Mission Critical
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Mission Critical

Mission Critical

Mission Critical

I love phrases like ‘mission critical’. It’s military jargon pressed into the vernacular. And like all military jargon, it’s vague. Like ‘Fire for Effect’, ‘Light Discipline’, and my favourite ‘Roger’. Who was this guy Roger anyway,and how did he become the world’s best known yes-man?

The great thing about their vague usage is that they can be dropped into situations rendering circumstances either comical or desperately serious and you’re not quite sure which. Things like experiencing a mission critical failure while either heading for or sitting on the head (another bit if military jargon suitably vague).

Real failures that will actually end an undertaking are extremely hard to manage. It’s one of the primary reasons that only Americans have ever walked on the moon. Any other attempts have failed. Virtually ever aspect of getting a human to the moon and back is mission critical. From $3 solenoids to multi million dollar rocket towing tractors to spacesuits to software. When the US did it, everything had to be created from scratch with an error margin of zero. It was, and still is, an incredible and almost unparalleled achievement at managing mission critical in its purest form.

Sailing around the world non-stop requires that you pay very careful attention to those things that could end the undertaking. Given the complexity of the boat, the extreme environment, and the duration of the voyage, the list of things that could go wrong is daunting to say the least. It is impossible to carry enough bits and pieces to cover all eventualities so you must decide what’s ‘mission critical’ and what is not. It is, as I mentioned above, no easy task. My biggest fear was that some $2 piece of plastic would sink the whole caper.

In the picture are two broken bits. One is the outer forestay jib halyard. The other, a Dollar Store can opener. Which one is mission critical and why?

Short interlude of theme song from the game show Jeopardy and ……

We’re back. I gave it away with the reference to my favourite place to shop, the Dollar Store. The outer jib halyard is not in use. I have an inner jib on a Solent stay that is doing just fine. If there comes an opportune moment to reeve a new halyard, I’ll take it. I never figured the halyard to part. I figured the sail to blow out first.

When the can opener fails, most of the food aboard cannot be accessed. Yes, you  can prise
open the cans with a knife, screwdriver, or hacksaw but you’re assuming doing this on a nice, level, stable, stationary countertop. It is a different matter entirely out here and I can assure you,  opening a tin usually requires 3 hands and a foot to hold the bowl where the contents of said tin invariably end up. When it failed, a chill ran down my spine.

I thought I had a spare can opener. Scouring lockers and bilges have not turned it up. Luckily, I have a Leatherman multi-tool. It has a can opener and I am not reduced to sucking the contents out of my remaining tins through a hole punched topsides with a screwdriver or worse.

Now, its time for the daily O-Group with the crew before a visit to the head and then topsides to let the main have all nine yards.

Follow my tracks in real-time:


  • BT
    Posted at 10:41h, 02 July Reply

    Bert, you are amazing! Following you progress and posts with great admiration for you courage and wishing / willing you success. You are on the downhill run now. All the best from an Aussie follower BT ( 2 degrees of separation from your Uncle Joe).

  • Sandi Lyon
    Posted at 03:20h, 06 July Reply

    That looks about right. When it’s hot out in the ocean, its foggy and wet on the Wet Coast. That means you’re on the right track, heading the right direction. Finally. Woohoo.

  • Anita Kuntz
    Posted at 00:10h, 08 July Reply

    Following you journey and am truly amazed.

  • Suzan Persons
    Posted at 15:43h, 09 July Reply

    What an amazing journey!!

  • Karin Hill
    Posted at 15:27h, 13 July Reply

    Been following you for a couple of months now. What an amazing journey! Your blog is insightful and humorous. Almost home. Safe travels!

  • MountainJack
    Posted at 19:52h, 14 July Reply

    Has to be an amazing feeling to be so near home, Bert.

    Have spent months at sea “steaming”, not sailing, gaining my sea legs with the constant motion just became second nature. Getting back to a stable platform at dockside or over on the beach left me wobbly for a day or two. Cannot imagine how you’ll feel after a year of hardly ever being stable. There is that other thing having been on your own for that long; the familiarity of constant aloneness , the feeling of approach avoidance, being forced back into humanity. Might feel as though you could just extend a little bit more and savor the experience just a little longer…naw, probably not.

    Welcome back home, Bert. You’ve completed one heck of a feat.

  • Arthur Oliver
    Posted at 04:33h, 15 July Reply

    Getting oh so close. What’s the ETA?

  • estelle C whiddon
    Posted at 02:58h, 16 July Reply

    Bert, your homecoming Saturday will be a joyous occasion! I have followed the voyage daily and hope your arrival home brings much joy.

  • Peter Jungschaffer
    Posted at 07:19h, 18 July Reply

    This has been so great. Thank you!!!

  • BT
    Posted at 09:50h, 18 July Reply

    Hi Bert, you are just a few hours away from home. We are cheering for your most successful journey. We are especially amazed at the sailing conditions below Australia and New Zealand, as we can have some very big polar blasts hit us at this time of the year. Cannot imagine what it was like to sail through that type of weather. Can only take of hats off to you I amazement. Hope that you make it to Oz for a visit. What a wonderful achievement you have accomplished. /bt

  • Antonio Corbelletta
    Posted at 16:15h, 18 July Reply

    Congratulations! What an adventure! Well done. I have enjoyed tracking your voyage everyday just wish I would have know about it earlier, from the beginning.

  • Suzan
    Posted at 18:13h, 18 July Reply

    Yeahhhhhhhhh Bert!!! You have done it!!!
    Happy Homecoming – And stay safe!!!
    It isn’t the same world that you left!!
    I’m going to miss reading your travels and your adventures!! But thrilled that you’re home (almost) safe and sound!!
    Next trip around the world, hope that you’ll stop along the way and post your photos of the locals and the ports!!

  • Raegan Elford
    Posted at 19:23h, 18 July Reply

    Soldier who has logged more sea time than this Navy sailor.
    What an incredible accomplishment (the journey vice logging more sea time than I)

  • Marianne Scott
    Posted at 18:25h, 19 July Reply

    Congratulations on your accomplishment! I guess we will have to put up a plaque commemorating your voyage on the Victoria Harbour wall.

    Hope to see you this week.

    Marianne Scott

  • Tom Cory
    Posted at 07:40h, 23 July Reply

    Congradulations Bert from Annapolis MD. A Great Adventure.

  • Mark
    Posted at 12:24h, 29 July Reply

    I don’t think that anyone that attended Estevan Junior High could have imagined that this was in the future for one of it’s students. I checked in at different legs of the journey and was fascinated every time. Congrats!

  • Marcel Neamtu
    Posted at 07:14h, 06 December Reply

    What an adventure! But i do have a comment about the structure of the blog: it’s very hard for a late reader to read your earlier posts in a timely order or something. Very annoying to scroll all the time to your earlier posts..is there anything or I can be done? Am I missing something? If yes, pardon my ignorance.
    Cheers and take care!

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