Things have been going very well, I think. I have had a couple of very good weeks since the last post. I hung out in Martinique for quite some time and then moved to Dominica. Dominica is amazing, what a fantastic island. The 5 days or so that I spent there were huge, it was awesome. I can’t believe more people don’t know about it. On top of that I feel like a cloud has slowly lifted from my mind.

Before I begin though, I want to bring a dose of reality to all those who read this blog as a bit of escapism. Its nice to think of cruising the world, crossing oceans, catching fish, hiking, diving and seeing things. I can understand the escape. The underlying reality though is that this is very dangerous. I bring this up as my friend, Dilak, a Turkish female-singlehander lost her boat two days out of Cape Verde. I still haven’t heard the full circumstances other than it was a collision with something that broke her rudder and caused other damage. That is a potential consequence of this life. Luckily though she was rescued by a passing freighter and is safe home in Istanbul now.

OK, back to the escapism. So let’s start with Martinique since I always go in time-order anyway. I hung out in La Marin for a long time. It was easy, I had friends there. Jenny and Gio from Carabosse and the the Scope folks showed up. Hanging out in La Marin, I can see why it is the destination for all the French sailors. It is just such an easy place to get comfortable. And, if your French, well, it’s basically France, so you can get extra comfy. Jenny and Gio were even nice enough to have yet another crepe-party on Slick, it was every bit as delicious as the last time they did that for my tummy and I, in Gibraltar.

Maybe the highlight of hanging out there though was the fantastic holding that allowed us to rent a car for the day and drive around the island. The first stop was a rum distillery. It was a nice old plantation with lots of old machinery and aging casks of rum. The cool thing though was that at the end you got to taste some really great rum. I almost bought a bottle of the good stuff but I know in the end I would have just drank it all pretty quickly. I settled for just for the tastings. I hardly drink anymore.

We drove quite a bit and the next place we stopped was a gorge with a waterfall. This required a very steep hike down and then you take off your shoes and walk up a stream between walls that are maybe 5 feet apart. A little bit of climbing and scrambling later and you are up a couple of small waterfalls to the bigger one. That was the first shower I had in a week, the water in the anchorage is filthy (around 1500 boats in that place). This was a really great little trek, and the hike out was easier than expected.

The next stop was the town of St. Pierre. This is the old capital and was destroyed by Mt Pelee in an eruption 108 years ago or so. Nearly 28,000 people died and a new type of eruption was observed, Pyroclastic Density Currents, the most destructive of weapon a volcano has, making this a fairly famous place in volcanology. There were only two survivors, the most famous one was a prisoner who was in a cell and was rescued three days later. The town today has not really rebounded, the capital was moved to Fort De France, but it is certainly a nice seaside setting. We walked along and saw the ruins. I guess it has been 108 years so it was no where near the devastruction of Rabaul.

Well, things were getting a little too comfy in La Marin. The authorities were wondering if I was going to apply for a French driver’s license. Mine expired. So I took that as a hint to get out of there. I didn’t go far, just around the corner to Anse Mitan. The Carabosse crew came that day too, so I still had some friends. I managed a run on the beach and then when I got back to Slick I jumped in and couldn’t believe the bottom growth from La Marin. It was incredible. I scrubbed the hull but I need a paint scraper. The French want like 10 euro even for a disposable one. So that waits.

When I left my friends and headed north I felt unbelievable lonely again. I guess there are other things going on to make me lonely too, but its always nice to have friends nearby. When I left, I left that too. Well, its a shame but they are staying in Martinique for some time, being young, and French, they will try to get some employment and stay awhile. Hopefully, they’ll come sailing into Boston one day, I certainly miss them already.

That night I anchored off St. Pierre and Mt. Pelee came out of the clouds for a photo-op. That mountain is almost never visible. The town was really beautiful from the sea. I wanted to stay awhile and do some wreck diving since there were a lot of ships burned and sunk in the eruption, but I just couldn’t bring myself to bother and headed for Dominica.

The passage was easy, gusty winds and small squalls. I motored, it rained. When I arrived in Roseau, Dominica though, things cleared up, a lot of things seemed to clear up. Almost immediately I felt very good about the place. There was none of the bullshit that everyone talks about. Everyone was so friendly, even the customs guy asked for a Slick Sticker to put on his fridge. I walked around to the two dive shops to book some diving. Only one had a boat going out the next three days so I went with them.

That night I was relaxing on Slick and I heard some voices around the boat as the sun was going down. I looked in the water and there were three guys with spears and they said they were going lion fish hunting. I asked if they minded if I joined and they said – hop in. So I grabbed my dive gear and a spear and in I went. It was pretty cool, the water was murky so it wasn’t the usual embryonic-night-dive experience. They speared two big lion fish. I didn’t, I just watched mostly. Then when the dive was done we took the dinghy back to the bar for a rinse and a few drinks. These guys were really cool. That was a really great introduction to the island. I almost immediately made friends with a group of optometrists at the bar and everything seemed alright, the way it should be, I was enjoying my life.

The next three days I went on six more dives. Each one was something unique and different. The main dive sights are in a caldera at the southern end of the island. The first dive was around an enormous pinnacle, the second over a reef with lots of canyons. The third dive was was around two large pinnacles and the fourth around some shallow ones. Finally, on the last day, we did a fantastic wall dive called Swiss Cheese, its a big wall and then there are a few swim-throughs that bring you to the top of the reef to enjoy your safety stop. What was even more amazing though was the last dive. It was just over some shallow grass patches and a part of the Dominican-Signature dive, Champagne Reef. The grass was great, lots of things hiding in there, including a large octopus and some fish I had never seen before and can’t quite recall the name. Then over on the reef is a fumarole that vents underwater. So there is lots of volcanic gasses bubbling about, hence the Champagne. Pretty cool, I was happy with the diving. It wasn’t Palau but it was pretty close to Red Sea quality.

I took a day off and rested because Monday was saved for something amazing. I heard about this difficult hike and at the end was something special. I booked a tour, because I really wanted to get up there and I thought I would have the guide all to myself. There ended up being three other people but no big deal. The hike was pretty challenging, especially since I haven’t really done any hiking since La Gomera. Up and up, and then down a ravine and back up again to a peak. That was all just rainforest hiking. The next section though descended though thick mud into the “Valley of Desolation”. That proved to be an adequate name as you walk by lots of venting gas and boiling water from the hot earth below. The volcano still has a lot of pressure to let out. The colors in this valley were incredible. Different minerals flowing out and mixing together giving whites, blacks, reds and blues all in the rock and in the water. Combine that with yellow sulfur and venting steam and you have something special.

The prize of the hike though was still another valley away. To be fair it wasn’t a tough valley, but you come around a corner and there is just steam blowing in your face as you stand upon a ledge. I looked down and couldn’t see much at first, until the wind blew the vapor clear. It was a lake and it fucking boils! This is the second largest boiling lake in the world, I guess there is one larger in New Zealand. I have seen a lot of things in my short life, amazing things, but I’ve never seen a boiling lake before. We sat there and had lunch and just watched it churn. To be fair, the lake is actually at about 95C, so it isn’t totally boiling but there is a pretty big fumarole under it so some of it churns. Pretty incredible and well worth it.

The hike out was the same, but in reverse. Actually it was easier as the muddy trail was harder to descend than climb. As if things couldn’t get any better, at the trail head was a guy selling beer, cheap too. I thought to myself “It don’t get any better than this.” But then it did. Ti-Tou Gorge is right there. Apparently this is of Pirates of the Caribbean fame. Anyway, you can just swim in, but the guide advised me to jump in. Well, I like jumping off things and so I climbed out on the ledge and the gorge at this point was maybe 6 feet wide and I was twenty feet up and I went. It was pretty cool having the walls rush by with in an arms length, and the water, the cold water, was so refreshing after the hike. I swam around a bit, climbed a small fall and played in a big one. It was really cool, it made the gorge in Martinique seem a little less significant. I loved it.

That evening was the start of carnival on the island. So, sore as I was, I had to go see the festival. This wasn’t quite Junkanoo, but it was fun, not classy in any way mind you. Just good old Caribbean island music pumped though enormous speakers, towed behind a semi and lots of people dancing. That’s a Dominican Float and it was nice to see a bunch of happy people even happier. That night I relaxed at the bar and hung out with eye-people. It was the end of a really great time.

I moved up to Prince Rupert the next day. The wind was whipping through the anchorage at like 25-30 knots and it took me over an hour and a half to get moored. A local guy had to come out and help me. While hoisting the dinghy on deck, I accidentally got a rope caught on one of the already broken blades of Jocelyn, shearing it off completely. Now she looks like a boomerang on pole instead of a wind-turbine. Guess she is even more useless now.

Dominica was so awesome and so fantastic. It was by far my favorite island in the Caribbean. The rest coming up will have a lot to live up to if they want me to compliment them. As if the island knew I was leaving, it looked sad and got a little rainy and then gave me the fairest of wind for a jib sail over to Guadalupe. Slick T. Rocketship loved it and we barely went under 7.5 knots the whole way. I landed in Isle des Saintes.

I checked in, easy as always with the French. Got some laundry done. Ran up two different mountains. Hills really, the tall one I could honestly only run half way up. Anyway, this place is chill, very chill. Nothing really goes on. Scope arrived, so I can hang out. Its a good rest after the big week in Dominica.

Next on the menu, I head to Antigua, then down to Monsterat where I hope to see some devastruction from a recent eruption that destroyed yet another capital. After that – Nevis and St. Kitts, Saba and then up to meet a friend whose cruise ship is pulling in for a day in St. Martin. And maybe, just maybe, I’ll get another visitor from Boston in USVI as well as see a dive-master friend from Palau there too.

So, I am doing OK, no, make that I am doing almost great. After establishing a healthy amount of contact with people, the fog of loneliness and confusion is lifted. I can only concentrate on the future now. I know what I want, a lot of it is beyond my control. Funny thing, when you are doing a trip like this, everything you get and see comes from your capacity to take it, take it in, do it, fight it, kill it, eat it, climb it, hike it, dive it, run it, whatever, just do it and don’t fail. There is no safety net, and the consequence of failure is huge. I’m realizing the real world isn’t quite like that. When it comes to involving other people, if they don’t want it, you can’t make them. You can’t force your will within your capacity. Its just not so primal, its like pushing a chain. For example, I’m trying to find a job, but they hide really well. I keep applying but nothing comes. So now I am leaning more toward my own start-up. Either way, though I need help, either in a place willing to take a chance on my return to normalcy or investors. Once I get the chance, and the rest is up to me, I’m confident I won’t fail at whatever comes next. I just wish I knew what it was, because the future is coming fast.


In case any of you wonder what Slick and I have been up to, it has been a whole bowl full of awesome. Here are pictures of hiking, diving and eating in Martinique and Dominica.


I don’t have anything clever to say so I guess I’ll just jump right onto my blog-hobby horse and ride. The time in Barbados was OK. I am glad that we stopped there on the way instead of sailing 60 miles to windward to try to reach the flat little island. I have to say though that everyone in Barbados is exceptionally friendly and welcoming.

We had a mediocre dinner the night we arrived from the Atlantic. I was hoping for a cheeseburger in paradise but had to settle for some sort of island substitute. That was OK as the place had free internet and we caught up on 22 days of disconnection. For Christmas we really wanted to go to a place that had great recommendations but they were closed. So I think for Christmas dinner we had rice and tuna or something on the boat. That was alright. We also went on a walk about town but naturally everything was closed. Mathew and I spent the day salting the remainder of the Billy. I never salted fish before, and neither had he, but it came out really good. I’ll do it in the future if I ever catch something large enough.

Mathew flew out the next day and my brother and I hung around. We didn’t do a whole lot while in Barbados. I ran a couple of times on the beach. Horses would swim out around the boats every morning and we had a few drinks on Scope and swapped tales of the Atlantic Crossing. Seems they had only a little more interesting time than we did, and by that I mean they spent a week in a thunder-storm with no wind or fuel to get out. We tried to go to the famous Mount Gay Rum Distillery but it was closed for the holidays.

No Mount Gay? No point in staying any longer then. We headed to St. Lucia next. The passage was about 100 miles long from Carlisle Bay to Rodney Bay. We did it as an overnighter. No problems, just jib sailed the whole thing. It felt strangely short after the long Atlantic. Rodney Bay sits at the north of the island so we saw all the sites from sea on the way up. I guess there is no shame with a little binocular-tourism. The Pitons lived up to the hype as they dominated the views on the southern end of the island.

We checked into Rodney Bay and stayed a night or two. It was nice to get hot showers and the food was alright. The place was full of ARC boats though as that is where the ARC ends. So it was sort of funny to see all these people who, at this point, had crossed an ocean but still couldn’t dock their boats. Once we were satisfied with things we headed the nine miles south to Marigot Bay.

Marigot Bay is advertised as being the most beautiful bay in all the Caribbean. With so many bays I am not sure how you can make such a claim, although it is really nice. Thirty dollars a night for a mooring ball though and a lot of bull-shit from boat boys on the way in. That night I had a few nice beers at a local beach bar and made some new friends.

The next morning, a friend from Boston showed up to celebrate the New Years. Well, sort of, she flew home early for some reason. But anyway, We picked her up in Marigot and had a nice evening in the bay and the next day moved down to the Pitons. I was given a little bit of a head’s up to use a guy named Benny as the the local contact in the park. This turned out to be the best thing possible as the whole 15 miles down the coast boat boys would chase us down and want to be our man in the park. Even after we were on a mooring ball one guy came out and told us it was reserved and had to move. Just one phone call to Benny and everything was sorted out. Pretty good this guy Benny. I wanted to give him a little money but he didn’t want anything as I think he’s really just interested in having people enjoy the park. So we ate his wife’s restaurant as a way to show our thanks.

Anyway, we spent the day snorkeling and swimming and just generally loafing around Slick. My friend really enjoyed herself I think. In the morning we hiked up to a waterfall. I hadn’t seen pictures and was expecting something massive. It was small, and the pool at the bottom was made into an actual swimming pool, or rather, a soaking pool. The friendly rasta who ran the place told us every ten minutes in the pool will make us ten years younger. Then he advised us not to stay too long as he is tired of carrying babies out of there. Ha, funny guy. It was nice though.

We then decided to hike up to the volcano. I didn’t realize it but the entire area of Souffries is a fairly large caldera. The walk up to it was up a brutally steep road, and then down into the crater where a vent is letting out the usual hot mud and sulfur-dioxide. Not the most impressive volcano I have seen but still worth it, especially for my friend who had never seen one. Then we headed back to Slick and by noon one of Benny’s boys picker her up and she was off, a whole 46 hours on Slick. Why is that something of interest? Well, mostly for all my American friends who always say they can’t come down to visit. See, if this lady could come for two days, then I don’t think anyone really has an excuse.

My brother and I moved back up to Marigot Bay for some New Years celebration. We were going to head to a bar for some fun but then we realized that the fireworks barge was all of 100 feet away. I have never been so close, and not on a boat. We decided to stay on board and it was incredible. I never even looked up, I just watched the cannons firing. It was really amazing and one of those odd time-place coincidences that makes my life interesting.

The nine miles back to Rodney Bay was a miserable slog as the wind was on the nose and against the current. It was sort of like entering Buzzard’s Bay from the Canal in the afternoon, except it lasted four hours instead of 30 minutes. We made it though, it was nice to be in port. We hung out a few days. For some reason they put us on the local docks. This doesn’t bother me, but every night the neighbor invited us to the local strip club to watch her dance. We never took her offer. As my brother was leaving she said if I felt lonely she would keep me company. I didn’t take that offer either.

Anyway, before my brother left we had a nice hike out to Pigeon Island and saw the old forts there. It provided some stunning views and we even got to meet a few locals on the way home. I think they wondered what we were doing in their neighborhood. But after a hard look or two they would come and greet us with the friendly St. Lucia fist bump. Only once did someone stop and ask us if we were there to buy some “Bob Marley” (marijuana). Then, Sean flew home. It was a good 86 days while he was here. We covered a lot of water.

After my brother left, Cress Walker and Conversations showed up for one night. It was nice to catch up and I was able to return the Ipad that was left behind by one of his crew members in the Canaries. That’s probably the last time I will see those guys as they head to Vancouver, so they will go through the Canal this year. That is one of the odd things about traveling – making friends. In the cruising life it is a little different than the backpacking life though as you see them all over the world instead of all over a country. Plus, with AIS we always know where each other is if we care to look.

I made my way to Martinique. The passage was off the wind and it was a fairly easy jib-sail. I passed the day watching Boobies chase the flying fish that Slick would scare out of the water. They are such clumsy hunters, it is amazing they actually catch enough food to survive. In Martinique, my young french friends from Carabosse were on anchor. So I have been hanging out with them and Scope a bit. I will catch up on Martinique in the next post though. After this I head up to Dominica and beyond.

So, Sean, Mathew and my Boston friend are gone. I am alone again. I was pretty sad. I guess I had about a week of single-hander syndrome. It was pretty demotivating to be handling everything by myself and talking only to myself. Single-handing can really suck, you go nuts, and you may not have many friends, everything is just that much more difficult. A big thanks to everyone who emails me. I am doing very well now though. Eventually, you have to climb out of the hole and realize you are still a captain, even without a crew.


Real Blog update soon but in the mean-time here are some new pictures:


St. Lucia

Atlantic Crossing


We arrived safety on our Atlantic Ocean crossing on December 23. The total time was 21 days and 21 hours to make 2750 miles or so. That gave us the pathetic average speed of 5.2 knots, but to be fair the average wind speed was only about 9 knots, so I can’t really be ashamed. Compared to the awesome 6.9 knots or so we averaged crossing the Pacific, Slick is a little embarrassed. Then again, I haven’t really met anyone that did much better.

Our departure was delayed an hour because Matthew had a filling fall out during our horribly-underdone, last-meal paella. That is a different story though. So we departed and things started out OK, however, the wind didn’t cooperate so we ended up motoring quite a bit. We decided to make a quick stop in the morning in La Restinga on El Hierro. This beautiful little port provided a top-up of fuel and we were off. It was a bit of a shame though as the town is adorable and very isolated in some rugged volcanic country. I would have liked to spend a few days there.

As we headed out we had quite nice wind and made decent progress for our first night out. It was cold though but at least the wind was OK. As the first few days went by though the wind became more and more fluky and we found ourselves motoring more than we liked. The first GRIB we downloaded showed a developing trough that was going to be a problem. Thankfully I had a friend, Norm from the CYC, who was monitoring the weather for us and keeping us well informed even without the GRIBs. Basically, we had to get south, and fast, to avoid the trough which was taking on cyclonic action. Could this be the after-season hurricane every December-crosser fears? Well it certainly had the potential to be and so in prudence I took the safe route to the south of the low.

As the trough developed though we were not quite fast enough to get ahead and south of it. We ended up on the southern tip and for about a 24 hour period had winds that peaked around 44 knots and some large waves, even some distant lighting and a lot of rain. Slick handled all that well and the trough took on cyclonic form, eventually dieing off and leaving a stalled low in the middle of the ocean. That stalled low came to dominate our crossing, and prevent us from having any wind on its southern side. My conservatism cost us six days of being becalmed. Then again, the alternative could have been way worse. We motored, and motor sailed, and drifted and came up with ridiculous rigs like Heidi the Giant Asym on the bow-sprit, the 142% genny poled out to windward and the mainsail double reefed to not shadow the claptrap at the front of the boat. This gave us 5 knots of speed in 8-10 knots dead down wind. More if the wind blew a little more. It became our favorite rig as it gave the best VMG to our destination.

The wind would fill in and then die, teasing us. We motored more and finally ran out of fuel, save for the last five gallons we kept in reserve, just in case something unthinkable happened. We had a lot of counter current too. The charts and pilots say we should have had anywhere from a half to two knots of current in our favor. We averaged a half against us. The nights were long as we drifted, our slowest day was only 86 miles. I guess I complain too much because in the Pacific I met people who were excited to average only 4 knots.

Then, all at once, the current shifted in our favor and the wind filled in for good. We made 125 miles, then 150 miles then closed out the trip with two nearly 180 mile days as we approached Barbados. In fact, we slowed down a lot as we came nearer to land, just so we would be piloting in the daylight. I secretly think that Slick could have had a 200 mile day, if we had just pushed it a little.

But we didn’t. We didn’t push it not because we were running out of sea room, but because I had noticed a week or so before the the center bulkhead, forward of the chart locker, was pushing through the cabin top-side. Every creak in the wood as I slept gave me a little scare that something serious was about to break. Slick, after 30,000 miles at sea, and some of it very rough, was finally showing her Flexiteau or Benditoy roots. I didn’t want to push the old lady for fear she would trip and break her hip, or something else. In addition my mainsail was slowly shredding itself. A batten tried to get lost again, slug stitching chafed and broke free and the first reef clew tore out. Other than that though we really didn’t have much break. However, the now maligned cabin wood gave me cause enough for concern. In fact, at the beginning of the trip a fiddle for the book case wouldn’t fit as it used to, it just fell out. Now, it fits again. Things move when you slam off waves, especially when motoring. Strangely, when she sailed she groaned less, and part of me was actually happy for the low winds.

Then again, not everyone around us had such light winds. My friend Cress, from the yacht Conversations, left a day before us, on the tail of a big blow that mashed up Tenerefe. He had fantastic winds and even after making the detour to avoid the trough was far enough ahead that he only experienced two or three days of becalming. While another boat left the day after us, Scope, and they didn’t get as much headway on the low as we did and ended up spending a week beating into the wind as well as another week becalmed in permanent electrical storms. Still another boat wound up losing their stick in a knockdown as a result of timing. What a difference a day makes. A day too long in port or a day too soon.

We found clever ways to not kill each other. Twenty one days of blue water sailing could make one a little nuts. I found my crew was taking on my idiosyncrasies. Mathew would yell at the stove and Sean the rig. I always yell at inanimate objects, so this was nothing new to me, but seeing someone else do it was a little weird. More things got names and Sean took to seeing and drawing faces on everything. But we had a few constructive releases as well. We took one hour and made a swim call, somewhere in the middle of the ocean. This was a refreshing adventure, complete with a blow-up swim toy. It quickly became the punishment dinghy. Mathew also had a few cooking experiments including a solar oven that failed to make brownies but produced the best bread ever made on Slick. He also made kimchi and grew sprouts. We also all learned how to make yogurt.

Then their was the interaction with the sea-life. We caught a decent amount of mahi-mahi. At first they were small and we returned them to grow some more, but as we progressed further through the Atlantic the ones we caught had grown up into the perfect lunch. The fishing though culminated in the landing of a 60 pound bill-fish on the last day. We would have thrown it back but it was badly injured so we thought we might as well keep it. It took me an hour to steak and filet it and now the 18 inch bill hangs as a trophy from Slick, a warning to all other billies to stay away from Jim Gentry and friends. We don’t want them and they don’t want us. Matthew salted some of the fish too, as another experiment. It seemed to turn out well. He took it all home. The fauna of the sea caused us a great deal of strife too. The sargasm weed frequently clogged the fishing tackle and even gave Martin a grass skirt every few hours. This became annoying.

The most amazing interaction with nature in the sea though came in the form of visits every few days by a small pod of whales. They only came when we were going fast and it was a little rough and sometimes only one would show up. In fact only once did we see more than one at a time. The whales would swim along with Slick, under Slick, behind Slick and next to Slick. They rarely blew but would show their bellies and fins. At first we were unsure if this was some form of aggression for the graceful, school-bus-sized behemoths or if they were just playing. They never gave us as much as a nudge and would stick around for hours at a time. I think they really wanted to just tease us as we have hundreds of photos and hundreds of minutes of video of the moment just after the whale would breach, so really there is nothing in the media but open ocean. Still, having such an intimate interaction, regularly, with the amazing creatures was easily one of the highlights of the trip.

The landing was also kind of nice. We anchored in the lee of Barbados and when all the officials showed up we tied up to the customs dock. Everyone was so friendly and welcoming and even a bit flirtatious. For us it was nice to talk to someone else, even if briefly. In the Atlantic, we only saw 5 other boats the whole time and only one hailed us. The strangest part was just walking on solid ground, that is always an odd feeling for the first five minutes or so.

In the end, even though it was a long ride, and we landed in Barbados instead of St. Lucia and Mathew missed his flight, it was a pretty good trip. When I compare it to the big Pacific crossing, from Galapagos to Marquesas, it was not as fast, but neither were the conditions. The trades never really filled in and we had counter current. During the time in the Pacific we had perfect trades consistently and plenty of current always in our favor. Both passages were memorable, just for different reasons. I guess my advice for anyone crossing the Atlantic in December would be to go to Cape Verde first. I think you would get more Pacific like conditions, plus it is 800 miles shorter.

Finally I would like to say some thank yous. First to my brother Sean and friend Matthew for coming out to help with the crossing, Also, I really appreciate the daily effort by Norm to take care of the weather and watch a larger information set than what was available to us, and then convey it, along with sports scores, via the message box. Thank you to all those who followed the trip on the spottrak map and enjoyed the twitter updates. I was amazed by the number of views. And finally Slick, I could not have crossed the Atlantic without her wiggly transom.

Mathew has flown home now. I get another visitor for the three days only and then in a week my brother flies home too. So I will be alone again. We are actually in St. Lucia but I will save all that for next time. Only 2500 miles or so back to Boston, and I could practically day-sail all of it!


Well, the week is over and now it is time to cross the Atlantic. So this will just be a quick blog post. I picked up Matthew at the airport and like most guests that come to Slick he did not arrive with everything he had when he left home. Those fun-loving, work-hating Spaniards lost his luggage, in sort of the same way Sean’s luggage got lost. Except that happened in Boston.

Anyway, I checked out today, all those fears about the Schengen agreement were put at ease as the Spanish National Policeman just looked at me as if I was stupid then shrugged his shoulders and exclaimed in broken English “USA OK.” That was my early morning success. The last week has a busy one, full of provisioning and getting last minute things done. Matthew has prepared a very diverse menu for us so the food on Slick will be above average – assuming he can cook in the waves. Slick is fully rigged and all the safety gear checked, all the loose ends stowed. I cleaned the bottom this afternoon and judging by the change in waterline from the growth about 3000 pounds of goods and gear were loaded on over the last few days.

I am hoping that by having cleaned the bottom we will gain around a quarter knot of speed, this may not seem like much but over 2650 miles that can mean pulling in as much as a day sooner. I certainly don’t want this ocean to take longer than the last one’s crossing from the Galapagos to the Marquesas (19.5 days) as that one was about 3200 miles. Slick T. Rocketship is an old lady now though so she goes a little slower. In any case you can follow us on the Spot Track Map. Matthew thought it best that I try to appeal to a younger generation so the map now has a twitter feed (@SlickSails) that you can subscribe to below. We will be sending daily updates to the map to let folks at home know how things are going in addition to just our location. If that isn’t enough of Slick’s Adventure though, here are some pictures of the Canaries.

Well, the weather looks good and Sean, Matthew and Slick are ready. I am eager to finish this last ocean crossing and be in the warm Caribbean. We leave at 0918 UTC on Monday, December 1, and we should land in St Lucia around December 21, if we are extra fast then we will make a stop in Barbados before that. All Hands Commence “Morning Show”.


We are in the final preparations for crossing the Atlantic. Mathew, who sailed from Borneo up to Lamut, Malaysia with Slick, returns on Wednesday morning and there is only a little work left aside from the big provisioning. We moved into a very nice marina in downtown Santa Cruz to take care of all the remaining issues and then it is time to make a very big hop across a very big pond.

Recently on Slick, we continued to stay in Lanzarote as the neighbors were friendly and the island was at least interesting. We made a tour of the island with the Turkish lady and the German guys. It was pretty amazing. There was a lot of lava flows from recent eruptions and the whole island is a desert landscape pock marked with the remainders of scoria cones. Even the wine growing regions were carved out of the landscape in a strange way emulating the surrounding volcanism. Combine this with the enormous swell pounding the north and west coasts of the island and the result is a rugged primeval landscape that is most likely not meant for human habitation.

Finally after numerous dinner parties and several good reviews for Restaurant Slick on tripadvisor it was time to leave. We made and over-nighter and landed at the south end of Tenerife. We stayed the night in a marina but it turned out to be expensive and we got lied to about how good the local fish dishes are. We saw a pod of pilot whales on the transit over though and even caught our first dorado. It was only a little female so we put her back in the ocean. We are hoping that she will go tell all her big sisters how nice the guys on Slick are and we can catch them later.

The next day we headed over to La Gomera. Its a pretty nice island and the marina is quiet, laid back and lacking all the pretension of the ARC or the Atlantic Odyssey which is found elsewhere in the archipelago. This, of course, was a welcome relief as I am allergic to ARC sailors, mostly. We came here to do some hiking and the hiking we did was awesome. The first hike was on the dry side of the island, even though right now everywhere is very green. It was steep, and long and it really beat us down. But it was great, stunning views, high cliffs and cool landscape made for a great day. At the end of the trail we were exhausted, as the rise was around 3500 feet of elevation gain over six miles and then 1 mile to get down. The down hurt more than the up actually. On the road back we put our thumbs out and a nice Finish couple picked us up and took us back to town.

Once our muscles recovered we decided to go on a second hike. This time we took a bus to the top of the volcanic island and walked down. The catch here though is that it was like 55 degrees or less and raining hard. We went fast down and down and down. Once we left the rainy forest we came into a beautiful canyon and followed a stream awhile. At the end of this was some trail so unbelievably steep that it was like climbing down a rock ladder. There was maybe 1000 feet of drop as you approached the town. The amazing thing though was that if you turned to look back you saw the stream fell down a non-neglectable waterfall. When we got to town we just missed the bus and waited for two more hours for the next one. The ride home was over some very rugged volcanic terrain.

We left to return to Tenerife the next day, there was new snow covering the massive volcano in the distance. The weather forecast was calling for 20 knots of wind and 6-8 foot waves. No problem. Except there is a massive acceleration zone between the two islands when the wind blows just a certain way, and it was. We left between squalls and got out of the harbor just in time to let another blow by. It was the last of the day and the wind was around 30 knots. The wind dropped back to a nice 15-20 and we jib sailed on a beam reach with broadside waves. It was quite nice, but then we hit the acceleration zone. The wind jumped up to 25-30 and then held steady around 30-32. We reefed the big 142% genoa down to where you couldn’t even read the sail numbers and Slick moved along with ease, making 6-8 knots. Then the swell started getting bigger and bigger as we made distance from land. At the height of it the swell and wind waves combined for probably 20 feet and I even had one break hard over Slick’s cockpit, soaking me in white froth. This kept on and there were some boats coming the other way. Jefe the Autopilot was not happy with the point of sail and I took over driving. It was a good thing as the wind continued to build. It was fun to helm but I am not very good at it and my helming muscles went the way of all my other muscles. So I was getting tired, at least my right arm was getting tired. It was a rodeo for 3-4 hours, much longer than the usual 8 seconds. Then, all of the sudden, the wind just stopped. It went from gale force to nothing in about 15 minutes and the waves died down soon after. We motored into a marina for the night and slept with the aid of suitable exhaustion. I hope I don’t see conditions like that again, but to be honest, it was kind of fun. Had it lasted another 3-4 hours though I think I would have not enjoyed the thrill.

The next day we moved to Marina Tenerife. It sucked. But we couldn’t leave as a wind storm came up and it rained hard, so we decided it best to stay there. Then after getting diesel we moved down here to Marina Santa Cruz. Its a lot nicer. I don’t know if that is true actually, but it is in town. I was able to do some shopping for some parts that broke, like a new foot pump and some other things. There is also a shop here that has all the flags of the Caribbean countries, so I need to take an inventory and head over.

Its pretty amazing to think that in less than a week we will hopefully be leaving to head to St. Lucia in the Caribbean. I am hoping for a maximum of 18 days transit. If we could do the speeds we managed in the Pacific then it would only be about 16 days but Slick is an old lady now and so she doesn’t like being pushed so hard. What’s really amazing is that in about a month I will have completed over half of the remaining 5500 nautical miles remaining in my trip. The end is near!


I didn’t realize how fast the time was slipping by as we hung around La Linea and Gibraltar. We are in Arrecife on the island of Lanzerote in the Canaries now. Since picking up my brother we have moved a little over 650 miles. Not much actually. But for the first time in a while, I don’t feel like I need to be in that much of a hurry. Oh, and it feels great to be in an ocean again.

My brother, Sean, flew into Gibraltar almost a month ago. I waited and waited for him to come out of the airport terminal. The tiny airport was pretty much empty and I still waited around. I knew he was there as I saw him get off the plane from the observation deck. Finally the doors opened and he came out, without any luggage! So we made the short walk across the runway (yes you walk across the runway to get back to Gibraltar proper) and waited for three days for the luggage to arrive. This was a bit rough since besides his clothes the luggage also contained all sorts of parts for Slick. Finally it came though.

We toured around Gib a bit, it isn’t a very big place but it certainly seemed expensive. Even though it has a really low tax rate, everything has the same price as Spain, except the price is in pounds instead of euros. This automatically made it twenty percent more expensive, at least. There were also no cheap eats to be had there. We realized we were spending too much money on things and decided to make a tour of the rock and then head back to La Linea.

The Rock of Gibraltar was great. We elected to hike up and down instead of taking the tram. The whole rock is full of tunnels and harbor defenses and things like this. At the look out on the top there are monkeys (or little apes) that are pretty funny. They will gang up on the tourists, maybe one will climb up onto the victim and pose for a picture and then two others will come and try to take the person’s bag or camera and then they all run and see what they stole. We were pretty lucky not to get assaulted but we saw some people who were not so lucky. The hike ended with a fantastic walk down the Steps of the Mediterranean to the Pillars of Hercules. Lots of steps switch-backing down a shear cliff above the Med. Very nice.

The next day we returned to La Linea, this takes only about twenty minutes. On the way in I could here a Polish accent calling my name and when I looked over I saw Miros, a single handing friend whom I had not seen since Palau. He managed to catch me, again, and he didn’t even ship his boat. The first time he and I met was in Fatu Hiva, a long time ago. Once we got the formalities out of the way I went over to say hello. We had a long talk about our respective trips over a few bottles of ethanol-based liquids. He expressed all the same sort of reservations that I have had the last few years, the things that no one really talks about or thinks about when setting out to sail around the world. It was quite refreshing to hear that I am not the only one worried about my future employment prospects, unable to have or keep a relationship thanks to the distance and always leaving, being over-budget, tired of sailing and traveling, the loneliness and occasionally just out and out depressed among other things. After some commiseration we decided we had better talk about the good parts of the lifestyle. He and I have both had a great time but we are done. He is finished now with the circumnavigation and has a little Atlantic Circuit to do and I have what I have left. This is an interesting contrast considering all the boats around us just beginning.

During my visit with Miros though, one of the many backpackers looking for a ride came along. He didn’t end up going with Miros, so we picked him up instead. His name is Maurice. We had a few dock parties and then the weather finally let up enough for us to head out. The first day we made the tide and the wind was fairly light for the Straights of Gibraltar so we didn’t have much trouble. I could definitely see though how if you made a mistake with the tides and the wind was not quite right then you would really be in for a terrible trip making no headway and just getting beat up. We, fortunately, didn’t have that problem. Even though all the advice about when to leave conflicts a bit, we chose to go 27 hours after high tide. The ship traffic was not so bad either and after passing Tarife we turned to cross the shipping lanes and head for the Canaries. It was completely moonless and the pollution coming off Morocco was incredible. It was that sickly sweet smell of burning trash. A terrible thing.

The next day, we had many sail changes as we tried to find the optimum combination for the very little wind we had. I wanted to only take 4 days for the 650 mile trip, so we had to average 6 knots. Well, in 8 knots of downwind breeze that is pretty hard. Eventually we put up the Number 1 jib and the cutter. We also flew both spinnakers and eventually ended up motor sailing until the evening blow which gave us a chance to sail. This was how it went everyday and we were frequently escorted by dolphins and even had a little bird that was far too far from land and had to come rest on Slick. Night time was nice with three watch standers, although the nights are long up here. The numerous shooting stars and incredible luminescent plankton provided adequate distraction. I guess the transit was pretty boring over all but Maurice was a very good watch stander and Slick motored and sailed well and we made it in 4 days.

On the morning before we pulled in we had a fish hit. We were up watching dolphins when the reel went off. Being under motor I was using poles and was not expecting anything large. Well, by the time I got back to the pole almost all the line had been stripped out. I dialed up the drag but their was only a little line left in the reel to try to fight the fish. Whatever it was, it was big, I guess a tuna by how deep it must have gone. Eventually, much to my annoyance, the line snapped. Later we caught a small tuna, maybe 6 pound or something, as a consolation prize. It was on the new real, Okuma, so I got to test him out. He is not as powerful as the Penn 9/0 Jim Gentry, but he got the job done anyway.

Arrival was straight forward and we took a berth in the brand new Marina Lanzarote in Arrecife. We have been here since. Maurice headed off on another boat and Sean and I have just been hanging around, fixing things and getting work done. But we have managed to meet some interesting people. Mostly all the people here are crossing the Atlantic this winter, some will go on to the Pacific and others will just make an Atlantic Circuit. Sometimes I feel like I am a senior and many of the people around are freshmen. That’s OK I suppose, I have all sorts of things to give them, just no wisdom.

The second night after we arrived we had a dock party with the neighbors, then eventually they left. And on one day a whole crop of single-handers arrived from Morocco. We have been hanging out with them and they have been over on Slick for a few drinks and last night for dinner. Quite nice, and interesting folks too. Here are two blogs from them: one is a Turkish lady who is traveling to benefit Turkish girls her blog is Rota Atlantik , and the others are some guys from Alekistan .

Anyway, despite my reservations about bothering to go anywhere, we certainly need to leave. And I certainly have the equivalent of senioritus. Partly because I am anxious to be done and partly because I still seem to have no idea what comes next after the trip. In the mean time though, what comes next is a short cruise around the Canaries and then picking up Mathew and setting across the Atlantic!


Just a quick update to let everyone know that we are heading off to Canaries in the morning. The first time back into a real ocean, lets hope it goes well. In the mean time, here is an interview from another blog concerning Slick’s Adventure.

Also, for everyone’s fun, I added some pictures of the time in Spain

Follow us on Spot Track.


I was getting very bored sitting in La Linea so I decided to take an overland trip to Granada and Seville. I guess this will be my last backpacking trip for a very long time. I am probably beyond the point of caring to travel anymore anyway. I am saturated for sure. So the real reason for the little over-landing was just to get off the boat.

The Spanish transport network leaves a lot to be desired, especially departing from La Linea. I was able to finally find a way out though and it was a very long and slow bus ride to Granada. I checked into the Makuto Hostel and it was very nice. The staff were great too. The only thing that was funny was my bed was twenty feet up a ladder! The first evening there I took a walking tour to see some of the views. During the tour we went up a hill that overlooks the city and there are caves where people still live. It was sort of interesting as they are quasi-legal and some are even made into full homes.

But I really came to Granada to see only one thing, the Alhambra. I have wanted to see this fortress and palace since I learned about it in Spanish class as a kid. I was worried my expectations would lead to a huge letdown, they usually do. But in this case, I was not at all let down. The Alhambra is very impressive and peaceful and lived up to the hype. Even if I had to wake up at 6 am to make sure I could get a ticket. The main ticket line was already three or four hundred people long when I arrived. Luckily there is a line for credit card purchases that is much shorter. This was very helpful and made the visit to the palaces very early in the morning.

From Granada I took a train to Seville, this was a much improved form of transit over the bus. I checked into the La Banda hostel when I arrived and hoped I might meet some interesting people to talk with. See, the sport of cruising is dominated by a bunch of old men and their fathers, so trying to find someone my own age can be difficult. The problem I found though is that the majority of backpackers in Spain are young. So young, like 19. This is fine I guess, they come here because it is really safe, or at least that is what I imagine. So they are all first time travelers, or at least a lot of them are. Backpackers in general, they always ask the same five questions, always. And I hate these questions, partly because I have heard them so often and partly because I have bad answers to them which only lead to more questions that I don’t really want to answer. So a typical conversation might go like this:

Twenty-two year old college kid: So, where’s home?
Me: Uh, home, right. Boston, I guess.
Twenty-two year old college kid: You guess? How can you now know where home is?”
Me: Its complicated, Boston.
Twenty-two year old college kid: Where have you been since you left?
Me: Uh, that’s kind of a tough answer, but I just came from La Linea.
Twenty-two year old college kid: Where?

Me: It’s next to Gibraltar.
Twenty-two year old college kid: Well where do you go next?
Me: Probably the Canaries. We’ll see.
Twenty-two year old college kid: Cool, so what do you do back in Boston?
Me: What do you mean?
Twenty-two year old college kid: You know, like for work?
Me: I don’t. I guess I was an engineer.
Twenty-two year old college kid: Sweet, I was going to be an engineer, but the math was too hard. So how long you been traveling?
Me: Three years, I have 8 months left.

There is always the same expression of surprise and at this point the conversation usually takes a difficult turn as I am forced to explain myself. That isn’t easy to do, especially to young people.

Anyway, the tour around Seville was nice. They have a huge cathedral and some other interesting stuff. I was really just taking a break from the boat though so I wasn’t all that interested in seeing a ton of sites. The ones I did were nice. The hostel ran a dinner every night too and the food was quite good. This gave me a chance to meet some of the older travelers. I was able to have some very good conversations over a few drinks. It was nice 30-something adult time.

I decided though that I am done with that sort of travel for a long time. It was ruined by some drunk Americans yelling at an Asian girl at 2 AM in the mixed-dorm. “Hey do you fucking speak English, I think you are in my bed!” She wasn’t. I felt so bad for her, and for my country in general. Mostly I think the thing that made me annoyed was how much this guy re-enforced the stereo-type of people from my country. I said something to the guy but I think he was too drunk to understand. In the morning I had to apologize to the girl and let her know we are not all like that.

Anyway, I caught a very long bus ride back to La Linea. I am glad I took a break but I really wish the Spanish would pick up after their dogs. There is dog-shit everywhere and so the whole country seems to be full of very aggressive shit-laden flies. This seems to be the only real drawback aside from the slow buses.

My brother comes tomorrow. This is good as it will end a very lonely two months. It will be nice to have someone to talk to and share the work with. We have a bit of a list to accomplish and then as soon as we can it is off to the open ocean again. I can’t wait, but for the next week the weather is not permitting. That’s OK, we have a lot of work to do.