Monday, September 24, 2012

Life On Water

I'm done with the trip!  The Blog will remain, but I won't be adding to it often, or at all for a long time.   I will continue to sail, continue to keep Altair, and I'd like to do another trip across the Pacific Ocean, or further, but for now I am hanging up my dirty captains' hat.
I would like to review the last four and a half years..
First, I have made a movie of the last bits of the trip when I had a video camera to work with.  You may have seen some of the footage before, but maybe not all of it. 

When I stopped working, I was dreaming about traveling with the boat, but not brave enough to take the first step off the continent. Instead I did some small trips around the Puget Sound to keep my mind off the deep waters. When I finally decided I was going to confront my fears of the ocean, and set out to make it to the beginning of the Pacific, I had to go up the Strait of Juan de Fuca, where I met a strong inflowing wind, which beat me into a scared submission. But I survived. The nice thing about survival, I feel, is that you can look back to the time before the event and realize that you are less scared of it. No longer is a storm an unknown. This was not really a storm, but it was a lot of wind, and I suffered a casualty, the loss of my beloved White Knight, a canoe that I was dragging behind. Still, afterward I could look back and see that Altair was undamaged and up to the task of defending me against the elements.
Sometimes I learn best by practicing and then spending time doing something else for a while, so I headed by car on a trip around the country. I drove to Rhode Island, to Cape Cod, and down the eastern seaboard, stopping in historical places, and then landing in Florida, before working back along the south towards California. When I got to California, I then flew to Costa Rica for the winter, and came to miss being aboard the boat, while seeing the wonderful opportunities that warm water sailing could hold.
 I was eager to get the boat to the warm, so when I got back to Seattle, and Altair, I then promptly took her north, to Alaska.
 It was a beautiful trip, because of the extremes. At the glaciers nearly all life is absent; only the barren rocks and crushed earth can stand the ice, but a short distance away from them the trees begin and life is flourishing. My life on water was also brought to an extreme, when I hit the Sherman Reef, and then pulled the boat off again. I put two holes in the bottom from the reef, and in my attempt to examine them, I made another, worse, hole in the side. My trip and my boat and even my life potentially had come to an edge, and I was forced to hold to a tight balance in order to get out. But despite the successful re-floating and patching of the holes, I had fallen out of love. Altair was no longer to be trusted.
I spent the winter living in Bellingham, with the boat in the bay, and after a few months I began to work on adding new systems (like LaFawnda), and over time I found my love and trust had returned.
I had also done a passage to San Francisco, and discovered the peaceful side of the Pacific, so I was finally ready, when spring came, to launch on a long trip. 
I left in May with my father, on a trip down the coast and that was successful and easy, so I did the next part alone. When I finally got to Mexico I dabbled on a solo overnight trip.
 It was surprisingly easy! My confidence in my solo sailing built over the next year in Mexico and I was ready the next May for a longer trip. 
I then set off for Hawaii, toured the islands, and now have returned. Alone.

All told, I have sailed 18,754 nautical miles in the last 4.5 years. That's more than 21,500 regular miles.
I burned 279 gallons of Diesel, for an average of 77.3 miles per gallon.
And I spent $14,500 for the boat part of the trip. That is purchase, insurance, repair, haul outs (three), storage in Mexico, fuel, parts and love.
I want to go over the price part more, because I believe that many people have the dream to go out sailing but are putting off the departure because they don't have the cash. I am a firm believer in small boats, and for the price of my trip (I didn't include the food price, because I eat cheaply, but others may not) you could not even buy a larger boat. I was looking at a beautiful 36 ft boat for $55,000, but if I had gone through with it, I wouldn't have gone. So if you want to sail around, I recommend this: Get a small boat, the smallest that you can possibly stand. Get it cheap, then check the most basic things on it, like the mast will stay up and the sails are ok and the engine starts (that one is more optional) and then untie it from the dock and start out on an adventure. For $30,000, I believe that you can get a boat and sail across the pacific or around the world (if you hurry), for 3 years.
I saw many people with nice big 40-50 ft boats who saw the same things I did, and although they might have had a more comfortable trip, I would argue that less comfort makes for a better trip. An adventure.


mlloyd said...

A lot has happened in four years, and I have no doubt that the next four years hold just as much adventure. Thanks for the "last" update and I can't wait to see more pictures in person. You are welcome to stay with us in Olympia while you look for housing if you decide to go to Evergreen for the Masters in Teaching there.

Love you little brother,

Julia Copeland said...

You're an amazing fella Christian, and I'm glad we crossed paths.
Much aloha my friend,

Amy Groesbeck said...

It's fitting that your trusty steed was featured on the front page of the Herald this week. Welcome Home!!

Rachel said...

Ahh Christian, I agree with Monica. A lot has happened in the last four years... I now have two kids!! Can you believe that? I have heard you say before that your blog was done. We will see about that! I too can't wait to see more pictures in person and to hear you tell us all of your adventures. Uncle Christian/Captain Christian needs to come visit his nephew and niece and fill their heads with stories of adventure and dreams!!

I love you little brother,


Anonymous said...

Welcome back!

- the artist formerly known as JRL

kava crosson-elturan said...

I wish we were still in Seattle to hang out again.

Katrin said...

Hola, Christian!
So cool that you & your little floating home made it back in one piece, pretty much!:) We've very much enjoyed the video you made of Lila in La Cruz, it's such a lovely way to show people what we've been up to. So, millon thanx again!!! And, I loved your last blog entry, encouraging the peeps to stop dreamin' and start sailing! Wishing you fair winds for all your new adventures, on land or at sea! Katrin & Matt, S/V Lila

Anonymous said...

You should put a link to the Herald article on your blog.

Unknown said...

Very inspirational, I like how you summarized the sailing "steps" that led you to singlehanding, and eventually crossing the Pacific.