Eric’s Travels

Eric Friedli is on the yacht ‘Compay’. He has been around. Not around the world. Considering the extent of his travels over the past 8 years it is actually amazing he hasn’t circumnavigated just by pure chance. But he hasn’t , and has no plans to do so.

‘Compay’ is a stock Elan 40 that Eric bought from the factory in Slovenia 8 years ago.

He is a personable fellow in his early forties , so over a coffee , I asked him to give me the short version of his sailing travels since getting the boat. You might need an atlas to follow this.

Here is a summary of where he has sailed since then :

Gibraltar to Canaries to Cabo Verde to Brazil. BA to Rio to Montevideo and back to BA.

Across the Altantic to Capetown, then to Durban, Madagascar , the Seychelles , and on to Thailand and past the Maldives. He spent 9 months in SE Asia  : Malaysia , Str of Malacca ,Singapore , Borneo, and on to Phillipines. On to Vanuatu for 2 1/2 months then New Caledonia, Sydney , Tasmania. Across the Tasman Sea to Stewart Island and then Nelson on the S island of NZ where he stayed for 9 months.

From NZ he sailed to Raivavae in the Australs and on to Rapa Iti, Iles Gambier, Pitcairn Island, Marquesas , then on to Osaka in Japan.

In Japan he went south to Ishiyaki (formerly Bonin), then on to Hong Kong , Luzon (back in the Phillipines) , to Taiwan ,and returned to Japan.

From Japan , in the south he sailed to Kiska in the Aleutians, on to Dutch Hbr , Kodiak and Prince William Sound, Yakutat , Sitka before jumping off to sail down the W side of Haida Gwaii , visiting Port Louis (Kiokathli) and then on south to Kyuquot on the west coast of Vancouver Island. In to Hotsprings Cove , Ucluelet , Sidney (Van Is) and Friday Harbour USA. In October he sailed down to San Francisco , opting not to spend a winter in BC or Washington.

He sailed down around Cabo San Lucas and north up to Topolobampo to take the train into the Copper Canyon in the Sierra Madre mountains. On to Santa Rosalia , then back to Guatmas to visit friends , Alicia and Alberto on ‘Onverra’. On to Lapaz and then down the Mexican coast to Huatulco , Costa Rica , and Panama. , Las Perlas Islands , back to Panama , Ecuador , and then 32 days to Valdivia in Chile, arriving last December.

He then spent 3 months sailing down to Laguna San Rafael in the channels of Patagonia of Chile before returning to Valdivia, where I met him.

He mostly sails alone , but occasionally with friends, if they are available.

This is not a special boat. A fast production boat. He maintains it impeccably. The starboard toerail is damaged from a near miss from a ship in the Inland Sea of Japan. No windvane , only a standard autopilot.

He has a forced air heater but NEVER uses it : “too much energy and too complicated”. But , in Chile, he bought one of these really warm insulated work suits , as did I.

He worked for years in a business in Switzerland that repairs cars, first in the shop , then in the office. He did about 10 transatlantic yacht deliveries during that time.

He says he left to sail for a year. It seems that he really likes the life. He returned to Switzerland for the first time in 8 years recently to take care of ‘paperwork’, and see family.

Sometime , several years ago , he spent several months in a residential program in Central America learning Spanish. Along with English and French. So that’s handy.

What a long route to travel. Eric’s is probably not a particularly unusual story. Like many others, but perhaps a little more intense than many. 80,000 sea miles, mas o menos.

Tim’s Story

Tim is a guy , in his early fifties , from Oregon lately , but originally from the state of Georgia. Not married ,no kids. He bought his boat 4 yrs ago in Seattle. It is a nice boat , an Esprit 37 designed by Bob Perry. Prior to buying the boat, Tim  had lived in the mountains in eastern Oregon for about 14 years on his own.He had a couple of girlfriends during that time. He had worked seasonally as  an assistant land surveyor , often going back to Georgia for jobs.

His parents had both died and he had a small inheritance that enabled him to buy the mountain property. While he was living in Oregon he did some interesting trips ,alone. He had a 15′ Klepper folding kayak. One trip was to the Aleutians.

Another trip was to Patagonia near Puerto Natales. Not easy, or warm paddling.

He had a brother that died in a car accident. His sister is retired on the coast of  Oregon with her husband. He stays in touch with her.

So 4 years ago he bought this boat. He didn’t know anything about boats , other than his paddling experience.

The next 4 yrs of his life are pretty unusual.

Two days before Tim left Valdivia, 3 days ago ,I wrote down the sequence of his travels on a napkin in a pub on Av. Picarte in Valdiva.

He bought the boat in January, got rid of the rod-rigging , added a wind-vane , and bought 3 new sails from Port Townsend sails. In May he left the Juan de Fuca and his next stop was the Marquesas. Then he sailed for Talcahuano , Chile , where he stayed for 5 months.

You almost need a globe in front of you to envision his travels.

When he left Talcahuano he turned south and left Cape Horn to port about 200 miles and his next stop , heading west was Mandoora in Western Australia – 90 days later. Then he sailed to Hobart ,Tasmania and then on to Opua in northern New Zealand.

From NZ he sailed non-stop to Hilo,Hawaii , where someone stole his venerable Klepper kayak. He still misses it. He sailed on to Washingto state and spent the winter there. Leaving Juan de Fuca again he sailed non-stop to Tonga in the S Pacific. He stayed for 2 months and went on to Opua again and stayed for 3 months. Next stop was Juan Fernandes Island just off Chile , a long way again. He sailed in to Ecuador where he had a really bad time with the authorities, stayed one week and went back to Hilo , Hawaii.

After 2 months in Hawaii he returned yet again to Opua , then on to the Chatham Islands about 300 miles west of NZ. From there he went non-stop to Valdivia , Chile, arriving on Jan 11th 2011.

His sails are done. After 75000 miles they are finished. He also has no money. He ordered a new staysail here in Chile which took 900 of his remaining 1200 dollars. He cannot get work in Chile.

He has no way of communicating when offshore. Not extraordinary in the history of seafaring , but pretty rare nowadays. Even the hard-cores are carrying EPIRBS or Spots or satphones nowadays.

He doesn’t have a website and he sure doesn’t do a blog. He does have an e-mail address, but that is not a certain way to contact him at all.

He drinks a lot of beer ashore but doesn’t take any alcohol with him on the boat.

He finally headed out of here 3 days ago not knowing if he was headed to Hawaii , New Zealand , or around the Horn to South Africa or Namibia. He apparently had enough food and water.  The weather was good for 2 days but yesterday it blew a gale from the NW. Presumably he just jogs along or heaves -to. He only has the staysail and a trysail , so he needs a bit of wind to get going

You kind of get the feeling that without the boat he might be living on the street in western USA. He is not heroic, but I find his story fascinating.

We spent a few weeks socialising in Valdivia and I got to know Tim a bit. He is a nice guy.

Watching him sail away , I had the feeling that he might never be seen again. Perhaps a bit dramatic , but that’s how I felt. Not anxious for him . Sad.

But there is his story, as much as I know of it.

I hope I run into Tim on “Kaili” someday , somewhere.

(There is a picture of Tim  from 2 postings ago)