Guy Quits Job, Buys Boat, Sails From Washington to Patagonia

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Sometimes in life you wake up one day and think screw it! Dwyer C. Haney knows this feeling all too well. When he turned 25 the engineering entrepreneur decided enough was enough and quit work, sold / donated all of his belongings, bought a sail boat, learned to sail it and then set off on his adventure.

The goal of my voyage was to ski directly from the boat in the fjords of Chile, but I had a long way to go before I got there. I started in Bellingham, Washington and worked my way down the Oregon and California coasts to Mexico. I spent hurricane season in the Sea of Cortez and eventually sailed from southern Mexico to the Galapagos Islands. The final leg of the voyage from the Galapagos to Puerto Montt, Chile was a 37 day non-stop, single-handed sail and I only saw one other boat that entire time. I’ve been exploring Patagonia ever since. It has been a wild ride with everything from hurricanes to volcanic eruptions along the way. My life has gotten infinitely simpler and I’m completely and totally free to do whatever I want, whenever I want. The wind costs me nothing and drives me wherever I want to go.

The sea is full of mysterious, beautiful creatures. A pod of playful dolphins surrounded the boat to escort me into Mexico. They frolicked in front of the bow for nearly an hour!

 

A couple months into my jaunt through of the Sea of Cortez, I had to fly back to the states for a family reunion. A good friend offered to look after the boat in La Paz while I was gone. The Sea of Cortez is generally considered a safe haven from hurricanes (something like the risk of being hit by a hurricane in New Hampshire), but I made sure it was carefully anchored and prepared before I left. While I was in the states, a major hurricane swept up from Central America and rammed directly into La Paz in the middle of the night.

My friend rode out the hurricane at anchor through 125 knot winds and I communicated back and forth with her via text message through the height of the storm. The anchor chain eventually broke off and the boat was swept onto the beach. At 2:36am, I got one last text message followed by radio silence. The hours that followed were the most horrifying of my life. I wasn’t sure if she had just lost cell service or if something had gone horribly wrong.

I eventually got a call from the Air Force that my emergency transponder had been activated. My friend had been swept from the bow of the boat by a massive wave and had spent 8 hours clinging to the mangroves, battling hypothermia, and waiting for dawn and rescue. Hurricane Odile claimed the lives of three other sailors that night, but miraculously my friend was OK. The boat was totally fine – just a little bit of scratched paint from being beached. The full story is here – http://www.voyageoftherascal.com/blog/hurricane-odile-the-full-story

I tried to live off the sea as much as possible and in Mexico, that accounted for 40-50% of my meals – sushi, ceviche, fish tacos, etc. I managed to wrangle this sailfish onto the boat with a light hand line one afternoon. I decided to name him Don Rodrigo the Magnificent and he was by far the largest fish I caught. Without any refrigeration onboard, I knew I’d never be able to eat him before he spoiled, so I decided to throw Don Rodrigo back to the sea. (photo: Autumn Foushee)

 

The 37 day, 3500 nautical mile sail from the Galapagos to Chile was the hardest thing I’ve ever done. I was totally and completely alone – literally a thousand miles from the nearest land and I didn’t have any human contact for more than a month. Before the passage, I vaguely wondered if I’d go crazy, but I managed to adjust to the rhythm of the sea and keep my sanity.

After a couple weeks of sailing into high winds and big waves, I caught a whiff of an odd electronic-y smell. I started searching around the boat, but couldn’t find the source for quite a while. Eventually I lifted the cover to the engine compartment, and smoke billowed out with flames leaping up at me. I managed to put the fire out with an extinguisher and cut the power from the batteries. I’m normally a pretty cool cucumber, but I was literally shaking at the time. It was the scariest moment of my life.

It turned out that a slow leak from the engine had dripped on one of the wires to the starter motor. It shorted out and started the fire. I managed to rewire the engine at sea and continue towards Chile.

The day you say screw it! Could be the day that defines you.

Here’s the rest of Captain Dwayne’s adventure – or head on over to his website and check out what he’s up to!

 

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