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Swingin' on a Star
Ship's log for the circumnavigating Saint Francis 50 catamaran, "Swingin on a Star".
Day 10 to the Marquisas
Randy
06/17/2008, South Pacific

After the most enjoyable 24 hours on the water, our 9th period turned in only 195 miles. I suppose the modest progress goes with the smooth sailing territory.

As the sailor's proverb goes, too much wind or not enough. Today we were in the latter category. Yesterday's mellow wind was followed by no wind. Today the wind turned east and light, making it impossible for us to sail the rhumb line to Fatu Hiva. Fatu Hiva bears 261 degrees true presently and the wind is coming just about due east. Sailing a deep broad reach (wind 135 degrees to port, traveler tight on the main and jib hooked to the rail with a 4 part purchase) we made 215 true. This not only ran us south of Fatu Hiva but the rest of French Polynesia as well. Pitcairn anyone? And not soon at 6-7 knots with 6 apparent.

We thought we had it in the bag. Two weeks under sail to the Marquesas. Two hundred mile days plus. All of that. At 13:00 local time we killed the dream and engaged the Auxiliary Apparent Wind Angle Improvement Device. We are now motor sailing dead down wind a bit high of the mark in hopes of sailing when the wind backs over the next day or so. Best guess is now 15 days at sea and arrival on the 23rd, six days from now. This will be our lowest mileage day yet. :-(

A few squalls in the area brought slight wind shifts and maybe 5 knots of additional breeze. We rode one lift for an hour and rinsed a little salt off of the decks. Nobu and I took noon sights. Longitude, good, latitude not so good. The sun was behind the clouds and we were riding a pretty sharp mixed SW/SE 3 meter swell, but hey if Shackelton's guy could get within a mile in a long boat during a gale in Antarctica, we can certainly do better.

Nobu says: "Randy is teaching me celestial navigation, I am confused"

Hideko says: "I wish we could have sailed the whole way"

1,020 nm to go...

French Polynesia
Day 9 to the Marquisas
Randy
06/16/2008, South Pacific

It was a wonderful 24 hours. We have enjoyed going fast for the first week but everyone was ready for the light airs last night and today. We ran the full main all night and the moon was almost bright enough to do log entries by. The seas were pleasant following swells that every once in a while would get us up to 10 knots.

Conditions persisted today with wind in the 8-12 apparent zone. Everyone enjoyed the tranquility. In the afternoon we set the spinnaker for the first time since we purchased the boat. We tested it in the Bahamas but our trip through the Caribbean was mostly to windward until crossing the north coast of South America, where it was Christmas winds 20 knots plus the whole way. It is a beautiful sail and gave us about a knot over the jib, giving us a boat speed of 8.5 to 9.5 knots with 7-12 apparent.

At noon today we completed our 8th 24 hour day with perhaps a few miles short of a 200 mile run.

Nobu says: "The Spinnaker is so cool, great design"

Hideko says: "I had the most comfortable sailing of my entire life today"

1,190 nm to go...

French Polynesia
Day 8 to the Marquisas
Randy
06/15/2008, South Pacific

It was the worst day and the best day all in one. This morning the 4 meter southeast swell was pumping with a bone in its teeth and a 9 second interval. Add to that some mix in from the southwest and 20-25 knots of wind kicking up a nasty chop. Bumpy would be a word. We put the whole main up about three times but each time took it back to reef one. With the whole main up the boat would run 9-11 knots in about as deep a broad reach as we could make. Shallower and we would miss Fatu Hiva, deeper and the wave action would harsh out the rig not to mention launching us down waves at 17 plus knots. Surfing in the high teens is fun, for an hour or so. For hours on end it gets tiring.

Late in the afternoon things started to calm down. Before long we were ghosting along at 8 knots with 12 knots apparent and following seas on reasonable proportions. It was a wonderful afternoon watching the little puffy clouds seemingly frozen in the blue sky. The day certainly holds our all time reef record with 4 reefings/shake-outs in one day. In fact the crew is so good at it that we're going to leave the full main up tonight. We almost always put in a reef at night just to slow things down and avoid having to reef in the dark should it be called for. Tonight there will be a brilliant moon and if things start to fall apart we'll reef early but not often...

At noon today we completed our 7th 24 hour day with a 200 mile run. We are now half way! Looks like it will be a two week crossing.

Nobu says: "I am totally relaxed, this afternoon's sailing is so peaceful I can meditate."

Hideko says: "I can't wait to see only three digit numbers in the miles to go..."

1,396 nm to go...

French Polynesia
Day 7 to the Marquisas
Randy
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
Randy
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
Randy
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
Randy
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

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