Webb Chiles checks in from his office….
Yesterday morning I was hand steering GANNET in forty knot winds and big seas that were coming from my blind side—I’ve been blind in my right eye for three years—and so slamming into GANNET and me unexpectedly. Heavy blows, a couple of which knocked me off my seat on a flotation cushion. I couldn’t leave the tiller long enough to duck below and get the safety harness, so while steering with one knee I tied a bowline into a sail tie and looped it through the slotted toe rail as a wrist strap.
When I did see those waves coming, I turned and we surfed at ten and twelve knots, Maybe more. I wasn’t always looking at the Velocitek.
I was pushing hard to complete this passage from Neiafu, Tonga, before winds of gale force on the beam became gale force head winds. I was hand steering because all four of my tiller pilots had died. One had been repaired and died twice, so that really makes five. It wouldn’t have mattered. They couldn’t have handled those breaking seas.
I made it, reaching the Quarantine Dock at Opua Marina just before sunset, at the tiller except for briefest of intervals to get a drink of water, eat a protein bar, and use the piss pot, from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.
I based my last boat, THE HAWKE OF TUONELA, here and love the place. I named GANNET after handsome gold headed birds that I enjoyed watching with my sunset drink hunt above HAWKE. They are big birds and hit the water like cannon balls, As GANNET and I sailed across the bay yesterday two gannets flew across our bow.
I’ve liked New Zealand ever since I first sailed in almost forty years ago, but it is not a good place to dry out a wet boat, and GANNET was, and still mostly is, epic wet. CHIDIOCK TICHBORNE wet; and CHIDIOCK TICHBORNE didn’t have a deck.
So a Moore 24 has crossed the Pacific Ocean in four months. Actually a day less, I left San Diego on May 20 and arrived in Opua on September 20, but it was still September 19 in San Diego.
By straight line noon to noon positions we sailed 6408 miles
My year’s work is done. I have a great office.