S/V Adventure

Follow the O'Neil family, sailing in their Catalina 42, on their 2-year sabbatical to see the Pacific coast of the US, Mexico, and Central America, Galapagos, the South Pacific, and New Zealand.

08 June 2012 | Home
05 June 2012 | 100 miles to the Farallons!
02 June 2012 | 475 miles off the coast
31 May 2012 | 579 miles to go
30 May 2012 | 694 miles to go
30 May 2012 | 800 miles to go
29 May 2012 | 915 miles off California
28 May 2012 | Past halfway between Hawaii and SF
27 May 2012 | Past halfway between Hawaii and SF
26 May 2012 | Halfway between Hawaii and SF
24 May 2012 | Middle of the Pacific Ocean
23 May 2012 | Middle of the Pacific Ocean
22 May 2012 | Middle of the Pacific Ocean
21 May 2012 | Middle of the Pacific Ocean
20 May 2012 | Pacific Gyre
16 May 2012 | Pacific Gyre
16 May 2012 | Pacific
18 September 2011 | Home
07 September 2011 | Crossing the southern tip of the big island
05 September 2011 | Pacific

Day two: 9:30 pm

23 November 2007
I was sleeping fitfully. I had just gone down 20 minutes earlier and I was trying to find a good dream. Something with land in it. We were out in the middle of the ocean, 140 miles northwest of Isla Isabella. Mazatlan was 100 miles east of us. We were under engine and traveling against current at 4.3 knots. The wind was blowing at a brisk 1.8 knots. Kathy burst into the bedroom and caused me to jump. "I see a boat. Will you please come up and look at it. I can't tell where it is going."

"How far is it away?" "About 9 miles."

I grumbled, got to my feet, and moved outside to the cockpit. The mysterious vessel was 1 mile off our port side and 7.2 miles south of us. I checked below to see if it was on our AIS (Automatic Identification System). Vessels of 45 feet are supposed to have a transponder that sends a signal over VHF. We have a receiver that will tell the vessel's speed and heading. Nothing registered on AIS. At 4 miles we could make out the lights of the mysterious vessel: red, green, and a white light. It seemed to be getting closer to us.

"Do you think we should alter course?" Kathy asked concerned. She was hovering over the radar. "No, we'll be okay," I said reluctantly. It's nice to be Captain - you get to make all the big decisions. Kathy ignored me, "I'm diverting our course." "Yeah, you should divert our course." If she wasn't going to listen to me, I might as well make it sound like it was my idea.

At 2 miles we could see that it was a fishing vessel of rather large size - maybe 40 feet. At 1.5 miles we could see that the boat had a rather large wake and that it was heading our way. Kathy was concerned, "What do you think we should do?"

Tara complained, "Why are you guys looking at the radar so much? It's just a boat, Come on! Mom! Come talk to me." Tara likes to talk on her watch; this event was needlessly boring her.

At .75 miles we could clearly see that the boat was heading right for us. It was fully to our port side and coming fast. My heart started beating hard. Having no experience in real life, I started having a silent conversation with myself to explore options.

"Raise shields!" "We don't have shields. This isn't the 23rd century. An no, we don't have phasers either."

"What did Han do when the Hyperdrive was broken? Oh! Out maneuver them." "We can't out maneuver them. They're faster than us. We don't have an asteroid field to get lost in."

"What would Captain Jack Aubrey from Master and Commander do? Hmm. Yes! Fog bank. Look for the fog bank." "There is no fog bank and it's a full moon."

"Disguise the ship!" "No, that won't work; there's no time."

"Prepare the Cannons-" "We don't have any cannons."

"Launch the dinghy with a stern light that matches our stern light. At the right point we'll turn off our nav lights and they'll follow the dinghy." "There's a full moon. They'll see the dinghy and the boat."

"What would Captain Jack Sparrow do?" "As far as I know we don't have a curse that will prevent us from dying."

"Abandon ship!" "The dinghy won't plane with 4 people."

"Hail them! Maybe we can bluff our way through this." I quickly switched the VHF to channel 16. We had been on channel 22 for the last 150 miles because that's the hailing channel in La Paz. We forgot to change it back to 16. I desperately tried to think of a Spanish phrase for, "Back away. We are heavily armed. If you don't back away, we will be forced to destroy you." I quickly realized my Spanish wasn't that good. The only Spanish phrase that can to mind was, "Estoy solo Mirando." I'm only looking. Darn universal translator!

Kathy interrupted my train of thought, "They're getting closer. What are we going to do?" I was starting to panic. They were only .5 miles from us now. We were in miles of ocean. We were out of VHF range of anything. I struggled to see through the binoculars. I tried to see it there were any guys with knives in their mouths. We were on our own.

I felt a little like Dr. Smith from Lost in Space. I turned to Kathy, "This is all your fault. This whole trip was your idea. You think of something." Kathy ignored me.

Faced with little options I went with my gut. I started to pray quietly to myself. It was a simple prayer - a prayer that the boat would go away. I had no doubt that Kathy was saying the same prayer.

At .25 miles the vessel changed course. It quickly moved north and was mostly out of sight in 15 minutes. Kathy and I breathed a sigh of relief. Tara, still annoyed that I was interrupting her alone time with Kathy beckoned me to leave. I quickly laid down and went back to sleep.

Other quick highlights!

During the afternoon we saw the very rare and large brown whale. I'm not sure what its scientific name is, but I can assure you that it is large. Casey screamed with delight, "Wow! This is way better than math!"

The Love Boat (Carnival Cruise) passed us sometime around midnight.

We had a pod of dolphins were riding our bow this morning. We were sailing at 2.3 knots so they had to keep slowing down. We took lots of pictures.

Information: We pulled out our gennaker and are sailing the rest of the way (if we can). Our fuel is getting low. We're down to about 50 gallons and I don't think we can afford to waste much more. Kathy yelled at me for not having enough fuel. I honestly didn't expect 3 days with less than 5 knots of wind. I know, I know: that was the forecast. But when is that ever right? We're current making 3 knots in 5 knots of wind.

Spirits are good and we hope to be at Isabella sometime morning tomorrow
Vessel Name: Adventure
Vessel Make/Model: Catalina 42
Hailing Port: Marina Bay, Richmond CA
Crew: The O'Neil Family
About: Sean (Captain and Line Man) Kathy (Helmswoman and Cook) Tara - 12 years old at trip start, Casey - 11 years old at trip start (Crew and Students)
Extra: We're on a three-year sabbatical from the daily grind to see the Pacific coast of the US, Mexico, Central America and the South Pacific and stopping at New Zealand.

S/V Adventure

Who: The O'Neil Family
Port: Marina Bay, Richmond CA