Passage Bora Bora to Hawaii
10 July 2017 | Reeds Bay, Hilo, Hawaii
"The sea has a way of teaching you to see - not just by making the eye dance across the surface of things, jiggling, sweeping, swooping, taking measure in ways the landlocked eye can't even conceive. Its trickier than that: teasing you to look at whats bobbing at the edge of your vision, at what lies beyond: deep inside, locked in memory or destiny"
M. Lavin, 1959
Midway in our passage the winds subsided and the seastate calmed and that allowed us a few moments to sit out on the open forward deck in the cooling breeze and admire the big blue around us. The deep blue, clear, waters, the bows slicing through with a bow wake...mesmerizing like watching camp fires as kids. And the sky blue with its puffy hovering clouds. All alone we are - only Emerald and us. Hey, looks who's joined us... a pod of spotted dolphins decided to make a joyful presence! It's these moments that your soul needs to take it all in, think and accept. Open your mind, free your soul!
The Plan: It's a 2240nm passage. We'll maintain a course 010 - 015T degrees from Bora Bora which would take us well east of Christmas Island and into the ITCZ (near the Equator). This is not a rhumb line to Hawaii but if we don't do this then we'd later be banging into the winds when we do cross the ITCZ and the NE trades kick in towards Hawaii. We'll make efforts to squeeze as much Easterly as we can.
Our sail passage can be broken down into three parts. Part 1 from Bora Bora to the convergence zone with SE trades of 15-20kts winds, Part 2 in the convergence zone with little wind and a whole lot of overcast with squalls and rain and Part 3, from the convergence zone to Hawaii with the NE trades of 15-25kts winds. Its was all pretty uncomfortable and boisterous sailing as the winds and wave were generally forward of our beam i.e. reaching; so there was a lot pounding, slapping (that cats are infamous for) and spray. We still made some good speeds and daily progress runs, all with a 2nd reef in and often a reef in the genoa (Im always under canvassed!). Our flybridge tent kept us well sheltered from the winds and spray. We slept, when possible, at the flybridge or on the salon benches. Yet, this passage ranks as one of our most uncomfortable passages that we've undertaken and thats primarily as most of our previous sailing has been downwind - far more comfy! In hindsight, to reduce so much reach sailing, as we didn't get sufficient easting, we should have made our way back to Tahiti to get a better wind angle to Hawaii. One has to be a bit of a masochist to enjoy ocean passage like this for days on end.
We didn't fish as we have a freezer full of fish and we want to lessen this load before the US Agriculture department decides to confiscate it. Rose prepared 6 days of healthy meals before leaving so there wasn't any cooking to be done in the beginning. But...poor girl...she remained pretty much horizontal for first days out with stage 1 sea sickness (more about that below). As a requital, Rose will fly to Canada from Hawaii and later meet me in Victoria and I will take crew on from Hawaii.
Emerald crossed the Equator for the 4th time on 30 June at 17:40hrs and we celebrated with .... a beer!
One highlight: We are midway to Hawaii and after 7 days of bouncing around and walking like a drunken sailor the seas became calm and subdued. And then amazingly...our moods took a swing for the better - a few moments of euphoria, jubilation ... finally! And then there's no better way to enjoy those moments than strip down, have a cooling deck shower and run around the deck with nothing on but a smile! And dolphins! Then ... no sooner came the ITCZ....
It took about 3 days to get through the inter-tropical convergence zone (ITCZ) which went from about 03N to 7N. We could see it clearly on our forecasts in the 'rain' mode. It was quite squally but their intensity rarely exceeded 25kts and we made efforts to dodge them ... with marginal success. Mostly 80% or more overcast with plenty of rain but no lightening (thankfully). As expected the winds were all over the place: high when a squall initially hit us and then next no wind as it passed. As a result we motored or motor-sailed a good way through.
We used PredictWind/GO for weather forecasts and routing checks and SailDocs/GO for big picture weather reviews and warnings over the North Pacific region.
Always a highlight in our day - we stay in touch twice daily with cruising friends in French Polynesia via the PolyMagNet on 8173kHz - a volunteer HF net run by cruisers for cruisers. And we also got to chat with SV Silverland - an amazing young family we met from Holland in their 40's Dutch ex-fishing motor-sailor. Champ kite surfers! We shared some great anchorages and diving in the Gambiers with them including with friends Sasha and Roger of SV Endbal.
Seasickness is a malady and one Rose suffers from occasionally - and this trip has been one of these occasions. And while I seem to have a stomach of iron and seldom feel the symptoms, this trip even tested me. Often it is something that goes away in a couple of days at sea. Drugs, such as Sturgeon, can be taken to relieve the symptoms, even after you come down with it. Rose also takes ginger and she has in the past tried a variety of other so-called remedies i.e. accu-pressure bands, etc but these haven't worked. The symptoms typically begin with frequent yawning, followed by a slight headache, dry mouth, pallor, cold sweats, nausea and sickness. This was the first time Rose had drunk seawater, ½ cup twice a day, and she say it did help her!
To make life interesting during the ITCZ squalls the port side genoa sheet Clutch decided to loosen up from its foundation. Clutches are those neat little devices that grab and secure the lines and maintain the tension on them. Should this break off then there would be no sailing the genoa so a fix needed to be executed immediately. Trying to retighten the two bolts from the clutch side was just not going to do it as the nut just spun. So I had to completely remove sections of the salon ceiling, cut an access hole to allow me to get my hand and spanner on the nut while Rose tightened the screw. Typically of a boat repair....1hr of preparation to do a 30 second job! That was all done while bobbing up and down in 2m swells! Reef line chafe is another issue with the 450s' boom and if not paid attention to, a reef line will chafe thru and break in no time. I have learnt a few tricks over the years and employ these. But on this trip the 2nd reef line began chafing thru and I end-cut 25cm off to shift this area. Also then one of the aft boom sheave rollers broke. I've made it a routine every morning to run around the boat and its rig inspecting for anomalies. Murphy resides on yachts you know!
Two days before arriving the sailing condition were just a delight; big blue sky, hardly any swell, 15kts NE wind on a beam reach, 8-9kts SOG and 'Franky Perez' blasting on the hifi. We pulled into Hilo Bay of Big Hawaii at 04:00hrs on 9th July and anchored in Reeds Bay. All the conditions were good and safe for a night entry i.e. little swell, near full moon, well lit marker buoys, confirmed accurate charts.
Departure: Bora Bora; 09:00hrs 24 June 0900
Arrival: Hilo; 04:00hrs 9 July
Total Days: 15 days 19hrs
Total Miles: 2235nm
Average Daily Run: 143nm
Best 24hr Run: 188nm
Photo: Hitchhiking Brown Boobie