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Swingin' on a Star
Ship's log for the circumnavigating Saint Francis 50 catamaran, "Swingin on a Star".
Day 7 to the Marquisas
06/14/2008, South Pacific

Another great sailing day. We are sailing with the wind 135 to port and just managing to fetch Fatu Hiva. We closed out our 6th 24 hour period with another 200 mile day. The swell is quite large and it would be nice if the period were longer (3.5-4 meters at 9-10 seconds). You begin the trip looking at a 4 meter swell and say "yikes", but after a day or two it is "yawn", just a little too rolly for exotic cooking, that's all.

This deep into the wind the jib can give us problems if the breeze backs for a bit. We rigged up a preventer for the jib that has been working well, keeping the jib from collapsing. I have considered poles but unless I add a big screecher or the like I really don't think you need anything more that the setup we're using.

We had a birthday party for Nobu today. He is 26 today! Happy Birthday Nobu. I made a birthday breakfast with Lattes and French Toast and Hideko made a yummy birthday dinner with a brownie birthday cake.

Nobu says: "I'm a lucky man to be here, thanks for a memorable birthday!"

Hideko says: "Happy Birthday Nobu!!! We couldn't ask for a better crew!!"

1,586 nm to go...

French Polynesia
Day 6 to the Marquisas
06/13/2008, South Pacific

Nice day today. Great sailing. We closed out our 5th 24 hour period with a 210 mile day. The swell is up today and it is certainly not long and rolling at 9 to 10 seconds but it is not too bad either. When it comes in right we get surfing in the teens. I think our high today was 15 knots and change. Ever so fleeting though. We've managed to average over 9 today and we're supposed to have 20-25 knots tonight and then for the next day, so we should make good time.

We have been getting a pretty good wind angle for the conditions, with wind and sea averaging about 120 off the port bow. Not the fastest point of sail for us but good with the 4 meter swell. We are making a line on 257 degrees true for Fatu Hiva to hold the wind. There are a lot of boats that went way south early and they are having a hard time now having to run dead down wind.

Nobu says: "I enjoyed playing guitar today"

Hideko says: "zzzz (sleeping)"

1,788 nm to go...

French Polynesia
Day 5 to the Marquisas
06/12/2008, South Pacific

Great sailing again today. We cleared 210 miles over our forth 24 hour period. The swell is getting pretty large and will be for the next day or so. The GRIBs say it is 3.8 meters in this area. Pretty towering with a 10 second interval. Our heading keeps us from surfing too much but we hit 12 knots every now and then.

This afternoon I put out the fishing line for the first time on this leg. We were doing 9-10 knots and the lures with the bills on them just get all tangled up in their own line at that speed. I switched to this huge lure that our friends Pablo and Louise bought us, and before long, bang! The line ran like mad for 3 seconds and then silence. The YoZuri (my prized lure) was gone and the reel's line was so fouled up I couldn't sort it out. Nobu and Hideko worked on it for an hour or two and decided to table the project until tomorrow. I'm sure it was a big Wahoo (there is a small prize at stake for the first fish type; Hideko has Tuna, Nobu has Mahi Mahi and I have Wahoo).

Nobu's selection for the boom box are interesting. He chose Elvis and Crystal Method (!). Hideko selected The Beatles and Toy Matinee and I picked Aerosmith Rocks and Get Your Wings. It has been an eclectic tunes day.

We've been taking very good care of the rig out here. When you're island hopping and something breaks on the rig you just motor to the nearest port. When your nearest port is 1,000 miles away you need to look after your rig. We can probably motor between 1,000 and 1,500 miles depending on conditions, but we can certainly sail the whole way and a lot faster with better stability. The wind has been coming from behind the beam quite a bit today and may continue to move east. This is fine, down wind sailing is not as fast but very comfortable. The only problem is that if I let the main out to properly trim it the sail rubs on the swept back spreaders. Since I don't want any unnecessary chafe on this trip we are sacrificing perfect sail trim for ok sail trim and no chafe. The chart plotter eta for Fatu Hiva is the 21st but I think the 22nd or 23 is more reasonable (we're doing 10 knots right now and it assumes we will keep that up).

Nobu says: "Cruising the South Pacific with Elvis rules!"

Hideko says: "We were happy to see the 2000 nautical mile mark crossed!!"

1,999 nm to go...

French Polynesia
Day 4 to the Marquisas
06/11/2008, South Pacific

Great sailing today. A little bumpy here and there but over all a great day. We only put in 200 miles yesterday but are back on track for 220 today.

This afternoon we passed just meters away from Flying Dolphin, another catamaran, who may have been having problems getting her main all the way out (I think it was an in mast furler) [we later discovered that Flying Dolphin is a charter boat based on the Quai in Papeete]. They got rigged and came after us but they are fading away as we speak. They are sailing fast, but not fast enough.

Nobu and I rigged the boom box we bought in Panama with a 12 volt adapter in San Cristobal so we could use it underway. We were listening to Led Zepplin all day. Physical Grafitti is on right now, one of my favs. I was working at a summer camp (slave labor) and my Dad made cassette copies of the album (which arrived after I had left home) and brought them to me. I played it that whole summer.

If we keep moving like this we'll be in port in about 11 days.

Nobu says: "Wonderful sailing day!"

Hideko says: "What are the odds you sail 100 meters off of another sail boat crossing the Pacific?"

2,200 nm to go...

French Polynesia
Day 3 to the Marquisas
06/10/2008, South Pacific

We had another big day today. Lots of 3 meter waves and more spray in the cockpit than usual (usual is none). It was a fairly bouncy night but the crew is starting to get into the off shore groove. We had some tasty herb omelets for breakfast and the sun shone all day for the first day since we left. It was a fun day under sail even if not the most comfortable.

We are still collecting squid and flying fish on deck every night. I removed 20 bodies this morning. Too bad we don't have a recipe for squid or flying fish. We also haven't been fishing due to the rough seas. It is no problem catching them but often you need to slow down the boat to keep the big ones and we're not going to be doing that or cleaning them on the back deck in these seas. We haven't seen any Boobies out this far but the little brave Storm Petrals are still flying about. They are amazing, 600 miles out to sea and never stopping to rest.

We did have another great mileage day over our second 24 hour period at sea, turning in another 220 nautical mile day, and that with a reef in the main for motion comfort.

Nobu and I investigated the genset overheating problem this afternoon. We discovered that the impeller was fine (my first suspect) but the sea strainer was packed with slime and sea grass from Isabela. We had been running the port motor (the one without a prop) in neutral up until this afternoon. The genset certainly charges better, faster and with less fuel. Nice to have it back in action.

We have been chatting with lots of other boats in the neighborhood over the VHF and the SSB. One group has formed an ad hoc net to keep track of everyone on the way to Fatu Hiva. The fastest are doing 8 knots so we will unfortunately leave them all behind shortly. We haven't connected with any other cats in route. We are likely to get into Fatu Hiva after a little less than 2 weeks at sea if we can keep this pace.

Nobu says: "Today is my six year anniversary with Natsuki so I made Banana bread, Thanks a Bunch"

Hideko says: "Nobu made some yummy banana bread!"

2,406 nm to go...

French Polynesia
Day 2 to the Marquisas
06/09/2008, South Pacific

It was bumpy last night. Not too bad for sleeping but rough for showers and that sort of thing. Everyone had to get used to the four hour watch, which seemed a lot longer than the three hours we covered with Ed aboard. By the end of the day everyone was settling in though.

Nobu had the first night watch with the 18:00 to 22:00 shift. In the middle of his watch we came across some bizarre lights on what we think were craft but could have been buoys. Strobes and different colors that made no sense from a Col. Regs. stand point. None of us were abducted (as far as we know, hard to tell about that sort of thing) and we passed the strange lights without incident.

By morning the seas were up a bit and, as predicted by the GRIB files we download nightly, the wind was coming up as well. You sure knew you were in the open ocean. By noon we had 12 footers frothing by with 20 to 25 knots of wind. Not comfortable at all. We only had to put up with the really unpleasant bit for four or five hours and by night fall things were back to just "rather rough".

We have been making great time regardless of the seas. We have been fortunate in that the swell has been from the south allowing us to take it on the beam. The swell most often comes from the SW on this passage, putting it a lot closer to on the nose than we have it. We were doing 9 to 11 knots most of yesterday and closed the 24 hour day with 225 nautical miles, not bad. Today when I woke up Nobu asked if we could put up the whole main. I vacillated back and forth and then seeing the wind staying around 20 said sure. Immediately after we shook out the reef the wind picked up. We were doing 13 knots in no time and launching off of big waves doing the catamaran slam dance. Needless to say the reef went back in and we still managed over nine knots.

The wind is right on the beam as I type. This is not optimal for us because with our swept back spreaders you can't really let the boom out for proper sail trim on a beam reach without bending the battens on the spreaders. So we are a little over trimmed on the main right now to ensure that we arrive without holes in our most critical sail. We are still doing about nine knots which is nice. It probably wont hold, but our present run rate puts us in the Marquisas after 12 days at sea. Pretty quick for a sail boat.

A few Boobies were hunting around our boat last night and several Storm Petrels as well. We are also getting squid all over the deck. They sort of adhere over night and you have to scrape them up with a spatula in the morning so that you don't slip on them like banana peels.

We checked in with the Pan Pacific net again this morning. We have not picked up any of the French Polynesian nets yet. We also talked to Double Vision, one of the boats from the SSB net, on the VHF radio a little bit ago. They are about 30 miles south of us. There are a few boats in this area including Panacea, and Quig Quig, both boats we have talked to on the morning SSB net. I would guess that there are at least 20 boats crossing to French Polynesia right now.

Nobu says: "The beginning of this voyage is perfecto"

Hideko says: "I saw ten tuna jumping high in the sky, too bad it is too rough to fish"

2,628 nm to go...

French Polynesia
Day 1 to the Marquisas
06/08/2008, South Pacific

It has been a tough day but we are well on our way to the Marquisas. We were in no rush this morning and everyone maximized sleep before our departure. I checked in to the Pan Pacific Net at 14:00 UTC (8AM Galapagos time). There are a number of boats in route that we will be traveling close to which is always fun. Boats near by give you a better overall perspective of the weather and make for good conversation if not a little bit of competition.

It took us until noon to get everything ready to go. We did a thorough rig check, made sure our remaining prop looked like it was going to stay with the boat and other such tasks not on the normal day sail check list. As we were going over things the generator (charging the batteries prior to departure) began to overheat, again. Maybe another impeller, not sure. I'll be looking it over on the first smooth day, if there is one.

We finally got out of the anchorage at about 12:30. We followed the marks back out into deep water under starboard power and then set sail. The swell is fairly large and not as long as we'd like with a bit of wind chop but it is reasonable. You certainly know you're on a sail boat. We have had a great run though with the moderate trades blowing 12-20. The wind is from just east of south and that works out to 60 to 70 degrees apparent for us. Doesn't get much better. We have averaged over 10 knots the whole way and had stints over 11.

Nobu took over for the first night shift at 18:00 local time. We tucked a reef in the main for night time safety and Swingin' on a Star is still doing 9.5 knots. Hideko is up at 22:00 and I take over again at 02:00.

It has been a good first day but everyone is still adjusting to the constant motion. Poor Roq is having the hardest time I think. Oh well, if we keep this up we'll be in port in 12 days, not likely. Our sister ship posted 17 which I thought impressive. We have a pool going and Nobu has 18 days, Hideko 19 and I have 17.

Nobu says: "I'm feeling pretty good"

Hideko says: "First day has been tough for Roq and I"

2,851 nm to go...


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