Day Twelve – Shifty shifts

It’s just after sunrise, and while the wind had died down from the previous night’s blow, the seas were still very messy and Ahyoka was getting thrown around the place. At least I could sail into the wind, gain height and head due east, I tell myself. Tired from the squalls, I really need to rest. Even a little so I have my wits about me to take on the day. Sleeping downstairs was not going to happen as it was already very hot down there and it would have been more comfortable sleeping in a washing machine the boat was bouncing around so much. I decide to rest in the safety of the cockpit, but given how much the boat is rolling, I strap myself in as I’m worried I could just roll out I’m so tired. My biggest fear this whole trip is that I fall into the water by some silly accident while the boat is sailing and I’m not wearing my PFD. My PFD has an EPIRB and PLB attached, so in theory I might be rescued if I fell over while wearing it but without it, I’d be toast. A very slow, heartbreaking death as I slowly watch the boat sail off into the distance while I tread water, knowing no one is coming to get me but not giving up just in case. I wonder how long I could tread water for. 24 hours? Longer…? I strap in extra tight, just in case and find sleep almost immediately.

My thumb took a beating last night. I don’t recall how it go injured but every time I go to use it this morning, its sore. A sharp pain on the left side of the nail that seems to go through to the bone. Its swollen to about 50% of my other thumb and is a deep red. Better keep an eye on it and consider some kind of treatment tomorrow if it doesn’t improve.

I managed to get some food down for lunch and then did an inspection of the boat. We were still heeled over 20 degrees and I saw the sheets on my bunk that had fallen on the floor were soaked. I pulled up the floorboards and there was water sloshing about the bilge. Hmmm. Not ideal. I sponged out two buckets of saltwater from the bottom of the boat. Where did that come from? The forward hatch that broke on day one took in a tiny bit of water but that drained directly into the forward head and shouldn’t have gotten into the bilge. I replaced all the through hull fittings before I left so it’s unlikely one of them is loose, though we took quite a beating last night, so I’m worried there’s a slow leak somewhere. In the whole scheme of things, two buckets are not a huge amount of water, so I try not to worry too much, though I commit to keeping a close eye on it in the days ahead.

By the time I pop my head out of the cabin the winds have become very light (TWS 2-3knts), shifting through 120 degrees. The windvane function on the autopilot is proving invaluable though “wind shift” alarms go off every 20 mins. This is what I expected the doldrums to be like but I’m a long way from where they normally are this time of year. Light airs and constantly shifting winds are incredibly frustrating for a sailor as you need to constantly adjust to the shifts, but as the winds are so light you make little progress.

The sunset is a deep dark red tonight. Framed by dark grey storm clouds it takes on a dramatic aura. I try and recall the old saying my dad told me as a child. Was it “Red sky at night sailors delight, grey sky in the morning sailors warning” Or was it “red sky at night shepherds delight…”? Does really matter? I saw what I wanted to see and trusted that tonight would be calmer. I reefed the main just in case, ate my left over Thai green curry (even better the second time around), called the boys and then turned in for the night at 7pm HK time. I slept well and just ignored the wind shift alarms. Sometimes sleep is more important than Nms. I really didn’t care about what direction I was going. As long as the boat was safe, and I could sleep. Sleep. Sleep. Oh, how I needed sleep. Nothing else mattered. So, I slept. And it was good. Very good.

6 Responses

  1. Rory- Did not get to meet u at OPM for some reason? However, I am living through you now and can hardly wait for your next post. Man! What an adventure in every form of the word.
    Please know you have one guy in California living through and rooting for you.

    All the best,
    Matt Westphal

  2. Sleep well my friend. Hope your hand/ thumb improves and you sort out the slow leak. We used to get water in the bilge very time we raced (1–2 buckets), w e also sponged it between races, but obviously has a very different meaning when you’re alone and far from help. Our thoughts and prayers are with you mate.

  3. Hi Rory!! Am reading your blog religiously. It’s very interesting and a bit scary too!! Hope your thumb heals quickly…
    You take care.
    Safe sailing!!!

  4. Rory,
    Glad to hear you got some rest, and that you are very well kitted out with Lifejacket/PFD, PLB and EPIRB as well as your tether. I wonder if you have read 270 deg W? If not worth reading when safely home.

    Red sky at night… is a Sailors Delight…Red Sky in the morning is a Sailors warning. Red Sky and nasty black storm clouds…. Reef right down and prepare the storm sails!

    Hoping you get more of a steady sea state, and wind angle to continue your voyage in the right direction.

    As a wee treat… If you have any limes or lemons left…Try freezing some slices or quarters next to the refrigeration plate in your Fridge or Cool Box, when the generator or engine is on, and spice up your water with a citrus cube :). Also good for the scurvy…
    Better still, if you have any Oranges left…stick them in too, for a wee Half Time Frozen treat at mid-day.

    Fair winds from Bonnie Scotland

  5. Sleep? I am not sure how you can!
    And on this day June 3rd, I would like to Wish you some peaceful sailing, healthy outcomes with your thumb and a VERY HAPPY BIRTHDAY!!
    Thank you for the sharing and keeping us engaged in your journey. You are an amazing person.

  6. Forgot to wish you a happy birthday my friend!! I hope you got some reprieve for your day and we’re able to enjoy a nice book, meal and sunset on the bow today!
    I’ll have a drink for you tonight!

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Rory Hunter


Entrepreneur. Chief Executive Officer, Song Saa Collective. Pioneers of sustainable development in South-East Asia. The collective includes Song Saa Resorts and Song Saa Private Island in Cambodia’s Koh Rong Archipelago. 2006, co-established the Koh Ouen Marine Reserve, Cambodia’s first-ever marine protected area. The reserve has since expanded to 400 square kilometres and has gained the support of Monaco’s Prince Albert II. 2013, founded the Song Saa Foundation, an independent NGO dedicated to preserving Koh Rong’s underwater sanctuaries, providing alternative means of livelihood for its residents and bringing much-needed healthcare and education to the region. Speaker at international conferences, including the G20 Summit in Brisbane in 2014. World Economic Forum Young Global Leader. Member of the prestigious Young Presidents Organisation. Former advertising executive and worked for multinational firms including Saatchi and Saatchi. Graduate, Harvard Business School; studied sustainability and resilience, Stanford University: Global Leadership, Harvard Kennedy School; BEcon, Sydney University. Completed the Coast to Coast in 2015, one of the world’s toughest endurance races, set in New Zealand, in 17 hours; offshore sailor, downhill skier, long-distance runner and proud dad of two boys.