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Adventure Gone Wong

"Nuthin Wong" An origami steel
boat built in 1989 from hull plans
drawn by Brent Swain. Welded
by Ken Splett and a student.

Sometimes the lessons you learn on an adventure are not the lessons you expected. Clive Hamman has a Captainís license and has been sailing the "Nuthin Wong" for over 20 years on a shoestring budget. So you'd think sailing with Clive on the Nuthin Wong would be treasure trove of great how-to lessons. Until you learn that Clive somewhere along the way traded his "free spirit" for "booze".

If you would like to sail with Clive you can contact him via:

He needs crew now because the last three, including the Mark, the First Mate, jumped ship in Cayo Largo,Cuba. And before that three others bailed in Santiago, Cuba, after making a 32 day crossing of the Atlantic. Before that, others left after spending a few weeks on board. In fact, after talking to Mark, it seems that most crew members donít leave on a happy note. Maybe that's because what you really learn on the Nuthin Wong is this;


The Wong Way

Compass - plus or minus 10 deg.

Main mast.  Don't worry about
the crack, the sails will tear long
before the mast breaks.

The "long drop", head.  One of
nicer things about the boat.

The Wong's Chain and Wire
and "Bungee" steering system.

Torn sails are OK, as long as your engine runs you can motor. You don't need spare sails, patch cloth, needle, or thread.

You don't need to fix the leaky toilet, because you can shit off the back of the boat. You don't need a brush to clean the shitter, because it will eventually rain.

You don't need a GPS because one of your paying crew will likely have one. You don't need a sextant because you would have to learn to use it, and celestial navigation is waste of time because the bar is open at night.

You don't need a working compass.  No wait.  If you don't have GPS you better have a good compass.  But good is relative on the Wong.  Good can mean that we broke the compass and it now only gives the bearing plus or minus 10 degrees.

You don't need a horn, weather fax, weather radio, depth sounder, water maker, ditch bag, flotation in the dingy which is too small for the entire crew and leaks badly anyway or a portable VHF radio. It would be nice if the one VHF radio you do have would work all the time because you've got to hail other boats and ask where you are.

OK, maybe a depth sounder would a good idea, because Clive ran the Wong aground both coming and going into Trinidad.

Oil slicks from diesel spills can be dispersed by rowing the tender in circles around the boat.

Just after boarding I did get a lesson on using the toilet from Mark, the First Mate. When I asked where the toilet paper was stored Mark replied "We ran out two weeks ago.  Actually,  using your finger and a bucket of water is cleaner than using toilet paper." I pondered what that meant for food preparation.  Sylvie, Clive's girl friend recommended steeling it from the resort, which we did with gusto.

Steal it works for food too. That night we paid for a meal at an all inclusive Cuban resort, and Mark informed us that they were short of food on the Wong, so we ordered a dozen sandwiches to haul back to the boat along with the toilet paper.

You don't need to fix the chain and wire helm for the rudder with anything stronger than a bungee cord because you've got an emergency tiller should you need it, provided it has not washed overboard.

You don't need mosquito netting or ventilation below decks in the tropics because you sleep just fine if you are intoxicated.

You don't need a tarp for shade on deck, because you came to the tropics to get sunshine right?

You don't need emergency contact information for your crew, because calling a family member might just really piss off the wrong person.  That one is smart, because my husband is already planning to keelhaul Clive.

You don't need extra nuts and bolts or screws because you can what you need from other parts of the boat that don't need them as much.

When you pull into a Cuban port you should make the officials wait while you put on a clean shirt, brush your teeth and splash on cologne. Then it's best if you argue with them about having your boat searched.  Also be belligerent about the $10 dock fees, while claiming to be a non-profit sailing school.

Frankly, I learned more about sailing from books and YouTube.  There is nothing in the way of formal instruction so we were left to observation. But out of 11 days on the boat we spent less than 30 hours under way, and less that 6 hours under sail.  I did learn that I could stand watch while sea-sick. :-)   Actually, it was more like a episode of "Survivor" that any form of school.

You do not need to adapt your sail plan to the weather.  Sailing from Cuba to Panama in May means beating to windward. But on a badly canvassed junk that can only point 20 degrees into the wind, it means first making close reach to Belize or Jamaica.  That's logical, but as Clive says,  "Logic has no place on board the Wong. The winds will take us where we go."  Determined to win an argument with a drunk I added "But the winds are normally out of the South."  Clive: "What is normal? Normal isn't normal onboard the Wong."  You just can't argue with logic like that. So Clive decided to motor due south to the Grand Caymans. 

Maybe Clive was a different sailor and captain decades before but now heís mostly an ill-tempered, bad-mannered drunk. He treats his crew like his boat. Use Ďem to get what he wants and then neglect Ďem when heís done.

I knew before going on the Nuthin Wong that conditions were going to be rough. Thatís OK; Iíve done a lot of camping and lived in a third world country. Sure, water should be conserved, space is a premium, boats with diesel engines smell like diesel, etc. And, I had read Cliveís blog and looked at its pictures. He looked like an old hippie floating around the world in an old boat. That was OK because I thought I could learn more about sailing and also about living in a closed system that brought me into really close contact with other people I didnít know.

So I took a chance and decided to would meet up with Clive in Cuba. We took an even greater chance and sent Clive $1500 plus two cameras, microphone, batteries, memory cards and chargers so Sylvie, his 26 year-old girlfriend could film life aboard the Wong and use the footage for a DVD. Looking back, shouldnít have sent the money or the cameras and equipment.

After joining Clive in Trinidad, Cuba, it took only a few hours to find out that I was right about some of my prior assumptions and way wrong about others. 

Why this web page?  Because you can't leave unfiltered comments on Clive's blog or FaceBook page and we believe strongly that free spirits deserve free speech.

-- Kay Jackson, June 2011

Kay is just too old and not Seapeople

Clive Hamman - Captain of "Nuthin Wong"

Sylvie, Clive's girl friend

I crossed the Atlantic ocean and sailed 3 months across the Carribean sea aboard the Wong. It was my first experience at sea.

I met Kay when she joined the boat in Cuba. We were excited to meet her as we were in contact for several months as she proposed to send us her HD Sanyo camera in order to continue the documentary I was shooting which is gonna be called "Learning how to Live".

I wasn't surprised she left 10 days after because she was obviously not happy on the boat but I was surprised to read that article she published two weeks later on her blog as she left pretexting she was too old and not ready for that kind of Adventure anymore. I found her really strange that day and asked her three times what was the problem, if she was desappointed, if we did something wrong? She was evading me and I never got answer to my questions. I felt sorry for her, I thought she was sad because her dream was falling apart as she was obviously not seapeople.

Although the Wong is sea worthy, after twenty years circumnavigation and 7 ocean's crossing she could use some cosmetics. Maintaining a 15m steel boat costs a lot of money which the contributions Clive asks to the travellers don't cover entirely. But the essential is done. Clive as a responsible captain would never let the junk go to sea if she was not ready for it and we worked a lot all together before leaving Portugal. All the details of the refit figure in Clive's answer.
The boat is safe, strong, secure and sea worthy but you have to work it to see that because the appearances may scare non-seapeople.

Sailing aboard the Wong can be though. Mostly for people like Kay and me who never worked on boat before and got seasick. It's not for everybody and nobody said it was gonna be easy as Clive says.

Clive is like his junk: rough and though outside. But most of the people know they don't have to stop to the appearances.
The truth is Kay was not ready for the Adventure, as she admitted to us. She spent most of her time at sea sleeping in her bunk under the hatch. She couldn't do her watch or work efficiently the sails or in the galley.

As all stories have two sides I felt my point of view had to be published as well.
I hope more people will have the chance to know the Wong as it is a piece of art, built on Love and Courage.
Sylvie, 8 months crew member about the Nuthin Wong.

Other Voyagers

I spent approx three weeks onboard early 2012, where two of them were spent sailing from Honduras to Panama. Didn't pay too much money, learned a fair bit and left with new friends - including Clive. Sure hygiene and comfort is not great but I found myself missing every bit of the Wong just days after leaving. Beats cruising with fancy yachts any day.

Me on the left, Nat from Belgium on the right. Arriving Portobelo, Panama, after two weeks sailing from Honduras.

--Aslak, Norway.



Yes I sailed with Clive. It was around ten years ago I was only 18. I paid 400 euros but I never really learned anything. I don't know If that was to do with my age or Clives teaching abilities. All in all it was a good experience and he is the real deal. The Boat is a bit rickety but I found that added to the adventure. Just make sure you take enough food and money for the journey.

I don't like to speak negative of people but I do think Clive was a bit of a cancer. When he was in Ibiza myself and another lad singed contract with Clive. In this contract Clive promised to provide a bunk and all food on the for the crew. We gave him what money we had and he didn't provide any food what so ever. He also gave us chores to do, which we were both happy to do providing he taught us how to sail. He never showed us anything to do with the boat. Early in the morning he would take the only dingy to shore and leave us stranded with no food. Not long after I jumped ship he ran aground off the coast of Formentera.

I liked Clive but I think he had just fell into a habit of living on the bread line and being a bit strung out for cash. In Ibiza their were a number of young travelers who had been through the same experience as myself.

All in all it was an adventure, I learned a lot about human nature and money on the Nuthing Wong.  --Adam Mengay


I was one of the poor dumb f*cks who put his whole life savings ($18,000) into Clive's boat back in 89 and several other people as well . We paid for the construction of that boat and sweat and toil I lived on it for 6 wks working for free, took my daughter out of school gave up my house to sail off into the sunset and realized we were far from ready to sail and heard Clive had sunk a boat off Australia and was a drug smuggler. So we got off the boat destitute broke nowhere to live no money left , he ruined two years of my life stressing and fretting over this whole thing. And this is the first I've heard of him in 20 yrs. He's never made an attempt to contact me about the money he owes he just sails away on his responsibilities. He's all yo ho ho and a bottle of rum nothing but a drunken vagabond thief. I'm in an industry now that has a network of contacts worldwide . I'll have someone watching in Panama Acapulco Vallarta LA I'll get alerted to his whereabouts I've been wanting revenge for 20 yrs, that boat is going to visit Davie Jones Locker. -- benttrent, 2009


Share Your Adventure

If you have and adventure to share we invite you to post it here.  Good, bad, or in-between.  We think others should here what you have to say, before the choose the Nuthin Wong.  Email us at svseeker@ymail.com