Passage Hawaii to Vancouver - Day 11
21 July 2013
It's Saturday night in the North Pacific and I'm trying to be patient. Norm and I change sails; switching from our small upwind jib to our much larger genoa, hoping to tack east and keep Sarah Jean II moving along in less than 8 kts of wind. We do our familiar sail change dance without speaking, moving carefully around each other. As I step out on to the deck to feed the sheet through the genoa car, I shiver. The air has a cold, crisp Arctic feel to it and I make a mental note to wear my mittens tonight on night watch. I hurry to complete my task so I can get back inside our warm cockpit enclosure. The sail change doesn't work. The wind has shifted further east again. Our boat speed drops to 3 kts. Norm grumbles under his breath. We change back to the small jib, tack and reluctantly start the engine to continue motorsailing north.
For the past 24 hours we have been motorsailing northeast through the North Pacific High in an attempt to reach westerly winds. These winds have been elusive. The forecast indicated the west winds would be waiting for us at 48 north. We're almost there but there's no west wind in sight. We can't motor indefinitely. I feel frustrated and slightly irritated. I just want to turn east towards Vancouver and home!
Looking back at our passage this year from New Zealand to Rarotonga and north to Hawaii we endured some difficult upwind sailing. It was physically taxing; constantly reefing, changing sails and maintaining our balance while close reaching in big swells. So far we have spent 47 days at sea and covered 6,700 miles. I think passage making is taking its toll on us. We've discovered that it's hard on the boat too. There are new leaks from all the blue water washing over the bow. And in Penrhyn we discovered a crack in our keel joint. This problem was repaired in Hawaii.
I should be happy on this final passage. Since we left Hawaii nothing has broken. We've had perfect wind conditions and some fast, easy sailing. The biggest challenge is keeping up our stamina.
After dinner on Saturday evening, Norm and I decide to relax and take a break from worrying about the wind and boat speed. We take advantage of the calm conditions and snuggle together in the V-berth to watch a movie on the laptop. I'm giving up a precious hour of sleep but it's worth it to chill out together.
It's now Sunday morning. We make the big decision to turn east. Yahoo! The wind has backed to the northwest and we're sailing on a port tack for the first time in weeks. I can hear Norm pulling the spinnaker out of the storage locker and onto the deck. It may help to keep us moving in this light air. The good news is the boat is no longer heeled over, at least for the moment. I can put my coffee cup down without it spilling and cooking dinner tonight will be much easier!
I'll try to be patient and enjoy the simplicity of life at sea for a little longer. I know we will arrive home in Vancouver eventually. I will very happy when that day arrives!