76. A Month On My Own

I’ve spent a month on my own. No, not in prison. Not in quarantine. Not even against my will. Sailing across the longest stretch of open water on the planet. To one of the most remote inhabited places in the world. Certainly furthest away from any continent. And in the process I became a Shellback. Many of you have asked me to try to describe what a month on your own is like and what that does to you. I’m not sure I can, but I’ll make an attempt.

First of all, it’s impossible to describe the sheer amount of nothing out there. Just endless ocean and nothing to focus on. Without a fixed point, something that doesn’t move, you start to doubt that you are going anywhere. You start to feel that maybe you are staying in the same place and it’s just all that water around you that is moving. That you are on some sort of giant treadmill.

I find it incredibly soothing to watch the ocean. I can do it for hours. And if you throw in sunrises, sunsets, stars from both hemispheres and a full lunar cycle, you’re not short of things to rest your eyes on. But it’s not until the stars start to change position in the sky and the sun starts to rise and set at the ‘wrong’ time that you realise that you are in a different place. But that happens slowly, over time. And I guess that’s the best way to describe the sensation of sailing this far. Time slows down. You get to think and reflect. It’s mindfulness on steroids. Without the guidance of a self proclaimed guru. Namaste!

I generally felt a lot more present during this crossing. In the past I’ve often felt like it never happened, like a few weeks of my life had just disappeared in some way. I did not have ‘blackouts’ like that on the Pacific. To some extent that probably has to do with the fact that this was a much easier crossing. But probably also as I’m getting used to long passages. This is what I do, it’s a part of the new normal. And as a result I’m getting better at handling the anxiety and fatigue associated with sailing long distances on your own. This time, I spent a lot less time counting miles and trying to figure out when I would make landfall and more time watching movies, exercising and chatting with friends via the satellite phone. It meant that I had a much more relaxed and enjoyable experience.

I’ve heard others describe the sensation of making landfall. Daisy on my buddy boat, Traveller, describes smelling land way before she could see it. Others describe feeling ‘drunk’ and stumbling around as soon as they step on solid ground. I can’t honestly say that I experienced any of that. Maybe because I was so focused on letting people know that I was OK. But I do remember the fascination I felt over watching Fatu Huku the entire last day. Just an uninhabited rock in the ocean. But also the first thing that didn’t move. A point of reference. Showing me that I wasn’t on a treadmill, I was making progress.

At the end of the day (or the month if you like), I can tell you that I’m so proud and happy that I’ve done this. And I can’t wait for my next passage. Which coincidentally will start in a couple of hours. It’s only a short four day hop to the Tuamotus though. Nothing for a seasoned solo sailor with a Pacific crossing under his belt.

I’ll wrap up with some statistics from the crossing. I sailed 4,561 Nm in 30 days and 20 hours, averaging 6.2 knots. That includes three nights just floating around in order to save diesel or waiting for sunlight outside the anchorage in Nuku Hiva. I ran the engine 135 hours and consumed 295 litres of diesel in the process. Otherwise I generally sailed with a couple of reefs in the main and the genoa poled out on the other side, a k a wing-on-wing. Or with the gennaker alone. I probably watched around ten movies, five Netflix series and listened to twenty podcasts. I also wrote a few blog posts every day and texted with a number of friends via the satellite router (before it broke down). I crossed four and a half (!) time zones and I’m now at UTC/GMT – 9.5 hours. And at 140 degrees West and 10 degrees South I am almost half way around the world and in the Southern Hemisphere.

You need to keep an eye on chafe. This is my gennaker halyard.
Ken and Barbie. Useless!
The only thing I caught. Suicidal flying fish.
Pearls of wisdom posted on passage
Equator crossing! I’m a Shellback!
Land Ho! Fatu Huku.

6 thoughts on “76. A Month On My Own

  1. So loved reading this insight shared from your experience out there, Tomas — thank you! Love the pics, too! Glad you have the new IridiumGo and looking forward to continuing to follow your adventures! Fair winds, ~ Chelle


  2. Tomas well done on your big crossing you have traveled along way from Gaeta. Where we had the privilege of meeting you . Keep on living the dream. Looking forward to your next post
    Looking forward to the day our paths cross again
    All the best Sandy and Helga


    1. I so miss you guys. I don’t think you understand how important you were to me in Gaeta. I truly hope our paths cross again. Are you still in Greece or have you moved on? Best Tomas


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