*This ones for Budder Wilson who is curious about safety gear, sail changes, sleep patterns, food, filming, etc.
Before departing I met with a couple of people who had already sailed solo to Hawaii. One was my old dock neighbor Christian Williams, who has a great YouTube channel and several books about sailing. The other was my friend Elana, who sailed solo to Hawaii a couple of years ago.
My questions for them were: which gear do I absolutely need and what about sleep?
They both said once your far enough off shore you won’t see any ships and just go to sleep whenever you feel like it. I didn’t see any ships my first night, so I slept most of the night, except when I was crossing over the Cortes Banks.
Everyday since, I do the same. Sleep whenever I need it. Day or night. This will be different once I’m closer to the islands. I won’t be able to sleep as much, maybe 20 minute increments I imagine. Depends on the traffic and reefs, etc.
To be honest, I am getting more sleep sailing solo than I do when I’m with a crew.
I have only passed three ships in the last two weeks. The most unusual one, was the fishing boat I saw about a week ago. Smack dab in the middle of nothing, just like I was.
I have an AIS alarm on my VHF, so if I am asleep and within 1 NM of another ship an alarm goes off.
I don’t transmit AIS, but I have a radar reflector. I was close to a freighter my first week out and I radioed him to see if I was showing up on his radar. He confirmed that he could see me on it several miles out. So that’s working!
As far as eating. I just eat when I’m hungry. I usually cook a big dish that I can snack on throughout the day. I have a full galley with an oven, two burners, and a fridge that is no longer cold. I’m a pescatarian and am eating mostly fruits, veggies, beans, rice, nuts, etc.
I haven’t fished. As this is my first solo crossing I’m still getting in the flow, ya know?
I change the sails when the wind shifts or when I need to jibe to stay on course. I can feel the shifts very easily. If I’m alerted that the wind or sea is going to increase I will throw a reef in early to be safe. None of my lines, except for my jib run to the cockpit. That means I have to go to the mast for most sail changes. Since I’m alone, I don’t go up there at night or if the swell and wind are really cooking. If I get caught in a squall with too much sail up, I just ease the sheets big time.
Most people say always put a reef in at night. I agree with this. The wind does crank up in the evenings and I see squalls daily. In the trades, I am sailing with one reef in the main at all times. I currently have two in due to wave height / wind speed and I’m still getting my rails dipped in the water on the low-side.
My course is created by commanders weather. They are keeping me in the wind and out of the high. If I am going to hit a course mark in the middle of the night, I set an alarm so that I can jibe to turn the boat towards its next coordinate and not over shoot anything.
I am not practicing sun sightings, though I do have a sextent on board should I need to.
For the engine, I have a binder filled with all of the manuals for the gear on my boat. I have been using the owners manual plus Nigel Calder’s book “Marine Diesel Engines.” I highly recommend this book.
I spend most of my day writing, reading, observing, repairing, and sometimes napping- especially if the night before was rough. When there is too much wind and swell, I’m thrown around a lot in my sleep. Like last night I got slammed onto the floor and hardly slept a wink, so I took a mid-day nap. When there is not enough wind, the sails keep me up with their constant need for attention, so those evenings are challenging as well.
I also take an hour for tidying the boat each day – sweeping, washing, scrubbing, etc.
I have not been filming this. I am recording this journey with my words and still images. I make films for a living and I sail to escape my day to day. I haven’t found a way to marry the two that feels good for me. Writing is something I don’t have time to do every day on shore, so pairing that with sailing is kind is the best escape for me personally.
Windvane (a must have for single-handers)
PFD (personal flotation device)
Knifes (strapped in cockpit & on persons)
Spare wood for emergency hull repair
Grinder & cable cutters (in case rig goes)
Spare reefing lines
Emergency bilge pump
Extra Fuel filters
Dinema (sp? in case steering cable goes)
Marine Diesel Engines – Nigel Calder
Piloting – Chapman
Navigation Rules & Regulations Handbook
Sailing Illustrated – Royce
The Cruising Sailor’s Medical Guide
Heavy Weather Sailing – John Rousmaniere
Charlie’s Charts “Hawaiian Islands” – Charles & Margo Wood
All of my American Sailing Association Books
All of my books for my Captains License
*This is the quarter berth where I sleep on starboard tacks