May 152012
 

Well once again it’s been a bit since I’ve written. I definitely overestimated the amount of time, energy and internet access I would have during this voyage season. We’ve got about another three weeks to go before it ends. In the meantime, a little bit from my life:

These last two voyages were the most difficult for me, and I suppose it comes down to the intensity of the schedule, and my propensity for sea-sickness. The experience of sea-sickness just cannot be described in any decent way to anyone who has not been sea-sick. You can list the symptoms (headache, nausea, vertigo, lethargy, painful awareness of the impossibility of escape) but the sum is equal to more than its parts.

Some sunrise or sunset, somewhere...

Some sunrise or sunset, somewhere...these pretty sights help with the recovery process quite a bit.

My latest source of hope in the face of this brutal disease is the thought that I am not allergic to the sea as a whole, but maybe just to the Southern Ocean, or Windeward Bound, specifically. I’d experienced mild, passing nausea in the Pacific Ocean before coming to Tasmania, but I’d never been so constantly and severely sea-sick as I’ve been here. I refuse to believe it’s a permanent change…

But such an experience does lead a little adventurer like myself to ask some pretty confronting questions during those wee morning hour watches. What will I do if I never overcome my sea-sickness? What will I do with all of my dreams of world travel across oceans on sailboats? How stubborn am I really? Stubborn enough to live permanently in the world of dizzying, miserable, punishing sea-sickness?

The real answer, much as I hate to admit it, is no. I’ve lived a good portion of the last two months in that state, and I have finally reached my limit. My plan now is to tie up my commitments here in Tasmania, go home, get myself back on a schooner, and enjoy some coastal sailing for a little while.

Then, when I’m ready, I will get myself back out into the open ocean, and before giving up on blue water entirely, I will try one ocean crossing. If my brain and my inner ear don’t start playing nice after that, then I will just have to content myself with quiet and comfortable coastal sailing. Not the worst thing in the world, at least until I’ve had time to get antsy for travel, and forget just how awful it is to be sea-sick…

 

Apr 292012
 
Sunrise at sea

Sunrise at sea

I can’t believe it’s been two full months since our voyages began. This was a sunrise photo I took during the first one in February, so long ago! It was a fantastic trip with a group of adult MBA students from Deakin University in Melbourne. As part of their studies, they have to take a course called “Audacious Leadership” which they can complete either in a usual semester, or in a week on Windeward Bound. Here is an excerpt from my journal, same day this photo was taken.

Sunday February 26, 2012, Afternoon of day two

Four bunks packed into one cabin...not a bit of space wasted!

Four bunks packed into about a 6'x8' cabin. Mine is behind the red curtain at the top. Photo by Lauren Elliott.

The boat is rocking gently as I write this, tucked down below, all dark and quiet in my bunk. The bunk I got placed in this voyage is possible the smallest I’ve ever had. There is about a foot and a half of head room above where my butt sits. When I first saw it I groaned inside, but as I always say, humans are very adaptable. Already I’ve tied and stowed things here and there, enough to make it comfortable and feel like mine.

Last night my watch was on 4AM – 8AM. The sky was brilliant – the Milky Way stretched across as bright as I’ve ever seen it. No moon, so the dimmest stars seemed to twinkle brightly. Glowing globes that I can only guess were phosphorescent jelly fish bobbed by us in the night.

Sailing was nice but steering was challenging. We were almost directly down wind, and somehow no matter how slight my corrections were, the boat would veer off course. Eventually the watch officer turned the engine on and we took in all sail so that we could navigate around some reefs. There was a fair bit of wind, and even with the sails in, I was still struggling to stay on course, so I handed the wheel to Alex. It was good to see that he was finding it a bit challenging as well, but I also picked up some things watching how he steered and corrected.

Now we’re at anchor, taking a little rest before heading out into the Tasman Sea. We’ll be heading up the East Coast and perhaps even crossing Moitessier’s 1969 route past Tasmania! It’s exciting to be heading out into open ocean, but I also know the sea-sickness will be rough.  I’ll just have to toughen up, as they say…

Feb 162012
 

Maintenance has been such a busy time, I’ve been too busy and tired to do much writing. Thank god for the camera! It’s another bunch of photos today, and I promise soon I’ll explain all of the terms I’m using: mousing, foot-rope, flemish horse, parcel, serve, serving mallet, chafe gear, servicing. Until then, enjoy some more photos of one of yesterday’s projects: parceling and serving the lower topsail foot-rope.

Re-parceling and serving the port foot rope

Re-parceling and serving the port foot rope

Discarded denzo tape, used to parcel

Discarded denzo tape, used to parcel

Peeling away worn parceling and serving

Peeling away worn parceling and serving

The steel cable beneath our feet

The steel cable beneath our feet

David serving the parceled foot-rope

David serving the parceled foot-rope

The final product

The final product

Feb 112012
 

Had a nice surprise this morning…got a comment from someone who found my newly published article on www.Womenandcruising.com. It’s my first official published piece! And the comment I got was from a couple that writes a blog with a pretty similar concept to mine, except their experience is from volunteering on cruising boats (something that I hope is in my near future!). Their website is great as well: www.coastguardcouple.com. Check them out!

Today’s photos are from Iain…beautiful shots mostly taken during a daysail a couple of weeks ago. Thanks Iain!

Winde from shore

Crew aloft

Mt. Wellington

Mt. Wellington

Climbing the shroudsFull sailsShrouds

Feb 102012
 
Sarah begins to chisel away the slices of jib-boom

Sarah begins to chisel away the slices of jib-boom

Yesterday at around 5:00, after a nice full day of maintenance projects, our Captain, Sarah, walked aboard the ship with an air of purpose. She asked one crew-member to run an extension cord onto the fore-deck and another to bring her mallet. In one hand she carried a medium-sized bundle filled with chisels; the other held a circular saw. She headed for the jib-boom.

Not every sail-boat has a jib-boom. It’s a long spar on the bow that attaches to the bow-sprit (also found only on some rigs), whose purpose is to extend the length of the head-rig to allow for more sail area in the headsails. Our jib-boom is an enormous piece of timber with a small section of rot on its in-board end. I think Sarah has been eagerly awaiting the day when she could tear into that bit of rot to see how extensive it was. Yesterday was the day.

The crew gathers round to watchThe crew, all of us already engaged in little tasks, slowly and quietly put down our tools and projects, as if in a daze, and moved towards the foredeck as we realized what was about to happen. We’d all been eyeing the jib-boom for a while, and talking a little excitedly amongst ourselves about the impending project. We’d been waiting for this day too.

Without fanfare, hesitation or any visible pre-thought, Sarah pulled the trigger of that circular saw and pushed it across the upper half of the spar. Slice after slice she cut, delicately pulling back the guard with her perfectly manicured fingers to allow the blade to reach the wood, then plowing through it like it was nothing more than a stick of cold butter. I guess when you’ve thought about something long enough, once you finally start it, you just don’t need to think about it anymore.

After she put about a dozen parallel cuts into the “northern hemisphere” of the jib-boom around the rot, she took out the mallet and chisel and went to work. The whole crew stood by watching, mesmerized, and wishing we could take a whack at it too. Maybe at some point. On this boat, skills (and trust) are developed slowly and methodically, and getting to work on a project like this would be a privilege for any of us. For now, we’re content to gather round and watch a master at work.

Good wood is revealed...we won't have to replace the entire spar!

Good wood is revealed...we won't have to replace the entire spar!