PACIFIC OCEAN An ambitious sailor hoping to make it around the world in a 24-foot sailboat has made it to Hawaii, his first port since leaving Washington state.
But its been anything but smooth sailing for the 61-year-old, whose San Juan boat is already in need of some serious repairs.
Rimas Meleshyus made it to Hilo, Hawaii on Oct. 21 after 84 days at sea. In Hilo, he plans to repair his sails and replace his engine, which was lost during a storm off the coast of San Francisco last month.
I am very strong and determined, he said. I belong to the sea. I am fine and in good conditon. I just need to fix my boat.
Meleshyus was featured in The Daily Astorian in May, while staying in Seaside and asking for help in fundraising for a boat and his trip. Meleshyus, a Russian Cold War refugee, had attempted the trip last year, but ran aground in Alaska and had to be rescued by the U.S. Coast Guard.
His goal is to get into the record books as among those who complete that trip in such a small craft.
It started (with a) great adventure of excitement as I head south along the coast of America, Meleshyus writes, but problems with the boat curtailed progress.
Approximately 400 miles from San Fransisco, a storm took his engine. It was a big bang. I was (at) that moment inside my cockpit and I run to see no ... Honda old engine, he wrote. Strong winds a short while later started to take his rigging. Three of four wires that hold the mast up broke when he was near Cabo San Lucas, Mexico.
There was no choice. I cannot go upwind back to Washington or to California to make repair. I can only go downwind on tradewinds so I must head to Hawaii, for repairs, he said.
Unfortunately, Meleshyus had no charts for Hawaii, only for South America. His destination was Chile. So he used GPS to find the islands. However, his GPS is for cars and only displays roads, not harbors.
He managed to make it there, and is now awaiting his repairs.
Many storms with mountain seas, he said of his travels to Hawaii. Waves crashing into cockpit. Nightime most danger, full of darkness, he wrote. Between Mexico and Hawaii I see no ships, no planes, no whales. It was most loneliness. Because I see nothing out there, just lonely beauty of the sea. Sometimes I look at stars for long time at night. Clouds always changing and colors as weather moves in from the North. I always scared mast come down and nobody to help as I was so far from people and land. Water was low I find scary but then rain comes and I fill barrels.
But sometimes it was peaceful. I saw all things weather and emotion in 84 days on the sea. I learn from sea to be better sailor.
Despite his troubles, Meleshyus called it a great adventure so far and says he must continue.
His next stop, after the rigging and engine replacement, will be Tahiti, then South America. People can follow Meleshyus adventure on Facebook, or on his blog at http://tinyurl.com/mgv48b8
Hes also looking for funding to help with his adventure.