Turning the corner
01 July 2011 | 37N; 153W
The traditional course from Hawaii to the Pacific Northwest calls for a running of due north out of Hawaii till you get to a period of variable winds. Then motor or motorsail through/around the top of the high till you meet westerly trades and then carry the westerlies into the Straits of Juan de Fuca and into Seattle.
short term it would appear that we have turned the corner in the past 24 hours. As of Sat., July 2, we are sailing directly for Seattle (NE) in a NW breeze, and stronger westerlies are forecast. So Jim and I are feeling like the worst is over and we are almost home. Well, almost home. There is that little matter of 1,500 nm between us and 'home' that still needs to be dealt with!! But for now we are hopeful that it is, as they say, "all downhill from here, baby"!!
The weather is sunny during the day, and that lifts our spirits and gives us a chance to dry things out that need to be dried. Heck, yesterday it was so warm and sunny that Jim and I both got in showers (not together, OK?!!). But during the early evening the sky clouds over and we get pummeled with squalls. These squalls we are learning have less punch to them wind-wise, but still contain their fair share of rain. The next morning we start the whole process all over again. The one thing we are both having to adjust to is the temperature. It is c-c-c-c-cold up here!! At night I am wearing everything I own! Yuck!! I yearn for the 'good 'ole days' when a pair of shorts was all you needed to go sailing (and sometimes not even those!).
We haven't seen much in the way of wildlife. No dolphins or whales. We only just started fishing. There are a few birds around, but not too many. One small, black one hitched a ride with us last night. I think he got slapped silly by a luffing jib and fell to the deck and hung out on the leeward deck for an hour or so getting his bearings before taking off.
The one thing there is plenty of out here is trash. Most of what we see are plastic/rubber/fiberglass fishing balls that were once attached to large fishing nets and now drift free. These balls don't worry me, but wrapping a section of net in our prop is a constant danger and source of concern whenever we are motoring. We turned around yesterday and pulled one particularly spiffy-looking ball out of the water at Jim's request. It was clean on top and underneath was a whole ecosystem!! Mussels abounded. But what really intrigued me was the number of crabs amongst the mussels. Jim scraped them all off the buoy and back into the water to be some other fish's dinner. But to see the number of crabs and the size of the feet on the mussels was pretty cool.
And this afternoon we had a friendly visitor come a-callin'. I went out to the cockpit from the galley to peel some hard boiled eggs for a salad I was making to find fish on!! I hauled that baby in and we had ourselves a nice bluefin (ahi) tuna! You know, the kind they make sushi with and charge $25 or more for at those fancy restaurants? And this baby wasn't one of those measly 3 or 3 kilo mahi-mahi jobs. Oh no. We are talking around 15 kilo (30#) +/-. So Jim and I will be eating tuna for awhile....a long while. Ummm, would you like some tuna with your oatmeal?!!!
Jim and I continue to debate our return date. I insist on the 14th (at 1600, if you must know!). Right now, from 1,400 nm out, it looks to be sometime between the 13th and 15th. But a lot of water has to go under the hull between now and then, so who really knows? We will be restricted by Deception Pass. Since we can only go through there on a slack or flood tide, we will have to make our entrance into the pass sometime between 0930 and around 1200 if we want to have any chance of making it to Oak Harbor in daylight.
But that is all waaay far forward. For now we are settling into the business at hand....which is getting this boat and us safely and quickly into the protected waters of Puget Sound.