The Nitty Gritty

*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)
Solar panels
Life Raft
Ditch bag
PFD (personal flotation device)
Knifes (strapped in cockpit & on persons)
Emergency tiller
Iridium Go
Emergency plugs
Spare wood for emergency hull repair
Grinder & cable cutters (in case rig goes)
Spare halyards
Spare sheets
Spare reefing lines
Emergency bilge pump
Extra fuel
Extra Fuel filters
Spare belts
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

8 Replies to “The Nitty Gritty”

  1. Wow! such a great insight into the details, it is like talking to an astronaut on the space station, thanks for the shout out.

  2. Wow…Extremely impressive!! You’re truly incredible. I hope you know that 🙂
    Praying you to beautiful HI. You’re doing it!! So proud of you.

  3. You would of course be friends with Christian Williams, lol. He is so funny, insightful, and fun to watch. Bummed you’re not filming. I’m all about that YT life.

  4. After each blog post, I go to the map and see where you are in the ocean. It is my daily routine. Your Juniper must be loaded with passengers who are inspired by your life lessons. Thank you everyday for sharing your insights. Brynnx

  5. I’m so impressed with your writing skills and how well your words dance with what all is going on most all the time in your journey of life in these moments.
    Hope you have been able to dance naked under the full moonlight.
    I’ve had trouble getting your blog to come in daily, but I’m in touch with Liv and catch enough posts for now. I feel I will catch up later when on a cool adventure of my own.
    Every day is an adventure into our souls!
    I love you, honey,

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