Day 30 – “Watch” fatigue

Because I’m navigating near land and have various islands and the risk of fishing boats and nets with no AIS nearby, I haven’t slept longer than 30 minute stretches the past 2 nights and am feeling the effects. When you’re on the open ocean, as long as the weather is OK, you can almost always find sleep, as the risks of hitting something are incredibly remote (unless you come across a wayward bouy or underwater volcano of course). As soon as you get near land the risks increase by significant orders of magnitude and its these times when I really wish I had someone to share the watch duties with as, call me crazy, but I’d chose sleep deprivation over running aground any day if the week. The results though are tiredness, poor cognition, low mood and depleted energy so it’s not something you want to be doing for long stretches of time. Thankfully, I’ll be heading into more open waters later today so I know that by this time tomorrow I should be back to my usual self.

As well as being tired, my toe was sore this morning and as the wind was still on the nose, I felt quite frustrated. I decide to have a mid-morning nap on deck at 9am so I can recalibrate. I close my eyes and was asleep in minutes. I really am very tired and sleep of any kind or duration is extremely welcome. I manage to get a solid hour in, which is enough to get me going and I feel all the better for it. It’s remarkable how different the world looks through a well-rested lens, or even a partially rested one.

My companion for the day is the north western section of New Ireland, a large mountainous, rugged and heavily forested island on PNG’s western border. It’s a spectacular land mass and I take great joy in exploring it with my eyes as we slowly pass by. I wonder what sort of tribes live there (if any). What their practices are and how often they interact with “modern” society. Such a contrast to the world I left behind in Hong Kong. I mentioned to Naryth (my oldest son) about the history of head hunting and even cannibalism in PNG when we spoke a few nights ago and it may have been a bit of a “dad failure” as he immediately jumped to the idea I was sailing past zombies and he told me it was way too risky and that I should stay away from land. Well… I can safely report that, so far at least, New Ireland is Zombie free. Let’s hope the rest of PNG I’ll be passing is too.

As I reach the western tip of New Ireland, I start heading due south and will be for days now. It feels good after hunting east for so long to be on a different compass bearing. Even just the change in where the sun rises and sets in relation to the boat is a welcome change, though I’ll have to relearn where the primo shaded spots are at different times of the day as I’d had this well and truly sorted after a month on the same bearing.

I spend the afternoon working on my repairs to the gooseneck as the initial system I put in place to stop the pin from falling out is just not working and given the wind strength forecast for the Coral Sea (20-30knts) in a few day’s time, it’s imperative I have a more permanent solution in place well beforehand. What’s needed is a steel base plate under the frame (and therefore the pin), that’s supported from above to counter any downward pressure from the pin wanting to escape the housing.

I spent the last few days looking through everything I have on the boat and think I’ve got a workable solution. The “plate” will be the remains of a steel cheese grater/knife (like a small, fancy spatula). Under this I’ve made a cross out of two backing plates from unused clip on points as a brace to push against the pin with both pieces held together with wire. I then connect dyneema to a shackle which goes under the plate and brace and then connect the dyneema to a spare halyard. Before I take up the tension on the halyard, I put another loop of dyneema around the shackle, perpendicular to the halyard around the mast. Once it’s tightened the plate is firmly in place. All that’s left is to put the halyard on the winch and then grind away (but not so much I pull the entire gooseneck off the mast). It’s certainly not pretty, but it’s solid and I think it’ll hold, or at least I bloody well hope so.


@Sara Sutton

Many thanks Sara! Having a good couple of “smooth” days before I tackle Jomard Passage and surrounding islands then hit the Coral Sea.

@Eileen O’Farrell

I’d have gladly welcomed you on board to help with a watch today Eileen!

Thanks for confirming the math too on distance to horizon and yes, I’ve got a “palm” on board so am all ready to earn my sail maker stripes tomorrow.

@Sherry Pedersen

So lovely to hear from you Sherry!

Looking forward to catching up when I’m back on land.

3 Responses

  1. Hi Rory
    Apart from your boys, what are the 3 things you miss most?
    Covid has taught many of us to re-evalute.
    They can be ridiculously superficial. No judgment.
    I’m curious.

  2. Rory,
    Good luck with the improvised repair on the Gooseneck. Good work on spotting a better use for the Cheese Grater! And happy stitching! It’s a tough an laborious job, and sore on the hands and fingers… do be careful with the needles. – they can be vicious!

    You will sail more confidently when you have done these repairs, and hopefully enjoy the satisfaction and achievement of them.

    On the Clipper Boat I was on, but not on the South Africa to Albany Leg (I rejoined in Albany), they were a few days out of SA and had a problem with a gasket on the Generator – No Generator meant no Water-maker. They needed a heat resistant seal. They searched the spares and other items looking for a solution, and were close to turning back to Port Elizabeth.

    Thankfully I had purchased a Silicon Muffin Tray for our “Treats” onboard. Eventually someone thought of this – and with a sharp knife, a seal was fashioned. Job done – and they came into Albany with a podium position. We never did have any Muffins from it, but it saved the day!

    Improvise, think outside the box, stay focused, and keep grabbing rest when you can – Sorry the Parachuting in wasn’t an option for either of us!

    PS. The Golfing girls had a wee Tutorial on our Mexican Themed Zoom last night about Horizons, Wind Angles, Repairs, Sleep Depravation and the benefits of Deck Shoes!!!!

    Ouch! Hope it is just Bruised?

    They all all hooked on you Blog as I am, loving your expansive and descriptive vocabulary, scared $*tless for you and your your family, but willing you on safely, nonetheless.

    Oh, and our next Zoom will be an Australian Theme – with Champagne, upon your arrival Down Under. “Rory’s Homecoming”. If you can time it for 2000hr GMT +1… on a Friday night….That would be great!! 😊

    Fair Winds

    Sunny Scotland (At last !) 🏴󠁧󠁢󠁳󠁣󠁴󠁿⛵️😎

Leave a Reply


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.