Friday, 14 December 2018

A season On Draken

So in my continuous search for sustainable work in the field of life I love, I took a contract working on the Draken Harald Harfagre.  Don't get me wrong, I have an amazing, well paying career as a Plant Superintendent which affords me a very comfortable life.  But a realization that we are conditioned at an early age to work for the machine and always look to the future to follow our dreams...  Where do you think Bull Shit expressions like, "waiting for your ship to come in" or "good things come to those who wait." come from?!  

  That second one is the worst expression and a prime example of the conditioning we are taught. 

Why do we set a goal and then take the long way around?  So many have jobs or careers to cover their bills but hate their job?  Just so that one day we can maybe realize a dream one day?  Wait till we're retired to start?  Why not make daily decisions with your dream as your goal? 

A few years I made this mind change.  When I was out shopping, see a great big TV..  Man that would be nice, but can I fit that in my sailboat?  No?  Move on.. Keep doing that and that long twisted turning path to your dream starts straightening out.  Now I live at least 6 months a year in the sun, surrounded by palm trees.  Its a good life.  Last piece of the puzzle was to utilize my skills as an engineer to take contracts for the summers so I can adventure all winter.  

In came Draken..  She is a tough ship to work on.  I was hired on as the Chief Engineer in 2016 and enjoyed a great season in 2018 as well.  The 2018 season saw us sailing the East Coast of the USA from Mystic Seaport to Norfolk Virginia and back.. Check it out HERE

What an experience this ship is.. It is famous with thousands of people in each port yelling and clapping as we come into port..  What a surreal feeling.. Never been asked for autographs before until this ship.  I love the energy..  I love the people.. 

The crew is largely made up of volunteers with a core crew of between 7 and 10..  The other 20ish crew is volunteers from all different walks of life.  This makes life a little tough in a few ways...  The rig is a traditional square rig weighing over 3000lbs.  and the largest rig like it in the world.  The training as crew come and go for their 2 or 4 week legs means constant training.  

But also, the hardest part is the relationships we make..  We make connections and then before we know it, a new group of volunteers shuffle through all wild eyed and excited.  The energy is amazing..  But that is a sailor's life right?  Always saying, "see you later."

This ship is built like no other..  As the chief Engineer, I am in charge of all the more, non-traditional parts of the ship..  Means at times 12-14 hour days..  But I love it and I will continue on with it.

With Draken Harald Harfagre, we have some huge plans for the near future

Wednesday, 12 December 2018

Resetting the clock

It has been almost a year and a half since I have posted to this blog.  For a reason or not, the sentences which used to flow out of me had dried up.  As life does, life can be busy.. curve balls are thrown and we either catch them or we don't. 

I left my little ship lonely in a Mexican boat yard.  Intentions were 6 months.. 18 months later,  she still sits waiting for me.. 

I got caught up.

I left Golden Hind IV for the promise of an expedition in 2017.  The expedition was a failure.. Poor planning?  Poor communication?  

Poor judgement on my part.

But with every door that closed, another door opens.  I bought another property, worked in an amazing little northern Canadian town, made incredible friends..  All in all, it was worth my effort to go North..  But always in the back of my mind, Golden Hind IV.  She has been waiting..  waiting, and I am just about there..  soon, in one month, I will be back on her decks.  And the adventure continues.

Monday, 27 February 2017


Distance from home,  from friends,  family and work.  Sometimes the distance is good,  sometimes it's bad..

 I will never regret my choice to travel.

 I know some may consider this choice to be non sustainable but neither is working everyday,  day in, day out.  Working OT to puff up that paycheck.  Tonight,  the distance seperated me from hearing of the death of a man I considered a friend.  He died a month ago..   A tough prick that when we first met, wouldn't even talk to me.  I was too new at the plant to be trained by him...  But I wore him down. Shift after shift I worked at him like I do and we became friends.  We joked during long and exhausting graveyards and bitched about plant issues together...  Looking back,  it was just to pass the time..  He worked everyday..  seriously every fucking day..  THAT is not sustainable..  His heart gave out.  His wife and kids will miss him.

Tell you what is sustainable...  Being free. Free to drop hook in paradise after paradise. Free to slip over the gunwale to spear my dinner. Free to meet new people and love them..  Free to say goodbye to them too.  Free to camp under the stars with amazing friends.  Free to open my heart up in the middle of the night knowing it is for not. To rub a friend's back and feel myself fall and then pull myself back.   To worry about my people and spend all my energy on them.  Free to end that too.  Free to wander down a foreign street during carnival with my headphones on in obscurity.  To not give up. To wait, to love, to let my walls down. 

My point is, beyond the obvious, so many can not see the full picture.  Most people see in 2 dimension.  They see what society has made them..  Drones set to work,  pay bills,  live in their little box. 

  The world is not 2 dimensional,  nor is it 3 dimensional. It is so much more than that.

This life gives freely if you are just not afraid to reach for it..   This last year I almost died in South America by a kid with a machete over a backpack. Made me realize my life needed to change..   So I made the change.

I have fed wild monkeys bananas and coaxed their babies to trust humans.   

 I sailed an amazing viking ship with an amazing crew. Slept beside them, sweat with them, sang and danced with them..  Made lifelong friends..  I was terrified when I quit my job to set sail..   Like the saying goes, I threw off the lines.  Stepped off into the world with no solid plan, just an unmanifested dream and a 27ft sailboat.

I will never regret my choice to travel.

Whether it is the rush of surfing down waves under full sail or waking up to the gentle lap of the water on the hull. Or seeing the look of happiness on a friend's face before we get hurled through the air on a Mexican carnival ride.  Or watching my mates look for lobsters under rocks and then buying them for dinner..  None of this would have happened.. My life wouldn't have been made richer by all these experiences if I had stayed cradled in that rut.  I'd have never met so many of my people..  I live a blessed life.  I am richer for it..

I will never regret my choice to travel

Sunday, 22 January 2017

Slowly the VLOG is set to catch up!

Sunday, 22 January 2017

Now that I am tied comfortably in a marina in the Cortez,  I am hoping to be able to catch up on some blogging and put more out there for the VLOG.

The original intent with the VLOG was to keep the friends and family engaged with the voyage.  A video stimulates so much more than words and pictures.   Here is a list of the videos in the VLOG so far.  If you have time, enjoy them! ☺😎

Hope you enjoy!

Thursday, 8 December 2016


Flat calm. An ever so subtle transfer of energy from the ocean to the hull brings me back from my thoughts as I lay on my foredeck.  The lights of the small village I float nearby all go dark as if by que as the generators shut down for the night.  The stars already bright suddenly glow brighter as slowly my eyes adjust and I slip back into my thoughts.   Slight blues and red flash as some stars reveal they are not all white.  Maybe they didn't just reveal this, maybe I just started to pay attention.  Or maybe the absence of all man made distraction helped me to see.  Or maybe the barely perseptable movement of the Golden Hind on which I float, tethered  to Terra by a mere hook and rode shifted my thoughts to notice. 

Dawn will again come, all this will be masked by a deep blue, pinks, reds and finally day will break..  Again so many stars disappear from sight.  That's ok because the warmth of first light will touch my skin and distraction from these thoughts are replaced with another beautiful gift.  Life, a life spent living it my way.  For now, I will sacrifice a world I was conditioned to need to live a life with time.  A currency so easily spent by far too many, far to easily.  A currency which seems to be endless until it is too late.  A currency we all have but valued differently by everyone.

I am lucky, not because I am laying on the foredeck on a warm December night floating 35 feet above the ground on crystal clear water.  That was a series of hard choices made and dedication.   No, I am lucky because of the country embossed on my passport.  The choice by those who rule afforded me the chance to choose.   Not all have this. 

 I watched two young boys today, maybe 8 and 10 run out of their fibreboard shack with kitchen pots obviously sent by their mother to fetch water halfway across town.  This sight touched me a bit because I know this is their life. Their little chore and their little dedication to their family.  They will have very little chance for escape for better things.  Maybe one of those little boys will be a shimmering blue or red light unlike the miriad of simple white spots.  Different from the mould.  I hope they see it.

And yet here I am, anchored 600 feet from their doorstep by choice.  I fetched water from the same sistern yesterday. 

If the chance is given or a choice is an option, choose to take back the time.  Don't spend it on money. Money can not buy you time.  Take the conditioned barriers that are built around you since before birth and push them aside.  Take back your time and pursue your life.  This is not a rehearsal and no divine master is going to beam you up when your currency is all spent.  Take it and choose how to spend it.  Chase a dream, be brave and gybe for the first time.  Resetting your sails takes effort and energy to catch the wind in a new direction. The wind is there and the choice is yours which direction you choose, it is not dictated. 

All that is needed is a moment without distraction to see the difference between so many choices that all look the same.  It is easy to miss the subtleties that make one choice shine a little differently.  Not all the same are the paths chosen.

  Right now is the time. Do not wait for tomorrow when today shines so brightly.


The Unknown

Today I learned why you should always carry a knife when cruising in Mexico.

I am a very cautious man. When it comes to sailing and sailing offshore I typically double think things and ensure I as well as my boat is prepared for the next journey.  I like to research unfamiliar topics and glean advise from other possibly more experienced individuals to ensure I am as prepared as possible..  I rarely shrink back from a challenge and typically try to over achieve. .  This has been both a help and a hindrance in my life.

Before I set off from the safety of my familiar waters, I heard much talk of piracy and banditos on the Baja as well as elsewhere in Mexico. 

Today I was lucky to have been carrying my dive knife in my backpack.  I wasn't packing it out of fear of being mugged.. No, I only had it on my person because I had just came from a day of free diving and spearing fish for tonight's dinner in the crystal blue waters off an offshore reef..  

After catching enough food for 3 nights supply for Duke and I, I kicked off my flippers, pulled anchor and powered my dinghy back to the sheltered Cove where my sailboat floated lazily on her hook.  The Sun was hot today, and the warm air crystallized the salt on my skin as the chill from evaporation was replaced by the sun's heat aided by the dry air and the spead across the calm water.  I have taken to searching for reefs further from shore, pinnacles where the larger fish roam. This time just around the corner to my starboard is Santa Maria and the small shark fishermen camp where Hammerhead,  Maco are the main prey.  Those big boys are further out.   To my port is a small fishing village of Belcher Bay where they toss the byproducts into the water which according to the locals brings in Tiburon in the 5 ft range for a free dinner.  . Armed with my knife strapped to my leg, a homemade hawaiian sling and a lung full of air, I haven't had to buy meet in weeks.

As I journeyed down the coast, I waited for the water to finally warm and clear enough to hunt.  This would also mean entering another country where things are done differently from my home in Canada.  On the southern trek I passed through areas of extreme oppulance and shady neighborhoods where walking to get supplies, poor women offer favors literally for alcohol.  In these places, I didn't feel in danger or nervous but I felt sick because of how society needs the extremes to push people to the top.  The first rule of physics applies here as well.  I was warned fervently about the corruptness of the people just a few lines of latitude south.  Undaunted, I set the sails and caught a favorable breeze south in the early evening for the overnight passage to clear in.

What I have been met with since entering Mexico has been extremely friendly and helpful people.  There is the typical larceny on the beach by young men wanting money to "watch my dinghy" much like Brazil where this is done in almost every parking lot or street.  I was used to it and somewhat expected it.  But that has only occurred in Bahia Tortugas where the Baja Ha Ha and FUBAR have inadvertently taught the locals that they can expect money from sailors.  This has been isolated to this one location so far but hey man, these locals ended up being very helpful and giving, inviting us to party with them into the late of night.  And that young man did "watch the dinghies" as the rising tide almost washed away a few if it wasn't for him keeping watch and running  out there to drag them higher up the beach.  Well worth the 25 pesos.

This brings me to my bay.  I have spent over a week exploring the huge bay solo as one group of boats headed south and I waited for the rest of the group to catch up. Affording me time to really get to know the people.  I roam the sand roads, waved at by the chubby men and weathered women.  Invited to sit in the shade and engage in a match of 'decipher this sentence'.  I enjoy the interaction.  My Spanish is increasing exponentially as they laugh at my pronunciation. 

Lupas, Moy amigo.  He has found me gasolina when I was almost out, bargained with the water man to get me drinking water straight from the Desaladora Planta cistern.   Gave me two massive lobster simply because I help him with his English.   These are the people of the Baja.  These are people with very little.   Little boys with slicked over parted black hair running down the beach to help me get my dinghy in the Agua.   Beeping their horns and waving as they pull their pangas down the beach road.  They know of me as I live just out of reach in my floating home.  

Any good sailor is self sufficient. Able to find or fix their way out of any situation.  

Arriving back at the Golden Hind IV, I lifted the bucket of fish over the gunwale and spun the inflatable around for shore.  Duke has been on the water for a few hours and needs to take a break.  After landing on the remote beach and the wind picking up, I laced my arms and slid the backpack on for a quick hike.  All is great except for the wind steadily building..  There is a change in the weather coming. A front is clearly visable as the stacked clouds line across the sky.  Shirtless and in shorts, I pull the dinghy across the crushed shell beach and back into the water as duke jumps onto the bow as he has been trained to do.  Firing up the engine, and gunning it to push upwind to the boat,  I quickly sucked up a scrap of fishing net into the prop. Unable to free it by hand and being blown further down the bay, I remembered the dive knife.  I was lucky as this was the first time I packed a knife. Now my multi tool is always on my belt.  Saved me a long long paddle back home.

I know that as this adventure continues, I will pass through areas not near as trusting and safe.  But for now, I can tell you that the people of the Baja in these small, dry fishing villages are gems.  They are rough around the edges but their souls are good and I have been lucky enough to be embraced by them.

Friday, 2 December 2016

Tick Tock

With each mark of latitude and every mile ticking by on the plotter my spirits rise.  The water has gone from a dark greenish black through many hues of dark blue to a light crystal blue.  Sitting snug in the San Quintin channel listening to the gurgling of the 4 knt current on the hull, I have time to reflect on my 1800 NM. journey to get here.

I remember the first few days, leaving the security of my slip in Ladysmith,BC and winding my way through the Gulf Islands and San Juans.  Every island held memories of nights spent under the stars dreaming of the day I would set out.  So many memories of days running spinnaker up the channels and daydreaming of greater adventures. I wondered when I might see these places I have grown to love again.

Another line of latitude finds me off the coast of Washington.  This coast is not to be taken lightly. Wild and cold the nights of solo sailing are lonely. 

A few more ticks of latitude and I cross the Oregon line.  Water is like crystal. Blue and Cold.  The freak wind storms that can develop along this desolate coast will close all the bars making it impossible to find shelter.  I remember the time spent weather routing to ensure the next port would be made before the next weather system rolled in. The big seas have long since become normal.  The Golden Hind IV takes it all in stride and pushes forward .  She is an amazing boat.

Watching the miles go under the keel and the water lightening to a clear blue,  my spirits rise as finally California passes by my port side.  Being caught in an unforcasted wind storm, I surfed into Crescent city in high seas and on the verge of dangerous conditions..  Surfing the angry steep seas, the peaceful blue turned to black as the wind whipped the tops of the waves.  The exhausting run finally saw me making the placid Cove of Crescent city at 2:30AM.  A light fog on the flat water lit up by the Sodium Vapour made me reflect on what just happened and how glad I was to be safe at harbor.  

At 40° latitude. ,  I rounded the infamous Cape Mendocino.  This Cape is a turning point and any cruiser that has rounded this Cape know that it is a big thing.  We set out as a group under calm conditions and rounded in the dead of night.  Flat calm.  Next stop, Sausalito in San Francisco  Bay where a 3 day turn around to reprovision turned into 2 weeks as a storm system slammed into the coast.  

Miles under the keel, blue water passing under keep this journey real.  Dolphins playing in the bow wave like torpedoes trailing phosphorescence in the night. Always a welcome sight and a chance to lay on the bow trailing my hand in the passing water watching the creatures dart back and forth in the black of night.

Lights of LA and new friends opening their arms to me in Cabrillo was a nice break from the open seas. A chance to get out on the town and down many beers in the local bars and boats.  Good times and great new friends.  Newport Beach is the meaning of American excess.  Anchored right in the middle of glass castles and multimillion dollar yachts, I couldn't help but feel excited to get south and out of this atmosphere. 

Finally the crossing where the starboard shroud gets a new flag..  The red white and green of Mexico replaced the stars and stripes..  At about 31°latitude, Ensenada.  Clearing in was a snap.  Although time consuming and about half a tree later, the very official personel made love to their rubber stamps and triple stamped everything.  But what do I care, I'm in and nothing would be better than to celebrate with cheap beer and fish tacos with friends.

This brings me to where I lay now.  Snug in the harbor of San Quintin.  The blue water framed by sand dunes and dormant volcanoes all around the coastline make me realize how far from home I am..  And yet I think about what the future will bring.