Bula book cover
An excerpt from
Bula: Sailing Across the Pacific

I threw on the raingear and harness and quickly came out of the cabin. I stopped to stare at the dangerous flapping sail. I didn’t want to go up there. Trembling and scared, I was thinking of any possible way to get out of that mess. I thought to myself, you’re the stupid one who wanted to do this alone. I clenched my teeth with a mean sense of determination and crawled up to the bow. My harness line snagged on every entrapment that I passed, so I unlatched the carabineer to make it forward but forgot to reattach it to the safety jack-line.

I had to pull the headsail down completely. I released the halyard and began pulling the sail down. It whipped about, pounding me in the face. I couldn’t do anything but take the lashings. Bula the BoatA flailing sheet ripped another pair of storm glasses off my face and into the ocean. I saw them sinking into the abyss.

Once I got most of it down, the wind was pulling the sail and me over the side with the waves washing over the deck. The sail dangerously filled with seawater. I was hanging onto the sail for my life that was full of hundreds of pounds of seawater. I was having horrible thoughts that if I lost the headsail I could triple my time to Hawaii. I couldn’t let go of it either because the folds of the sail had wrapped around me. I was slipping into Davy’s Grip.

I locked into survival mode. I wasn’t prepared to go over the side forever. I managed to get the sail back on the boat and wrestled it to the cockpit in two pieces. You have to laugh at death—you can’t let it laugh at you.

Sunken barge
Half-sunken barge inside the lagoon of Fanning Island

Photographs from the book

The author with crawling crabs
Giant coconut crabs

Bula and TahitiAnchored inside the pass at Teahupoo, Tahiti

Sailor on boatThe Figman