03/26/2009, 14 02.62'N:113 12.13'W, 500 Miles Southwest of Banderas Bay
Our sail yesterday was picture perfect, with winds on the beam and "set it and forget it" sail handling with the whisker pole on the jib and full main. The wind died with the sun, however, and we motored most of the night. Jan gallantly made a go of a jib only sail on his watch and was able to maintain 4-5 knots for an hour or so before the wind subsided to 3-4 knots.
Alyssa and I had the sunrise watch from 5-8am, with Alyssa's eyes glued to the east horizon and mine closed, tuned into my Ipod playing a long forgotten episode of "This American Life". Watches have become pretty routine, as we have not seen any other vessel in 4 days. We scan the horizon 3-4 times an hour, listen to music (much to Jan's chagrin) and read or talk. Rina reminds us to stay at the helm however, because, the autopilot can do a "crazy ivan" at any time, where "otto" just lets go and the boat does a 360 degree turn. special prize to the first person to email us with the movie reference. (Family and Corey not eligible)
Late in the morning the wind rose gently to 5-10 knots, so we raised the spinnaker for the first time since leaving Banderas Bay. It took all our concentration to keep the sail filled, with hand steering and one person manning the sheet full time to pull it in when slack so the sail would not end up wrapped around the rigging. After an hour or so we were able to tune our technique so that it stayed full most of the time. Unfortunately the wind also clocked to the ENE, meaning that we were headed just barely NORTHwest, not SOUTHwest. Doh! At 4 knots over 4 hours we gave up barely a mile and a half of southing, so no big deal. We will jibe the sail over after lunch if necessary and head due south with the current winds, which are still only 6-10 knots. Weather shows these same conditions for the next several days so we are recalibrating our expectations for some slooooow sailing, as our budget of fuel for this portion of the trip is about 75% exhausted.
When the wind finally took a break around lunch, we decided to take a time out from sailing and go swimming, take showers on the stern and do a check of the hull. We have been warned about white tip sharks in the open ocean, so we followed the 10 minute rule. That is, GET OUT in 10 minutes or you are pressing your luck. Alyssa and I jumped in, followed shortly by Jan, with Rina on lookout. I donned mask and flippers to swim around the hull checking for growth. As I looked under water, I got the chills.. SO blue.. And you could see a great distance, but there.. Was.. No.. bottom. (We are in water well over a mile deep. No sea life that I could see either. Alyssa proceeded to frolic while I inspected the hull, finding nothing but some small growth above the waterline on the port side. Light brushing removed the budding gooseneck barnacles, which, if left untouched, will grow 2-3 inches in a week or two. After about 8 minutes, Rina starts noticing silver flashes in the water. I looked around and sure enough, schools of fish had decided to come check us out. No sharks, but all of a sudden we were surrounded by fish. Where there are fish. there may be sharks. so out we went.
After a nice tuna ceviche tostada lunch, we pulled the spinnaker back out and are now making 3-4 knots southwest towards our next mark, back on track. During lunch the wind had increased ever so slightly and moved around to the North, allowing us to make progress to the South once again. -allan
Finally some salt water! Yay! I get a chance to jump in the ocean. You'd think I'd already done it seeing as I've been here since last Wednesday, right? Nope. We went from the marina (like the "dirty dirty delta" *cough* my close ski clubbers should know I'm thinking of them?) straight into our 24 hour shifts of sailing, so I'd yet to jump in. Thankfully the winds died down even too little for the spinnaker to fill, so we decided to take a break. Dad had done a little research and, to our luck, you have to watch out for sharks (specifically the oceanic whitetip shark aka. Carcharhinus longimanus) after only 10 minutes of being in the water. I didn't think much of it until nine minutes after swimming mom yells that there is something big swimming next to the boat. I laugh and dad was still scrubbing the side of the boat with his mask and flippers. Jan was the first one out of course haha and then I start climbing the ladder telling dad to take a look with his mask. "That's a pretty big fucking fish!" And our swim was over. Our boat was surrounded by dozens of fish for the next hour, mostly mackerel jumping I think away from something, while seagulls dove for the schools of flying fish everywhere. After hardly seeing any sea life like that, I just dropped my fishing line into the water. From what I hear, fish have only gotten caught on this pole when whoever's manning it is away from it (*cough* Phil!) so this was the perfect time to blog. Wish me luck!!! -Alyssa
Ps.. No fish yet Phil! Your record is safe.
03/25/2009, 15 17.10'N:111 46.48'W, 500 Miles Southwest of Banderas Bay
Well, we were going to take a blog day off, but then we got a bunch of email saying "Where's the blog!?!?!?!" We stand corrected.
We continue to have comfy sailing during the day, with nice beam reaches in fairly calm seas, averaging 5-6 knots, with blast up to 8 or 9 knots. The sails are well balanced, making life easy on the autopilot. The only human corrections required are when the wind cycles through more than 20 degrees, which it does every couple of hours. Winds are still from the North, but predicted to become North-Easterly by tonight. This will be the beginning of the Northern Trade Winds, which should be more consistent. However, if I look out 96 hours out, down at 9N/118W, winds are predicted to die way down. Because we have only motored for 25 hours since our departure, we have more fuel than expected at this stage, and can motor through any areas of low/no wind. Our fuel consumption is about .75 gallons/hour, so we have only used about 18 out of 230 gallons aboard. We expected to use double that by this stage.
Chapstick, Anyone? I swear.only 10 minutes after our blog entry yesterday we saw more dolphins, only this time it was bright enough to see the whole pod jumping just beyond the boat. It's not like coastal cruising where you see dolphins all the time. Surfing in Manresa or down south in San Onofre you have wildlife around you all the time. In the middle of the Pacific, I'd just say it's rarer considering how much space you have to cover to find Whales or dolphins. The dolphins never got very close because of how unfamiliar we are to them whereas the coastal dolphins like to race boats along the bow. Breeding grounds and more food on the shelf keeps them pretty close to shore. Nevertheless, plenty of squid have found our deck a perfect landing strip in the middle of the night. This morning dad found 3 not much bigger than a tube of chapstick stuck to the deck. I've been enjoying sailing very much (so far that is haha). Maybe I'll look into the Intro to Oceans classes at Cabrillo. I never realized how much I used the Internet until it was gone, go figure. -alyssa
03/24/2009, 16 44.25'N:109 55.30'W, 350 Miles Southwest of Banderas Bay
Passage Update: After 3 nights at sea we have set into a rhythm, our sea legs starting to emerge and night watches coming a bit easier. We motor-sailed last night due to light winds and batteries that were depleted 40%. Our battery monitor may be confused however, as the solar is keeping us in good shape, with no net power usage during the day. Even in cloudy weather we are making 12 amps, which more than keep the batteries full. Our genset remains cranky, with an intermittent coolant temp sensor, which I will spend some time working around today.
A big thank you to the people who have sent us email and comments facebook. The only thing we CANT see is comments on the blog, so either email us - using text only email (no html) and keep it short, or send us Facebook messages, which we get via email.
Ben, to answer your question, when the seas are rough like the other night, you don't sleep much until the sleep deprivation catches up to you, and then it's EASY. It's amazing that your brain can suppress flogging sails, loud motors and other sounds around you when it needs to. Then as you awake, all those sounds come flooding back into your conscious. -Allan
Crazy Beautiful Sea Wind, no wind, a sailing contradiction of terms. Seas, no seas, can be a sailing impediment. Blue, so Blue, it's a lonely color blue really, nothing in sight for miles and miles. Sea life, where are you, there's so much ocean to cross, we are looking for you. Silent nights, loud days. Simply put, it's a crazy beautiful place to be. -Rina
Crayola Crayons ? I saw more flying fish today. I've always wondered why they were made to fly when there's really no purpose beyond awing those who see them for those few brief moments. Mother Nature never ceases to amaze me on this trip.We're nearly 1/5th of the way to Marquesas and the water is already 76°F. Let me repeat that.the PACIFIC OCEAN is 76°F! Hot tub anyone??? It is so clear and so deep, like a transparent version of the Crayola Ocean Blue colored crayon. Perfect. There's nothing in sight on the entire horizon (about 35 miles in any direction) and it's been that way for the past 3 days. I can't wait to see whales and turtles. -Alyssa
Hello Everybody, Isn't this great? Dreams come true! Lot's of dreaming time as well. There are some strange birds out here flying around all by themselves, but then again there are some strange birds sailing here as well! Megan, it is great to be out here with your family, but we are thinking of you! Take care. Lots of love/ Veel liefs, -Jan
03/23/2009, 17 55.9'N:108 17.7'W, 247 Miles Southwest of Banderas Bay
So our first couple days of passage have been, as expected, pretty rocky for me. Big thanks to Josie and Phil for the Meclazine; it has helped me tremendously. Besides that, the weather is amazing.only last night did it get to a bone-chilling 67 degrees (how terrible haha). It was quite a trip to wake up after the first night and look around and see nothing but water. I've been accompanying my dad for night watches, and, with no moon, you can't see a thing! Luckily this morning just before sunrise we saw dolphins swimming along the boat playing in the ambience of the whitewater. Natural little algae light up when there's any disturbance in the water. It looks like there are green stars in the water at night. Hopefully I'll get to go fishing today if weather permits. The boat has to go below 5 knots in order to fish, and from the sound of it we're making pretty good speed (6.7 knots in 12 knots of wind). I applaud mom and Jan for their amazing meals underway even in some prett y big swells. Just ask Jan how blue he is.
03/23/2009, 18 03.1'N:108 08.2'W, 230 Miles Southwest of Banderas Bay
What a night. Weather was predicted to become a bit more intense, with a forecast of winds to 18 knots till midnight, then subsiding overnight. Instead, winds and seas increased by 8pm to 20-22 with gusts to 25 knots and seas to 10 feet on the beam. By the time dinner was served, Jan's wonderful vegitable ratatouie was blowing off our plates! We quickly gobbled our food before it got cold (yes, it gets cold out here too) and strapped on our lifevests and tethers. The boat handled the weather fine under triple reefed main and a hankerchief of a jib. We finally doused the jib completely and rode the waves at 5-6 knots.
The seas would not have been much of an issue except that about every 20 seconds a combo wind wave and 10 foot swell wouild combine and knock the boat down it's face, heeling about 25 degrees each time. We experimented with different points of sail to try to minimize the motion, finally slowing the boat down to about 4 knots so we could ride each of those mountains at a more comfortable pace. Around 5am we put back out a heavily reefed jib and boat speed immediately jumped to 7-8 knots. Meanwhile nobody got much sleep as the boat sounds like it is coming apart down below. Actually, it's mostly provisions rattling around. And Pep, little Nemo went flying from his perch, but he's safe now.
The winds and seas did not abate until around 7am this morning, and we slowly let out more sail and got the boat moving more smoothly and everyone caught up on sleep. Speaking of which, that's alyssa in the picture above on THE most comfortable berth on the boat. It's right at the center of the boat and doesnt rock much at all.
03/22/2009, 19 21.5'N:106 57.7'W, 130 Miles Southwest of Banderas Bay
After the excitement of our departure, the crew spent today resting up from our first night at sea. A lot of emotion was expended and tension released, after such a build-up to this event. We took 3 hour watches, with 6 off starting at 1700 hours yesterday. The evening was uneventful, with only a couple of container ship sightings, and we did not need to change course, as they passed 5-10 miles away. The engine went off about 2am as the winds finally increased enough to sail, with the boat making 3-5 knots in 8-12 knots of wind. Alyssa got a little seasick yesterday but is doing better today. After a couple of days she will start to take some day watches.
We are currently sailing in 15 knots of wind, making 6.2 knots over ground in 3-4 ft seas. The water has already turned bright blue and is very clear. Not much sealife out here so far, other than a visit this morning by a pod of dolphins, who stuck around for 20 minutes.
We organized our daily chores and agreed to do them together in the afternoon after we have all woken up from our morning naps. Chores include:
- Run generator to top off batteries - new solar panels mean we use about 12% of batteries at night, recharging via genset for a short period in the morning, then the panels keeps up with our power usage all day long. - Make water while the genset is running - Clean and empty the heads - Vacuum the floors - flip the eggs - helps them last longer - Check the veggies for any spoilage - Drop long lines (ropes) in the water from the bow for 30 minutes - This cleans the undersides of slime and gooseneck barnacles, which can grow inches long on your undersides, even while underway - Clear personal items from public areas - Sweep cockpit and clean behind cushions - amazing what collects in 24 hours - Submit YOTREPS weather and tracking report by 1500 hours - allows other boats to see what weather we have and our friends boats to see where we are - Submit Buoyweather weather forecast for next 5 days - Inspect boat rigging for chafe and damage - Clean thru-hull screens for genset and watermaker - Pull 1 deferred task from task list - today it was replacing rings on turnbuckles that could otherwise snag the sails or lines
As you can see, never a dull although we still have plenty of time for reading, writing and personal stuff. None of us has our sea legs yet, and we expect the routine will become more comfortable over the next couple of day as we continue to acclimate.
The picture is our new whisker pole, deployed to port, which holds the jib out so it doesnt flap so much in light winds. It is pre-rigged so all we have to do is cleat the fore and aft downriggers, attach to the mast, hoist it up on a halyard and run a separate sheet to the furled sail. We can then furl the sail in/out and leave the pole there. This will come very handy when we start hitting squalls in a couple of days and winds increase from 10-30 knots in a couple of minutes. The pole has already made the boat faster and more quiet...
Ok, time to get back to my book!
03/21/2009, 20 41.9'N:105 26.4'W, Banderas Bay
The crew of Follow You toasts Neptune, makes an offering of reelly good champagne and crackers to the sea god and then cuts the dock lines. Currently motorsailing out to the edge of Banderas Bay where we will pick up winds from the north. Wahoo!
03/20/2009, Banderas Bay
After topping off our water tanks and cleaning the bottom, we headed out to sea to see how Follow You handled with the additional weight aboard. As we departed the marina, several boats hailed us, thinking we were headed West. We just explained that we were taking our bloated pig of a sailboat out to see how she handled. They chuckled.
We also took the opportunity to continue the education of Alyssa, showing her the ropes, figuratively and literally. She is picking it up just fine, learning points of sail, line handling and some basic nav.
The boat does handle differently, but mostly in a good way, which was a surprise. Hunter 466's are lightweight cruisers and act as such under sail, with a fair amount of porpoising. With full fuel and water tanks, 50 additional gallons in jerry jugs, and provisions for 8 weeks aboard, she acts like a heavyweight full keel cruiser. Interestingly she has not lost a bunch of speed. If you look closely at the pics above, we saw 8.1 knots through the water in 15 knots of wind on a beam reach. We saw 9 twice as the winds built to 20 knots downwind. Our clean bottom helped greatly of course, but it's nice to know that this bloated pig of a cruiser will still get up and go with almost no waterline left.
03/20/2009, La Cruz
An exciting day on Follow You, as final preparations are underway. The diver is cleaning the boat bottom as I type, removing 3 weeks of barnacles and slime. The local alhambra guy showed up with 100 gallons of fresh water to replenish our tanks and take the load off the watermaker for a bit, and Rina, Alyssa and Jan just returned from Mega with 4 weeks supply of fresh fruits and vegetables.
Jan and Rina have planned our meals around the lifespan of our fresh fruits and veggies, and stocking 4 bins, one for each week. We have learned a bunch about how to preserve food... for example, NOT refrigerating your eggs makes them last alot longer, as long as you turn them weekly and they have not been previously refrigerated. Storing certain fruits together helps them keep longer, and making sure certain fruits are NOT stored together also preserves them. Each week we will use up one bin, which will allow us to collapse and store it. Amazingly, other than 3 bins under the settee (dining table) and 3 bins in the garage, the boat is clutter free. Not bad considering there are now 4 aboard. Credit also goes to Rina for thinning out her clothes, providing room for Alyssa in her cabinets, Alyssa for packing very light, and Jan for travelling with only a backpack's worth of stuff. We also stuffed every void in the boat we could find with stuff we don't use often. It usually works out well, although the lovely butt shot above is due to us having to dig out a fuzzy blanket for Alyssa, as the nights have been a cool 68 degrees.
We'll take the boat out this afternoon for a shakedown sail now that she is fully loaded to see how she sails, not that there is much we can do about it!
03/19/2009, La Cruz, PV
So, I finally made it to PV to join my parents. It's funny how all of these plans weren't in existence until about 2 weeks ago and, boy, was that a surprise. With the quarterly system at UC Santa Cruz, you lose track of time. Classes go by so fast; you start the quarter and immediately after, you have 2 midterms and the final 2 weeks after that. In other words, these past two weeks have been hell preparing for my last midterm (oddly only 1 week before the final), finals week, moving out of my dorm, and planning a trip to cross the Pacific with my parents, not to mention the little knick knacks I had to pick up on the way for the sailboat. As exhausted as I sound (and am), I cannot wait for Saturday. Saturday is the beginning of my journey. It is dad's birthday and our departure from Mexico; it is, as dad said, "This is the beginning of Alyssa's education." Down time to me these next few weeks is time away from school, away from the pressures to succeed in something I'm not sure what yet. Down time is time spent with my family learning to sail, relaxing, and setting my goals for when I get back. I cannot fathom the adventures to come in my life, but I am entirely grateful for this opportunity. It is a lifetime experience...
You will hear from me again very soon:)
Love always, Alyssa