06/18/2010, Northern Pacific
I am pretty sure I can just recycle one of these old blog entries and no one will notice.
If you wanted to take polar bears out for a picnic on the boat this is the weather you would order. The last week has been unbelievable, I have never seen conditions this damn cold and foggy for so long on the ocean. Of course to be picky, it has been consistently light but flat as a lake, with the icy wet mist gently wafting the boat along. Cool, that was easy.
On the plus side, I rediscovered the joys of AM radio. Our single side band ships radio can be set to receive AM stations way out here and I have recently been driven to flipping through the channels. I only have reception at night so content is suspect and it has been a brutal reintroduction to US media. Flip Flip: Tonight we will be talking about "Marriage in America" Flip Flip : Lakers come from a 13 point fourth quarter deficit Flip Flip: JESUS wants YOU Flip Flip: Backup on I5 going into Oxnard Flip Flip: Liberals blocking legislation necessary to Flip Flip: Next on classic country, Hank Wailing Flip Flip by firing squad in Utah Flip Flip: One and two pitch, a SWING and a MISS, STRIKE THREE
Last night I could hear traffic reports from Los Angeles to Vancouver , BC.
850 miles to the entrance of the Straights of Juan de Fuca.
06/14/2010, Northern Pacific
Cold and grey and a bit rough! Brrrrr.
I finally had to do it and gybed into another continent sized bank of clouds a couple of days ago (three days I think, bit of a blur actually). Despite setting up with three reefs in the main and a deeply rolled jib, it was still a nasty surprise with very cold 30 - 35 knots of wind and heavy rain. As shown in the weather predictions, I beat into 20 knots for two days and now the wind has rotated around to behind the beam and is dropping rapidly.
It feels like I am getting closer to the Pacific Northwest; cold slate grey water, low threatening skies, full foulweather gear and warm hat. I am stubbornly refusing to acknowledge that the tropics are behind me and still barefoot though.
Probably two to three more days heading due north to reach the top of the high and I can start bearing off toward the east and Seattle.
06/10/2010, North of Hawaii
The weather is changing and I am trying to squeeze in an update while I can still rave about how nice it is out here.
If you take friends out for a picnic on the boat this is the weather you would order. The last week has been unbelievable, I have never seen conditions remain this steady for so long on the ocean. Of course to be picky, it has been consistently light for way too darn long but flat as a lake, sunny, sunny, sunny, with warm gentle breeze. I am lovin' on Whisper, she sails like a dream in light air. The wind has hovered around 5 knots sometimes a bit more or bit less for nearly a week and we just keep ghosting along at 3 to 3.5 knots, posting 75 miles a day like clockwork. Slower than molasses but so comfortable, I forget where I am and that I am still sailing.
I am crossing into a new weather pattern tonight. There is a large high pressure system that is forming with predicted strongish wind on the bow, rotating around to the east and then dying again. The strategic decision is how far west to sail in search of better wind. I can opt to travel a much longer distance to reach faster conditions or hope that the high moves off to the east and I am able to punch though the lighter winds above me.
Last night was my culinary high point with several firsts for the voyage. I caught a beautiful little Mahi Mahi just in time for dinner and went all out. Breakout behavior: I cooked in more than one pot. I dined on a plate not out of a bowl. I even ate with a fork (and not just to reach the bottom of the can). It was so calm I put the plate down while dinner and utensils actually stayed on the plate. Dessert was NZ chocolate, what a treat!
Slow and steady, but getting impatient to see Mary and boys.
06/05/2010, North of Hawaii
It is lovely out here, currently slow but still lovely. I had two idyllic days to recharge and catch up on chores: perfectly flat water, bright blue sky, 7 - 8 knots of wind, 5 - 6 knots of boat speed sailing due north, no swell, no spray, wow. But the wind died last night and I am again struggling to keep the boat moving in very light conditions. Currently doing 2.5 knots in less than 4 knots of breeze, happy to have steerage and be moving at all. In the big 5 knot puffs I get pretty excited.
Which brings me to the sad tale of the demise of Lilly, our faithful autopilot. She never saw much service but in these light conditions, where Petunia her hated rival the wind vane struggles, Lilly was the champ. Under power, Lilly was the only option except hand steering and she provided that extra bit of help getting sails up or dock lines out and all the other times you want the boat to go straight for a while.
I have been tackling one major boatie chore per day and yesterday the task was to try and resurrect Lilly. Several times on the trip she has gotten wet and freaked out but each time carefully opening up the case and letting the circuit boards dry in the sun plus a judicious application of WD40 to clean things up has done wonders. But alas, no longer. I crawled into the lazarette and unbolted her, carefully opened the case, and poured a small pile of unrecognizably corroded teeny tiny circuit board parts into my hand. If anyone knows of a used Autohelm 7000 or equivalent, I am suddenly in the market.
The highlight of the trip so far was the chance to actually talk to Mary and the boys. One of the ham radio operators has phone patch equipment that connected the ship's radio to a shore side phone and I spent a blissful hour talking to my family. I was a bit rusty and this was more speaking than I have done since I left, but it was wonderful and I feel much better just hearing their voices.
06/02/2010, North of the Equator
I sailed past the big island of Hawaii today. Having talked it over on board (Hmmm, I may not want to say that out loud). We all voted (That doesn't sound good either). I decided... No, I did. I helped. Well I voted against it. Everyone be quiet, someone's listening. Anyways, today is Day 48 and I am starting the last leg to the Pacific Northwest and hope to be home in less than a month. Only about 2300 miles to go.
It was quite a ride though classic 25 knot Pacific trade winds! I have mixed feelings about leaving the trades behind. On the one hand, six 150 mile days in a row really covers some ground. Not bad for this old girl. But, I am exhausted by the pace and handling the regular squalls, today's lighter wind was a welcome and much needed relief. The breeze and seas also took their toll on the boat and the first windless day will be packed with sail repairs and other projects.
From here I will be back in latitudes dominated by high and low pressure weather systems, which means much more variable wind. It is already looking similar to the conditions I encountered at 20 degrees south of the equator. Seems odd that in the entire pacific transit, I have only seen 6 days of steady trade winds.
All is well and I am looking forward to getting home.
05/28/2010, North of the Equator
The NE trades kicked in and I am now thrashing my way towards Hawaii. With the wind came waves and the house is tipping and spray flying, but the speeds are great and progress good so far.
The equatorial weather had to have to last laugh with a windless night and torrential rain. Eventually giving up on sailing, I took everything down and watched a movie. Yesterday morning delivered a blistering series of 30 knot squalls that eventually settled down to a blustery 20 knot northeasterly.
The trades should be a bit steadier with Hawaii a week or less away.