GSSR No. 16 – What Happens After You Reach The End of The Road?


Greetings all!

The GSSR 2010 has officially ended. I am very pleased to report that all three boats are now moored at the Gold Coast Yacht and Country club in Hong Kong.

At the end of my last blog entry Grey Pearl and Seabird were still sitting in Taiwan. They needed a two-day weather window in order to move the boats from Taiwan to Hong Kong. As we are now deep into typhoon season, the storms seem to be back to back. For a week we monitored the weather reports several times a day, and just when it seemed the storms would never end, a weather window opened.

To our surprise, Grey Pearl and Seabird had a perfect passage from Taiwan to Hong Kong, sliding along on lake-smooth water. The adverse current that slowed me by as much as three knots, wasn’t out there. We have two theories as to why: 1) The bizarre currents, for my passage, may have been stirred up, and accelerated, by the approaching Typhoon. Or, 2) I only thought there was a current against me. In reality, perhaps I was being slowed down due to all the growth on the bottom of my boat. My speedup later in the trip may have been nothing more than some of the crud shaking itself off the bottom of my boat.

Both Grey Pearl and Seabird had divers clean their bottoms just prior to departure, so with no current against them, and with their freshly cleaned bottoms, they ran much faster than planned. From the beginning, they knew that their fast speed might mean arrival at night, however, with the knowledge that a storm was behind them, they decided that a night arrival was the lesser of the two evils. And, in fact, they did arrive at the outer entrance to Hong Kong at 3am, the same time I had. They had a few tense moments, but were lucky enough to have a full moon, and made their arrival look easy.

With everyone now in Hong Kong, there was no hiding from the most treacherous GSSR challenge of 2010…

The #1 question facing the GSSR is, “What next?”

We were now at the end of this year’s cruise, and facing a near-certain end to our group cruising together. Adding to the tenseness, at least for me, is that I’m the villain in this story. We’ve mostly been doing a kind of cruising which I’ll call “adventure cruising.” Japan, Taiwan and Hong Kong are modern countries, but we’re in a part of the world where few cruisers ever venture. Every day is a surprise. There are no cruising guides, and we usually don’t know what to expect until we arrive. I remember a year ago that, as I looked forward to our 2010 cruising, thinking our voyage through southern Japan would be characterized by Hawaii-like warm water, beautiful anchorages, white sand beaches, diving, swimming and time spent hanging out. I was totally naive. Other than about 48 hours at one island near Okinawa, we never had the mellow anchoring experience I love so much.

Looking southwest from Hong Kong, I see seas populated by pirates, and countries like the Philippines, Malaysia, Vietnam and Cambodia, which also fit into the “adventure-travel” category. Roberta always wanted to be an archeologist, so being amongst the first to discover new cruising grounds is great fun for her. I, on the other hand, confess to much less adventuring sentiments. Give me a sand beach, clear warm water, a glass of wine, the odor of steaks on the barbecue, a good internet connection, and I’ll have attained boating nirvana.

Last month, I sent an email to Seabird and Grey Pearl saying Roberta and I would be splitting from the group. It was one of the tougher emails I’ve ever had to send. I cannot over-emphasize what a great group we have, and how much better it is to travel as part of a team. Our skillsets and personalities match each other perfectly. It’s like a marriage, if you find one that works, stick with it, because you are a very lucky person.

To make a long story short, Roberta and I have been making plans to put our boat on a freighter and ship her to the Med. Our hope was that the others, Grey Pearl and Seabird, would catch up with us somewhere in the Med, but the Med is a big place, and as we looked at the logistics, it didn’t look likely. There was a real possibility that we were saying goodbye forever.

During our last week in Hong Kong, we all avoided the topic. It was like a big ,ugly elephant standing in the corner that no one wanted to acknowledge. We went through two closing dinners, and yet whenever the subject of next year came up, the topic would switch immediately before anyone could say anything.

Finally, at 5pm, on Roberta’s and my last day, only a couple of hours before our airport departure, I received a call from Steven, inviting Roberta and I to a 5:30 p.m. going-away party on Seabird. Roberta was in the shower, with no idea we were going to a party, and there was still packing to be done, but I agreed immediately. I knew that it was time to confront the elephant in the corner. And Roberta, who is usually not the type to react well to suddenly needing to be somewhere in 30 minutes, while still in the shower, also recognized that this was an important meeting, and never grumbled one word. 

Walking in the door of Seabird, I could see Braun already had a guidebook, ‘The South East Asia Cruising Guide,’ in his hand. For about 10 minutes we made small talk, and as I glanced at my watch, I knew someone had to make the first move. Roberta and I really did need to get to the airport, and it was time for ‘the discussion.’ Earlier in the week I had sent around a link to a story about cruising in Vietnam which I had hoped would somewhat explain why I wanted to mutiny (http://www.latitude38.com/lectronic/lectronicday.lasso?date=2008-05-23&dayid=378).

Braun cut quickly to the chase, “What if we split next year into two halves? July and August are hot, sticky and miserable. We could quickly move the boats to Singapore, prior to the typhoon season, in May and June, and then come back in September and October for fun cruising in Thailand, then return the boats to Singapore. We could then ship all three boats to the Med together from Singapore.” This immediately made sense, and addressed many issues that had been bothering me. It was an agreement not to go to the places I least wanted to go: Vietnam and Cambodia. It also indicated that the others (Seabird and Grey Pearl) were agreeing to ship their boats to the Med, rather than trying to brave the Somalia pirates on their own bottoms.

I then said that I had heard good things about the Philippines and that we should consider stopping there. This caught Braun by surprise, in that he thought I would refuse to go to the Philippines, and a couple of weeks earlier he would have been right. But over the past few weeks I’ve done a bit of research and decided that the Philippines might not be so bad. There are beautiful beaches and resorts to be found in the Philippines and Malaysia. We could stop along the way and have fun.


The orange markers in the chart above represent actual pirate attacks, and the yellow markers are attempted attacks.


My worry, though, is piracy. Above is the 2010 pirate attack map, taken from this link:

http://www.icc-ccs.org/index.php?option=com_fabrik&view=visualization&controller=visualization.googlemap&Itemid=219

These are real, reported pirate attacks during 2010, and this represents only the first half of the year. Everyone tells me we are safe between Hong Kong and Singapore, and many people have told me lately that the Mallaca Straits are 100% safe. However, the facts say otherwise. Each of the markers on the picture above is a real attack. All are against freighters, but my guess is that a lot more freighters move through the area than private yachts. It doesn’t mean that private yachts wouldn’t represent a good profit opportunity.

The bottom line: I agreed to Braun’s plan. I don’t like the pirate risk, but there are three of us, traveling together, and the pirates haven’t been focusing on yachts. Most importantly, it allows our group to stay together and the GSSR to survive.

My only caveat was that I need to understand the issues associated with shipping our boats from Singapore. I do not want to be in a position where the three boats get to Singapore, and there are no freighters that can carry Sans Souci. Three years ago, Sans Souci and Grey Pearl were sitting in Golfito. A freighter arrived that was able to scoop up Grey Pearl, but said ‘no’ when they looked at San Souci’s 120 gross ton weight. Instead, Sans Souci had to sit in Golfito Costa Rica for nearly six months, watching a succession of freighters pass by, none of which could transport Sans Souci. Ultimately, our boat had to be driven all the way back to Seattle on its own bottom. I’ve been there, done that, and am not doing it again.


Here’s a sneak peek at the first pass at a trip plan for the GSSR 2011 that I sent to the group. This is very preliminary and was just sent to start the discussion going. Braun responded with this comment: “Done. The GSSR is together again! Destinations don’t matter, people do. -braun”

So, with all that said, I’ll close out the year a few random pictures from our final days in Hong Kong…


Here’s a picture from the strangest incident of the trip. While Seabird was at the dock in Taiwan, a driver commited suicide next to their boat, by tying his hands to the steering wheel and driving into the water, just in front of Seabird. Hours after pulling the car and driver from the water, the winds came up, blowing the car back into the water, driverless. It came within feet of striking Seabird and wound up on the bottom beneath Seabird, requiring Seabird to move so the car could be retrieved from the water, for the second time.



I wanted to see what a marina looked like which didn’t have boat slips, so Roberta and I took this Sampan around the bay at Aberdeen to explore the boats. Whereas we were just ‘being tourists’ these sampans have a real purpose. There is an entire floating city of boats at Aberdeen, with many people living on their boats, both fisherman, and others. The Sampans are their link with shore.



This floating chinese restaurant in the middle of the bay at Aberdeen is enormous! We didn’t eat there, but I hear it is actually fairly good, even if ‘touristy.’



As the Grey Pearl was preparing to depart Taiwan they discovered that their bow thruster had died. With a single engine boat, with no stern thruster, and the bow thruster not-functioning, maneuvering inside the marina, on arrival in Hong Kong would be impossible. Here you see us using rodeo tactics to lure Grey Pearl onto the dock.
 


Here you see Sans Souci sharing a slip with a 120’ boat. There are a LOT of big boats in Hong Kong.


Seabird is moored just behind Sans Souci.



[Top row: Braun Jones, Carol Argosy, Steven Argosy. Bottom Row: Tina Jones, Roberta Williams, Ken Williams] To celebrate the GSSR’s arrival in Hong Kong we went out for a ritzy French dinner. It was strange seeing everyone all fancied up. Most of the time we wear shorts, t-shirts and look kind of grungy (except the ladies who are always beautiful .)


Before leaving Hong Kong we wanted to see all of the anchorages in the Hong Kong area, so that we would know how much time to allocate to local cruising when we return. Here you see Steven and Carol enjoying the sensation of speed (25+ knots) on the boat we rented.



We used a local captain to shuttle us around to see all the anchorages. Behind him you see two boats pulling a net. This picture was taken after he accidentally ran over the net, and he is looking at the props to see if there is any damage (there wasn’t.) I was very happy I hadn’t been driving at the time.



A giant Buddha statue, sitting high on a mountain.



As we worked our way around Hong Kong we saw many white sand beaches, just waiting for us to come drop our anchors. Hong Kong’s only rule on where you can, or can’t, anchor is: don’t block traffic.



A fleet of fishing boats rafted together.



A small fishing village we passed. Hong Kong is a very unusual place, in that the vast majority of the land is protected from construction. Thus, you can see clusters of huge skyscrapers, then turn the corner and see a tiny fishing village, or nothing at all, and pretend you are a million miles from civilization.



Here we’re approaching an anchorage with a beach. There were already several boats at anchor. I have a couple of memories from this anchorage: 1) We watched as a local boat, probably 70 feet long, with about 20 passengers, pulled in to drop anchor. Before the boat could come to a complete stop, the raucus passengers started laughing and pushing each other off the boat into the water. I couldn’t believe it! They were swimming within a few feet of the boat, while it was still in the process of dropping anchor, with the props still turning. Luckily no one was hurt, but it seemed a very dangerous sitution to me. And, 2) I’ve noticed that all of the swimming beaches have shark nets, including this one. I asked if there had been shark attacks. The answer was, “Not for almost a decade, but there were three people killed here, at this anchorage, in separate attacks. I wouldn’t worry about it though. You can swim anywhere.”



Roberta, enjoying the ride.



Most of the marinas in Hong Kong have no docks. The boats just float all the time. Some have power, but most do not. We were very lucky to get into a good marina in Hong Kong, with normal docks and shorepower.



An overhead look at a floating marina.


Here you see Steven looking very relaxed, given that we are within about 50 feet of a tug pulling a barge, with a freighter bearing down on us from another direction. The channel that separates Kowloon from Hong Kong has a LOT of traffic. I remember that prior to this trip my rule was always that I never wanted to get within a mile of a freighter. In Asia I have had to recalibrate my whole outlook on how close two boats can come to each other.



Prior to our trip I added scuba tank storage in the cockpit of the boat. These brackets work slickly, and fold out of the way completely when not needed. Hopefully, next year, the tanks will get MUCH more use.


You can tell I am starting to think ahead to the Med. Here you see that I put out the passarelle, for us to walk on in boarding the boat. There was really no need to do so, in that we could just step off the side of the boat, but I had never tried our passarelle and wanted to see if it worked. It did!


If this picture looks out of context, that’s because it is! Here you see Roberta and Shelby in Zurich Switzerland. In order to get home from Hong Kong we had to fly to Europe, then New York, and finally back to Seattle. It’s the wrong way around, but Swiss Air is very dog friendly and lets Shelby ride with us in the cabin. All of Switzerland is dog friendly. We had dinner in restaurants so fancy I was surprised they let me in, but none of them opposed allowing Shelby to sit with us at our table. The best thing about this picture is how happy Shelby looks. The weather in Hong Kong was too hot for Shelby. She just couldn’t take it. One day, Steven from Seabird, got curious how hot it was, and got out his infrared temperature gun. Here’s the email he sent: “Ken: I just checked the temps outside with my heat gun. Teak under the shade: 99 degrees Concrete dock: 148 degrees Bow deck of Seabird: 166 degrees. Too hot for bare feet! Steven “

Check out these blog entries…

Steven and Carol, on Seabird, have been catching up on their blog. Check out their last blog entry: http://www.seabirdlrc.com/aspx/blob2/blobpage.aspx?msgid=485656&beid=100618. There’s a bit more about the problem that forced them to turn back on the way to Hong Kong.

Also, Don and Sharry Stabbert, on Starr, have continued cruising Japan. Their most recent blog entry presents a side of Japan that I am unfortunately blind to. For whatever reason, I never was able to bond with Japan as they did. Check out this blog entry (and, all their others), which explain why cruising in Japan is worth the distance to get there, and all the bureaucracy: http://starr.talkspotblogs.com/aspx/m/629684/beid/99755

And lastly, I would like to thank all the special people who made this year’s GSSR trip possible…

As several people said, “Japan has never seen anything like the GSSR.” Three American motor boats cruising Japan is simply unheard of, and Japan is not a country which reacts well to events without precedence. Kazuo Furuno, from Interocean Shipping (http://www.interocean.co.jp/), was our agent in Japan, and made the impossible possible. Anyone considering cruising Japan would be well advised to have Furuno assist them with logistics.

We also owe a thank you to John Rutherford, who helped us in Okinawa. John is a friend of a regular reader of my blog, and with no idea who we were, or what the GSSR was, interceded on our behalf to get us moorage in Okinawa, then took his sailboat out in the rain to guide us safely into the marina.

Another very special person, actually a whole company, that helped make our 2010 GSSR voyage a success was Tim Yuan, and his company Ta Shing. In addition to building our marvelous boats, that brought us so smoothly across the Bering Sea, they gave us a hero’s welcome in Taiwan, a fantastic tour of their factory, many meals, and more.

I also can’t forget the people at Asia Yacht Services who are watching over our boats during the offseason, especially Karen Ball, who served as crew, helping to guide Sans Souci safely though Hong Kong in the dark.

Another unsung hero this year, was Jeff Sanson, and his company Pacific Yacht Management (www.pacificyachtmanagement.com). Prior to Sans Souci’s departure this season, Jeff brought a team of experts to Japan, and spent three weeks ‘tweaking’ the boat. I was then able to step on board, and run the entire season with no mechanical issues, thanks to Jeff’s hard work.
 
Then, there is Phil Strable, our good friend and helper, who flew to Hong Kong the last 10 days we were there to ‘babysit’ Shelby onboard Sans Souci while Roberta and I luxuriated for a week at the ultra-ritzy Peninsula Hotel in downtown Kowloon — then later helped us get the boat cleaned and ready to leave for the winter.

And of course, I can’t forget Roberta’s parents, in their 80s, who traveled across the Atlantic with us a few years back, through Alaska with us last year, and this year helped us make the run from Nagasaki, Japan, to Okinawa. We also had the pleasure of having on board our son, Chris, who speaks fluent Japanese, and was also on Sans Souci last year just after the GSSR’s arrival to Japan, and also for the Fubar rally through Baja, Mexico, a few years back.

And of course, the biggest thank you of all goes to our co-conspirators on the GSSR; Braun and Tina Jones and Steven and Carol Argosy, without whose companionship, assistance, and friendship, the GSSR wouldn’t be the GSSR.

Which brings me to all of you, who read this blog. I thank you for taking the time to follow our journey, and for all of the 100s of emails, offering invaluable assistance and encouragement as we’ve made our journey.

And, with that, it’s back to civilian life for me until next year. I don’t plan to do an offseason blog. This year, I won’t be sending anything else beyond this last blog update, except perhaps short updates from time to time as we do trip planning.

So ….

See you next year!

Thank you,
 
Ken Williams
Sans Souci, Nordhavn 68

www.kensblog.com
And, if you are interested in my books, check out : http://www.lulu.com/kenw 

  

25 Responses

  1. Markku,

    Thank you for the feedback. My litigation with Yachtpath is still dragging through the courts. I have won at every stage, but no one wins except lawyers in litigation. Thus far, my spending on litigation is about three times what I’ve cashed in checks.

    -Ken W

  2. Hi Ken,

    What an interesting blog you have! And a lovely trawler! I found you by googling Yachtpath. I am having ongoing problem with them due to money never returned after invisible transport from Mallorca to Baltic, Finland. I paid them 10 month ago, dep. was supposed to be at aug. They just keep silence, empty promises, and no refund. Did you loose money with them? How did you managed with lawsuit?

    Kind regards,

    Markku,Finland

  3. Ken,

    Seven Stars is a Vietnamese shipping company. We have come a long way! One thought: in Japanese, “Hi” means that I am listening to you. In Vietnamese, “Ya” means I am listening to you. It does not mean that I agree with you or that I will do what you ask! Believe me, I’ve witnessed many a disappointed American who thought that they had achieved an agreement to do something and it did not happen.

    Ron

  4. Thanks Ken. You’re welcome at my house any time. We leave on our 4th scallop trip tonight. I’ll try to send some photos when I get a chance. Got some good snotty weather footage that I will have one of my computer savvy crewmen post for you. Bill

  5. Welcome home Bill! Congratulations on a successful first voyage with the Kilkenny.

    I can’t believe that a year ago you and I were in Siberia. Can you imagine? It’s funny, but when I think back on that whole trip I can remember only the blue skies and fun times we had.

    I’m not sure when Roberta and I will get back to Kodiak. Hopefully sometime soon.

    -Ken W

  6. Hi Ken. Just got in from fishing the new scallop boat. What a seaboat! She may move around a little more than Sans Souci but in a gale the rail of the boat is your cup holder. You know how minimalist I am (this ain’t a boat its a computer game) and Kilkenny suits me fine. One engine, one genset a rudder and 75 feet of oak and I’m in heaven.
    Sounds like you had a great summer although I’m sure it didn’t compare to the exotic paradise of the Aleutian Islands. Hello to Roberta and give Shelby a treat for me. Best regards. Bill H.

  7. Drew:

    I just received a response today from Seven Stars, about shipping my boat to the Med from Singapore. The price was much lower than expected, and they seemed 100% confident that my boat’s weight was a non-issue. Their estimate was terrific and if they can actually deliver my suspicion is that Grey Pearl, Seabird and Sans Souci will be shipping with them to the Med.

    I hate to sound overly cynical, but I had a horrible experience with another shipper (Yachtpath) where promises were made, and they also claimed that my boat’s weight was not a problem, and then later failed to ship my boat, leaving me in a messy situation.

    One way or the other, I am now comfortable that I can ship my boat from Singapore, so…. I’m Singapore bound! Now to start seeking moorage…

    -Ken W

  8. Ken,

    You can easily ship a yacht from Singapore to the Med,pretty much at will, there are regularly scheduled routes and trips from the major yacht movers like Dock wise, Yacht path and others. I shipped my 70 foot, 70 ton George Buehler design from Istanbul to Singapore on a Maersk container ship with absolutely no dramas and that is a weekly sailing each way. Singapore is one of the busiest ports in the world andthere are major yacht services also so you are spoiled for choice shipping a yacht.

    All the best – Drew

    Drew Gardenier
    M/V Hooligan
    Raffles Marina
    Singapore

  9. Ken,
    First, the Rangers at Geographic Harbor in Alaska have asked that you not return. Your size, build, and mustache scared that Grizzly. Your close approach to within 20 feet has permanently traumatized the bear and it is no longer able to fish. Shame!

    – My camera system is a mess on the boat. I’d like better cameras and more of them. – Are you referring to your video system? You may want 360 degree low light level cameras for night surveillance.

    – I have two new 64 bit windows computers sitting in a closet. I meant to upgrade the ship’s computers, but couldn’t get the 64 bit serial to usb drivers working. I need to figure that out next year… – The folks at Rosepoint Navigation probably have the answer now.

    – My sea chest is a bit of a mess. I can’t get it open to clean it out. It was leaking and the technicians put the top on it with some sort of glue (I think). I need to figure this out… – Personally, I would not be sanguine about this for a long voyage. I’d cut the top off if necessary and have a new cover with a neoprene gasket made and have it fasten with heavy duty, spring tension catches like those found on some packing cases. Through-bolt them and bed them with 5200.

    It is my impression that most black tank sensors fail unless they are simple float-type switches. Peggie Hall, the Princess of Poop, probably has your answer (Peggie Hall [peggie.hall@g…] ).
    Just my reaction to your list.

    Ron

  10. Sam:

    Thanks for the link. I do have a fancy digital recording system on the cameras, and that is part of the problem. The system is too complex. I forget how to use it, and I have trouble training others to use it. What I need is a much simpler system with pushbuttons that are idiot proof.

    I went to the agcam site, and I didn’t see cameras that do tilt/zoom. My perfect system would have 8-12 cameras I can pick from, with the ability to tilt/pan/zoom any of them from in the pilot house. Plus the ability to easily route the video wherever I want.

    When the system was working (I have cameras around the boat now), I always kept cameras looking at the front of the engines (to monitor the fanbelts and alternators), plus on the fuel pressure gauges, and in the lazarette. If possible, I’d like one looking at the seachest as well.

    Oh well…. it’s all irrelevant, in that with the boat in Hong Kong, my ability to get work done is very limited.

    Jeff will be going to Hong Kong at some point, and I’ll give him some projects to do while there, but I doubt we’ll do anything too complex.

    -Ken W

  11. as far as things youd like to tweak to work better the camera system is something i had an idea on. a company called agcam makes camera for farm machines. rated to hundred g shock loads they wont get goofy in rough seas or high vibration area. Their standard camera comes with a u bracket fittied with a magnet. this could give you flexability in the engine room under way to have a roving cam to watch certain areas of focus more closely. Do you have any dvr capabilites on board for your cameras? I think itd be pretty neat to do a time lapse for an entire season of what the boats pointed at.

  12. Alan Muskett made me think, by asking this question, “You’ve certainly had a great experience, would you say you have enjoyed it? Do you feel that there is a difference between adventure travel–which challenges and educates you–versus recreational travel–which involves sandy beaches and BBQ? Given the undercurrent of anxiety regarding piracy, what would you say your objectives for next year’s cruise are (other than fellowship with a good group)?”

    Alan:

    Don’t you have any easy questions? (grin!)

    The GSSR group consists of three couples, each with two people. That means there are at least six different reasons for being on the boat, and six different sets of goals.

    Often, when I’m having the least fun, some of the others are having the most fun. For instance, I asked Braun earlier this year what ‘really turned him on’ about cruising and when he was the happiest. His response was that he liked it when we are problem solving. He likes the unknown and exploring. I am on the extreme opposite end of this spectrum. I’d rather have a picture of the slip I’m going into, and zero surprises along the way.

    Roberta asked me last year, “You really would be happy just going to St Barts, dropping the hook, and spending the whole summer, wouldn’t you?” Sheepishly, I had to admit the answer is yes. The honest truth is that I would rather cherry pick the best places in the world, and have someone else move the boat through the tough parts. To me, ‘good’ is defined as a calm, well-protected anchorage, just in front of a beach with lots of places to tender in for lunch, and near enough to a city that we can tender to the dock for more nice restaurants, or go back to port.

    There is one aspect of ‘adventure travel’ that I do get excited about. Boating gives you a way to live in other countries that staying in a hotel does not. You get a completely different perspective on a country as a ‘resident’ than as a ‘tourist.’ I am a news junky, with strong political opinions. I’m not particularly interested in history, but do like to study modern cultures. I like to understand the tax system, economics, medical systems, labor policies, educational systems, etc., around the globe. I don’t get particularly excited when arriving at a primitive island where the #1 issue is obtaining clean, fresh water. Sitting around a campfire, with people in grass skirts, drinking from a dirty coconut, is just not me. For Roberta it would be awesome, but to me it seems like a problem from which I can’t learn a lot. Whereas, when we were in Zurich earlier this week, I took great interest in trying to understand how the swiss think, and how their system operates. Long-term, I could see myself getting involved in politics, and I believe there is something to be learned from how different countries have dealt with similar issues.

    Here’s what I like in a cruising ground:

    -Minimal bureaucracy. Go where I want, when I want.
    -Good, well protected, pretty anchorages available
    -Good availability of beach-restaurants to tender into
    -Availability of technicians if something breaks (good services; mechanics, haul-out facility)
    -Good moorage, with floating docks, good shorepower, and lots of fancy restaurants around the marina
    -Modern country
    -Safe! No worry about being robbed
    -Clear, warm water
    -No sharks, jellyfish, or things that bite!
    -White sand beaches
    -Minimal wind

    No place I’ve ever been scores perfectly on the above list, but many places score high. Japan didn’t offer the pretty anchorages, but the chance to live there, and study their culture made it all worthwhile. Hong Kong looks like it has the potential to rank high in every category (except the one about sharks…)

    So.. when you ask what my goals are, the answer, for me, and only for me, is ‘to get through the tough parts, and get to the good parts.’ My sense is that Phuket, in Thailand, is an amazing place, with LOTS of great anchorages. It is also close to Singapore, which has all the boat mechanics and haul-out facilities I could want.

    My personal strategy, which is somewhat inconsistent with the GSSR philosophy, is what I like to call ‘hubbing’. In a perfect world, I’d have someone else maintain and watch over my boat in the offseason, and as part of their job they would move it to someplace new and interesting during the offseason. I’d then step onto the boat and spend four to six months exploring, in about a 500 mile radius from wherever the boat is, and then the season would end, and I’d leave the boat somewhere, and the off-season team would take it over. So.. in other words.. I’d think of the world as 20-30 ‘hub locations’ from which I’d spend 20-30 years exploring. And, the drudgery part of moving the boat across oceans would be dealt with by someone else.

    Although my priorities don’t exactly line up with everyone else’s, it isn’t a problem. The world is a big place, and we are going a wide variety of places. There are a few places where I won’t go, such as Somalia, but in general, we are going cool places, and as much as I whine, the highlights of the trip have been places I would never go under normal circumstances. The chances I would ever go to Attu Island in the Aleutians, without the others talking me into it, is exactly zero, and yet, I consider it a highpoint in my life, and am thrilled I got talked into going there. The same is true for Geographic Harbor in Alaska. Can you imagine me, on a tender, 20 feet from a grizzly bear? Never happen — but, it did, and I loved it, now that it is over, and I lived.

    Anyway… this is all the long way of saying, we are six independent people, with six sets of reasons for being there, and six different goals. You probably have your own reasons for having a boat and your own list of places you want to go. I’d say, “Go there, do that, and have fun!” And, if you can find a way to share it with friends, that’s the best of all possible worlds. There are SO many benefits to traveling as part of a group that if it means sometimes things aren’t exactly as you might have plotted them on your own, it’s no big deal, and as I’ve found, it usually means having far more fun than you ever thought you could.

    Ken W

  13. Sam asked what changes I have planned for the boat this year…

    Sam:

    I would LOVE to do some upgrades on the boat, but don’t know what is possible. If the boat were sitting in Seattle, I would definitely do some things, but it is in Hong Kong, and I don’t know what the locals are capable of doing. At this point, I’m focused on making sure they can keep the bottom clean and the air conditioning running.

    My sense is that all significant upgrades will need to wait until the boat is back in the United States.

    As to what I would do, if I could…

    Really, the boat is in perfect condition. There are little things that are annoying that I’d like to fix, but nothing that needs doing.

    – I just saw this link appear on the Nordhavn Dreamers board: http://www.echopilot.com/3d (http://www.echopilot.com/3d-forward-sonar-screen-shots.htm) , and would definitely be interested if there were some better solution for Sonar.

    – My camera system is a mess on the boat. I’d like better cameras and more of them.

    – My whole internet setup on the boat (distribution and selection of the internet signal from multiple sources) is a mess. I need to completely redo the network.

    – The lazarette cooling still isn’t right. I’m not sure what the solution is… I shouldn’t need to run air conditioning in the lazarette at all times.

    – The black water system is a major annoyance. The Nordhavn-provided sensor stopped working a year ago, and my Simon monitoring system sensor has now failed. I have no idea how much black water I have, and need a solution.

    – I have two new 64 bit windows computers sitting in a closet. I meant to upgrade the ship’s computers, but couldn’t get the 64 bit serial to usb drivers working. I need to figure that out next year…

    – The interface between Nobeltec and my radar is broken. I’m not seeing arpa targets in Nobeltec, and should be able to. I also can’t do radar overlay (which may not be possible). I’ll figure it out next year.

    – My seachest is a bit of a mess. I can’t get it open to clean it out. It was leaking and the technicians put the top on it with some sort of glue (I think). I need to figure this out…

    I’m sure I could keep typing on this list for a week, but there’s nothing too serious. If I had to leave today for a 2,000nm passage, I wouldn’t hesitate!

    -Ken W

  14. Ruaan:

    Thank you for suggesting that I write a cruising guide to Japan. I’ve seriously thought about it, but its more of a commitment than I really want to make.

    That said, I am seriously thinking about doing a cruising guide to Hong Kong. It’s a small enough area that in a month or two I do think I could map things out, and visit every marina. And, amazingly, there are no cruising guides that exist. Unfortunately though, now that it appears the GSSR is back together, the focus when we return to Hong Kong will be on moving the boats to Singapore, so I may not get the couple of months I wanted for just ‘hanging out’ in Hong Kong. We’ll see.

    Overall, I’m cruising for fun, and don’t want to do anything serious that makes it a job.

    Thank you,

    -Ken W

  15. Ron:

    Your question about shifting to neutral to detect current is a good one, and had me thinking. You are right. That would be a simple, reliable test. I always forget the KISS method (Keep It Simple Stupid).

    The only downside is that when the boat drifts, the stabilizers are inactive. This means that whatever swell there is rolls the boat. It only takes a few seconds for everything around the boat to get dumped on the ground. I don’t know how anyone EVER went to sea without stabilizers. They spoil you quickly.

    -Ken W

  16. All:

    Roberta and I just arrived home in Seattle. Shelby made the trip fine and is thrilled to be home. It was a LONG trip: Hong Kong->Zurich->NY->Seattle.

    I’m enjoying my fast internet connection.

    -Ken W

  17. Ken;

    Thank you for taking us all along on your cruising this year! I really enjoy reading about your travels and all the challenges you face along the way. I never had an interest in the mechanics of a boat but your writing is very engaging and entertaining and somehow you make it interesting!

    Looking forward to the next Blog…

  18. What — it’s over??!? What are those of us that live vicariously through your blog to do in the “off season”?

    Seriously, thanks so much for the time and effort you put into sharing your travels and insights with the rest of us. It’s always fascinating reading, both the about destinations you visit, and for me, learning more about life aboard, systems and cruising.

    Safe travels, and I can’t wait until GSSR casts off the lines once again.

    Mark
    Jacksonville, FL

  19. Ken, thanks for the great blog again. I’ve enjoyed reading it and look forward to next year. Do you have any plans for changes/upgrades on the boat this year?

    Sam

  20. You’ve certainly had a great experience, would you say you have enjoyed it? Do you feel that there is a difference between adventure travel–which challenges and educates you–versus recreational travel–which involves sandy beaches and BBQ? Given the undercurrent of anxiety regarding piracy, what would you say your objectives for next year’s cruise are (other than fellowhip with a good group)?

  21. Yes! GSSR 2011! GSSR forever! I can’t believe you’re going to do a third year of this. It looks like a doozy, and particularly look forward to some details on the transshipment to Europe.8

  22. Dear Ken and Roberta Williams,
    Thank you very much for taking the time to write your blog. I look forward to the email notices of new entries. Through you, I can sit in Fresno and still enjoy your dream cruise as if I were helping stand watch. I look forward to next year and wish you, your family, and cruising mates safe travels and an enjoyable offseason.
    Best Regards,
    Fred Haeberle

  23. Hi Ken!

    I’m glad to hear you guys have a provisional plan for next year. Thailand has some very beautiful cruising grounds, it’s a chance not too good to miss.

    You said there are no guide books for Japan, you have the perfect expeienxe o lay dow. The base for one, which can at least beused to get through japan, and I’m sure you can add a tonn of useful information. Think about it, I’m sure it will encourage more Nordhavns to go to these wonderful destination an fulfil there purpose.

    All the best,

    Ruaan
    Locheil, President 41

  24. Ken,

    I recommend that for the next leg, you call the effort the SOB for Singapore Or Bust. Then you can transition to the MOB for the Mediterranean Or Bust. {;*)) In regard to the question about current, would shifting into neutral have provided any answers or were the winds too great?

    Ron

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