare. I knew it is usually unwise to enter an unusual port at night, especially when the port is one of the most busy in the world, but I thought it would be even more dangerous to spend the night drifting around when there were dozens of ships about in every direction. In the end I found the anchorage and in the morning moved over to the marina. Now I'm getting ready for the trip through the canal...

Fair Winds,

Ryan

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Exumas

Hi Everyone,

I'm now tied up at Georgetown getting ready to head south in the morning. Everyone told me that the Exuma Islands could not be beat when it comes to friendly people and exploring and they were very right. The waters were just as clear as in the tourist brochures and the islands were perfect for walking on the trails and tramping around the brush.

All the locals ashore were friendly and helpful and so too were the yachites on all the boats. It was a good thing because many boats got into trouble with the rough headwinds and shallow waters.

Being from Washington State, I'm used to being able to sail in deep water relatively close to shore and to be able to run off to deeper water when the weather becomes unsafe. Here the depth is often just a few feet under your keel and you have to be wary of reefs even when miles offshore.

The Southeast Winds, coming from right in the direction I'm heading, made it slow going. At times, the combination of short, steep seas and maze of reefs made it so progress was nearly impossible and I ended up waiting for better conditions rather than slowly tacking my way among reefs.

Now I'm on my way to Panama via a few more islands en route.

Here's a few pictures of sailing in the Exumas:















Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Sailing Caribbean

I flew down to Grand Bahama, an island just across the Gulf Stream from Florida and got to the Contessa after about 26 hours of flying and airports. The Bahamian customs were convinced that I was going to move here forever since I had no return ticket and made me buy a ticket back to the states...oh the joys of bureaucracy.

I'm now in the Exuma Islands slowly working my way south toward the Windward Passage between Cuba and Haiti where I will be able to sail straight 700 miles or so to Panama. The sailing here is hard work because the prevailing winds are right on the nose and all the shallows, but it is made up for with the beautiful anchorages and crystal clear water.

Sailing a Contessa 26 is great because although quite small she handles like a proper ship. She isn't particularly fast or roomy, but you feel that she could take a real blow in safety.

I'm at a tiny island right now, but when I get to Georgetown will send a longer post and some pictures.

Cheers,

Ryan

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

next adventure

Hey everybody,

I'm off this Friday to the Caribbean to deliver a Contessa 26 from the Bahamas to Panama and on through the Canal. As many of you know, the Contessa 26 is the design that was chosen by Tania Aebi and Brian Caldwell for their solo round the world voyages. It is the smaller version of the Contessa 32 that I considered for the longest time to use for my own circumnavigation. In any case I am very much in love with the design and excited to be making a solo passage on one.

This boat is owned by none other than Jesse Martin, who was the youngest to sail nonstop, unassisted around the world in 1999. I will be flying to a small island in the northern Bahamas where the boat is and sailing east around Cuba to Panama. I'm definitely looking forward to going through the canal, something I've dreamt of my entire life.

In any case, I'll be sure to keep you all posted on my progress. Here's a diagram of the boat.



Cheers,

Ryan

Monday, November 1, 2010

Passage Complete

We just got in on Friday from the latest crossing from Oahu to Los Angeles with BJ Caldwell and his partner Linda. The trip was 26 days, longer than the other crossings I have made on this route but perfectly respectable time considering how late it was in the season.

We almost didn't begin the crossing. The boat (a Columbia 50) had spent far too much time sitting at the dock and therefor needed a lot of work done to get her ready for the open ocean, as we soon discovered during sea trials. Among other things, the entire 100 gallon fuel tank had to be removed and replaced with another custom tank.

By the end of September, the weather was already starting to change, with hurricane force lows passing through the North Pacific and we decided it would be best to delay the voyage until next spring, unless an exceptional weather window opened up. On October 1st I flew back to Washington, convinced that the trip would be put off until next spring. We had grown so tired of life at the marina that Linda and I promised each other we would never return as long as we lived.

Two days later I got a call from Brian telling me to come back to Hawaii right away. A prefect weather window had opened up and they were ready to go, and so I immediately booked a flight back to Hawaii. So much for never coming back!

Soon after leaving we hit our first of the bumpy weather. It wasn't really bad, just rough enough to make it uncomfortable and for a good amount of water to come over the deck. This quickly exposed one of the most annoying problems on the voyage---the leaks.

Almost all boats leak to some extent when at sea, just some more so than others. This boat wasn't too bad except that the leaks were located in some of the worst possible locations. The worst one on the boat was naturally located above my bunk and so for a large percentage of the passage I had a wet and soggy bunk. One of the few things you can usually look forward to after a long cold night watch is a warm, dry bunk, but it wasn't to be...

For the first week we made good progress in the right direction. Typically, when sailing from Hawaii to the mainland, you head due north for the first week or so to get up above 40 degrees north for favorable winds to take you east. This late in the season, however, we knew we would have to stay far to the south to avoid the hurricane force storms that were happily plowing their way across the North Pacific. The risk we were taking by sailing south was that we would encounter easterly headwinds that would be impossible to make progress against on this boat.

A week into the crossing, just that happened. For the next six days we either had winds coming from exactly the wrong direction or no wind at all. As you can imagine, we made little progress in the east and ended up using the motor a fair bit. We had loads of fuel aboard so this was no problem.

The amount of floating garbage in the area was truly depressing. On my two previous crossings on this route, I hadn't encountered much garbage so we had thought the reports of floating islands of the stuff towering into the sky mid pacific to be a little bit exaggerated. What we saw wasn't islands of it, but it was still far, far too much to be out there in our once pristine oceans. You would pass a garbage bag and then a floating bucket and then a bottle...on and on. We sailed through a sea of garbage for over a week.

Over the course of three days we had six fishing nets wrap themselves around the propeller, which of course we had to cut free. One of them was so huge that it took half a day to free. Brian dove under the boat and cut it holding his breath, nothing less than a heroic effort in the cold water.

Two hundred miles from the coast, I popped my head out the hatch to look for ships when an owl looked right back at me! It certainly wasn't what I expected to see this far offshore. Land birds often get blown out to sea, but I had never seen anything like an owl out here before. He spent the day resting on the deck and then flew off when it got dark.

After 26 days we made it to LA where we went straight to grabbing some hot, cooked food. We hadn't had anything warm or cooked for 13 days because the propane system decided to call it quits. All in all, it was quite nice to get in and enjoy the comforts of shore.

Now I'm working out the details for a trip from Florida to Panama and on through the canal.

Cheers,

Ryan

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Big Island

We just got back from three days checking out the Big Island of Hawaii while we wait for the fuel tanks to be welded together and installed. The visit was way too short but it was good to check out another island and get away for a few days. We drove all around the island and saw a lot of really neat sights. I had hoped to walk up Mauna Kea, which happens to be the highest mountain in the world from base to summit, but we didn't have enough time.

We stayed at Honoka'a, which is a really neat little town on the northeast side of the island. The entire coastline from Hilo to Honoka'a was quite lush and beautiful and the people quite friendly. Waipi'o Valley was quite spectacular, a green valley that was the very first place that Polynesians came to Hawaii. All kinds of tropical fruit grew wild and the climate was prefect---not to hot at day and cool at night.

The best of the trip was when we went to the local pub and there happened to be some locals jamming at the pub. Linda mentioned that I played violin and soon a violin was pulled out for me to play. I spent the next few hours jamming with the locals and had a brilliant time. It is these spontanious expereinces that you can only get traveling. Here's a breif clip of us at the pub, not the best quality but a video nonetheless.


video

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Hawaii 2

We're finally almost ready to depart for San Diego. The problems with the boat have been more or less worked out and we're set to head out to sea again. While we were stuck here waiting for the boat parts to arrive, I've gotten work repairing boats and we've been out sailing as often as possible. In Hawaii I've met all kinds of amazing people and have had loads of time to catch up with Brian Caldwell and his family.

It's interesting how things turn out, I flew to Kauai three weeks ago to sail across the Pacific and found myself fully employed three days later on Oahu! We're spending aa few days checking out the Big Island and then will make the final preparations to leave. Here's a few pics from Hawaii.









Monday, August 30, 2010

Hawaii Delivery

I'm in Hawaii right now getting ready to sail a Columbia 50 from here to San Diego. I flew in to Kauai a week ago, with plans to sail straight from there to California. Unfortunately, as we left Hanalei Bay on the north end of the island, the fuel tank began leaking. This was quite the problem as we would soon have 100 gallons of fuel in the bilge and no diesel to power the navigation.

So, as it is, we sailed into Oahu and pulled the tank. A new one is being built and we will head out sometime soon. It looks to be quite a great delivery, and a great way to continue training for the round the world voyage.

Cheers,

Ryan

Friday, June 25, 2010

sailing to seattle and sailing disasters

I just got in from some good sailing between Port Angeles and Seattle. One of my friends needed to get to Seattle for recording a demo, so it was a good excuse to get some sailing in. It was a good trip and I got to spend some good time with mates in Seattle and Bainbridge.

One of the more interesting moments of the trip was an incident that happened when we were tied to a buoy off Fort Warden. We had encountered light headwinds all the way from Port Angeles to Fort Warden and decided to spend the night there before continuing in the morning to Seattle. I tied the boat up, made sure she was secure and headed ashore to wander around Port Townsend for a while. We did a little busking in PT, my friend on the guitar and me on the violin and headed back to Fort Warden to check on the boat and have a campfire.

When I got back to where I was within sight of the boat I didn't like what I saw at all. The stern was way up out of the water and the bow sinking. My immediate reaction was that the boat was sinking and I raced to the dock and rowed to the boat in record speed. It would have been quite clear if we had hit a reef or submerged object on the way to Port Townsend, so I thought that perhaps one of the thru hull fittings had failed, a common cause of leaking for a boat.

Fortunately, the boat was not sinking at all, but was being pulled into the water by the buoy. Whoever set the buoys at Fort Warden apparently had never heard of tides, for the rode was several feet too short when the tide came in and the boat's bow was consequently pulled into the water. It was easily fixed, but the incident certainly got my adrenaline pumping for a while.

The following day I sailed to Bainbridge Island, and the rest of the trip passed with few other problems, except that I missed the last ferry back from Seattle and had to spend a very long and cold night wandering the streets until the first ferry back in the morning.

Many people have been asking my opinion on the Abby Sunderland disaster, and I will take the time to say a few words on the matter. Abby obviously made it half way around the world on her own, and became the youngest person to sail around Cape horn, quite an amazing feat. Her family had much experience with the ocean, and Abby had been dreaming of this voyage for several years.

That said, there were certain decisions made by Abby and her family that played no small part in her dismasting. Her choice of an open 40 was certainly part of it. While open class boats were designed for solo sailing in extreme conditions, they are almost always sailed by the top sailors of the day, experienced adventurers who have often logged numerous circumnavigations. Even when piloted by such experienced sailors, open class boats are prone to spectacular wipe-outs, often resulting in dismastings or worse. It was quite clear that when Abby's family selected a boat for her to claim the record, they sacrificed strength for speed.

Abby's decision to sail across the southern ocean in the middle of winter was clearly made for the sake of claiming the age record. The Vendee Globe sailors, the best in the world, are leaving the southern ocean in January, around the time Abby departed California. Sailing in the southern ocean in June is almost unheard of. Of course, you can't sail through the Indian Ocean without encountering a storm, but sailing in winter means more of them of a far more dangerous intensity.

The disaster has induced a very negative outlook on young adventurers, and it is quite likely that the sponsorship outlook for other young sailors will not be bright for some time. There is much more that could be said on the matter, but ultimately Abby is safe and that is what is important.

On a lighter note, I'm off in early July on another crossing from Hawaii to California with Brian Caldwell, this time on a Columbia 50. I am looking forward to a third crossing with him, the first person to circumnavigate under 21.

Cheers,

Ryan

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

The Latest

Hello Everybody,

It's been way too long since my last post but lots has been happening. I've been talking to some great companies about sponsorship and I hope to move on to the next stage of preparations for the voyage soon. The latest I would want to leave for a nonstop circumnavigation is October, so we've got a lot of work to do!

I've logged some very exciting winter and spring sailing this year (great training for the southern ocean) and am looking forward to the coming warmer days for less stormy training. It's good to get wet and cold every now and then but the real enjoyment is when the sun comes back out again before the next bout of rough weather.

Congratulations to Jessica Watson on the completion of her remarkable journey! Her voyage was quite the incredible accomplishment and I bet she is quite happy to be enjoying the high living ashore.

I've got to go for now but will be sure to type a longer post of what I've been up to soon.

Fair Winds,

Ryan

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

The Rest of the Story

While the storm was an exciting and terrifying experience, it was also great training for the less than benign parts of the ocean where I am heading, and if anything is certain, there will be more where that came from.

Some people seem to think that I will be using my parents boat for the voyage. Having experienced what it is like going to windward in her for a few hours, I would like to avoid knowing what it would be like for nine months. She is a great boat, but I will just be using her for training and will stick with the Swan 38 for the world voyage.

So, I told you about the storm, but haven't yet told the rest of the story. Here it is:

I left Tsehum Harbor at 7AM two days after the storm and pointed the bow north. It was a gray day, but that didn't matter as we were heading toward freedom. It's incredible how after a blow, the usual depressing gray and cold that we like to complain about doesn't seem that bad at all! The wind was extremely light so we motor sailed north. While making repairs we had bought a new anchor and I tried it out while still in the harbor. Everything seemed to be working well, which was almost a surprise after the wear from the storm.

That night we tied to one of the mooring buoys at Montague Harbor and I enjoyed the change from the last time I was there when there were countless boats all fighting for space. Now there were only two other boats and I had a good romp ashore, exploring the woods and roads around the anchorage.

The next day I untied from the buoy and continued the run north. For the next several days we traveled during the day and anchored at a secure anchorage during the night. In this way we made our way steadily north. A few days out of Tsehum Harbor the propane ran out so we were back to the expedition diet of cold soup out of the can. It was all too familiar from other sailing trips. I took loads of food but most of it required cooking and thus couldn't be eaten without a working stove.

Since most of us don't really enjoy the delicacy of cold soup, I would sometimes row ashore and build a fire to heat up the food. I could get one going pretty quick from my time in the woods and mountains. It would often be quite beautiful beside the anchorage under the stars away from the pollution of civilization and I would bundle up against the cold and stay up late by the fire before rowing back to the boat.

One night, in the Thormandy Islands, I had a beautiful evening just like described and put out the fire to row back to the boat. While launching the rowboat, my hand brushed up against a jellyfish, which just happened to be of the stinging variety. I wasn't that worried since they aren't that dangerous up here and it didn't hurt that bad just yet. Rowing back to the boat, I was marveling at the calm night and most beautiful phosphorescence in the water when I heard a bizarre sound coming from the water. With images of some sea monster from the depths, I rowed a bit faster to get back to the safety of the boat. The creature, whatever it was, made the same sound again, except louder and closer just as I clambered aboard the boat. I had just escaped the creature and heard nothing more from whatever it was.

The next morning I discovered our friend from the night before to be a seal, and he wasn't to let us depart without leaving his mark. The seal had kindly vomited all over the dinghy, with blood and scales and fish fins all over the place. I had put off cleaning it that morning and regretted that decision because after a day of sun, the vomit had baked onto the surface of the dinghy and it was all the more dreadful to clean up.

The sail south through the Strait of Georgia was a lively run with a strong wind dead behind and we roared downwind at 7 to 8 knots. That may not seem that fast, but believe me for this boat, it is. The waves were big enough that I had to worry about the boat broaching so I hand steered to keep the stern to the waves and we had a wild ride. The coast mountains of Canada were quite visible as it was a clear day and we made good time back south.

On the last day of the trip, my hands that were stung by the jellyfish swelled up and were complete agony for a few hours. It was quite difficult to handle the sails and lines but eventually the swelling subsided and I spent some time cleaning up the boat. I was boarded by the border patrol as we neared home (they always seem to be convinced I am a drug smuggler) and finally docked and dealt with the nonsense of customs and all that bureaucracy that seems so out of place after a while alone at sea.

So in the end we survived a force ten storm, jellyfish stings, cold soup and perhaps the worst of all seal vomit, all the while having a brilliant time! I cant wait to get out there again.

Cheers,

Ryan

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Wet Voyages

Many sailors in the Pacific Northwest, having experienced one of the mildest winters in recent memory had assumed that perhaps this April would offer an early start to the relatively warm, leisurely cruising days of summer. As often is the case when you insult the weather gods with such a ridiculous notion, they decided to seek revenge. And out there amongst the intricate waterways of the inside passage was a small sailboat and teenage sailor that provided the prefect target for their frustrations.

When I headed out of my home port, bound for Desolation Sound, I had done enough sailing to expect some challenging weather this time of year, and had even wished for a gale or two for a little excitement and for a bit of a change from the fickle winds I had been dealing with on recent sailing excursions. But when you are on the ocean you must be careful what you wish for. Just two days out of Port Angeles, I found myself in the middle of the worst storm to hit this part of the coast in thirteen years.

The trip had started quite well. I had left the marina early that morning and headed out with a beautiful sunrise and calm seas. There was too little wind to sail so I motored across the Strait of Juan de Fuca and up Haro Strait between San Juan Island and Vancouver Island to Sidney. There I cleared customs into Canada and motored a couple miles across the bay to the anchorage at Sidney Spit. I knew we were in for a bit of a blow but I was in an adventurous spirit and didn't know at the time just how bad things would get.

The boat I was sailing was my parent's Truant 33, a good solid boat for these waters with the exception of two things. First, her pilothouse, which is quite nice most of the time to get out of the nasty weather, but with it's large windows exposes a weak area for bad seas to smash into. And secondly, her tendency to roll in rough water or with a large following sea. It's not usually dangerous, mind you, but in a real nasty blow can make for quite a wild ride.

That evening, the weather was calm and there was little sign of the advancing tempest. But it was April Fools Day, and the joke was on me. It was the calm before the storm. Soon the barometer made a steep drop and the weather rapidly picked up to gale force. By 3AM I was permanently out of bed to make sure the boat was not washed onto the beach.

All that day, I was constantly working to ensure the boat did not drag anchor and get bashed apart on the beach. As the wind and waves increased, the strain on the anchor and chain became incomprehensible. They always say to keep the strain off the windlass which I did with a short line with a hook on the end. This line exploded because of the strain and all the pressure was on the windlass. Without the line holding the chain in place, all 250 feet of it pulled out and jerked with a sickening jolt on the end of the anchor chain, which had a big ring on it to keep from pulling out.

By this point we had drug anchor quite some distance and were far too close to the beach. I had to motor full on against the wind and waves just to keep as much pressure off the anchor chain as possible. Eventually, when the chain came off the windlass and was pulling all across the deck it caused damage to the teak toerail and bending the bow pulpit. The wind had made it impossible to hear almost anything and I was using the ski goggles I brought to be able to see at all into the wind.

Later, just to make things worse, it began snowing. I don't know the strength of the wind because the anemometer broke, but it was really bloody strong. The seas made life uncomfortable but since we weren't offshore they didn't have the opportunity to grow to dangerous heights. And so it continued for the rest of the day and well into the night.

After the storm was over and we were safely docked in Tsehum Harbor I realized I was safe from the storm but was now in equal danger from my parents probable reaction to the storm damage to the boat! The anchor, a hefty plough style anchor, had so much strain from pulling against the storm that it had bent! There was the damage from the anchor chain that had scratched gel coat and done considerable damage to the woodwork near the bow. A stanchion holding up the lifelines had also broken from the seas. Fortunately, my parents were glad that I was alright and my father and little brother came up for two days to help with repairs. I am very grateful for this timely assistance. I was just glad I wasn't the poor bugger who's boat plowed through 10 megayachts before crashing into some millionaire's beach-side resort!(I'm only partly kidding.)

The very first thing I saw the morning after the storm was the bow of a sunk boat being towed by a tug out of the harbor.

In the end, dozens of boats were either sunk or beached in the storm and in places entire marinas were decimated. You could hardly use the radio because mayday's were going off all over the place and it was a miracle no one was hurt. After a few days of work on the boat, I shoved off and again pointed our bow north. But that's another story.

Here's a few pictures from the more enjoyable parts of the trip.










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Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Desolation Sound

Well I'm of in the next few days for some more solo sailing by taking the family boat (a Truant 33) up to Desolation Sound. I am quite tempted to sail beyond there but that depends on whether or not I will need to rush back for sponsorship commitments. Desolation sound is about halfway up the inside of Vancouver Island and is one of the most beautiful areas around to sail. In many ways it reminds me of my time up in Southeast Alaska with the mountains coming right down to the water. Here is a map and a few pics off the Internet to give you an idea what Desolation Sound looks like.

As always when sailing at 50 Degrees North in the spring, I should be in for some exciting conditions. The prevailing winds up the Strait of Georgia will be right on the nose, so the trip up there will likely be mostly upwind.

Fair winds,

Ryan





Monday, March 15, 2010

Sailing

Just got back from an orchestra competition in Oregon and am off sailing for a few days. Yes there will be plenty of sailing pictures that we are scrapping together I just wanted to get something up online.

I'm talking to some companies that are very interested in a serious partnership so I will let you all know what happens.

Cheers,

Ryan

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Pictures

Recently, I have had to use every bit of time I've got to work on the thousands of tasks involved with a round the world sailing campaign, and with so much to do and so little time it has made it quite easy to avoid certain tasks which are not at the top of the priority list. Over the past few days that has been completing the online work and getting some decent pictures taken, both of which I am now working on.

I have long been aware of the fact that to get the sponsorship necessary for the voyage I will have to sell my soul. After I was called by a major news station one of my mates warned me that before long I will find myself on some TV commercial holding up a tube of toothpaste and saying "That's why I use Crest", a dreadful thought to say the least. Thus far that hasn't been necessary, but we shall see what the future holds.

I always associated having my picture taken with corny school pictures or family portraits where you are seated on a stool in front of some fake background and must pretend to be happy in front of some dreadful machine. Just the thought still sends shivers down my spine. However, when you decide to sail around the world, it is only natural for people to want to know what you look like and I could avoid a proper photo shoot no longer.

I rugged up in the proper attire, keeping in mind that real men wear pink, and with some help we took about 5 million pictures from which we were able to select a few to put up on the site. I will attach a couple of them so you can take a look.

On one of my first big trips I traveled with my family throughout South America and was able to check out some incredible places like Macchu Picchu, Lake Titicaca, and Patagonia at the incredibly impressionable age of 11. It was on that trip that I got to travel to the "end of the world" and be within perhaps 100 miles of Cape Horn. What I'm getting at is that we traveled through parts of Chile that have been devastated by the earthquake and I can only imagine how terrible the circumstances must be down there. Although Chile is better off than many of the surrounding countries, it is still a whole lot worse off than many of us and they deserve any help we can give them. As always with this kind of situation, every bit helps. Here are a few ways you can help.

Save The Children -- Save The Children is sending an emergency assessment team to Chile, and is asking for contributions to its Children's Emergency Fund to aid these efforts.

World Vision -- The international development, relief and advocacy organization has already sent its first relief flight, from Bolivia, with supplies like tarps, blankets, plastic sheeting, and collapsible water containers for survivors. Support these efforts with earmarked gifts to families that need them.

AmeriCares -- Vice President of Emergency Response, Christoph Gorder, says AmeriCares is sending medical supplies and humanitarian aid to Chile. Make a direct contribution to AmeriCares' Chilean earthquake fund.

Habitat for Humanity -- Habitat for Humanity has a continual presence in Chile, where the group has constructed more than 1,300 homes. Habitat will be essential in reconstruction efforts, especially in hard-hit rural areas.

International Medical Corps -- IMC has a presence in dozens of countries around the globe, providing immediate medical care to those affected by natural disasters. Contribute to its emergency response fund.

ShelterBox -- International disaster relief agency ShelterBox has mobilized a team to bring aid to Concepcion, Chile's second largest city, which saw the worse damage.






Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Welcome to the New Blog

In this world there are two kinds of people: those who do well on tests and those who don't. Typically, I would be categorized with the latter group, so I am very pleased to announce I passed all four sections of the masters captains license test and am only a whole lot of paperwork and bureaucracy away from being an official captain.

For those of you wishing to follow in my footsteps in getting a captains license I would recommend quitting your job and social life and preparing yourself for weeks and months of study without letup. Now understand, I'm not complaining as much as trying to give you a picture as to how it really goes. There are four parts that you are tested on when you get your captains license: navigation, nav. general, rules of the road and deck general. Having sailed my entire life, most of this was long known info with the exception being the rules of the road.

The rules wouldn't be so bad except they are written in such a dry and uninteresting way that they are almost impossible to learn. For example, you must memorize dozens of light sequences in which you see red, green, yellow and white dots against a black background and know exactly what type of vessel that is, their size, and what they are doing.

I just told myself while memorizing all this stuff that it will help me immensely when I'm out there on the deep blue dodging ships. In the end I was convinced that I would not do well on the rules test, but must have known them better than I thought because by some bizarre twist of fate I managed to get 100%. Quite a pleasant surprise to say the least.

I have received an abundance of delightful emails explaining in vivid detail what my past blog was lacking, so you may be glad to know that establishing this blog is step one of moving to the new website/blog setup.

For those of you who have just started following my progress I will give you the cold hard facts. I am 17 years old and have dreamt of sailing solo around the world since I was six. The past three years have been spent preparing mentally, physically and financially (cough) for the ultimate expedition of circumnavigating nonstop against the prevailing winds and currents.

I live in Port Angeles, Washington and if all goes well plan on departing for the circumnavigation some time this summer from Port Townsend. My entire life has been spent sailing in the often challenging waters of the pacific northwest, and my offshore experience includes sailing both ways between California and Hawaii with the first person to circumnavigate under 21, Brian Caldwell. Of course, I am also getting my captains license and am training every day for the rigors of the voyage, and will sail thousands of solo miles before departure.

Sailing east to west nonstop around the globe is a much more challenging undertaking than the usual route because it means fighting for every mile against not only the most formidable body of water on the planet, the southern ocean, but the spin of the globe itself. It will be less pleasant because sailing to windward is harder on the boat and sailor. The route will also mean sailing a greater distance because you must tack back and forth when sailing upwind, thus often requiring 15 miles of sailing for every 10 miles made good. It is considered the most challenging solo voyage one can undertake and to date only five people have successfully completed the accomplishment. I can hardly wait.

Now if you will excuse me, there is sailing to be done.