Cleaning, troubleshooting, rummaging

This past week I spent time rummaging through the things that came with Windsong. A lot of it junk, a lot of it useful, and most of it interesting to discover. It was like going through an old thrift store or antique shop and discovering old treasures from someone's past life. I'll do some inventory and post here what I found, but I took pictures to do that with and haven't uploaded them yet. The best parts of all of the junk were the manuals and charts. The old service records and manuals for all of the boat systems really helped me out to understand what is going on. Many of them date way back into the 80's and its hard to tell what modifications are still on the boat and what are in the past. The charts themselves were a blast to begin studying, and they cover all of Florida, the Keys, Bahamas, and more.  I have begun planning the trip down the coast to get Windsong home and have been able to use those along with my navigation books to learn chartreading.

This weekend I spent Saturday and Sunday aboard Windsong. I studied the electrical system, engine, did some more cleaning, discovered more leaks and problems (this will be happening for some time), and did a lot of prioritizing and shopping list making. I pretty much know what I need to do for the engine now: oil and filter change, fuel filter change (primary and secondary), clean out raw water strainer, change air filter element, top off coolant. I also spec'd the running rigging and anchor chain further, now knowing how I am going to replace all of them. Next week, money permitting, I will have the rigging done and she should be ready to sail!

My parents came down on Sunday to check out Windsong and have some lunch. It was great to see them light up with excitement when they saw it. They know it is a long work in progress, but I think they are as excited as anyone about its potential.

This week I found a great website chronicling a man's journey aboard his 28' Pearson Triton back in the 80s'. His circumstances are a lot like mine, so I have been completely immersed in the story. Here is the introduction and any reader of this blog will find similarities in his situation and mine (and maybe yours!):

To be truly challenging, a voyage, like a life, must rest on a firm foundation of financial unrest. Otherwise, you are doomed to a routine traverse, the kind known to yachtsmen who play with their boats at sea... "cruising" it is called. Voyaging belongs to seamen, and to the wanderers of the world who cannot, or will not, fit in. If you are contemplating a voyage and you have the means, abandon the venture until your fortunes change. Only then will you know what the sea is all about.

-from Wanderer bySterling Hayden

This voyage I want to tell you about took two years to complete. Though I’ve written about it before in short articles, somehow it has taken some 20 years to get around to telling the story in more detail. It took place in 1984-86 when I was in my mid-twenties, as close to broke as I dared to be, and hungry for the adventure and romance of a long voyage. The premise is not so unusual: a young man, lusting after adventure, knowledge, romance, his fortune, and finding little of it at home, strikes out to see the world. It has taken me those many years and thousands more miles under the keel to fill some of the hunger and give me a more balanced perspective on that life-changing voyage alone around the world.

The world of cruising in yachts has changed in those years. For better and worse, new equipment at more affordable prices has reduced the physical and technical challenges of voyaging, and reduced along with it the rewards gained from hard physical work, self-sufficiency, and the thrill of risks inherent in any true adventure. Meanwhile, the popularity of world cruising has made the search for untrammeled and unspoiled islands more challenging than ever. Part of my reason for writing this narrative now is to provide a glimpse at an alternative style of travel to which the modern backpacker or sailor may not have been exposed. And to remind them that they can voyage now as I did then, filling their lives with discovery and living close to nature on their own terms. Combining a sailing voyage with a land travel adventure is not unique, but it is often overlooked how well the two modes of travel complement each other. Compared to a simple boat, a backpack and my boots, the thought of fussing around with airlines, taxis, busses, hotels, restaurants, and all the other trappings of tourist travel leaves me uninspired.

When I began my journey I didn’t realize that along the way my growing commitment to walk across each island and climb their highest peaks was to be a bigger part of the adventure than the actual sailing. Like a richly lived life, as a voyage unfolds it evolves and carries you where it will.

My life is different enough now that as I read over my saltwater-stained journal and tattered log book and flip through the photo albums it seems as if it were someone else’s life. Was I really so rash to set out across oceans possessing only a few hundred dollars on a boat with sails so old you could push your finger through? Had I been that ignorant not to fit an awning or dodger over the cockpit for protection from the elements? Surely, I hadn’t been that lacking in judgment to walk into that dark cave in New Guinea and tumble into its deep black pit. Was it foolish to look for the love of an island girl when I must have known I would soon sail away from her forever?

While there turns out to be no perfect plan, no perfect life, I learned some things on this imperfect voyage that shaped my whole life in the best ways possible. What better reward for a journey of two years. May you also avoid a “routine traverse”.