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We left Gig Harbor, WA in 2009 and spent 3 winters in the Sea of Cortez then sailed to the Galapagos Islands, French Polynesia up to Hawaii, then to San Francisco Bay. We are once again enjoying the Sea of Cortez as we plan our next adventure.
299 miles to go
06/19/2012, out on the deep blue sea

We always mark with excitement when the GPS clicks down breaking into a new hundreds bracket -- we look at 299 as if its only 200 which would be only 2 days to go! Anything is cause for celebration at this point in the passage and we have our bets made as to time and date we make landfall -- guesses we made on the day we set sail from the Galapagos.

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Slowly but surely
06/18/2012, out on the deep blue sea

With our change in wind direction we are sailing but not making as much progress as we'd like. The winds are now from the ENE and we are traveling WSW which puts it right on our stern -- not Cetus's best point of sail. So we need to jibe back and forth across our course line to keep the wind on our stern quarter, so we are sailing more miles than we are making in forward progress.

But at least we have wind and are still moving, And we did make our 100 miles yesterday so we are still on track to get in on Friday or Saturday. The seas are bigger than they have been, but they are on our stern too so not uncomfortable -- and the sun is out so all is well on Cetus.

We've always said the worst days of a long passage are the first 3 (when you're adjusting) and then the last 3 -- when you're so close but it seems like its taking forever to get there -- it's like being a kid and trying to live through Christmas eve with the excitement of Christmas day filling your head.

399 miles to go.

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rain, rain go away....
06/17/2012, out on the deep blue sea

Since our encounter with the big squall Friday night we have had little to no wind, grey skies and lots and lots of rain. Yesterday morning I thought we were in the Pacific Northwest!

Our forecast still promises some good winds from the NE are coming and we've had a few false starts only to have the wind die away once we had the sails and the windvane all set. We ran the engine for the longest stretch yet and finally turned it off after 24 hours of motor sailing As I type this. the sun is just starting to peek out from behind the grey clouds and the wind is slowly building. Luckily we had great sailing for the first two weeks, so we have enough fuel that we could motor the rest of the way there if need be. But we certainly hope that's not the case.

Despite the yucky weather we celebrated Father's Day with a nice pancake breakfast and will end the day with some pepperoni pizza.

Happy Father's Day to all you dads.

499 miles to go!

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06/18/2012 | gloria spoon
What a wonderful trip we are all having...I just feel like I am aboard the cetus
Squalls are like a box of chocolates....
06/15/2012, out on the deep blue sea

you never know what you're going to get. You can see them approaching whether on the horizon or on the radar -- a big dark blob that can bring with it wind or rain or both or nothing at all... you just have to wait and see when it envelopes you.

Until last night the squalls we encountered were very mild -- a few sprinkles was all they seemed to produce. But last night we ran into one that was the whole package wind and rain and lots of both. Luckily we changed down to our storm trisail before dark because we could see some dark clouds on the far horizon, so when the big cloud snuck up on us there was no problem, we just got a little wet.

It was a dark night, the moon is just a sliver and doesn't even rise until 4 in the morning now, so I didn't see the form in the blackness, so when the wind suddenly started picking up from a new direction it took me by surprise. But, as I said we'd luckily taken down the main sail and had the storm trisail in its place so the boom was secured and didn't go crashing around with the new wind direction. It dumped some rain on us, but we stayed dry under the dodger and Cetus got a well deserved rinse down.

The worst part of the squall was that after it passed it had stolen all our nice wind and we had to motor sail to keep on moving. Then this morning brought gray skies and flat windless seas, so we are continuing to motor, but it looks like the winds should fill in by night fall.

What will tonight bring? 599 miles to go!

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The other side of the story...
06/15/2012, out on the deep blue sea

For the 1st 18 days of this passage the winds have come primarily from the SE with little bits from the ESE and occasionally E, and since we are sailing SW we have gone along on the same heel (or slant) for the entire trip simply adjusting sails for the varying strength of wind with no tacking or jibbing involved. It's pretty nice to stay that way because you get used to what cupboards you can open or where you can leave something setting without it falling off the counter or where you can sit comfortably. Well, that all changed today.

We knew it was coming because our Buoy Weather Passage Forecast that we get every day through our Winlink email showed the winds switching to NE -- and after our lull in the wind yesterday they started picking up in the night -- just as predicted from the NE. It was a gentle transition as the winds slowly built in strength and we are now moving along at a decent pace and on a good course, just having to adjust to the new angle of our little world.

Some things are more comfortable on this heel, just as some things are more awkward so neither one is necessarily better than the other, just different. Now I have to be careful when I open the fridge because the contents want to come out the door if we're heeled over very far and it's a bit harder to brace myself in the chart table seat to type on the computer. Rosie is going to have to find a whole new set of favorite places to curl up so she doesn't go sliding across the floor with a wave. But after a day of this it will seem normal, too.

699 miles to go!

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As Time Zones Go By
06/14/2012, out on the deep blue sea

It's a funny thing about time out here on the ocean, it's much different than on land. On land when you travel you are always aware of changing time zones -- there are clocks everywhere. Or when you fly you are also very aware of the change in zones because you have to have your watch right so you can get where you're going on time.

But when you set off on an ocean passage your clocks are set for whatever time zone you're in when you leave and sometimes stay that way the whole time -- we call it ship's time. Then when you get where you're going you just adjust accordingly. The time on the clock is pretty meaningless on a passage other than to mark changing of night watches or to record and plot your position at given intervals The one exception to this is for radio schedules, but they are always set using UTC (aka Greenwich Mean Time) because that's the only way to coordinate times with people spread across several time zones. So we always have one clock set to UTC.

We've been happily going along using our ship's time from the Galapagos but the farther we go west the later the sun is setting and the later it is rising -- today it didn't come up until 8 o'clock so we decided to make a two hour time change to our ship's time so that our night watches will better coordinate with the actual night.

800 miles to go!

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The ever changing sea
06/13/2012, out on the deep blue sea

After nearly 2 weeks of really consistent weather we've hit a patch for the last two days that is keeping us on our toes. The winds have lightened up, so we have to actually do a little work and make some sail changes now and then instead of just going along for the ride like we did for so long -- we were getting spoiled.

We've done some motor sailing when the winds dropped real low and it would be easy to lapse into that to keep it simple, but we still have a ways to go and a limited amount of fuel (plus the engine noise can drive you crazy) so we're putting up more sail and then taking it down when the winds come back up or we see an approaching squall.

The seas vary from fairly smooth to moderately lumpy and if we can get the boat moving through the water at a decent speed it cuts down on the rocking and rolling. So we watch the horizon and study the forecasts and keep ourselves busy trying to anticipate the wind and seas to keep things as comfortable as possible on the good ship Cetus.

900 miles to go.

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999 miles to go!
06/12/2012, out on the deep blue sea

It's a huge boost to morale when the miles to go finally drops into 3 digits, so we're celebrating tonight when the GPS clicks down from the 1000 mile mark.

We are currently motor sailing, as the winds are light and the seas smooth and since we've had such great wind to this point we have plenty of fuel. The winds are forecast to pick up a little tomorrow, but will still be less than the 15 - 20 knot trade winds we were enjoying for so long. We're hoping they'll return by the end of the week to give us that final big push to the Gambiers.

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Valley of the Squalls
06/11/2012, out on the deep blue sea

As we slowly cross the ocean we always feel as you do when you travel cross country, like you pass through different areas -- mountains or hills when the swell is big or valleys and prairies when they are flat. Today we hit a flat area that was dominated by squalls and our whole world took a different look than its had for the past 14 days.

We really expected to get more squalls than we've had -- it's the nature of the South Pacific and friends that went before us seemed to have a lot more, so we feel very lucky. And even the squalls we've had beginning last night have been very mild. So far no heavy downpours or crazy winds, these have just been sprinklers that seem to steal the wind and make things very calm. It's been a lot of motor sailing today, but since the winds have been so good up to this point we have plenty of fuel so we can use the engine to keep us moving till the winds fill back in.

And we're anxious to keep a good pace because we're very close to getting under the 1000 miles to go mark and that will be a big boost when we see the mileage to go on the chart plotter as 999. Already the skies are clearing and the wind is beginning to return -- should be another good night at sea.

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It's bread day!
06/09/2012, out on the deep blue sea

We left the Galapagso 12 days ago and just this morning we used the last of the bread that we bought there at the little bakery, so it was time to dig out the flour and the bread pans and make some bread.

Luckily I learned a pretty simple recipe from another cruiser 12 years ago . You just put all the dry ingredients in a big bowl (flour, salt, sugar, yeast) and mix them all together then add your hot water and mix. That eliminates having to get the perfect temperature water to start the yeast -- less work and less bowls.

If you use a large enough bowl (I have a big Tupperware bowl) you can then just use some flour and kneed it right in the bowl -- again less mess than the traditional method. I then turn it into a different greased bowl to let it rise, but you could just leave it in your big mixing bowl to cut down on clean up, too.

After it rises,punch it down put it in the loaf pans or make rolls or buns, let them rise and then bake. For pizza crust just spread it in the pan after you punch it down -- no need to let it rise -- and bake it for about 10 minutes before putting on the toppings.

Here's the basic recipe: 3 cups flour 1 T sugar 1 tsp salt 1 pkg. yeast (rapid rise if you have it) 1 1/2 cups water (or other liquid) 1 T oil

Baking time depends on what you're making, but my loaves usually are good after 20 minutes in a 400 degree oven.

This makes i loaf or 2 pizza crusts. I double the recipe when doing loaves so I can make 2. You can use any type of flour and you can substitute other dry ingredients (oats, bran, etc) for some of the flour and you can use milk or other liquids in place of some or all of the water) and honey can replace the sugar

Nothing quite as nice as fresh bread cooking -- a real treat in the middle of a long passage.

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Congratulations Inspiration at Sea!
06/08/2012, Fakarava Atoll, Tuamotus, French Polynesia

Today Vicky along with crew Jeremy on board Inspiration at Sea completed their 30 day passage from the Galapagos to one of our favorite atolls in the Tuamotu Archipelago, Fakarava.

They did a fine a job in a wide variety of wind, sea and weather conditions. They successfully took care of all the minor problems that always crop up on a cruising boat on a passage of that magnitude. We were able to talk to them daily on the SSB radio and felt like we were riding through the highs and lows of the passage roller coaster with them. We're happy they had such a successful passage and wish them a relaxing time in Fakarava where they were met by Vicky's daughter (Jeremy's girlfriend) Melanie.

We look forward to meeting back up with Inspiration at Sea in Tahiti after our visit to the Gambiers as we continue our cruise through French Polynesia and then up to Hawaii.

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Hurray Hurray We are Halfway!
06/08/2012, Out on the open ocean

1444 miles down, 1444 miles to go! Still great wind and seas -- all's well on Cetus.

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Ocean crossings, marathons and birthing babies
06/06/2012, Out on the open ocean

When asked what an ocean crossing is like I've often replied that I think it's a lot like running a marathon or giving birth -- they are all things that people purposefully set out to do and even dream, plan, prepare for and look forward to. And they all can be at times the hardest and the scariest thing you've ever done in your life too. Actually with giving birth the hardest, scariest times come about 13 to 20 years later.... just kidding Carly :)

As I said before, ocean passages are a real roller coaster of highs when the wind and seas are right and you've got dolphin playing off the bow or you catch a good fish, enjoy the beautiful nights and sunrises and sunsets or lows when the wind dies, comes from a bad direction or the seas get sloppy or uncomfortable making it hard to do normal tasks. And so the runner might "hit the wall" during their long awaited race, or the mother suddenly feels in the middle of labor that she just wants to quit and go home and the sailor will ask themselves "what the heck am I doing out here?" longing for a calm anchorage to retreat to even though there isn't one for hundreds or thousands of miles.

But once the big event is over, the race run, the baby born or the anchor down the feeling of accomplishment is so good and overwhelming that any negative feelings are soon forgotten and you think, "Wow! That was so cool, I want to do it again!"

And like all good sailors Terry and I seem to have short memories, so here we are out here again!

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End of week 1
06/03/2012, Out on the open ocean

At noon tomorrow we'll have been out 1 full week -- with about 3 more to go.

It's been a good passage so far as we've had wind to keep us sailing along at a good pace. The seas have been OK -- sometimes a little lumpier than we'd like, but we've had long periods where they were very comfortable. The weather has been very nice and we've only encountered a few rain clouds in the early morning hours and have just gotten light sprinkles. We've been surprised temperatures cool off at night to where we need light jackets.-- something we haven't had to do in a very long time -- in fact since we left La Paz in January.

We're both surprised it's already been a week -- seems more like 4 days because the days do go by very quickly. We just hope the next 3 weeks go by as quickly!

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Night Watch
06/02/2012, Out on the open ocean

2269 miles to go!

Night Watch can be the worst part of a passage -- especially with shorthanded crew (1 or 2 people) because to keep someone on watch through the night means short sleep periods for everyone. Wish two people aboard a boat most people chose either 3 or 4 hour shifts and Terry and I have found the 3 hour shifts work best for us.

It might seem like the 4 (or more) hour shift would be best, since you'd get a longer - more normal - sleep period, but for us waking up after 3 hours we feel more refreshed than if we stay down longer where we tend to feel very groggy and out of it for a while. Plus, for the person on watch 3 hours is easier to get through without getting too tired.

In good weather, like we've been having so far, the "watch" is pretty much just that -- you're not doing a lot of work other than keeping an eye on things to make sure there's no ships on the horizon and that the boat is keeping to it's course (steered by the trusty windvane) and no squalls are approaching. That can be accomplished in quick checks every 10 to 15 minutes (the time it takes a big ship to appear on the horizon before it would reach you on a direct course). In between you can entertain yourself doing whatever you enjoy be it reading, writing, listening to music or one of my favorites playing cards on my iPhone.

On this passage we've worked out a schedule that has been working well so far, but could change at anytime if conditions change. One thing that helps set our schedules are the radio skeds we have set up with Vicky on Inspiration at Sea and our nightly check in with the Pacific Seafarers Net. Right now our skeds with Vicky are during the daylight hours so don't effect our sleep schedules, but the Seafarers Net begins at 9:30 pm (our local time) and we are in the roll call at about 10 o'clock right now. We like to both be up for the radio so someone can be outside on watch while the other is downstairs on the radio.

What we've worked out is I will sleep from 6:30 to 9:30 then get up to do the net. After that's over Terry gets to sleep from 10:30 to 1:30 and my 2nd sleep period is 1:30 to 4:30. I love this schedule because my last on watch shift includes the sunrise and there's nothing better than a sunrise after a long dark night -- so far with the waxing moon and clear star filled shies the nights haven't been dark, but the sunrises are still a welcome treat. Terry's last sleep is from 4:30 until he feels fully rested anytime between 7:30 and 8:30.

As I said, even with the best laid plans it can be hard to keep to the planned schedule. If weather changes or a squall goes through the off watch person will often get up to help with a sail change. Then there is also the quality of the sleep you get. It can be very restful in smooth seas where the gentle rocking of the boat puts you right to sleep, but there are times the seas are choppy and rough and you get tossed and rolled and the noises the boat can make are unbelievable. Even when you get to sleep in bad conditions it makes for a fitful sleep laced with the weirdest dreams as your mind tries to incorporate all the strange sounds and movements into something in that dream.

So for those of you who have never been on an ocean passage in a small boat, that's a brief look into one of the major aspects of cruising -- the night watch.

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06/04/2012 | jack
Day 5: 2392 miles to go
06/01/2012, Out on the open ocean

A long ocean passage is much like a roller coaster ride --- you've got your ups and downs and it changes by the moment. Only out on the boat the changes are mostly dictated by the weather, not made by design.

We are lucky on this passage that for the most part the wind and sea direction will stay fairly constant with the prevailing trade winds coming from the SE and it seems the typical swell from the SW. But the strength of those winds and the height of the swell (and added wind waves) keep us always on our toes trying to balance maximum speed with maximum comfort.

Today we're back to some pretty nice seas -- not the short choppy ones that cropped up yesterday -- so its much more comfortable and I'm able to work on things downstairs much easier. Finally I can get some cooking and cleaning done again! Luckily I had several casserole dishes made before we left, so I was able to fix us a nice hot dinner each night just by heating it in the oven and only one pan and two plates to clean up afterward. It's not that conditions were so bad I couldn't cook -- it just was nice not to have to struggle with it.

And with the changing conditions come changing attitudes about being out here. Whenever it gets a little rough I find myself questioning my sanity asking why am I out here. But then I get a beautiful moonlit night with smooth seas, or a beautiful sunrise and some dolphin playing by the boat and I think that this is the best place in the world to be. But I still miss my penguins...

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Rocking and Rolling
05/31/2012, Out on the open ocean

We knew the great conditions we were having couldn't last forever, and they didn't. The winds picked up again early this morning and our sail change of taking down the main sail in favor of the storm trisail (like a small mainsail but it doesn't attach to the boom so you don't have that crashing around( and that worked out real well, but after a while the winds caused the seas to get lumpy. So we've still got good wind and are moving along just great, but it's just not the comfortable ride we were enjoying for about 36 hours. But the skies are clear so it's not too bad -- just need to fasten our seat belts

2500 miles to go!!

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06/02/2012 | jack
23hundred 92 miles to go..sounds like the old song..99 bottles of beer on the wall....Fair winds and smooth sailing...
06/23/2012 | R Blake
Enjoying your blog very much. I would beg for a picture or two while under sail :-)
Stay safe and know you have fans watching.
The First Three Days
05/30/2012, Out on the open ocean

Well the first days of adjustment are over and like magic last night when I went out for my 4:30 to 7:30 shift it finally felt comfortable. The boat is still a rockin' and a rollin' but we're moving along well and when I got out there the stars were out lighting up the world -- just beautiful. And it wasn't long until the sky started brightening from the approaching sunrise -- always my favorite part of that early morning shift.

So far the wind and seas have been pretty steady and we haven't had to change the sails since setting them when the wind first came up over 24 hours ago. The winds blow from 10 - 20 knots pushing us along between 5 - 6.5 Knots which is real comfortable on this old boat. Right now we're traveling with a double reeffed mainsail, a reefed Genoa and a storm staysail. We could have more sail area up and go a bit faster, but for us it's comfort over speed -- we're in no rush to get there so we might as well enjoy the ride. And it really is just like going for a ride, because the windvane is set and doing all the steering, so we just have to keep an eye on things to make sure there's nothing in our path and that all systems are working. We aren't slaves to the steering wheel, we can read or do anything else we'd like as long as the conditions stay constant.

Even Rosie is getting her sealegs and is a lot more lively this morning after doing a lot of sleeping for the first days. So so far, all is well on Cetus.

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Noon Report 5/29
05/29/2012, Out on the open ocean

One thing we always do on a passage is calculate how many miles made good to our destination in a 24 hour period. Since we left Puerto Villamil at noon yesterday I will be doing our position update at noon every day. We've traveled 120 miles since noon yesterday and just have 2769 to go!!

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Sailing, Sailing.....
05/29/2012, Out on the open ocean

The weather forecast showed very light winds for the first 24 hours of this passage and we were prepared to motor sail for most of the first day, but we were pleasantly surprised when the winds picked up last night so we've been able to sail steady at 5 plus knots. It would have made for better sleeping last night if we hadn't had to deal with sail changes at 2 am, but we're happy to be moving along without the engine and can catch up on the missed sleep today.

The seas are a little choppy, but not too bad so all and all we're pretty comfortable -- as comfortable as you can be in the first few days of a passage. Those first 3 days are always hard as your body and mind adjust to all the awkward movement. Simple tasks can be arduous, but after a few days you get in the groove and it doesn't seem so strange living on a slant and crashing through waves.

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The Cetus Crew
Who: Terry & Heidi Kotas and Street Cat Rosie
Port: Gig Harbor, WA
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