After 20 days at sea, MONGO anchored in Hilo's Radio Bay. Absolutely awesome first passage of this journey and fully stoked on where we made landfall. Full 360-degree protection, ultra flat water and a really big, beautiful wild island to explore. Not upset about this.

 

MONGO rounded the breakwater, turned upwind and sailed across Hilo’s inner harbor under sunny blue skies with the world’s largest mountain; Mount Mauna Kea watching over us. Powered up on a port tack will full main and working jib, MONGO rocked up into Hilo with authority. Blasting by a big, anchored cruising catamaran flying a German flag, we threw in two quick tacks around a commercial pier and then sailed into the 360-degree protection of Radio Bay. Keeping a safe distance to windward from one of the two Hawaiian sailing canoes moored out in the tiny man-made anchorage, MONGO’s jib was doused, anchor dropped and then backed down on with the mainsail. The boat stopped moving. Using palm fronds rustling in the wind and a nearby Polynesian sailing craft as a reference, I confirmed that the anchor had set. I doused the main. We had made it. The picture-perfect final approach into Hilo’s Radio Bay was indicative of the entire passage.

 

An early season engineless passage from So Cal to Hawaii is a bit of a dice roll, but MONGO was blessed by the gods. 20 days, very few issues and consistent, mostly mellow conditions

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MONGO tracker going live March 6. Click here for link.

(This is the only way that I can update while at sea.)

Adding the final touches to MONGO before her first blue-water voyage.

MONGO's almost ready, i'm almost ready, a weather window is opening up and my bank account is wrecked after this re-fit: It is time to leave. I am planning on setting sail from San Diego on or about Wednesday March 5, bound for Hilo, Hawai'i. The vibe is decidedly different this time around than before, now my sixth time departing for Hawaii... The first time ('08), was a shit show that ended poorly and the other four (2010, '11, '12, '13) were all races where I was under pressure with deadlines and competitive aspirations. This time is very relaxed and completely on my terms. I feel prepared, i'm not stressed, i'm completely doing my own thing both schedule-wise and sailing-wise. I'm going where I want when I want and how I want. I'm very stoked on that. When I first began sailing, a sailboat represented freedom to me - a beautiful and profound way to travel to distant lands. That aspect of freedom and the dream of crossing oceans never changed for me, but sailboats began representing sport and competition more than freedom and exploration. MONGO represents the former once again and for that I am very happy.

The trials and tribulations of MONGO

Haul out #2 for MONGO. Grinded away some fiberglass on the port side of the skeg in front of the rudder to allow the rudder to turn all the way. Massive thanks to Chuck Drisoll at Driscoll's Boat Yard for helpping me out! And thanks to Don at the Foss Company (builder of the rudder) who immediately offer post-sale supportfor my fitment issues, although I chose to haul out instead.

The re-fit has still been forging ahead at full steam. In addition to knocking out a lot of small tasks, the big one for last week was getting the new rudder installed. The rudder builder dropped off my new rudder in San Diego and I was stoked! Upon initial inspection, the rudder looked great, so I took the rudder to Dynamic Marine Machining and had Dave and Sean give her some love and drill a hole in the rudder post to bolt on the rudder head/ tiller head. After that, I brought the rudder back to the dock, sanded quickly and then painted with bottom paint. (Should've saved paint from my haul-out. Buying paint by the quart is expen$ive.) Donning my wetsuit, I dropped the old rudder in the slip and installed the new one. Perfect fit. Bolt on the rudder head and tiller and go for it. Left-right-left-right. What the f---? The rudder moved about 70 degrees to starboard but only 20 or 30 to port. 

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In between, and also to facilitate, boat work MONGO has been charging all over San Diego. Little boat is ready to rock. 'Straiya here we come.

 

When Sirena Gorda arrived in San Diego in October, she was headed to Mexico with nothing more than coastal ambitions in the immediate future. But as MONGO departs San Diego, she will be pointed directly for blue water... and a lot of it as I plan to sail the boat to Australia this year, beginning in a few weeks. Fortunately, her re-fit and level of preparation reflects the little boat’s big ambitions. I hauled MONGO out in Mission Bay a couple of weeks ago and put her back in the water last week. Between the time on the hard and lots of new boat bits, rigging, a new rudder on the way, communications gear and a number of odds and ends later, this exercise in serious blue-water cruising on a serious budget is beginning to look pretty feasible.

 

 

MONGO: the simple man's yacht. All up, as she leaves San Diego, MONGO will represent about a $10,000 investment. This includes purchase price of boat, haul-out, re-fit, safety gear, new rudder, wind vane, boat supplies, etc. From humble beginnings in Seattle in the fall of 2012, she has become a dialed pocket cruiser on a serious budget. I have a lot of confidence in the boat and our level of prep, and am looking forward to a great adventure!

 

The Haul- Out 

 

I hauled MONGO at Driscoll’s Mission Bay, as none of the boat yards on Shelter Island allow do-it-yourself work. Before the haul-out, I bought pretty much everything that I thought I would need, as there’s practically nothing around the boat yard in MIssion Bay. Heading up there, I had a short but fairly significant to-do list:

 

  1. Drop / inspect / repair rudder.
  2. Prep bottom for paint
  3. Paint bottom
  4. Remove thru-hull fittings and replace for install of head
  5. Remove prop/ prop shaft/ prop strut and fiberglass over

 

Judging by the reaction of the boat yard crew, not a lot of people actually sail their boat into the slings of the Travel Lift...

 

After a great sail up to Mission Bay with two friends of mine and a quiet night on the hook, I sailed MONGO right into the slings of the Travel Lift 

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A beautiful final sunrise in a Sydney- Hobart that very much lived up to all the hype. 

 

Back in San Diego after an incredible five weeks in Australia. Sydney- Hobart was a great experience, I traveled a beautiful country, spent a lot of time surfing and met some really great people... can’t really say anything better about Australia. The place was amazing! So amazing, in fact, that I am now planning to sail my boat/ house MONGO, (previously Sirena Gorda) from California to Australia! I want to travel Australia and the South Pacific by sail, pursue more offshore racing opportunities in Australia and sail in another Sydney- Hobart! 

 

I wrote a really long, detailed account of the Sydney- Hobart and it has been published on Sailing Anarchy. 

 

Part 1

 

Part 2

 

The week leading up to the race was fun; working on the boat, pre-race festivities, partying with friends and other crews, and all of the general buzz around the CYCA. But the really cool part was the start! The Boxing Day start is pretty hyped up and it lived up to the expectations. 100’ Maxi’s sailing around, helicopters buzzing, a few thousand spectator boats, 100 racing yachts and an estimated 300,000 live spectators either on boats or on shore... I sailed on the Newcastle-based Archambault 40 One for the Road

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