05/17/2013, Heading west
Last night was a squally night. Started just after 0300 and really hit with a blast about 0730. It poured so bad, we had to start the engine so we could fire up the radar. Couldn't see more than 200 feet. Spotted a fishing boat off our port side so we took the necessary steps to stay away from him. By 1000, the normally east winds had shifted to come out of the west so motoring was our only choice if we still wanted to make Palau on Monday. It's now after 1300 and the breeze is still from the west. Not in any of my forecasts.
The engine continues to hum along, right now at 1500rpms and pushing us into the breeze at about 5 knots. We have only 170 miles to go so we have to judge our speed carefully so that we don't arrive too soon. The main is currently pulled into the center of the boat so we will be ready should the winds return from the east. Other than raining like stink, it's been a quiet 24 hours.
There is no way we will be loosing the weight this trip. I just finished off two tacos made from the left over barbecues pork ribs I did before we left Pohnpei. Tasted yummy but sure not low in calories. Tonight-- Hamburger curry served on rice. Or maybe that will be for dinner tomorrow.
We're almost there. Just two days to go. Still raining and we still have winds from the west. It will all change some time this afternoon(I hope).
05/16/2013, Heading west
Yesterday, late in the day, as we went to roll in the big genoa sail at the bow, the roller furling gear refused to rotate and pull in the sail. No matter what we tried, it would not go in. It had gone in earlier in the day though didn't appear happy about it at the time. We decided to let it all out and try to re roll it again. This time, it refused to let any more of the sail out. We'd only had maybe 50% out when this started. We yanked and yanked and pulled in and pulled out and it finally all came out. We undid the halyard and pulled the sail down and tied it to the deck. This was all happening just as the Sun was going down and a big storm was looming behind us. Luckily, Mother Nature cut us some slack and held off. So now we are down to the main and the forestay sail to move us forward. We've run with the main up most of the time other than yesterday when we put in some reefs in it during the morning storm. We have just a bit over 280 miles to Palau so we are in no need to rush as we don't want to get there before Monday AM.
The engine is still running great. A small leak in the hydraulic steering that shouldn't be hard to fix once in port. We just have to remember to always open the gate valve in the exhaust before we start the engine and close is when we shut her off.
Other than yesterdays storm in the morning, the rest of the day was hot and humid with overcast skies being the rule of the day.
About 1000 this morning, Tracy spotted a big freighter bearing down on us off the port side. I called on the VHF and go no response so we fired up the engine so we could alter course. There wasn't enough wind to do so by sail. I made several more calls on the radio before they finally answered. Yes, he would alter course to port to stay away from us. I'd say no one was on watch or just not watching as they would have run us down or come REALLY close as they passed. The last three freighters passes us about 5 miles off the side. This boy was heading straight for us. Sure glad the engine was fixed. She did a great job helping us maneuver away from the big ship. I radioed them after they passed to thank them for altering course. They are headed for South Korea. Second freighter headed for South Korea that has passed us. It's a big ocean out here but this proves the adage that someone should always be on watch. We have little doubt that there was no such person on the cargo ship. If we had not altered course, there is little doubt that they would have hit us. Some people think that the ocean is a vast place with little chance of seeing other boats. We've seen about one every other day ant they have all been big freighters.
ETA for Koror on Palau is still Monday some time. We're still 260 miles from the harbor but the wind is slowing down. If we do 90 miles a day, we should be in right on time.
Stay tuned. We're almost there.
05/14/2013, Heading west
It's been another 24 hours and all is well. No real blows but making good time while the winds hold out. The forecast for Saturday is for much lighter winds through the first of next week. That's going to slow us down. So we made good time yesterday by pulling our the genoa all the way and with the winds cooperating did a good 7+ knots most of yesterday. Did 130 miles yesterday--our best day so far.
Cloudy right now with a beautiful morning but a few squalls may be heading our way in about 20 minutes so this post will be brief.
Nothing broken in the last 24 hours but the Genoa has a place on it that will need some repairs when we get in. Nothing serious but it's better to act before it's necessary.
Storms coming. That's it for now.
05/13/2013, Heading west
The last 24 hours of the crossing have been great. The wind has been up and down but is still hovering at about 15 knots. Though it is mainly out of the east, there are times it changes over to northeast which makes the sailing easier as we don't need to gybe so often. We covered 116 miles again yesterday but some of that wasn't so much taking us toward Palau. It was go north of our course and then go south of our course all to get to the way points I put in before leaving Pohnpei. There are some reefs and atolls out here we want to make sure we miss. One, Eauripik Atoll is about 80 miles in front of us. We've been following Tom and Janis on Tomboys course figuring if it's good for them, it will be good for us. They left bout 6 weeks ago and have already left Palau for Dili in East Timor. About the only change we have done to their route was to take us north of Eauripik Atoll instead of south as they did. The winds are better for us to follow that line west.. Our charts show the symbol of a ship wreck on it and we don't want to add another to it.
Having covered 907 miles on our passage, we hope the rest is as nice though the weather forecast is for the winds to start diminishing by late Saturday and into Sunday. If they get too light, we may have to motor and with fuel at over $5.30/ gallon, I hate racking up bills like that.
Right now, it's blowing nicely with small white capped waves out of the northeast with the bluest seas imaginable. Maybe 20% cloud cover but the Sun keep getting through so it get hot on deck. The "kids" are settled in below snoozing with Blue waiting for later in the day when she comes out on deck. Typically, she is out first thing in the morning and then in to hide from the Sun when the decks get too hot and shade vanishes and then back on deck about 1730 as the Sun is in the process of setting. She stays out till about 2130 and then has to go below as we don't trust her on deck after the Sun goes down.
Other than that, Tracy is stitching another Michael Powell project that she's had on board since. we left Mexico and I'm reading the manual for Adobe Photoshop Elements #8. Bought the program when we were still in the US and it's time to read and learn about how to use it. Having installed new 750 gig hard drives in our MacBook, I now have plenty of space for what ever I create. Of course the downside is that I'm color blind so heaven only knows what my finished pictures will turn out looking like. With internet being more dependable on Palau, I should be able to upload some. The cost for internet varies but it's currently at $10.00US for 7 hours of internet. Still by far, the best and cheapest internet out here is in Fiji. No country has come close.
Last night was another starry night with no moon per say for most of it. A few scattered clouds marched by blocking them out from time to time but the show was incredible. Let's hope the weather we have continues till we get to Palau. It's been a great trip so far and I'd like to see it continue.
05/12/2013, Heading west
Last night was storm night. The winds started building after dinner and really took off after Tracy headed for bed(1900). I lay in the cockpit watching(with only one ear bud) a movie on our IPod and could hear the wind grow. Having had this before in this trip, I knew to take us a bit more off the wind as the increase in the wind causes Zephyr to head up into it. No big deal, at least to me. Tracy, on the other hand was getting thrown about below as the seas got more unruly. She eventually came back to the cockpit after taking here seasickness meds. It was one of those up and down wind storms with the occasional squall thrown in for fun. Tracy took control at 2300 when I went off watch. I have it from 1900 to 2300, Tracy is back on from 2300 to 0300 and I have the shift from 0300 to 0600 with Tracy back on watch at 0600 til 0900. After that, it's more of a loose schedule as to who is on watch BUT someone is always in the cockpit on watch(except for a quick dash to the head). Tracy's time on watch was much more exciting with winds building to 38 knots. We had the full main up and about a third of our genoa out. Tracy called me to the cockpit and we rolled in the genoa sail. It was still blowing but with the reduction in sail, we rode it much better. By the time I came on watch at 0300, it was much quieter.
We've had to go back to the zig zagging again as the winds have shifted back to coming from the east. So, every couple of hours we swing the stern through the eye of the wind and change course. Having to do this so often, we have gotten quite good at it. At our last course change, we suddenly ran into a counter current that runs west to east anywhere from .5 to 2 knots. We had to have the wheel turned to 30 degrees to port so we could go in a straight line. When it was time to change course, it was really tough to get Zephyr to swing around.
Having now gone 780 miles, we finally moved our clocks back an hour. Palau is two hours earlier than Pohnpei but we won't change that final hour till we are ready to enter the harbor. The morning net is now on at 0700 instead of 0800.
Blue got her self all worked up last night when we wouldn't allow her into the cockpit after 2100. We were setting traps to kill ants. Ever since Fiji, we have had a colony or ten of ants that march through the boat. No real specific place but over the last few days, they appear in the cockpit(by the dozens). Last night was to be the attack time. Well, these little buggers are smarter than we thought. We laid out the poison on a paper plate with some left over pineapple juice and not a one showed up. Maybe they don't like bad weather and a rocking boat. Tonight, we will try again.
Nothing broken in the last 24 hours so it's a good thing.
05/05/2013, Kolonia, Pohnpei, FSM
It's been four months since we limped in here at the end of a tow line and new we are fixed and ready to head back out again. We will be dropping our lines in about 3 hours and heading for our appointment with the Harbor Master, Immigration, and Customs. Then, with our engine purring away, we head for Palau, about 1440 miles west of here. About a two week trip. Shorter or longer as it depends on the weather. Right now, it's about 15-20 knots from the east northeast with matching waves in the 5 foot area. Better than the 30 knot winds and 20 foot plus waves we came in on.
I'll try and do post on the blog as we go along via our SSB radio so stay tuned, we are onto our next saga.