IN SAUDI ARABIA

I am in Saudi Arabia for a short job, inspecting a couple of ships.  Its quite warm and everything is covered in sand, not really my type of place but I should be able to top up the boat fund and carry on preparing for next summer.

Anyway, I went offshore yesterday and got marooned on a ship overnight.  With not much to do I started flicking back on the laptop through old photos.  I was surprised to see that I was in Pelican, Alaska on this date – TWO years ago!

Main Street Pelican. Photo Ray Penson. Sailing Yacht Truce
Main Street Pelican. Photo Ray Penson. Sailing Yacht Truce

Pelican was an interesting place, the sort of place not many people get to as it’s off the beaten track.  I remember interesting and friendly people, a library with good WiFi, fresh salmon and good beer.  Very enjoyable.

Fresh Salmon. Photo Ray Penson. Sailing Yacht Truce
Fresh Salmon. Photo Ray Penson. Sailing Yacht Truce

Flicking forward in time to one year ago I found a photo of the underside of the mast where it exits the coach roof, with bits of wood smashed up to make makeshift mast wedges.  At the time I was on my way from San Francisco to Hawaii, it was a bit disconcerting when some mast wedges dropped out and creaks started emanating from the mast.  I think the change of climate may have caused the wooden wedges to shrink a bit as we headed south.  I was happy to have fixed the problem and arrived in Hawaii where I made a more permanent fix once in port.

Makeshift Mast Wedge. Sailing Yacht Truce.
Makeshift Mast Wedge. Sailing Yacht Truce.

This year I find myself offshore Saudi Arabia.  I haven’t been in these waters since I was a young man working on a pioneering SBM project to service the super-tankers of the day.  We managed to achieve amazing things with very little equipment – maybe because we didn’t understand we could fail.  There are far more platforms, barges, rigs and workboats around than the old days – it’s a very busy place now.

Work Barge Offshore Saudi Arabia. Photo Ray Penson. Sailing Yacht Truce.
Work Barge Offshore Saudi Arabia. Photo Ray Penson. Sailing Yacht Truce.

By this evening I should be back onshore and writing up my reports.  Then its back on the plane in a couple of days, back to New Zealand and the winter weather.

EIGHT DAYS OUT OF SAN FRANCISCO

Time flies when you’re having fun.  I just realised its eight days since I left san Francisco.  Days at sea run into each other, there is no demarcation or need for holidays or weekends.  When I look at the daily progress on the chart it seems so small but its steady and relentless, day and night until we arrive.

Two years ago, I was not even considering sailing across an ocean by myself.  I didn’t even contemplate going to Alaska on a yacht.  Once you open your mind to opportunities it’s amazing what you can achieve.  One can always find many reasons not to do something – but the fact is you only need one reason to do something.

Today we had the breeze from astern again.  Not much sail trimming to be done, just set it up and sit back for the ride.   It’s not the fastest sailing but it is relaxing – apart from the occasional roiling.  It will be nice if the wind holds steady through the night and not the up and down winds we have been experiencing for the past three nights.

The sun made an appearance after an overcast morning.  I had shorts on for a while until it became too chilly in the wind.  Still a wind chill, even at twenty-six degrees north.

I ran the engine for fifteen minutes.  Just to make sure the batteries are topped off.  Normally the solar panels take care of all the boats electrical loads and I don’t need to run the engine for electricity.  However, the last days have been mainly overcast so I just wanted to make sure I had plenty of electrical juice in the tank.

I just watched ‘A Fish called Wanda’.  An old movie and years since I saw it first.  Still quite funny as you would expect from John Cleese.  Quite a star-studded cast, even a young Stephen Fry has a part in it.

Beer o’clock will be beer this evening.  Last night I had Mount Gay Black Barrel rum.  Excellent rum, but pretty strong if you have to be up and down playing with sails all night.  Voyage distance 1,047 miles.

READY TO SAIL FROM SAN FRANCISCO

The weather forecast guys got it right, the cold front passed through last night with some good winds and rain behind.  I stayed up until three when the wind started dying down. I wasn’t worried about Truce dragging anchor, it was the other boats around, some of them almost wrecks, that I wanted to watch out for.

It’s been rain and drizzle today, not enough to wash off the city grime, just enough to make everything grubby and wet.  I took my final trip ashore in the rubber duck, this time to the Sausalito library for Wi-Fi and a weather update.  The weather looks OK for a Friday departure, not as good as I wanted but if I don’t catch this window the weather turns ugly again for another week.  So, the plan is to sail early Friday morning to catch the ebb tide under the Golden Gate Bridge.

Coming out of the library I found a marine and Ace Hardware store.  Wonderful, I managed to get the items I refused to get yesterday from West Marine – at less than half the West Marine price.

Then I went shopping for a few fresh veggies, fruits, a loaf of bread and a lump of cheese.  I don’t have a fridge on Truce and perishables don’t last long.

I watched a guy drive off in a Tesla car.  There was no noise.  No sound when he started up, no sound when he drove off.  Wow, the car looks good and appeared not to be slow.  This must be the future.

Back on-board Truce I deflated and stowed the rubber duck, got everything squared away and prepared for sailing tomorrow.  It’s amazing how a few days in port causes all the movable items migrate from their secure spots into the open.