Sailing West by Eric Rigney

We Kandu with the Rigneyskandu team: Eric Rigney, Captain, Leslie Rigney, Co-Captain, Bryce & Trent Rigney, Crew!

The trip has changed dramatically since leaving Bora-Bora. The larger boat jobs completed in February and March, planned and parts ordered months prior, are behind me. No longer do I shoulder an over-shadowing burden of endless preparatory tasks. So many were completed: haul-out and new bottom paint, re-plumbed some items in the head and galley, revamped electrical system (batteries, solar, monitoring), new standing rigging (hardware, cables and fittings to support the sails and mast), installed an AIS transponder, set up our new dinghy, and more. Kandu feels whole, ready for frequent ocean passages, ready for whatever awaits us.

My captaining tools have improved: additional electronic navigation, weather forecasting, and communication with ports. As a result, after days out at sea, we successfully sailed into two foreign ports at night using tools recommended by a more experienced cruising sailor. My skills have improved as well. The boys are stepping up, particularly Bryce. Getting from point A-to-B, and repairing/maintaining Kandu come easier. Stress levels don’t immediately jump to DEFCON 5 when problems arise: automatic bilge pump counter shows 263 cycles of pumping water out of the boat in 8 hours, starboard side window falls off dodger a second time and shatters, wind vane steering line frays and locks-up the helm toward an accidental jibe in 25 mph winds and 8-foot seas, Custom officers can’t reach us over VHF radio, after changing the oil and replacing all its fuel filters (5) the 44hp diesel engine dies and won’t start, modem fails thus preventing us from emailing via HF and SSB radio. It turns out that stressing over a problem doesn’t resolve it faster. It just ages me. I do the best I can with what I have, “sail the wind I have,” I like to say. With support and assistance from family and friends, I resolve problems and order parts. Our pace, frequent crossings and shorter stays, is possible because our boat is working and with the help of my “team,” problems that arise are typically solved within the available timeframes.

We are seeing places in concentrated fashion, diving in deeply and getting out quickly. We’re seeing cultures new to me and more traditional than French Polynesia. Images from childhood wildlife and adventure television programs come to life, people and culture made real and tangible. This phase of our travel is very rewarding. It’s the trip I envisioned years prior. The two-year stay in French Polynesia was not planned, but proved helpful in terms of ‘finishing’ Kandu and making the boys bilingual. Better still, we deepened existing friendships and established new ones. We also delved deeply into the reviving Marquesan culture. Taking it slow has its rewards. But so does a faster pace. This quickened phase is driving our small family even closer together. We do most everything together, but make efforts to provide the boys “alone” activities ashore.

Our itinerary from this standpoint is:

  • Leave Vanuatu this Saturday for Darwin, sailing 20 days through the Torres Straight.
  • Join the Sail Indonesia Rally and sail through Indonesia over 2.5 months, stopping at 10-12 locations.
  • From there, sail to Singapore, along Malaysia, to Thailand.
  • After Christmas, sail to Sri Lanka and the Maldives before arriving at the Red Sea in late February.
  • From March-September 2018, sail the Med.
  • Make our way to northern South America and Southern Caribbean, and through the Panama Canal.
  • Then home by either coming up the Central American and Mexican coasts, or sailing to Hawaii and then over to North America, arriving in CA the summer of 2019.

When other sailors remark that our pace is too fast, I smile and reply, “Well, then maybe we should just go home and not bother sailing around the world.” It’s not perfect, not even close. But as another sailor noted, “You can’t kiss all the girls.” And with that, I’m happy with what we’ve done, and with what we’re doing and how we’re doing it. Sure, at this speed, we are not able to experience all that we would want. Still I would argue that the bits and pieces we are able to see provide a greater appreciation for the global vastness of culture and natural wonder that exists on our amazing planet, an experience more satisfying than the inspirational one I received watching it as a child at home on TV. Whether we sail one year eastward back across the Pacific or two years westward around the world, we wind up home either way. So why not sail west and kiss a few more girls? Sounds good to me.

by Eric Rigney

8 thoughts on “Sailing West by Eric Rigney”

  1. The bliss you are experiencing comes through very clearly in your writings, Eric. We are happy for you every minute, (and so is Kent, I know…) xox, betsyandgary

  2. So glad you want to kiss more girls and are not heading east.
    Since the cockpit window fell out once, shame on the installer. Since it fell out a second time, shame on the captain.
    What was the cause of the water entry into the bilge? Did you put on lifejackets?


    1. Uncle Bill – no – we don’t blame the installer. We blame ourselves for leaning against the window. During the second installation, the mastic that I used was old and it takes 10 days to two weeks for the product to set-up. We started moving again before it had a chance to set. The second time, I bought new mastic and I held the window in place with reverse suction for almost a month before removing. Now it holds strong. It was unfortunate that I had to go through the process of purchasing new glass and cleaning the old mastic out a second time. Yuck. Leslie helped with that! As you already know, we have a constant leak with the packing gland when the engine is running. We may haul out in Malaysia to fix that. It’s not serious, no lifejackets necessary. We hit the bilge pump every two hours when the engine runs. Crazy business this sailing. A fellow sailor commented to me once, “Working and maintaining a boat is easy, just simple tasks. The challenge is there are about 10,000 of them.” Eric

  3. You could spend your whole life on this adventure and there would still be girls you haven’t kissed! (Louis L’Amour reported on his adventures in his book “Education of a Wandering Man”.) But still your own adventures are so far above and beyond most of our own that you can be proud of what you are doing/have done. Meanwhile, you are living in the real world, and not the make-believe media world we in the US are drowning in (nothing against media per se, but against propaganda and manipulation via the media).

    1. Very glad to not be present in the US, especially with all these trouble people have been talking about. Very true, can’t kiss all the girls.

  4. Hi guys. What great life experiences. Enjoy the journey. We look forward to more stories. Praying for your health and safety. Love always Claudia and Kevin

    P.s. love some of that chocolate cake when u return😁

    1. Hi Claudia. More stories forthcoming…we’ve got a few good ones coming up. I want to hear more about how life is treating you as a retiree. I can imagine an industrious person like enjoying the first 6 months of doing little, then choosing a couple interests that had been put on hold and taking them up. Write to me by email…as most of the time we don’t have great access to internet, email is easy. We’ll send Bryce over to bake you a cake! Hugs, Leslie

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