Ten days ago I flew out of Sydney – destination "dream realisation!"
I’ve had this idea to sail around the world for a while now, in fact I tried to work out when and how I first got this idea and haven’t been able to crack it – the earliest confirmed mention of this was when I was 19… but I’m guessing it would have been born much earlier than that. Either way, it feels quite incredible to be on the eve of beginning to fulfill a dream that I have been working towards for half of my life.
This journey is unlikely to end up being a full circumnavigation of the world, in fact I’m not entirely sure how long it will last – I have given myself a broad target of reaching Australia within 18 months and other than broad stroke plans I’m only looking some 2-3 months ahead at a time. Beyond that that there’s only one condition that I have promised myself to stick to – only continue as long as I’m enjoying it and not that I’m just doing it ’cause I said i would!
So, having done just about all I could in Australia before leaving, I packed all 70Kgs of stuff that I needed to bring with me (including my jar of vegemite that didn’t quite make it), bid farewell to friends, family and my beloved ‘stralllia!
(TIP: 46KG per person allowance flying to anywhere in the Americas + extra 23 KG if you have Qantas Club membership + 7kg carry on luggage – includes South America!)
The flight over was fairly uneventful, usual routine, movie, food, drink, movie, drink, sleeeeep… ahh we’re there! landed in LA, had a 4 hour stop over where I had to pick up my bags and re-check them in en route to Miami. All bags were there, safe and sound… a quick check of emails in the lounge, surrounded by Aussie musicians making their way to "South by South West" music festival. Amongst others, David Faulkner the frontman from the Hoodoo Gurus and the whacky looking kids from "Children Collide".
Finally landed in Miami 23 hours after leaving Sydney (11:00pm local time) tired, but excited by the prospect of seeing "Squander" the next morning…
MISSING IN ACTION
My plans to get underway asap got slightly held up when my surfboard didn’t materialise and it was no where to be found in the computer systems! 2 hours later I filed all the necessary descriptions, forwarding addresses and so on and was under way for the 2 hours drive to Fort Pierce – north of Miami… and so it was at 3:00am that i finally drifted off into my final sleep on land for a while.
I woke up the next morning with my phone ringing, it was Adrian on the line (the original owner of Squander), there had been a mixup in the marina and the boat was going in the water in 15 minutes as opposed to the original plan – full steam ahead, i jumped out of bed – grabbed my bags and bolted out of the Motel… the reality of the moment sinking in finally, adrenalin pumping, mixed with early stages of jet lag, lack of sleep – it all made for a pretty funny cocktail of emotions!!
Adrian and Jan were by the boat as I pulled in, we greeted each other briefly and went about starting to launch Squander – WOW!!!
It all happened fairly effortlessly, Adrian was kind enough to steer the boat for me as I was in no state to try and figure out left from right let alone focus on steering a 45 foot boat in close quarters!
The next 3 days were jam packed with Adrian and Jan going out of their way to make the handover as smooth as possible – we went through the entire boat with a fine tooth comb, Adrian imparting his years of experience and me overflowing trying to take it all in, taking notes, photos, videos and the whole time realising that I was facing one of my steepest learning curves to date.
Once all was said and done, including a cheeky night out to the local restaurant followed by a few quiet drinks, it was time to go for a first sail. Adrian kindly agreed to sail with me the 90 or so Nautical Miles down to Fort Lauderdale and I would drive him back.
The conditions looked perfect and so it was a little after high tide that we set off from Fort Pierce at 1:00pm. After negotiating the shallow exit from the marina, I got my first taste of the Intra coastal waterways where you have to radio ahead for the bridges to open and were small sailing boats and BIG power boats travel up and down the east coast of America from New York all the way down to Florida safely protected from the evils of the Atlantic Ocean. We eventually made it out into the open ocean.
View where’s gavin in a larger map
A light breeze we set sails and took off south… a few hours into it, the wind went just enough aft to allow us to set a kite for a an hour or so. It was like the cherry on top of a perfect handover – it dawned on me that "Squander" was now mine – my home, my shelter, my transport and my responsibility!
Since getting to Fort Laudrdale, I’ve used every second to prepare the boat as best i can for the next 2-3 months.
From buying bulk food, testing all the equipment onboard, buying cups, pots, pans, bed sheets, charts, tools, rum, spare parts, oils, greases, glues, filters and teh list goes on! A friend of Amanda Dormer’s – Doug – has been a huge help – he’s a SuperYacht captain based out of Miami and has every imaginable contact needed.
He has been supporting me and pointing me in the right direction daily – from organising a berth, to hiring a car to putting me in touch with riggers, mechanics, wholesale suppliers of spare parts, who’s good, who’s not so good – it has made my life so much easier – THANK YOU!!
Last Thursday evening, Doug called me to ask if I was interested in sailing Squander down to Miami for the weekend to act as a makeshift hotel – some of his crew wanted to go to ULTRA – a huge 2 day outdoor electronic music festival that also doubles as the closing party for the WMC conference where all the who’s who of electronic music gather every year.
It didn’t take long for me to say yes, it was a good excuse to go and sail and it also meant I would get away for the weekend and have a break.
We ended up having seven of us sleeping aboard, docked at the Miami Beach marina. (where you really stand out if you’re a sailing boat – definitely land of the power boaters)
On the Friday night, the crew went out to the festival whilst Doug and Alma came over as the first official guests onboard – we shared a bottle of champagne, a few more drinks and Alma jumped into the galley and cooked up a late night dinner for us.
Miami turned on it’s best in Saturday, sunny skies, a balmy 27 degrees and perfect conditions for a waterside, outdoor music festival.
The guys that were staying onboard (Bron, Dave, Nina, Olly, Nick and Renae) invited me to head out with them to the festival. Despite it not being my scene, I figured "When in Rome…" – I’m really glad I went – great vibe, good music and delivered at a proportion that I had never experienced – I’m not sure of the official numbers, but it was a sell out and I’m pretty sure it was 100,000 people!
That’s it from me for now… it’s Monday morning and I’ve got a busy week ahead of me. A blocked toilet to fix, fishing gear to buy, a cleat to replace, a new stereo to install, satellite phone to work out, bulk food to separate and re-package and prepare for some visitors over Easter next weekend.
Hope all is well with you wherever you may be reading this from.
MORE PICS FROM ULTRA
Nurses giving security a heart attack
The hill was worth a look
Main Stage in the background
"oh my god… we forgot to tell you that were going to wear clothes!"
I love the colour of your top!
Nina & Olly
Nina, Olly & Nick