Day 152, 13,334 miles
Don Backe used to be the head of a school until one day (25 years ago) he got into a bad car accident and became paralyzed. They didn’t have the jaws of life back then so it took several hours to get him out of his vehicle. In the mean time his spine was swelling. He could see the rescue helicopter sitting there but he was stuck. Most people including myself would have a very hard time being paralyzed but Don has a level of optimism that few people have. He was able to move on with his life without being depressed and saying “woe is me”. (His troubles are far from over he has been bed-ridden for the last 28 weeks and is just now getting better.) After the accident he got together with another guy and started C.R.A.B. You see the thing is, anyone of us could become disabled. Thats why I think C.R.A.B is a good origination – you’re not promised tomorrow, sometimes life can be incredibly hard especially if your dealing with a debilitating disability. An organization like C.R.A.B can make a big difference to those who are dealing with extra ordinarily tough situations.
I entered the East Northeast trades, which blew hard enough to keep me down to my second reef point for six days. It was a bit annoying having 6-8 foot seas hitting St Brendan’s beam, over and over, day after day. I have such low freeboard that my deck was awash the entire time. Shes a wet ride! You should hear the sounds this boat makes. It cracks and creaks, moans and groans like an old pirate ship. The Vikings used to say a boat should flex for speed. Well this boat flexes alright. The fiberglass is always flexing under the pressure of the sea but the wood inside doesn’t like to flex so it complains all the time. This is nothing new, it’s been like this since I left the Chesapeake bay. I’ve never sailed such a loaded boat. I couldn’t even think about fishing in the easterlies. Unfortunately things are going to get worse before they get better. I made it through the intercontinental convergence zone. Its a strange place full of thunderstorms and lightning. One moment you have strong easterlies then out of nowhere the wind changes to southerlies, then northerlies, then some other crazy direction. Lots of micro bursts. When the storms leave your left becalmed. The cool thing was that you could see every different type of cloud mixed all together. It looked unreal. Now I’ve entered the SE trades, and you can see the dilemma. I’m trying to go SE and these trade winds are running me off course and may continue to do so for the next 1,000 miles. I’m getting pushed west and the only thing I can do is try to do is make up for it when I get into the westerlies. As I get further south the winds should become more east, but I’ll still be close hauled. This means that I have to beat into the wind and waves for a long, long time, which is terribly uncomfortable and hard on the boat. It has also become quite hot. I sweat all the time, in my sleep, while I read, you should see me after I have pumped the water maker for a half hour. I’m soaked. The last couple of days have been absolutely aggravating. I sailed into an area with a 3kt northerly current and then the wind died. My engine is reliable but not powerful. I only go 3kts at sea so I’ve had a very hard time getting south, although I’ve managed to go every other direction. I even motored backwards while heading south at one point. I can’t believe such a strong current could be found out here in the middle of no where! I’m still battling the current as I write but its starting to ease up a bit. I just wish the wind would come back and help me out. I only made it 16 miles south yesterday.
My sat phone email finally died. It’s been slowly getting worse since the Arctic. This means I’ve now lost communication with the outside world … for the most part. I sent this email through my Predict Wind satellite communicator so I still have some communication. The problem is this system doesn’t shrink the files like that sat phone email did so it costs more money. At the same time its pretty cool that I can send an email from my weather forecasting device. This also means I can no longer see the comments you post on the web site. It’s too bad, those comments made me feel less lonely. Keep posting your comments, I’ll read them when I get back and finally see my web site for the first time in its full glory. I can no longer post pictures on the web site, I’ll post them when I get back. The bail on my boom also ripped off (it was riveted). I tried to bend it back and through bolt it but I couldn’t bend it. I rigged a new bail with some Amsteel line. I just have to watch for chafe. It was the boom vang bail not the mainsheet bail. Also all four solar panels have died. Three of the panels are the roll up kind (solar film). They started to rot early in the trip. I’m sure some company makes good solar film panels, unfortunately the company that made mine must be run by a team of inbred jackabites. I thought my one hard panel would last but it died a couple weeks ago, I have no idea why. It’s a shame, you can get good power from solar panels. That leaves me with just my old wind generator, my alternator and my silly little human powered generator. Oh well, no use crying over spilled milk. My new tiller pilot also bit the dust. It had an engineering flaw. Whenever the arm was all the way out or all the way in it kept trying to go instead of automatically stopping. So over time it chewed up its own gears. I really can’t believe that the designers could look past such a crucial flaw. But whatever, its dead.
It’s true, the great age of exploration has been over for some time. This last March 29th marked 100 years since the deaths of Scott, Wilson, and Bowers (Oates and Evens dead shortly before). There are no new undiscovered lands, and nearly unlimited information can be found on a computer just a few clicks away. But there is still so much to learn. I consider myself a bit of an explorer. I’ve spent the last ten years either saving money for trips, planning trips or doing trips all over the world. Its not a paid profession – being an explorer is a form of financial suicide. You can only do it for the education. Even after every single thing on this planet has been cataloged, there is still so much a person can learn about themselves. We should never stop exploring, for exploration is the physical expression of intellectual passion. (A C-G)