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Thelonious 1 (Ericson 32-3): Off to Hawaii

Rating: 3 votes, 5.00 average.

Tomorrow I depart Marina del Rey for Hanalei Bay, Kauai, Hawaii. I am sailing solo, and looking for a passage of 22-25 days--or better, of course. The GC course is 2200NM, or 2500 statute miles.

Thanks to all who have helped me in the preparation of Thelonious for this voyage. Should things work out as on paper, my family will meet me there for a week , and then I will head back to California--riding the gyre north and hoping to dodge the doldrums of the Pacific High.

Those who have occasionally checked in on this blog have probably guessed that a long cruise was in the offing, and since despite a good deal of time offshore over the years I have never attempted these distances alone, you know as much about how it may go as I do.

So far, these are the unexpected lessons:

--There are innumerable systems and elements of systems on board, and learning them all and obtaining spares has been the bulk of the preparatory work. It is not especially rewarding. The more you learn, the more problem scenarios you recognize, so the more you prepare. It can be a mental rope burn. Eventually you have to say, enough already.

--A modern yacht is a Frankenstein of electronic gizmos. Sat phone and Grib files and tracking, GPS Epirb, GoPro charging microUSBs, a myriad of eccentric connection wires, chart plotter, AIS, music files, NMEA sentences, TED talks--the monster you create is you, in your own image. A monster you can rail against but only to the mirror.

--If the diesel won't start or the alternator fails I may have to turn back. I'm not even bringing the sextant (forgot how to use it, anyhow). Like it or not, I'm a GPS person now, connected to satellites as if by marionette strings. My success depends on batteries, from AAA to Group 27s. It is all very good, and all very bad, but it is what it is.

--Like many I have read all the books of the singlehanders, and since boyhood have wanted to do it. You may notice that in every account of these heroes--the ones who ventured off alone on leaky boats when no one had done it before, and the ocean wasn't packed with fellows like me on vacation--that they always have a few words to say about the challenges not of the sail, but of the last weeks of the preparation, the advice, the worrying kin, the innumerable decisions, the nagging breakdown of formerly reliable gear, the endless new recognitions of stuff you need and ought to have and shouldn't go without, the count-down, the slowing of days, the sheer magnitude of the task, the little things that need doing and can only be done by you. Well, I finally understand what they meant.

So tomorrow, off we go. I have too many books and not enough light air sails. I have 15 oranges. Should you have 20? Wouldn't 12 be really enough? I have 2x4s for shoring up a collison with a shipping container, duct tape if I break my arm, 60-days food in cans or pouch, garlic and onions, pasta and propane, a laptop that will disintegrate with one splash of water and a bucket that I remember, so many times in the past, being the best source of a cheer-up when simply dipped in the sea and dumped over one's head naked at noon with the sun directly overhead. Oh, and a good deal of Jack Daniels. But say, shouldn't I have more antibiotics? What about macrobiotics? What about probiotics? What about idiotics, got plenty of them. And a picavet. I should have tested the picavet. Didn't have time. Never seemed to be wind enough. Ergo, you're right, completely screwed, picavet-wise.

The Pacific is vast, and I am originally an Atlantic creature. The distances are daunting. Bermuda is 700 miles from Newport or New York. Halfway to Hawaii I will be as far from land as you can get on our globe. And from where I hope to end up, the island of Kauai, it is still a thousand miles more to Midway.

Well, there is no war, nobody's shooting at me, so what's there to worry about? I'll tell you what it is: that once dependent upon laptops and satphones and GPS, it is entirely possible that the very gizmos that make what was hard easy will simply quit working. And then what does the prudent mariner do. Turn back?

I'll check in if and when I know the answer.

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Updated 03-06-2017 at 08:44 AM by Christian Williams

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  1. GregB's Avatar
    Wow - I am impressed. We are on the hard for some repairs which makes me even more jazzed to live vicariously. Can we follow you on AIS? You going to blog along the way?

    As you know I have a sister ship without all of your improvements. You are doing us 32-3 owners proud!

    Have a great trip.

  2. Loren Beach's Avatar
    All of my best wishes and thoughts are with you.
    Fair Winds!
    And stay clipped in; use the short tether when on deck.


    ps: be sure and have some chocolate with you....
    Updated 07-01-2014 at 09:03 AM by Loren Beach
  3. bknight365's Avatar
    Awesome. I've followed all of your blog posts, and they've been incredibly helpful. (I have a 32-3 #660). It's been great watching your boat come together.

    I wish you so much luck and hope you have an incredible time. Take plenty of pictures - I'm already looking forward to the write up!
  4. G Kiba's Avatar
    Good travels Christian. Did not see this coming. Read many of your posts without a clue you were planning this. Nice. Good luck sir.
  5. Clarice's Avatar
    Good Luck and Fair Winds Christian,
    I look forward to reading about your experience in your inimitable style. I hope you plan a book on your trip including all your blogs. They really are invaluable for a newbie like me and probably for all. I'll be thinking about you and sending good vibes.
  6. GrandpaSteve's Avatar
    Have a great trip. Your blogs and posts are inspiring to a new boat owner.

    Steve Pretti
    Glory Days E32-III #711
  7. Pat C.'s Avatar
    As a sailor landlocked for eternity on Lake Texoma, I will watch from the sidelines with envy...and awe.

  8. Mark F's Avatar
    Very cool Christian. Good luck and from one ragwing pilot to another, be safe.
  9. Rick R.'s Avatar
    Not sure you got my message sent the other night so I'll send it again. Fair winds and safe travels Christian!

    If you picked up a Delorme Inreach, send your link, please!

    Can't wait to hear you've arrived safely my friend.
  10. jcabell's Avatar
    Good luck and we look forward to hearing your sea stories.
  11. clp's Avatar
    "We have met the enemy, and he is us".
    The boat will be fine.
    Im quite certain you will be as well.

    dont listen to 'the committee'..

    And fair winds.
  12. jschaum's Avatar
    I am a new Ericson 32 owner and have really enjoyed all of your posts - very informative and entertaining. Have a great trip and looking forward to hear about your adventures.
  13. rbonilla's Avatar
    How exciting...have a great trip !! Keep us updated...I am looking forward to hear how the boat does
    on this trip...the E32 is a nice ride....take a lot of photos !! / colorado ....
  14. Jeff Asbury's Avatar
    Onward Christian Sailor! Beam Winds to you! And Aloha!
  15. ignacio's Avatar
    Hi Christian,

    I completely missed that you embarked on this, and I'm both excited and in awe. At 19 days, you must surely be close to your destination. Having read about your work, boat, and equipment, you inspire me to do as you have.

    Best wishes for a safe return, and I look forward to reading about your experience.

  16. bigtyme805's Avatar
    All my Best to you Christian. It will be a memorable trip to say the least.
  17. Fparry's Avatar
    I haven't been following the forum lately so I missed your departure. Hopefully fair winds have prevailed and you have either safely finished your journey or are about to do so.

    I have been a fan of your videos for a while now. I show your dingy build to anyone who talks about embarking on such a project. Your family home movies of you sailing the shores of Long Island are priceless archives of what recreational sailing is meant to be and how it has evolved.

    As the proud owner of a 32-200 the idea of sailing a 32-3 solo to Hawaii excites my soul and opens the door of my imagination.

    I wish you you only the best.

  18. Eric B's Avatar
    Shoots! Wish I had been watching recently to see that you were heading this way, maybe we could have gotten together. I'm one of the few and far between E32-3's around here at the Ala Wai Harbor in Honolulu.

    Love all your entries and pictures and projects.

    Anyway, glad you made it here safely. What a trip! It should be fair winds and following seas all the way back.

    Take good care,

    Eric Gold