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Offshore Hawaii
Finer Points on the Pacific High
07/18/2011, 39 16'N:159 15'W,

As you may have gathered from recent mentioning in the blogs, everything is dependent on the central position of the Pacific High and our relative position to it. The key is to steer a course which gets us to the outside of the center without getting too far afield westerly making up the extra distance that we have to go east in order to make landfall at Juan de Fuca Strait or pinching it too much that we actually get caught in the center without the benefit of having any wind.

Seeing as how it is so central to this voyage -- I thought I would enclose a copy of an illustrative synoptic weather chart and some comments relating to it.

Each day we download the enclosed synoptic weather charts () seen in the inset attached to this blog. As you can see from our position we're nearing the center position of the Pacific High steering a course of 345° T. This puts us on the 159° W longitude meridian which is pinching it a bit tight but at the same time if we make it, it saves us having to make up the westerly course where some of our fellow ships in the fleet ahead of us have gone as far afield as 164° W longitude before making the turn.

Everybody seems to be making the turn at about the latitude of 42-43° north so we expect to reach that point in about 36-48 hours.

More shall be revealed!

07/20/2011 | Matty
Cool! Yes you guys are towing the line with the high no risk no reward, I like it!

"The true peace of God begins at any point 1,000 miles from the nearest land."

Joseph Conrad

07/20/2011 | Doug Naylor
Hi Guys,

Just got your blog address from John's wife Bobbi, so have read up on your adventures to date. Seems like you are enjoying all as you try to skirt the Pacific High on the way home.
Have a great trip !!

Brother Doug
Imagine That -- What Would Be the Odds?
07/16/2011, 34 20'N:159 34'W,

At first light this morning, we discovered the first of a fleet of sailing ships off our port quarter approximately 2 miles astern.

Raising the new arrival on our VHF we found out the vessel was a leader in a fleet of five traditional Cook Island sailing catamarans traveling from the Cook Islands to San Francisco via Honolulu.

Over the next few hours, 2 more of the sailing ships came astern and moved ahead of us on their way and if the other two vessels are on the same tack, it is likely we will see them as well before sundown.. Slightly larger and different hull shape, they're capable of moving faster through the water than our monohull vessel.

We have been traveling 900 miles with only one freighter only distantly sighted and here we see 3 sailing vessels all in one day.

We traveled the entire first leg of the trip from Cape Flattery to Hilo, Hawaii sighting only 4 vessels in the entire 2500 nautical mile trip.

The ocean is so unbelievably expansive and yet in one day it looks crowded. What a small world!

07/17/2011 | fchipser
Blaine, by way of Alaska,eh?
The Pacific High.
07/15/2011, 31 56'N:159 31'W,

We are on a line running northeast from Hilo Hawaii, now approximately 850 miles offshore.

It is somewhat disconcerting when plotting your position on the chart each day to realize that you're actually moving away from your destination. Jokes abound in the crew with quips about requiring the need to brush up on our Japanese or Aleutian to ensure that landfall can be prepared for.

There are three boats ahead of us on this route and every night on the pacific seafarers maritime net we pay careful attention to their latitude and longitude, wind conditions and what course that they are steering to confirm our interpretation of the weather synoptic charts that we download each day to track the position of the Pacific High.

On one occasion a couple of nights ago, one of the boats ahead of us tried to cut the corner east to Juan de Fuca Strait a little too quickly and found themselves trapped in the center of the high and had to sheepishly report to the moderator that they were steaming further North East to find the wind and continue on their voyage home.

The moderator quipped, "it looks like you got the prize!". All in all, a mistake that presents significant risk for fuel is needed each day to recharge the battery bank and having to waste a day of fuel is a significant energy cost realizing that you only have one tank of gas to get home!

Our present Meridian position is approaching 159°W and some of the boats have had to go as far west as 164°W to ensure that they are not caught in the center of the high.

Thanks to the technology of Single Side Band and satellite phone, it is much easier than it must've been for the older seafarers who may have found themselves becalmed for days if not weeks until the center had repositioned itself and the boats found themselves with water and wind in combination. Sitting under bare poles and wallowing in the Pacific swells cannot be a good thing.

All in all, it makes for tense moments and each day when the synoptic weather charts are downloaded and we carefully plot our position and course to see if nature has awarded us for our best efforts by mercifully moving the isobars to our advantage and fair sailing!

So far so good!

A Full Moon on the Dogwatch!

I can envisage the imagery from such a title may suggest baying at the moon, straitjackets and bedlam; and in many ways I can possibly even possibly understand much of the reality disconnect that can happen to solo sailors with the full moon on the tropical open ocean.

The scene is absolutely surreal. The full moon with the reflection of light off the water is so bright that it is possible to read a book in the cockpit at night without any additional light. The panoramic scene around the boat couldn't have been better produced by Warner Bros.

Tall pillars of Cumulus clouds with composite infinite whites and grays backlit by the deep blue night sky with shimmering low clouds scudding across the moon compose breathtaking canvases of the infinite shades of gray. The bright light of the moon and the various depths of the clouds painting varying shades bring animation and three-dimensional detail to the clouds, which can't but help you imagining shapes like you did as a child laying on the grass watching the clouds overhead. With little else to do on your watch, it is an entertaining pastime.

In the distance you can see sheets of the lightning with the passing squalls, but they are so far away there is no audible reply of thunder almost increasing the sense of isolation

The scene is so breathtaking that the night watch passes without effort and you can't help but have a wide smile on your face as you go down to your bunk at relief of watch.

With the detailed caricature of the face of the man in the moon, I can easily picture how primitive cultures came to worship such a majestic celestial body.

Back at the Helm
07/12/2011, 26 20'N:157 16'W,

After a two-week hiatus back in White Rock catching up at the office, I returned to Hilo where the crew was already aboard, awaiting final preparations and departure.

The next morning involved a quick trip in the bo'sun's chair up to the top of the mast to check all the standing rigging to ensure that there are no obvious cracks or defects as a result of the trip down, lashing the dinghy and the outboard motor on the foredeck as well as securing the anchors and plugging the hauser holes to prevent flooding in the forward anchor lockers, after which we eventually got underway mid-day.

I wish I could say that our our departure was auspicious, but unfortunately it was marred by a major case of "Mal de la mer" affecting the entire crew. No sooner having left the sheltered port of Hilo into the Pacific swells within two hours we were succumbed!

There's an old saying that the sailor who's never been seasick has never met his personal seas Yet I had always prided myself on having an "Iron gut", but I must admit that I was one of the worst affected.

It did not help that we had a failure with the front jib furler necessitating the need to work in the pulpit for an hour and a half in plunging seas with water washing over the bow in an attempt to untangle the furler before dark. With Herculean efforts by Kevin Dean and John Naylor, the job was done but not without a major expenditure of energy.

With each day our sea legs are returning, and at 400 miles north of Hilo at this time we are continuing to enjoy the fine weather and laying around in the cockpit in shorts and bare feet. We are making our way slightly northwest to get to the outside of the high and find ourselves working through lines of squalls, particularly at night where wind gusts can be up to 35 kn with spray and seas washing into the cockpit.

It is critical even though the winds may be light at dark to ensure that marginal sail is aloft, even if it means that we must suffer loss of speed at night, in order to prepare ourselves for the inevitable sudden squalls that come upon us that would otherwise make the boat quite unstable.

Come morning, the sky seems to miraculously clear and fresh breezes of 15-20 kn come out of the Northeast and we continue to make our way northwest at a stately pace of 6.5 - 7 kn.

The crew is now all getting used to life aboard and settling into the tasks each day necessary for running the ship. Everyone is pulling together nicely and with three engineers on board, I'm getting a fair briefing of the electronics and electrical systems aboard and expect if we face any difficulties, we shall not be amiss for technical talent to address the problem.

And other than the brief pothole at the start of our trip, we are off to a good beginning!

07/14/2011 | roz goddyn
hey dad - glad you are off to a good start! can't wait to hear more. love you lots - your favorite, Roz
07/14/2011 | Donna
I am with you in spirit and can visualize Telltales crashing through the waves under sail. What a great crew and what a galant boat!
Visited by Boobies - Really!
06/21/2011, 20 58'N:154 00'W,

Red Footed Boobies that is!

Strangely enough, but perhaps not, when you are several hundreds of miles from land, you do not expect to find yourself crowded by feathered friends.

This morning during my dawn watch, I picked up this soaring bird that appeared to be taking an unusual interest in my boat having made several fly by passes at the pulpit. Finally having measured up the runway, she adeptly glided in and surprisingly with webbed feet managed to land on the stainless steel pulpit and spent the next hour preening herself.

Her agility to balance on one leg carefully preening the feathers on absolutely every inch of her body, sometimes balancing on one leg, and would make any Tai Chi master envious. This was specifically spectacular, because webbed feet can hardly grasp and the boat was rolling up and down, forward and aft, and left to right in 6 foot seas.

Without so much as a thank you for providing a landing strip in the middle of the ocean, she soared off across the waves in her endless search for food.

The other interesting thing is the arrival of the flying fish. Every morning it is possible to walk up to the bow and find a half a dozen or more small flying fish laying on the deck having been stranded through the night.

When I first saw them soaring across the waves, I thought they were clumsy birds with very little skill in landing only to determine that they were actually fish ranging in size from 6 to 10 inches and capable of flying distances of 50 yards or more before crashing into the water like a downed fighter plane. I am uncertain as to why they make these flights, perhaps to escape predators �-- something else to look up when I have better Internet access.

We are now only 100 miles from Hilo and expect to make landfall sometime in the early morning after dawn. We have already been in contact with Customs and Immigration by satellite phone and they are expecting our arrival. Having spent the day in Hilo we will then leave in late afternoon, around the south end of the island under way to Kona which will give us an opportunity to see the lava fields at night flowing into the ocean. We're all looking forward to hopefully a very spectacular show.

We are now 18 days at sea and in many ways it seems but a blink of an eye.

Amazing time warp!

06/22/2011 | Kathy matusiak
I have just now had the chance to catch up on your trip and it sounds really fantastic.Jim and I look forward to the whole story when you come home!
06/27/2011 | cyndi sloan
Nice tuna Heather!! I bet it was quite tasty!
*the last entry was Tues, Jun21 and I thought landfall was soon after but...hope everyone is well. can't wait to hear all
07/01/2011 | cyndi sloan
okay, where are you guys?? it's been a week since the last post...I hope that's because you are having too much fun!
07/12/2011 | Gord
"Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things that you didn't do than the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover..............."(Mark Twain)
07/13/2011 | Rob Roy
Good luck Kevin. Sounds like old times. Will keep an ear out for the position reports.

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S/V Telltales
Who: Steve, Heather, Wayne, John, Kevin, Mark
Port: Semiahmoo Marina
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