This week on Offshore

I haven’t done one of these posts in awhile. It was prompted by a sudden recollection of running into a Japanese pop duo performing whilst a friend and I were wandering a mall during our weeks of being stranded in Okinawa – 3 years ago this week (I remember because it was around Valentine’s Day when we were in the mall… they were into Valentine’s Day in a big way in Japan). Then I wondered, what else happened this week on Offshore?

We finally left the Island of Okinawa and the wonders of its shopping streets. Crossing the South China Sea and experiencing a series of mishaps: snapping a fore stay, breaking the stove, and exploding anchor winch hydraulic lines, we finally ran up Chinese colours and entered the Yangtze River. There were possibly more boats than we’d seen all at once in months (or ever) and the banks of the Yangtze and Huangpo rivers were overloaded with boats and buildings, garbage and miscellaneous detritus. Finally, we were able to dock in Shanghai with a stunning view of Pudong.

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SALTS

I have been associated with SALTS, the Sail and Life Training Society, for over ten years now. My first trip was a three-day coastal voyage in high school. I’ve been on board nearly every year since then. For two years, I worked for SALTS in the position of cook. Coastally, I’ve sailed all around the Gulf Islands and Sunshine Coast/Desolation Sound as well as circumnavigating Vancouver Island at least once. Offshore, we circumnavigated the Pacific Ocean: Hawaii, French Polynesia, the Cook Islands, Samoa, Tonga, Fiji, Vanuatu, Papua New Guinea, Micronesia, China, Japan… I lived and breathed SALTS for those two years – at times literally never leaving the boat for weeks on end (the longest passage we had was 30+ days without sighting land). I had to miss sailing with them this summer because of school, but I am looking forward to getting back on the water next season. It is hard work, but it is some of the most rewarding work one can ever do. Enjoy the short video. If you watch closely, you might pick me out once or twice in the offshore footage at the end.

Hove to

To continue to appease the northern commenter… I offer this previously unpublished piece of writing, from this day in history…

June 20, 2007. 139nm

I never get tired of the sunsets out here. We’ve passed below 10N and so the wind is somewhat lacking, meaning the sea can be somewhat glass-like.

Yesterday and today we hove-to for a swim stop. Yesterday, I ended up with far too much saltwater in my body so today I took the snorkel gear out. How many people can say they’ve gone snorkeling in 15,000ft of water? It is so incredibly blue and surprisingly clear. All you can see are the people around you and tiny jellyfish ranging from the size of a dime to about 15cm in diameter. The small ones would sting a bit, but you don’t really feel it.

I never last long out there because I pretty much have no stamina. When I got out of the water, I went up and sat on the bowsprit. It was a unique perspective to look back at the swimmers and the boat against the endless horizon. Just us and the ocean.

I also did my first sights today with the sextant. It is neat to be learning such an old craft, albeit with some modern equipment. I was only 1.6nm off on my first sight which is pretty good. I haven’t calculated how I did on my second sight. The process reminded me of that part in Red Rackham’s Treasure where Thomson and Thompson try to correct Captain Haddock on his navigational calculations to which he replies: “Gentlemen, please remove your hats.” “Why?” “Because according to your calculations, we are now standing inside of Westminster Abbey.” It makes me laugh just thinking of it…

We caught another dorado today. I guess it is in the freezer which means I’ll be expected to do something with it tomorrow. Meals seem to be less exciting on this leg. For one thing, we didn’t buy as much in Hawaii as we did leaving Victoria. I think the allergies are more restrictive on this leg as well.

Well, it has cooled down and I am cooking tomorrow so… ‘night.