Here it is Wednesday again, time to post.
Today's topic is 


Hmmm......the exchange rate???
In February I traveled through Chile with pal John Welsford. I was in Chile for one week and then John arrived and we went into over drive for the next three weeks. The man is strong with great stamina. We hardly had a day of rest given that we traveled from Santiago to Valparaiso and then south into Patagonia and Tierra del Fuego. I had quite the hit list of meetings set and knowledge needed. High on this list was the availability of provisions in Punta Arenas.
Shopping in Valparaiso Chile
Big Ears............and I don't mean his.
A beautiful Chilean dessert in Puerto Montt (nope I hardly got a bite)
We learned much as we traveled visiting public markets and stores of all types. Chilean produce is abundant, in great variety and delicious. I plan to eat as locally as I can. However I will be challenged to carry much fresh produce other than hearty root vegetables and onions as spoilage will be an issue. I plan to start off with fresh vegetables but know in spite of the cold air and cold water these will have a short shelf life.

The last time I sailed the waters of Tierra del Fuego I traveled super light with boat, gear and provisions needed for three months out of touch with civilization and I brought it all with me as baggage on the airline. This trip was several years in the making and as with any such endeavor the best laid plans get tossed out the window the day of setting off. After that its a game of how well did I prepare and with what I have on board can I ad lib in a pinch. One of the challenges sailing Tierra del Fuego is the daily grind of high winds and unpredictable weather leading to extended periods either on shore waiting for a weather window or standing off to sea and having hands full with sailing making food preparation difficult.

Boat, gear and provisions for three months.

During my last voyage I had a plan to load heavy and cache food for the return trip north from Cape Horn. I did this at Bahia Scourfield. In the photo above you can see the frame of a back pack. This was my food cache. I had a heavy plastic bag to put it in and buried it at Bahia Scourfield never imagining I would not be able to make it back there. I figure it is still there and I may take a look for it this trip as it also contains the only two books I carried with me. 

Bahia Scourfield in the Wollaston islands north of Cape Horn. In this photo the wind is blowing 55 knots and it more or less did this for ten days straight.

Weight is always an issue for the small boat sailor and in my case sailing a fifteen foot wood canvas canoe meant I had to weigh everything to the ounce.

Here is a photo of what I carried in and on my boat. The cache pack is on the aft deck (unloaded in this photo).

My friend Jim Gillespie was extremely helpful in planning my daily nutrition for the trip and I Thank him again! Jim is a very talented musician and is part of the group producing the sound track for Dave Nichols film "Below 40 South"...........nice to have such life long pals!

Jim did serious background research on nutritional content of a number of food items, made an amazing food chart, set my daily caloric intake target, etc. Another friend Kirby Snively, superb singer/song writer and Blissfest guy made the tiller for my boat.

Both these gents are part and parcel of a great American music festival that I also had a role in for many years. The event is the Bliss Music Festival and it still takes place annually in northern Michigan the second weekend of July! For many years I hosted the Festival at my farm, now known as the Festival Farm. I feel honored to have had a small role in the Festival and glad to know I helped them establish ownership of their permanent home.

Here is a funny old (oops, reversed) photo of me wearing my Blissfest hat, Cape Horn in the background.

Two food bags enough for 5 weeks can be seen in this photo taken on the Beagle Channel.

The Best Laid Plans 
I was pinned in Bahia Scourfield for the ten days and each of these days I was obviously not moving yet was consuming provisions. At the end of the ten days the wind ceased blowing so I quickly loaded up and headed south under paddle power for a measly four hours before being pinned again on Isla Deceit for another ten days. That would be twenty days straight of little progress other than into my provisions.

The weather was so violent that I could hardly chance standing up outside, I moved around mostly on all fours. To get knocked over by the wind and break a bone in such a remote place would have been a very serious issue. John Welsford experienced similar winds in Punta Arenas last month while we were there and thought it dangerous.

So I spent another ten days curled up in my tent with no ear plugs to keep the roar of the wind down, enough to make a guy crazier than he already was. Waves of freezing rain and high winds made for misery in my one man tent and I sort of stopped eating. The tent was continually flattened by the strong winds. Where I ended up there was not even a knee high bush for protection.

So the ad lib bit had to come into play as before I was even a few miles into the voyage I was in trouble on provisions. So I did skin tests and figured what I could eat from nature. The berries in the photo below became a staple until I reached Cape Horn. They were very sour but mixed well into a number of meals I cooked. Once on Cape Horn I was well fed by my three friends the navy lighthouse keepers...........that's the way the Armada de Chile operates. What a superb navy, more interested in assisting others than just about any other objective. Obviously they are a fighting navy but in my book they are a caring navy.
I have no idea what these tart red berries are really called. The Armada sailors I met called them Diddlydee berries. (Not sure of the spelling either)

Spin Forward

Spin forward to 28 years later and here I go again to an even more remote place in Tierra del Fuego, the southwest islands. This round I will sail a boat with larger capacity but in actuality not that much larger because of my plan to sail backpacker light leaving room for safety/survival gear, warm clothing, repair kit, etc etc. Food is again an issue and even more complicated than the last voyage in that this time I can't put the boat, gear and food on a plane and fly it in. Based on shipping costs I have to be very careful and so have made the decision to provision entirely in Chile thus saving precious pounds and shipping costs.

Whats For Dinner?
I am planning a traditional or ancient grain and hearty (root) vegetable diet for this voyage as it makes procuring, storing and cooking very easy with spoilage less of an issue.

So this was also the case when I came to Jim those many years ago and asked for his help in planning a nutritious natural food diet. Jim was also in the same mind set and so it was a natural (no pun intended) fit. He hit it just right and after testing the diet before I departed the US I knew I could more than survive with his recommended diet until my miscalculation due to the many delays I experienced due to inclement weather. Thanks Jim as he knows I still have that pencil chart of the detailed diet he put together, a great memory.

It's Either Complicated or Not
One of my passions in life is sailing and particularly trying to sail as small as possible. I find this an incredibly interesting exercise in efficiency and paring down to the most basic of basics. This can make for a very simple and fulfilling experience. Part and parcel of this is provisioning and I have found that the diet style I enjoy (based on a very traditional Japanese diet) also packs extremely small. For this trip I plan to be able to boil, pan fry, stir fry and bake while aboard when conditions allow, which won't be often but what a treat when I can. There is nothing quite like being tucked in the on board tent on a tiny boat at anchor roasting coffee beans and whipping up a hot frothy latte after a home cooked meal that can include freshly baked items. Yes its possible that with my set up and wood stove that I will bake simple flat breads, corn breads and muffins.

Freeze dried? dried? canned? fresh? pre-prepared, vacuum packed? Hmmm, all interesting options but do all meet the nutritional requirements caused hard physical labor, cold conditions and this sailors metabolism, which makes it hard for him to gain weight and easy to lose it.

In The Middle of Nowhere
I bumped into a German paddler west up the Beagle Channel. This was near the end of my last voyage in Tierra del Fuego, I reckoned it was time to turn back and so I did and then he showed up, respectfully a bit out of his depth. Very nice guy who was having rough go of it so I offered to give him a lift for the eight day voyage back to Puerto Williams. He looked at me askance when I explained how we'd do it.

I lashed his skinny kayak to my beamy sailing folder and off we sailed cooking and sleeping aboard. He had had real troubles from the word go and was about out of food. By this time I was near the end of my voyage and had stocked up on a few things in Ushuaia, Argentina for an exploration foray west up the Beagle to the glaciers. If I recall correctly what was left of his food consisted of half of a nasty looking sausage, a plastic bag of sugar, 6 onions, two cans of beans and one airline sized bottle of Scotch. Yep he was in a spot.

So I stood back, scratched my head and figured a way to make a sailing catamaran out of our boats and off went went. I inflated a dry bag in the cockpit of his boat when it was time for him to sleep and he slept on top of the kayak feet forward with a Klepper strap (I had on board) around his mid section and under/around the hull, strange but it worked, the water was seriously cold. This kept him from falling off when asleep. After a nap he would deflate the bag and then ride in his cockpit. I slept in my cockpit as he was new to sailing and learned after a few days. The photos here were taken on our one nice day.
The German paddlers boat lashed to mine, I am cooking one of his cans of beans under way, Yum sort of!
My new German friend digging out onions from the fwd hatch of his boat as we sail on a good day east on the Beagle Channel.

The Set Up
My at anchor galley, which folds flat and stows below. The wood cutting board top is Birds Mouth Maple from Dave Nichols (Thanks Dave) and can be easily switched out to be a work bench. When at sea I will be cooking on a single burner home made gimbaled stove. I can also cook on the boats wood stove and can bake bread etc.

Fitting the wood stove (tent not up), which is on a 2 piece collapsible hearth. The set up takes about three minute to assemble and can be taken down in about 2 minutes. Everything stows below. The stove has a water jacket for heating soup, water etc and also features a cook top.

Back to the options question. I married well and my wife (a linguist by profession and a foodie by passion) is in to a very unique style of Japanese cuisine known as Tubu-Tubu. This is what we enjoy every day and what I will be basing my provisioning on for my coming voyage. Thanks Keiko!

Meet Keiko

Keiko as mentioned is a serious foodie and is planning my provisions with me.

Tubu Tubu

Tubu-Tubu is a Japanese nickname for native grains. “Tubu” actually refers to granular items, such as small seeds, beads, beans and balls. Tubu-Tubu is an interesting and I feel appropriate food for not only enhancing health but also a very personal way that helps us feel we are doing our part to help the planet and our health. 

So I am going to be eating a grain based vegetable diet and the cool thing is I can get what I need in Chile. The grains pack small (bulk up on cooking), are dense in nutrition, are complimented when cooked with any number of hearty vegetables and do not require refrigeration. This style of cooking uses no eggs, dairy products, sugar (we make our own natural sweeteners) or animal products. For small sailboats this type of provisioning is ideal. If not embraced for every day living it is a viable and delicious diet for weekend small boat warriors or those headed over the horizon.

For the past year Keiko has been working with me (well the real work is hers) testing meals to see what I like, what will be easy to prepare and what will offer the greatest nutrition for given weight. 

This has been fascinating and I have to say delicious. One interesting outcome of this is that she has decided to author a book on provisioning specifically for sailors, hikers, bikers and anyone doing anything outdoors where weight and space are an issue but it will be very focused on sailing needs where lack of refrigeration and storage is an issue.

I like delicious food and am not much for some vegetarian meals that are in my opinion boring, her food is amazing, savory or sweet, easy to prepare and fun to look at. All that time, money and effort we put into her linguistics education and career has morphed into her passion, cooking and teaching others what she has learned from experts in Japan.

So for fun here are some photos of just a few of the test dishes she has prepared for me to choose from. I firmly believe nutrition will be one of the key elements of voyaging below 40 degrees south.

For example here is yesterdays one pan experiment. Of course I won't have asparagus but the concept of a multi course meal in one pan is what we are working on now. Eating well is important. If I get tired of what I eat my nature is to not bother cooking, bad idea.

Granted these are quite stylish and I won't be eating off of plates on nice table cloths. Our objective is one pan meals with left overs being primary ingredients for the next meal.

Packing and Weight
Sailing a SCAMP allows for more room below for stowage than one can imagine yet my available room for provisions will be quite limited. I have installed padeyes low throughout the boat in all compartments. This will enable me to strap heavy items (food bags, etc) low and tight so that in the event of a capsize weight below will not shift and cause a righting issue.

I see the grains I am carrying as nutrition and needed energy and as ballast and ballast and that is a good thing. I will be sailing with varieties of Quinoa, Amaranth, Millet, Buckwheat, Oats, fruits, vegetables, oils, spices and different varieties of flours because I like to bake. There may be few things better for moral than hot biscuits off the wood stove on cold damp mornings side up against a cup of freshly roasted and brewed coffee. Yachting at its best!

Here are a few examples of traditional or ancient grains that Tubu Tubu chefs use to create foods (eggs, meats, etc) many people like. Many of these grains have been staple foods for cultures around the world for thousands of years.

If interested take a look at Keiko's blog
 and keep an eye out for that book she is writing.

Here is Keiko's Japanese blog for additional photos of her food

Next weeks topic is- Voyaging Strategy

Dave Nichol's film web site is at: and I sure hope he can raise the funds he needs to produce the footage I shoot into a small boat film many folks might like to see. 
                    I support Dave's effort and will do my part to shoot film while underway.

Wednesday March 23rd, 2016

The Documentary Film "Below 40 South"

For the past three years David Nichols (boat builder, author, film maker) has been working on the production of a documentary film about the coming voyage of Southern Cross. Thought this might be a great time to update folks on how this came to be, why I am involved and how it will get done.

Dave's film web site is "" On the site you can read his words about the film project in some detail.

Whats In A Title
The title of the film and the byline are an interesting mash together and there is story behind both. "Below 40 South" I like because thats where I'll be. It is one of those phrases (unattributable) coined by some amongst the thousands of Cape Horn clipper ship sailors who have preceded me, many who's lives ended there. Some used to say, "Below 40 degrees south there is no law and below 50 degrees south there is no God."

As to the byline "A Voyage to the Dark Side of the Moon" is a photo I snapped with a timer at my furthest west point up the Beagle Channel those many years ago. It was on this day of snow squalls, high winds and dwindling food supply that I looked into the southwest (over my right shoulder in the photo) and vowed that some day I would return. I thought to myself that it looked so dark and foreboding yet so intriguing, perhaps like the dark side of the moon. How time flies as some day turned to so many some days. So I am headed back to the staggering beauty of southern Chile figuring life is for the living and I still have a bit left in the tank.

The Stakes Are High
Not to sound dramatic but its true the stakes are high for any boat or ship (regardless of size) sailing the waters of Tierra del Fuego, I know because I have been there, have twice capsized there and have also been injured doing same. To sail the waters of TDF one must have a tight boat and an act on as tight as can be with no distractions. Everything happens extremely fast when it begins to go bad and full focus is required. This photo is of a williwaw wind, likely "question in doubt" if caught out in a 12 foot boat, been through several of these. This one may be blowing in excess of 60 knots.
A Williwaw
Someone took the photo below of me as I approached in sustained 40 knot winds gusting to just over 50 knots. This was taken on the Beagle Channel near Timbales. This is not a time to be thinking, for in the moment of thought it's already behind you and the next critical moment or wave is at hand. This is all about muscle memory gained from practice. This is where the tiniest preparation detail comes into play and pays. Skip forward to my coming voyage with the added complication of two or three running cameras and this kind of situation can be even more dangerous. Considering involvement in the making of a film has to be done in a most thoughtful manner.

Challenging day on the Beagle Channel
How The Film Came To Be
Dave Nichols and I met as both were attending a small boat gathering, Dave as an instructor and me as the key note address speaker. While talking boats I told him of my plan to sail a 12 foot boat to Greenland and he proposed the idea of a film. I had planned to shoot some amateur (because I am) footage using a Gopro camera to share with friends after the voyage. After talking with Dave I understood his motivations and they seemed very honest and in line with how I view the world of hyper over the top media and reality TV shows. Time marched on and Dave and I continued to talk about a film. I was not convinced and have to say I waffled back and forth approximately 1000 times as I could not see my voyage (now to Tierra del Fuego) as being a worthy enough story to be the subject of a film plus I have never been comfortable in front of a camera. I actually can hardly stand to have my picture taken.

As our friendship grew we delved deeper into the idea of a film and I came to the realization that lead me to saying yes. I decided I would like the opportunity to go to a theater and see a good small boat voyaging documentary as there just aren't any or at least very very few. I just hadn't thought of it being my voyage, so I waffled on.

I figured the film would not be about me but about an interesting small boat that I was part of the test team for, SCAMP #1. I volunteered my time as I was convinced on first seeing the design that I might have found my ride. So I joined Josh, Kees, Simeon and Russell for test work (little did they know I had an ulterior motive;-).

I had already purchased two kits long before #1 was even launched as I knew I could modify an already great design to meet the conditions where I wanted to sail at the time, from Goose Bay Labrador to Sisimut Greenland. My plan was to build one boat as stock test it and then build a modified version as my voyaging boat.

I recognize she may not be a design for everyone due to size. For her size I find SCAMP to be extremely capable if thoughtfully handled. Is SCAMP my end all and be all of sailing boats? Not a chance. She is just one of many I like to sail and specific in purpose in my quiver of small boats, nothing else matches up in the micro cruiser genre for my tastes. I wanted a boat with more volume for the voyage than a sailing kayak and with as much positive buoyancy as possible. I also wanted one as small as possible because of shipping costs so I chose SCAMP.
Taking a breather during static capsize testing
This is an amazing small boat
The little boat can stand up to a breeze (gusts over 30, Cedar Key Florida)

Mr. Waffle
That'd be me!
I had the hardest time deciding to embrace the film because it seemed a mix of self proclaimed "look at me", a major logistics hassle when I will have so much to do just trying to keep my hair dry and until last summer I held fast to the belief that there was not a story in what I was planning. I was just going sailing and nothing more, not much story in that I reckoned.

So back and forth I wavered and finally I got it on a final point that tipped the scale in favor of "Yes, I'll shoot film while sailing." It was the inspiration piece. Not being particularly talented I reckon I am no more than the sum of what I have borrowed from others and of how I have been inspired by others. Beginning with Manry and moving on through the many "real" sailors I have admired and studied throughout my life I came to the realization that I am going so why not help make a film that might inspire those who can't make such a voyage. I figure if I am not giving then I am likely taking, so I decided to give by having Dave tell a factual story, a story that was not over dramatized and devoid of superlatives.

Promoting The Film, Not Me
It is not in my nature to promote myself as I prefer going about life quietly and I really don't believe the pressure to have to do something is such a good idea.I have come to believe the film is a worthwhile initiative. Since I am finally all in with assisting the film makers (I am mounting their cameras on my boat and shooting some 90% of the film) this means I also have to help ensure the film can be produced otherwise why would I go to the trouble. For the effort I am putting into filming I want the film to succeed.In the coming article about my boat in Small Craft Advisor readers can appreciate the extent to which I have set the boat up to be bale to maintain cameras, batteries, etc.A big part of this assistance translates to helping them raise funding to make it (its an independent film). Not money for me but for the film company. This has been the main reason I have been so reluctant to be involved, the seeming self promotion.

So We Agreed
That there would be no hype or superlatives, no reality show feel about it and no following boat for the film crew or meet ups along the way. That I would shoot and Dave would produce a film. Last summer we began to involve other people and it got sticky because I did not fully grasp the concept or what the film would depict and made a decision (based on advice) about how the final product would look and who would control the outcome.

I learned that a documentary if meant to be real has to be real. Although I intellectually knew this, it was still hard to grasp the concept. I can't be in control of what the film depicts, only the facts can, which is exactly what I want. I saw it this way, my voyage, my moments good or bad as I traveled all caught on film that I shot yet after the voyage I would give the images of my personal experiences to someone else who was not there to edit and make into a film as they saw it?? Head spin! So I gave up on trying to figure what it should be and let go giving it to Dave to do what he does. Thats what trust and friendship are all about. It was an excellent learning process and man am I glad I am still open enough to know when it's time to step back and learn.

Here is something Dave has penned that might be a good piece for understanding the motivations behind the film.

Dave Nichols Writes:
"The film Below 40 South: A Voyage to the Dark Side of the Moon is meant to be much more than the documenting of an extraordinary small boat voyage in an isolated, extremely hostile yet stunningly beautiful part of the world by sailor Howard Rice. It is meant to be a celebration of life and the importance of living it to the fullest in a modern world that has sterilized the edge from just about everything we do in our daily often predictable lives. There will be nothing comfortable or predictable for Howard as he makes his way south through the Strait of Magellan and into the notorious Southern Ocean aboard a 12 foot open boat. Once there he will explore the remote dangerous southwest islands south of the Beagle Channel, a place so remote that perhaps far fewer humans have set foot there than have stood on the south pole."
Dave Nichols
The Theme of the Film

Again Dave writes: 
"The theme of the film is based on one mans desire to explore one of the most isolated places on our planet. In doing so he will by circumstance (sailing solo and unsupported) be forced to innovative and ad lib daily just to survive. Through my conversations and resultant friendship with Howard I have come to learn his quiet take on adversity and how it can be clearly viewed in two ways.
The first being something to overcome and the second being a rich opportunity for learning and personal growth. He talks openly about growing as he explores his inner landscape of dreams, realities, fears, triumphs and at times the testing of his will to go on in spite of long odds. He seems comfortable both with people and with being alone for extended periods of time, which is an interesting combination. How many of us have taken a step back from life to be alone for even 24 hours? How many of us can live without a cell phone or the internet for even a few hours?
I believe the appeal of the film will be multifaceted in that the act of modern day exploration of these remote waters and islands will examine that part of the human spirit that seeks meaning that can only be derived from sole focus, passion and the self awareness. It will examine the willingness to let go and flow with circumstance and chance. In essence his course will be dictated by wind and wave and as goes his course so goes his inner voyage."
"Success in such a place can only happen by the setting free of expectations to the vagaries of wind and weather in one of the most volatile and extreme weather locations on the planet. This freeing of the human spirit from the shackles of day to day living, from predictability and following the desire to see what is just over the horizon is what pushed sailors to discover Cape Horn 400 years ago. The film is an opportunity for a lone sailor to share his exploration with the world."

A Video Diary
"Central to the film is a video diary/log that is being kept by Howard. This diary footage will document the challenges and triumphs as he copes with some of the world’s most extreme weather. Footage from special cameras mounted on the boat that will film while underway and footage shot while on shore will be blended together with the diary footage to tell a chronological story. That story line will be supplemented with footage shot over a two-year period prior to the launch of the boat at Punta Arenas and with photos from Howard’s first voyage. Where appropriate, historical images and film footage will expand the scope of the story. The majority of the footage for the film will be shot by Howard alone. This will allow the viewer to experience the adventure as if on board by his side and to appreciate the beauty of Tierra del Fuego through his eyes. This will allow each of us to come as close as possible to being a participant."
Three of my favorite rides, Southern Cross, my home built sailing canoe and my next voyaging project, Tinkerbelle. Photo credit- Dave Nichols
"Below 40 South could best be described as combining the elements of cinéma vérité or participatory documentaries and observational documentaries. Some elements of reflective documentaries are present with the inclusion of the video diaries. It is the inclusion of the reflective aspects that elevates the film and takes it beyond a simple sailing adventure.

A Key Element
One of the key elements of this story is a reunion between Howard and the three Armada de Chile personnel he spent ten days with on Cape Horn during his first voyage there. Howard has just returned from Chile where he engaged in five separate meetings with the Armada, two of these meetings focused on his request for Armada assistance in locating the three naval ranks whom he became such close friends with while on the Horn. This is an incredibly rich aspect to the story and speaks to the human connection between men thrown together in a remote and hostile environment."

Me with my amigos from so long ago- Marcello, Carlos and Noe

"Also key to the broad appeal of the film is how he has gone about preparing for the voyage. He has built the boat that will carry him on the adventure. It is hard work, sacrifices, and friends lending a hand with some of the labor that has allowed Howard to assemble the ideal “little ship” to carry him on the voyage. There are no sponsors, no one has funded this voyage. This fact adds an “Every Man” aspect to the adventure and the film.     "

A Rich Story
"Because the goal of Howard’s voyage is to simply explore the vast isolated southern islands of Tierra del Fuego (mostly lee shores) rather than sail to a predetermined point and return the story is potentially more interesting and meaningful. This goal allows the film to become more organic and evolve rather than be restricted by a narrow inflexible objective. This permits the film to paint with broad brush strokes and present a more relevant picture to a wide audience."

Thank you for reading!
Next Wednesdays post will focus on provisioning. Here is a photo of my provisioning expert, wife and best pal Keiko. I am very much looking forward to writing about her work and its bearing on how I am provisioning.