Passage Hawaii to Vancouver - Day 9
19 July 2013
Well, I did it. I pulled a wool blanket over me as I slept last night. It felt so good; so cozy. Yes, suddenly it has turned cooler here at a latitude of 44 degrees north, particularly at night. Only yesterday I was sitting in the cockpit in the sunshine in bare feet, shorts and t-shirt. Last night it was 19 degrees in the cabin, which isn't really very cold, but seemed to warrant the added warmth of the wool blanket. The fresh North Pacific breeze drifts into the cabin through the companionway all night. It hardly seems possible that only a week ago we used an electric fan to keep us cool while we were sleeping. What a difference a few degrees of latitude can make!
It took me a while to dress for my night watch that starts at 1:00 a.m. Norm said it was cool up there in the cockpit so I layered up. Here's what I had on: Icebreaker merino wool t-shirt, ski turtleneck, Icebreaker merino wool hoodie sweatshirt, leggings, socks, shoes and my high latitude foul weather jacket. It took me a long time to put on all these clothes. I haven't worn the foul weather jacket in the three years since we left the Pacific Northwest. We've always been sailing in warm tropical weather, even in New Zealand. As I was heading up the companionway with my hot tea, Norm was already snuggled under the wool blanket on the sea berth that I had vacated only moments earlier. He said it was still warm under the blanket. He was smiling and looked very happy, ready to crash after his 6 hour night watch. I thought to myself; we are perfecting the ancient mariners' practice of "hot bunking." We do have a heater on Sarah Jean II. It's an Espar diesel heater but it hasn't worked for about two years. We haven't worried about it as we haven't needed it and the experts who can fix it are in Vancouver. No one in the South Pacific has a heater on their boat, not even in New Zealand. So that will be a project when we get home; to get the Espar heater fixed so we'll be comfortable sailing in the off cool season in the Vancouver area.
The other interesting piece of information about my night watch, besides what I was wearing, is the freighter traffic at this latitude in the Pacific. We are definitely crossing a shipping lane to the Orient. In the past couple of days we must have seen over 15 big ships, displayed as AIS targets on our chartplotter. Their route is east/west. Some are headed to the US West Coast or Panama and others are headed to China and Japan. We see this from their AIS data. There is a steady stream of them. We haven't actually seen any of these ships with the naked eye. They are not close enough but we know they are there thanks to AIS (Automatic Identification System) which gives us their position and CPA; their Closest Point of Approach. There's never any danger of running into one or them into us. I wonder about the goods they are carrying? Maybe cars and computers from Japan? Coal, oil and wheat from the US?
In the wee hours of the morning, as dawn was breaking and my night watch was nearing an end, I spotted a lone albatross soaring gracefully over the waves. I didn't know until recently that there were albatross in the North Pacific. I thought they were only in the Southern Ocean. We did see some on our passage from NZ to Rarotonga but apparently they don't cross the equator and the albatross that inhabit in the North Pacific are a different species. I love watching these magnificent birds with their huge wing span skimming effortlessly over the wave tops. A treat for tonight's night watch may be a of cup hot chocolate and a fleece blanket for my lap!