Floating On

The full moon makes the sky a smokier version of day. It creates patches of reflections and shadows as the boat sways upon the waves.

I just received comments from “Surfing The Deep Blue Sea” thanks to all who posted.

Just wanted to clarify, I have already been at sea for 14 days and am 6 or 7 days away from Hawaii. I am running my anchor light at night and my batteries are almost fully charged via solar with all systems off.

I fully intend to work on the engine more once the seas have calmed and will most certainly use all navigational gear and running lights as I approach Hawaii. That is what I am saving my batteries for. If I can not get the engine, to work I will radio for assistance.

My friend Elana had an engine failure on her solo crossing to Hawaii and she was able to get someone to tow her into the anchorage. I am certain I will have the same good fortune, should it come down to that.

I do have a sextant onboard, should I need it. And I was blessed to learn how to take sun sightings from Tania Abbei, while sailing from NY to Bermuda with her many moons ago. (Tania was the first woman to circumnavigate solo, check out her book “Maiden Voyage”)

Someone posted that I should douse my main and sail with reefed jib only. In my opinion it is not advisable to sail under jib only unless you are in calm seas. “The main provides fore-and-aft support for the mast in rough seas,” according to John Rousmaniere’s Heavy Weather Sailing. He says if you need to reduce to one sail, loose everything but the main. That man has steered down 50 ft waves in 50 knots of breeze with pictures to prove it. I will continue to follow his advice ‘cause lord knows I’ve never seen anything like that.

I have two reefs in my main, my jib half-way furled and I am traveling nicely on a broad reach in this wind and swell.

I have made it this far and I’m not turning back. This engine can’t stop me. This boat was made for sailing.

This is not my first time at sea, nor my first time traveling with my boat, nor my first time in these conditions. This is just my first time alone at sea in these conditions.

When one is alone the same wind can feel more potent. The same sea state can feel ten times larger. The heart beats faster, the mind swirls, sounds amplify and ricochet, and it sometimes takes a day or two longer to find faith in ones own capabilities under the given circumstances.

As a human among the expansive blue space that surrounds me, I feel no bigger than a particle of dust.

I have purposefully put myself in a vulnerable position, to gain inner strength and confidence. Each word I write comes from that vulnerable state of being. I am out here a bleeding heart standing naked in the elements before an audience which I can not see.

I write honestly about my mistakes and fears. I have nothing to hide. My hope is that by speaking truthfully I will encourage others to set out towards dreams of their own.

Each day I wake up, I am as grateful as I can be that I’m alive and that my boat is still floating. Each night I pray that I will make it to the next day.

Tuesday night, the sea became particularly rough. I heard voices creep out of the ether that reminded me of a mental asylum. The wind screamed, the waves hit like hammers on the side of the hull, and the boat rose and fell in jostled thuds.

I awoke knowing that I needed to adjust the sails but was nervous to go out. I took a breath of yellow air, strapped myself in, and went to trim.

As I was returning to the cabin I saw white goop on top of the hatch. What fell out of the sea I wondered? I looked around to see where else it could have come from and above me, sitting on my instrument panel, was that very same bird that I wished would have landed in the cockpit a few nights prior.

The bird sat right there with me, from midnight until 5 am. Left one heck of a stinky mess behind, but it was worth it. The same bird flew back to visit me twice yesterday. I know it’s him by his groovy moves between the main and the jib. I finally got a good photo. Can anybody identify it? Sandy V. do you know?

Before departing San Diego my friend, Dr. Ramona, lead a beautiful prayer on the bow of Juniper. She asked God’s angels to protect me and then turned to me and said, “Don’t be surprised if you start to find feathers on your boat.”

I realized yesterday that these birds out here are the guardian angels that she prayed for. It’s why I see more of them than anything else at sea and also why they provide me with a great comfort. With them I am not alone.

I believe that our thoughts are powerful enough to create and destroy everything that surrounds us. That there is a force interweaving everything, not just humans to humans, but humans to everything else in the natural world. And if we believe wholeheartedly, without a doubt, that something will happen, then it will. This can work both in a positive sense and a negative sense.

Did that bird feel my need for it and come back at the very moment I needed it most? All I can say is that I had written only hours before that I wished it would have landed on the boat and then two nights later it landed on the boat! A bird landing anywhere near the cockpit seemed a little far-fetched, but as I wrote it, I had no doubt in my mind that it could potentially happen. And it did!

Another example of this came when I was backpacking through Alaska in the middle of July. My birthday was the following day and I said out loud, “I would like to see bears and snow.”

When you are in bear country you create a triangle of scent to confuse the bears. So you sleep in one point, cook in another, and store your food in another.

The next day, on the morning of my birth, I was eating breakfast on the hillside- which served as the cooking point of the triangle- and I watched from afar as a family of bears charged through my campsite leaving scratch marks on my backpack. A few hours later I hiked through snow and it was the only time in six weeks out there that I ever saw snow or bears.

Beyond creatures I have done this with cars, jobs, housing, you name it. I once had no money in my account but said, “I have a BMW.” Three weeks later a friend, who is a painter, called to say that someone just traded him a BMW for a painting and he asked if I wanted it. The car barely works, but hey I got it. I also realized that I forgot to say “I have a functioning BMW.”

There are cultural examples surrounding the power of believe as well. Among the aborigines in Australia it is believed that if someone waves a lizard bone in your face and recites a specific incantation you will drop dead. The cultural belief is so strong that people do drop immediately dead when it happens.

There is a belief in Nigeria, that a specific statement can make a mans penis fall off. And this is so firmly believed that even though the victim to the statement still has his special part, he can no longer see or feel it and is convinced that it has indeed disappeared. He will then run to a doctor seeking advice on getting it back. I read a great article about it by a western doctor who practices in Nigeria and has spent some time convincing men that they definitely still have all of their pieces and parts. It was in Harper’s Magazine a few years back.

Then what about the Placebo effect. A persons belief in the power of the pill has a greater effect than what is actually in the pill.

So if you want something, all you have to do is believe in it without a doubt and it is so. That is the magic of life.

I’m not saying you can summons a unicorn in a pixie forest, don’t get carried away.

It works in the reverse too. If you spend too much time worrying about what could go wrong. You will create that wrong.

I worried a lot about my engine the first week. Kept thinking it was going to fail me. And it did.

I also think that our responses to our current situations have a huge impact on the rest of our reality.

I could have looked at the lack of engine and clung to a state of despair over it. This would have caused more stuff to go wrong on the boat and in return created more despair.

Instead, I explored the options and moved forward in confidence without stressing over it.

I am now several days without the engine and I see it as a great blessing. Sailing without the navigational gear on all of the time has made me very in tune with the boat and the wind and the waves.

I can feel the wind shift. I can feel the swell rising. I can feel the boat off course. I even naturally awake from my slumber when the boat needs adjusting.

Out here I can now move based more on intuition rather than a computer and that feels amazing. That’s what this is all about.

There can be beauty in the loss of something once relied upon!

This adventure has taught me above all else, to stay positive, to let go, and to trust.

Nothing will ever be perfect, but I will always have exactly what I need.

Thinking like that is the only way to keep floating on.

29 Replies to “Floating On”

  1. Dear Olivia, I read your beautiful missives every day, to see how you are doing, of course, but more and more to take in the blessings of your messages of spirit and strength. I trust in your instincts and knowledge and angels to keep you safe on your journey. Thank you for taking us along. Love, Marilyn

  2. Your teachings each morning make me shift a little to meet the day. I am grateful for your lessons. I’m jealous of your bird. Brynnx

  3. I can’t tell you how much I am enjoying this adventure. It is the first thing I look for in the morning. I feel like we all need to be in Hawaii when you get there! I hope someone will be at least. Keep going girl. You got this. With God’s angels all things all possible!

  4. Dear Olivia, thank you for letting us “participate “ in your journey! You are gaining great insights into yourself and the universe. You do have everything you need. Float on

  5. You are having so many wonderful and scary experiences, as I mentioned many here in Kona Marina are praying for you and thinking of your bravery in full filling your dreams. I am happy as you call Mother sea is not giving you more than you are ready to handle and she is teaching you many things. I am happy that Bird decided to stay for a while. 2 weeks today, time does indeed fly by?? Look forward to your so creative blogs each day
    Thought of you as the moon showed so bright here at Kona Marina as we cruised on a dinghy ride last night. Blessings

  6. Olivia,
    This morning’s post brought so much comfort. You have great determination, strength and are in tune to your inner self. I can’t wait to meet you in Hawaii next week!

  7. I look forward to your posts every day. Love the positive attitude and love you. keep strong, sister! xo melanie

  8. Olivia,
    You just keep on being amazing and trusting in yourself and God’s sea angels! It’s great you have some company and I’m sure you’ll be speaking “seagull” language by the time you reach Hawaii. So what have you named your new passenger? Love, Love, Love the updates and praying for you always!!!
    You rock girl!

  9. Olivia, I am still drowning in your words and hoping I can muster up as much faith as you have. You are teaching us great lessons in your travels and I am so grateful to you. I continue to ask God to watch over you and to let you feel His presence at all times.
    With love from Little Rock –
    Ms. Lynda ?????

  10. thanks. I really needed that dose of positivity today. Been fighting the depression beasts hard lately. Maybe I just need to dance with them. Cool bird, btw 🙂

  11. You practice what you preach and there’s no better way to teach. The sun keeps coming up and answers from the Akashic come to the surface when we quiet our minds and stay positive. I heard this thought-provoking quote from another solo sailor, Christian Williams: “Am I fixing the boat or is the boat fixing me?” You’ll keep getting what you need out there ??

  12. I’m in awe of your strength and courage, and so inspired by your writings. Thank you for allowing us to participate in your journey! Sail on, Olivia! xo

  13. Olivia, I have enjoyed your journal entries so much, particularly today. Your positive attitude is an inspiration. (But did you have to write the part about Nigeria? I’ve been concerned all day). Wishing you only the best. Bob Ross

  14. Your truly an amazing soul of confidence and as an eloquent of a write to match. I was confused by an email sent to me by a friend that it was he who had embarked form Hawaii on this adventure and now I am caught up on your background and person who is a she on solo sail crossing. The boat is ultimately your zen and you know it best. Some have said you can follow the jetstream of airliners straight to Hawaii or as you are experiencing the birds will show you the way. I have consulted with some others on the Atomic Diesel and it is highly plausible that as you are sailing and listing that you may have simply sucked air and your fuel is too far to one side to pick up evenly. When next in more vertical state you may be able to bleed and restart engine but really finding balance without it would be a better choice. Do the math on your panels total watts then check your amp draw per electronics and see if you can find the balance of daytime amps in and/out. Take the total amp hrs your batteries are rated and divide that in half and that is your true amp hrs. Some marine electronics will run to zero volt point like some model refrigeration units so they say running when voltages drop below 11.5 most 12 v items will stop at 12.5. After you do your amp math then work out how you can isolate a smaller bank of batters that you can use your battery switches to keep full, try loading them all day with no electronic use on solar and only use higher draw electronics occasionally during full sunlight. Save your reserves for pumps, nav lights and survival items. My friend Jim Ward from Kona sailed back and forth 7 times mostly alone in a cal 30 he had a few stories, one was make sure your sleeping in sea birth and not in the way of objects that may pulverize you if the boat lands on its side which has had happen. I do not know you but your confidence is your power and this will seem like a walk in the park later… or keep going to FIJI and spend another 6 weeks out there, the sea is your freedom. Sail on!

  15. The power of the mind and our thoughts creating or destroying our world is a very real thing, with real results. You very much are an inspiration, one that spins with the magic of our world. And a huge encouragement to those of us with the power to dream, yet still learning to let go of fear of losing it. I wish you the best on the rest of your journey!

  16. Olivia, your writing is so inspiring and beautiful! You got this! All words of advice are just to help and encourage. Listen to yourself. Listen to the wind. You are living your dream!!! Living the tough moments is the real victory is life!! Let that wind fill you sails and soul!

  17. You are carrying so much love with you. Every day I think of you and send waves of love and wonder your way, and I know I’m just one of many. Sail on, beautiful spirit.

  18. Your bird! How wonderful. Helping Juniper fly… The moon is HUGE here tonight. Hoping it’s shining again for you. ??

  19. I’ve always thought of blue water sailing SOLO as a kind of a sensory deprivation chamber. Because we use language so much we HAVE to hear language, we have to. The wind screamed. Voices in the sails. People who fly planes a lot say that the wings become their arms, the wheels their feet. The plane becomes and exoskeleton and extension of their own physical self. It sounds to me that that is where you are at this point.

    I do wish you had an area where you were posting just facts about the journey. What time sails where changed, PDF’s of all of the manuals you are looking at about the diesel. What you ate. How long you slept for each session. Are you practicing sun sights and plotting them out? do you have any routine? The first day of school is a big deal and teachers are always looking for something to really engage their kids. Which you could get the Little Rock School district to follow you for the kids. Are you filming all of this will it be a movie??

  20. Hi Olivia, and congrats on the journey! I’m a friend of Rick Alverson – he sent me the link to your blog. I’m flying out Monday to Hawaii for a second transpacific delivery and thought to offer you some remote engine troubleshooting and weather routing if you’d like it. Sounds as though you are entering the trades on the Hawaii approach and 20-30 kt winds with some chop should be the norm. My crew and I will be in Honolulu, so happy to offer a welcome committee and/or try to round up a pilot boat if you’d like. Get in touch if you have real time coms and we can get that motor sorted quickly! Fair winds, following seas, Micah

    1. Hey Micah. Josh here helping Olivia as her blog admin. Could you drop us your email and phone number so she can reach out. Thanks so much!

  21. Olivia: Lid was one of my mother’s best friends and Niz was my brother’s godfather. Wyck and I were babies together, your mom and I are great friends. I knew you were a brave soul when you arrived at Jack’s 5th birthday party — the only little girl among a lot of little boys — and you carried a pocketbook. You were unique and special then, and you still are! Thanks for sharing your trip with beautiful, descriptive writing. Prayers and wishing you red skies at night — xo Lisa Rowland

  22. Hopefully your favorite librarian here, Alice Jones. Really enjoying your adventure. Can’t really see the picture but look up magnificent frigatebird. I’ve seen one and they live way out there with you. Love and prayers and omg, are you cool.?

    Alice Jones

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