Date

Day 28 – The Doldrums

I was warned about the doldrums. The tropical conversion zone where the wind goes to die. I don’t think anyone who spoke to me about the doldrums referred to them fondly, so I was surprised by how happy I was to be greeted by absolutely zero wind this morning. For me, the doldrums will give me some much-needed rest and I was thrilled to be here.

 

First up I got to work on sorting out both the boat and myself.

 

I cleaned everything inside and out (including scrubbing the toilet), did my washing, aired the bedding and opened all the windows to give the boat a good freshening up too.

 

I also did various small repairs. Nothing major, but things that with more wear and tear could turn into major breakages down the track. My plan for tomorrow (if it’s this calm) is to pull the sails down and get out the sewing kit as there are a few more areas that need patching (not to mention my tear) along with a long list of repairs.

 

I’ve been sailing constantly for four weeks now, so even small amounts of friction over such a long period can run through a line, a sheet or a halyard, which is why regular inspections are so crucial. If picked up early, the friction point can easily be moved and there’s no issue. It’s all about having a keen eye and picking things up early before they become problems. In the hotel business we call it preventive maintenance. Out here its more akin to survival.

 

I also did a detailed inventory on my remaining fuel and further analysis on fuel consumption given the forecast for light airs the coming week.

 

Thankfully things are still in good shape:

 

       200L in tank (full)

       7.25 Jerry Cans = 145L

       1 x reserve can = 20L

       Total 365L which gives me a good 4 days motoring through the doldrums if needed with enough (100L) to get me to Cairns (both power generation and motoring into the marina) not including the reserve

 

It’s remarkable how flat the seas are today. They’re so flat that when you’re looking forwards it feels like the boat is stationary as there’s no discernible movement. No passing waves. No benchmark to show you’re going past anything. Its only when you look back and see the wake you realise you’re not stopped. For a moment your brain has a little “wobble” while it tries to compute what it’s seeing. It’s all a little disorienting to be honest but also kind of fascinating how dependent we are on known “cues” for computing what’s going on around us, without which the brain struggles to know what’s happening.

 

With the seas so flat the horizon is even closer, probably less than 3Nm as there are no waves or anything at all in the distance to hint at a further point. It almost feels like the ocean is folding in on itself. I try and recall the formula for measuring the distance of the horizon and am fairly sure it’s the square root of your height (in feet) times 1.2m but I’m not sure if/how that accounts for a completely flat sea.

 

Another interesting result of zero waves or ripples on the water meant the reflections of the sky and the clouds were like artwork. The main body of art in the sky still while the copy on the oil like water, shape shifting with the swell but still an almost perfect facsimile. I try to capture it on film as its unlike anything I’ve seen before, so hopefully it comes out – keep an eye out for my doco once I land in Cairns and get a chance to edit all this footage I’m getting too.  

 

My nightly routine now is to star gaze for hours before falling asleep on deck as the boat and seas are so calm. I realise how much I’ll miss this when I’m back on land and commit to spending as much time gazing into the night sky as I can in the days (or nights) ahead.

 

Postscript:

 

@James

Thanks Wilso!! Yes, Gill and Hazza were thrilled. Nice how involved they’ve been with the whole journey

 

@Jamie McWilliam

Thank you sir! Another 16deg south to go

 

@Eileen O’Farrell

Many thanks Eileen. I promise I’ll make it up to Neptune and Ahyoka when my fridge is a little less bare.

 

@Meeta Ashit

Thanks Ashit!! Big shout out to Living group 7B

 

@JoAnne LaBounty

Thank you JoAnne. That’s very sweet of you to say that.

 

Ahyoka is a Beneteau Oceanis 43’ built in 2008. She’s definitely not a blue water boat, hence why I’ve had all the gear failure issues but hey, all things considered she’s doing just fine.

 

@Aisha

Thanks dear Aisha.

 

@Douglas Farrell

Thanks Dougie. As I watch the night sky out here I often I think about the time we hiked around the entire coast of Stuart Island, which has equally epic star gazing. Such a great memory.

 

@Innes & Sue Garden

Thanks so much Uncle Innes. I hope there wasn’t any hazing for your both when you crossed 😉

 

Give Sue a big hug from me and thrilled you’re both following along.

 

Love Rory

 

@Fergus Gibb

I’m so happy you’re following my journey Uncle Fergus! I can’t believe the last time I saw you was at Monikie, all those years ago. They’re still some of my fondest memories.

 

Much love,

 

Rory

 

@Amit Kalyani

Thanks brother!! Thrilled you’re able to join me on this adventure.

5 Responses

  1. This is brilliant, mate. Pity we never got a chance to catch up in HK post Doug’s wedding, but so happy to see you’re grabbing life by the scruff of the neck. Inspired. Best of luck for the remainder of the voyage.

  2. Hi Rory. Still love reading about your adventures and delighted that you’ve now crossed the equator. As I said previously, your blog is beautifully written and keeps us hanging on to the edge of our seats – it’s compulsive reading every day! You’ll have picked up that some of Liz’s golfing friends, especially Eileen who’s a keen sailor herself, have also become avid followers of your blog. It means that Liz and her friends are talking about your adventures while they’re on the golf course and you’re at sea on the other side of the world.
    We’re hoping that the next section of your journey is less hazardous and that you’re able to relax a bit more and possibly enjoy some downtime as you head towards Cairns – but keep on your toes as you never know what is going to happen next. Good luck and take care.

    Lots of love
    Athol & Liz
    xx

  3. The Doldrums.. feels a bit like what we have been sailing through back on land with the COVID crisis… only no stars to stare down thought the night. Just a well lit singaporean ceiling. I am sure these are the moments that you find that solitude… enjoy the downtime pal. rakes

  4. Rory,
    I wish I could parachute in and relieve you a for a day or two of your responsibilities as a Solo Ocean Sailor.

    To give you rest, real rest, knowing that someone will take care of everything for you, just for a while, and then Parachute out and leave you to it.

    The step up from Crew to Mate, from Mate to Skipper, and from Skipper to Solo Skipper… across the most vast and magnificent Ocean, is only a state and privilege that few will experience, let alone comprehend. I salute you. 🌍⛵️🌈🐳

    To answer your question – The average distance to the horizon from a yacht is about 3M or 5 NM. I assume you are no more than 2M or 6ft tall.
    Obviously the height of the deck above the waterline may give you extra height, and distance, but standing in the cockpit only a meter or so above sea level. Multiply your height in meters above sea level by 13, and take the square root of that. Of course this also depends on air quality and visibility….. As the shipping forecast says… Very Good, Good, Poor, Very Poor…!

    5NM is usually a good guide from a 40ft Yacht.

    I hope you have a “Palm” onboard to help you push the Needle through the tough and crisp Salty Sails.! Otherwise improvise with a chopping board or hardwood or a metal section that is hand size. The end of a Hammer will work equally well. Be sure to Zig Zag…Inner and Outer and up the middle too!

    I am glad you are looking at the Reefing Lines, Sheets and Halyards, give them a stretch, chop off excess sheath, and shorten them a bit to move them along from previous chaff points.
    I know you and your shore team will have this covered, but I am infamous for……reminding, suggesting…. and it has been said…. Int………g.!!

    No.!! She whispered!! ….I will always claim.. Ensuring the safety, security and wellbeing of the ship and all onboard!

    As the winds will increase the further you go South into the Coral Sea, the pressure on the Main will increase, so whatever you can rig up to protect the Gooseneck and build in that redundancy, the better.

    Enough from me.

    I know you will have all of this in hand and will deliver. 😊⛵️

    Enjoy the Sunrises, the Mid-day, the Sunsets, the Moonrises, the Star Sets, the Southern Cross… your spirit guides when they appear, and the adventure of all of this.

    I think I am feeling slightly envious, sitting at home, with not much chance of international travel or sailing much this year at all.

    I guess it is all perspective .

    Fair winds

    Still Foggy Scotland.

  5. Hello Rory, I was just passed your blog and I’m blown away ( silly as you are in the doldrums). Although we have only met a few times through our journey together in your inspiring act of bringing conservation to Cambodia, I am moved by your deep search of self and purpose. Your adventure and search are inspiring and I look forward to hearing about your learnings, reflections and adventures. The best on your journey and we are supporting you energetically from HK.

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Rory Hunter
Sailor

Bio

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.