06/28/2011, 29N; 157W
That is probably what the good Lord was saying when Time Warp emerged from the Ala Wai yacht harbor at Waikiki to be greeted to a 25k northeasterly. That 25k quickly grew to 35k as we cleared the lee of the island and Jim and I were immersed in what would become a wet ride to hell and back. Everything -- and I mean everything -- was wet with a salt layer. The bedding gets a bit of salt in it and feels like it is wet, even if it isn't. The salon turned into a garage sale as everything not secured down was thrown to the floor as we tacked back and forth to clear the island the first day. It wasn't for the feint of heart.
Once we cleared the island, we settled onto starboard tack for the long beat northwards. The general route these days is to head due north till you get out of the trades and into a dead zone. Then you motor through the dead zone (northwards) till you can hook into some easterlies and ride those easterlies northeastward to the great Pacific Northwest.
But those first 3 days were not fun. We were given brief reprieves in the morning to dry out, only to get drenched in the afternoon and evening with more squalls. Our appetite was gone and we took to instant food. Us, with a 3-year supply of food and we are eating instant! But the only thing you could do down below the first few days was get horizontal for some sleep. Up on deck I would try to lay out on a cockpit seat for more rest. Reading was not even in the equation. It was question of endurance.
But finally it seems we have made it out of that maelstrom. Today we have sunny skies and a nice 10k. It would appear that we are at the northern edge of the trades, preparing to entering the dead zone we must motor through. Our appetite has returned, and we even read a book some today!! Imagine that! Now it will be up to my 'router-at-large', Will, to steer us through the next 1,900 nm the quickest and most efficient way.
The fun is actually starting to return!!
06/25/2011, Poor Boyz Yacht Club, Ala Wai Yacht Harbor, Honolulu
It has been a busy 3 days here in Paradise. We are looking up at a bevy of high-rise hotels each of which must be renting out rooms at $300/night. And we are here on our boat, in prime real estate, loving paradise.
Hawaii is pretty easy living. That is because everyone has such a laid back attitude. No one is into hassling anyone. It is all cool, mon!!
Yesterday we spend on repairs. We had Art Nelson Sailmakers pick up the main for some rush repairs (with the associated "rush" repair costs! Ouch!). Meanwhile I climbed the rig one more time to get the spinnaker block reinstalled and also I redid the jack lines so now when we shake out a reef we can drop the jack lines rather than watch the battens of the main get caught up in them. Not sure if you catch what I am talking about, but it will be a BIG improvement when we want to shake a reef out.
Today we played tourist and went to Pearl Harbor. It was pretty sobering and a pretty somber visit. It made me proud to be an American, though. And quite frankly, I know I need more of that and I think more Americans need to feel prouder about their/our great country. We toured the 'Mighty Mo', the battleship, Missouri. Wow! For 1940s construction, that baby was awesome and deadly.
We then toured the Arizone memorial. The Arizona was a battleship that blew up and sank on the spot with over 1,100 crewman aboard -- most of whom were dead or doomed before they even knew what was going on. It was quite a moving experience. I prayed -- not only for those men and their families, but for all the current servicemen AND the leaders of our country. I just hope we make good decisions going forward so we can avoid another calamity such as WWII.
But the day wasn't over! Arriving back at the boat at 1830 gave me just enough time to dive into the crystal clear waters of the Ala Wai Harbor (cough....cough!) to careen the hulls. We are tied up next to David, a singlehander on a 23-foot Contessa. David notice the terrarium growing under my hull and brought it to my attention. In the Caribbean it was barnacles. Here in the Pacific it seems the growth of choice is coral! I had all kinds of it growing on the bottom. So hopefully we can gain another quarter knot or more on this next passage. That is something about the Pacific Northwest -- the water is too cold for anything to want to grow on the hull! Brrrrr!!
We leave tomorrow a.m. The standard route is to sail north on a close, close reach (i.e. a beat) for 3-7 days, then turn right and head east. We'll see what the good Lord serves up this time. The passage should take 18-23 days under 'normal' conditions. Gotta get to Oak Harbor by July 16 in time for Whidbey Island Race Week. We'll see.
06/22/2011, Ala Wai Yacht Harbor, Honolulu, Hawaii
We spent yesterday afternoon picking up some aloha gear -- board shorts and t-shirts before descending on Captain Jacks for a couple of rum drinks and a lite fare to get us in the proper frame of mind for the 77 nm passage to Honolulu.
We departed Lahaina Marina around 1830 -- just a half hour before sunset.
And good we did! That was my/our first time seeing the Lahaina side of Maui during the day and it gave our resident photographer (Jim) opportunity to click some neat shots of the island from the water.
From there it was on to the famed Molokai Channel. For those of us 'in the know' on the west coast sailing scene, the Molokai Channel is like the Holy Grail. That is because the most famed race of them all -- the TransPac -- finishes just past the channel and there are sooooo many cool sailing photos of maxi sleds like Merlin, Pyewachet, and others flying down the channel under chute on their way to a "Barn Door" victory for first place elapsed time.
So it was with a bit of emotion that I entered the channel last night. The wind gusted up a bit to around 20k + while we were beam reaching across the channel/ Jim was a bit nervous because of the 'tippy' thing and I have to admit there were a few times I was looking to depower the rig. But overall it was an incredible sail as we caught up and passed another sailboat. A tug boat had to shine his bright spot light on the load he was towing before we did a hurried gybe to avoid him and then have to heat up a bit to duck the stern of the other sailboat! I mean, geez. They/we got the whole dang ocean and it all ends up in one spot!!
The rest of the night was uneventful and Jim and I both arrived at Ala Wai fully refreshed after 3 hours of sleep each! (Not!) The entrance to Ala Wai was tricky as only 20' off the channel the surfers were stacked up like cord wood hooking into a left break. I gunned the motor to make sure we didn't get broadsided by a breaking wave and we were fortunate enough to make it past the break and into the bar.
Today we traveled to the only West Marine store in the islands to pick up some much-needed repair parts. We are staying at the fuel dock tied up next to Davied on a 23' Contessa. David sailed his 23' boat from Pt. Townsend to HI!! It has no motor and no icebox. What a trip!!!
But the fuel dock is fully equipped with what we need (fuel, laundry, etc.) and we hope to be able to head back to Seattle on Sat. But first on our priority list is rest and we won't leave here till we are ready. And given the paradise-like conditions, well, that could be awhile!! :-)
06/21/2011, Lahaina, Maui
It was real, and it was fun...but it wasn't really fun!! At 0330 today Jim and I motored into Lahaina harbor after 3,400 nm of sailing, motoring, motorsailing, heaving to, and just about everything else that the good Lord threw at us!
In terms of passages, this one was 'average'. It was much worse than I expected, but still had some incredible moments. I think being without any sunny days for 90% of the 24.5 days it took us to cross was the hardest part. Every day we had sun it seemed our spirits were up. The rest of the days it was "just another day". And indeed those 24 days started to run together after awhile!
In terms of incredible moments, we had one spectacular ride dead down a soft, rolling sea with the moon and moonglow dead ahead of us under a near full moon. We had several sunrises and sunsets that were so electric orange that you were just struck with awe at the majesty and grace of the moment. We had some days with some incredible breezes that were easy and fun -- usually associated with sunshine.
But the trip will also be remembered for the difficulties we were forced to endure, overcome, and subdue. Three different times we had sail repair issues. Once we chose to heave to just to wait out the voilence of the ocean and give our bodies a rest. The last half of the trip we were forced to constantly be on the lookout for squalls sneaking up on us and hurtling the boat down awesome seas under too much sail. And always it seemed we had to contend with the constant rolling of the boat.
This latter item -- the rolling -- wasn't as pronounced as it could have been if we had chosen to sail directly downwind (and, presumably, directly down the face of the waves). But the ocean is not for the timid -- particularly when you have 3,000 nm of fetch, or room for waves to form and build. In this case, the waves we encounted in the trades were not just in one direction as I had expected. Instead they often came from two or more directions. And when two waves would meet at the boat the result was an often violent rounding up of the boat as the waves colluded to throw the little ship about.
But it isn't always what you get from it, but what you become through it. And I think Jim and I both have a distinct respect not only for the sea, but also for our own abilities to overcome adversity. We have learned to work together as a team. We have learned to trust each other. We have to out there!
But our arrival was not without its own incidences. At dusk last night we were running before the breeze on the southeast side of Maui taking in breathtaking scenes of 100' waterfalls down galacial canyons, monolithic lava flows thousands of years old representing megatons of energy, and micro climates being formed by the huge, leftover caldera.
We were enjoying it....perhaps too much. Because no sooner were the dinner dishes put away than the wind piped up. I forfeited the nap I had planned as a prelude to the evening's watches to come up onto deck and hand steer the boat. The wind was up to about 25k by this point and both Jim and Otto were unprepared to hold the boat on course.
But the wind kept building, eventually reaching somewhere around 35k. We put a 3rd reef in the main, but that still wasn't enough. So we furled the jib beyond the 2nd reef so it was just a small hankie out there. To gybe, we had to furl the jib, start the engine, and ever-so-gingerly swing the boom over without breaking it or anything else.
Fortunately we did not have too many gybes to do and we were still relatively fresh. So we performed the boat maneuvers without incident. But hand steering in those conditions takes both a physical and emotional toll. And by the time the wind subsided around 2130, I was spent.
We got in side the lee of the island and were able to motor and motorsail the rest of the way to the marina. We entered the harbor at dark, which isn't something I normally like to do. But after 3,400 nm and 24 days, I was willing to take that chance!
Hats off to Jim for a job well done!!!
06/11/2011, 20.5N; 151W
That was a rough night last night. I was going to do a blog on 'Squall Management 101', talking about the nuances of managing the squalls that are so prevalent in this part of the ocean. But after last night....
It all started when I got up for my 2130-0030 watch. I took over from Jim and the wind started to pipe up. We were on a double-reefed main a double-reefed jib. Sparing you the details, by the time Jim came on his watch at 0030, we were on the double-reefed main and NO jib. I gradually furled and furled it till it was completely furled! The wind just kept building. With Jim's inexperience at the wheel, and with the wind up big time, I knew I couldn't let go of the helm. It was going to be a double-shift kind of night.
Jim stayed up with me and watched and learned and kept me awake while I tweaked Otto. The wind was so streaky taht it required constant attention. Finally around 0200 -- after 4 1/2 hours at the helm -- I packed it in. We put a triple reef in the main and ran under just taht alone during Jim's watch. I figure the wind was around 30k with gust to maybe 35k. With our wind instrument out, we really don't know for sure. That's my story and I'm sticking to it!! :-)
Jim came and got me at 0400 to relieve him. I was dead tired from the previous watch with our boat going like gangbusters down the waves and me trying to keep it all together and upright. Finally, around 0430 I ran up the white flag and turned the boat into the wind and hove to.
It was my first time heaiving to, so I was interested in how that was all going to go down. When you heave to (on this boat), you put up a triple-reefed main and tie the wheel off to bring the boat up into the weather. The boat lay at about a 50 degree angle to the wind, which it was supposed to. So that part was good. But it is also to stop dead in the water and drift aimlessly directly downwind. The slick its drift causes flattens the water out (theoretically) and you ride out the storm in relative comfort.
But for fin keels such as ours, that is easier said than done. The boat was designed to move, and that is what she did. She crept forward ever so slightly, but just enough to not form that slick. So I have some more practicing to do on heaving to. As it was it was pretty rocky down below. But we were so beat that both of us passed out. I didn't waken till 0700 when I got back under way again in 20k of breeze. Jim eventually joined me around 0830.
It was an interesting experience (heaving to). But right now we are still in sleep deprivation and doing what we can to play catch up. We also changed our plans to head for Lahaina, Maui instead of Hilo. It makes no sense to gybe south for Hilo just to turn around again and head north. Instead of arriving in Hilo Sunday morn, we expect to make Lahaina Sun. afternoon.
06/11/2011, 18.5N; 148W
Nothing fancy here -- just a quick one to let you know we are doing well. We passed under 500 nm to go this morn, so the bulls eye is out on Hilo. We are working to keep the boat as low as possible to reduce the amount of time we may have to be on the other gybe. Skies are (finally) sunny and the main thing to watch out for are the squalls at night. Last night was nothing short of incredible under the full moon. There is nothing like being on the open sea under a full moon. The 'waves' aren't really waves but rather huge dunes of moving water! They are huge!! They are 12-15' high and fortunately they are big and rolly.
We had one more main slug come undone. So this afternoon we went to a 3rd reef so I could sew new webbing onto the slug/sail. But there is no more webbing! So hopefully that will be the last of the main slug repair -- at least until we can get to Hilo for more webbing.
We are running a full main during the day and a 2nd reef at night (to accommodate the squalls). That seems to work pretty good. Going to weather to put the reef in or shake it out is always a bit nerve wracking as we watch the apparent wind increase by 20k or more!!!