Monday, June 27, 2016

Anchored in Hanalei

2016-06-24 11:15PM UTC, 19°47'N 155°02'W # sailing
2016-06-25 5:22AM UTC, 20°21'N 155°09'W
2016-06-25 2:28PM UTC, 21°02'N 155°41'W
2016-06-26 12:37AM UTC, 21°27'N 156°35'W
2016-06-26 8:24AM UTC, 21°49'N 157°24'W
2016-06-26 4:00PM UTC, 22°10'N 158°16'W
2016-06-26 10:00PM UTC, 22°20'N 158°55'W
2016-06-27 2:45AM UTC, 22°25.44'N 159°25.23'W
2016-06-27 5:15AM UTC, 22°12.68'N 159°30.15'W # anchored

I just moved from Radio Bay, Hilo to Hanalei, Kauai. This was my final boat movement while in Hawaii, the next time I leave anchor will be at the start of my passage to Neah Bay.

The passage from Radio Bay to Hanalei was very nice - downwind for all of it once I had sailed far enough north of the big island to have a clear run toward Kauai. The winds were moderate throughout, although stronger toward the middle and end than at the beginning.

I left Radio Bay at noon on Friday and arrived at 7pm on Sunday, making the trip 2 days and 7 hours long. The distance was around 330nm, making an average speed of 6 knots - pretty quick.

I hesitate calling this trip a passage after my previous one, but it meets my criteria. I consider any trip that spans a single night an 'overnight sail'. I call any trip that is two nights or more a passage, which this was. When sailing an overnight trip, you can behave differently than on a multiple night journey. You can almost stay awake for the entire trip if its a single overnight, when there are multiple nights involved you need to get into a sleep pattern - two nights is long enough to fall into the passage category. I know others who call a single overnight trip a passage as well. I don't know if there is an official definition of what is and isn't.

Leaving the name of this last trip behind - Hanalei is as beautiful as I remembered. The anchorage is more rolly than I recall, and that seems to be the way my memory works - good points are accentuated and any bad points are slowly forgotten. There were times during my previous passage where I swore to myself that 'this is the last time!', that once I returned to the Pacific Northwest I would only coastal cruise from there on. Now, having had several good nights of sleep and a little time to mellow out those memories, I'm already starting to wonder when I leave for my next blue water cruise. But that may be getting ahead of myself - I'm looking forward to my next passage which will return me to the Pacific Northwest, and I'm also looking forward to a few years of coastal cruising while I explore that area.

Monday, June 20, 2016

Passage to Hawaii: Finished!

2016-06-19 10:00PM UTC, 18°46'N 153°40'W # noon
2016-06-20 8:00PM UTC, 19°43.9'N 155°03.2'W # anchored. Yay!

I arrived at Radio Bay, Hilo, and anchored at 10am. That makes the passage 49 days and 20 hours - call it 50 days.

At 4am this morning, after the wind had been falling since 10pm, Luckness was moving at 2.5kts and the sails were not happy - there was a swell which was rolling the boat causing the sails to constantly lose the wind and then fill again, bang, bang, bang. I started motoring at 4am and continued to anchor. The wind became complete calm and then a west 5 knot breeze filled in, from land.

After anchoring, I shut down the boat, cleaned up a little and took my dinghy to the beach and walked around to the Customs office. It was locked, although its posted hours were 6am to 2pm. After some investigation it turns out that in June Customs is closed Sat/Sun/Mon and has reduced hours the other days. I'll check in tomorrow morning.

I've spent the day cleaning up Luckness' interior - after 50 days with all the hatches and portlights closed, and so with almost no air circulation in the cabin, mildew starts to grow on all the surfaces. I've taken care of that problem now and she is looking good inside again. I'll start on the outside over the next few weeks.

I'll likely stay in Hilo for a few days, then I will start my sail to Hanalei, Kauai. I may stop in Kan'ohae on the north side of Oahu, I'll make that call as I'm traveling. Its three days to Hanalei, Kan'ohae is on the way, and is two days away.

This passage went very, very well. The weather window I chose leaving New Zealand worked out extremely well. The initial passage, from NZ to the turn north was plagued with light wind and it was a bit of a struggle to keep moving at times - but at that time of year and in that part of the ocean, it could well have been quite a miserable sail - strong winds, gales, winds well ahead of my beam, etc. If I was to sail this same passage every year for the rest of my life, it would be different each time.

I'm looking forward to relaxing for a while. I hope to organize internet for myself tomorrow (Tuesday), or perhaps the next day.

Yay! I'm in Hawaii! One more long passage to go, and then I can look forward to some coastal cruising for a while.

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Saturday, June 18, 2016

Passage to Hawaii: day 48

2016-06-14 10:00PM UTC, 10°15'N 146°58'W # noon
2016-06-15 10:00PM UTC, 12°07'N 148°10'W # noon
2016-06-16 10:00PM UTC, 13°53'N 149°30'W # noon
2016-06-17 10:00PM UTC, 15°31'N 150°56'W # noon
2016-06-18 10:00PM UTC, 17°07'N 152°08'W # noon

Sea temperature: 80deg

My noon to noon runs for the previous five days, working backwards, have been: 119nm, 129nm, 131nm, 133nm, 161nm. I believe the 161nm run is my fastest day ever. It was run with fully reefed main and a staysail, in what may have been a squash zone, on the northern edge of the ITCZ.

I'm now in an area of wind which has been very consistent, backing and veering by around 10 degrees and falling in strength slowly. The clouds have been quite varied, with what I think of as typical trade wind fluffies floating by, as well as area rain, well defined ridges, scattered rain, squalls, high wispies, sun dogs. But the wind is getting me there.

Today is Saturday, I'm writing this at 2pm. Tomorrow is Sunday, and then on Monday and I'll be there. Yay! I've been trying to hold an average of just over 5kts these last few days and have been very close. Today the average started to fall, so I rolled out a scrap of Genoa for the first time since the ITCZ craziness - now my speed is back in the range I want. I'm hoping to arrive Monday morning. If I arrive before 2:30pm it will have been a 49 day (+ some hours) passage, after 2:30pm and its a 50 day passage.

Nothing much else to report. The sailing has been good, if bumpy. There have been frequent splashes into the cockpit, I had one absolutely drench me yesterday. Oh well, at least the water is warm.

I haven't seen another boat visually, or on AIS, since June 3rd, over two weeks ago, and that was a fishing boat. As Hilo is a common port of entry for Hawaii and all routes to Hilo converge...at, well, Hilo, I expect that I may start seeing other boats as I approach.

All is well aboard.

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Tuesday, June 14, 2016

Passage to Hawaii: day 43

2016-06-09 10:00PM UTC, 02°28'N 144°35'W # noon
2016-06-10 10:00PM UTC, 03°58'N 143°51'W # noon
2016-06-11 10:00PM UTC, 05°31'N 144°29'W # noon
2016-06-12 10:00PM UTC, 06°48'N 144°41'W # noon
2016-06-13 10:00PM UTC, 07°58'N 145°33'W # noon

Sea temperature: 82deg

My noon to noon runs for the previous five days, working backwards, have been: 87nm, 78nm, 100nm, 100nm, 122nm,

I had some nice sailing in SE/SSE wind for three days, heading generally N. It was beautiful sailing - I hardly touched the sail trim or monitor the whole time. It was squall free and I ran with my full genoa the entire time - wonderful. At the end of that run, I was at the edge of the ITCZ and it was decision time.

At the time, I was heading NE in SSE wind, at around 5pm, looking ahead at a solid wall of black cloud. Looking at the gribs, if I continued in this direction I would end up in a large area of calms the next morning - following whatever that night would have held. Instead I jibed I started heading WNW, as the forecast showed a very narrow of calms over that way, and north. I ran like that all night, got a new weather forecast at 5am and discovered there were now calms forecast ahead of me as well. At that point the wind had veered around to E, so I jibed and headed north until the wind ran out. It looked like about 60nm of calms, with the wind not descending from the N to where I was for 36 hours. This is when I started motoring, the first time this passage, 10am on the 11th.

I motored for 10 hours and found 6-7 knots of NNE and started sailing slowly at around NW to NNW. I had my first big squall at 5am the next morning. It caught me by surprise as I was in a sleep cycle. I sorted that out, and kept watch while the squall passed. Afterwards there was much lighter NW wind which really never went away. I downloaded a new weather forecast and discovered the light air I was in was forecast to last until 8pm. If I motored 30nm north it looked like there would be 9kts of NE wind. I tried to sail until noon, tacking back and forth, making very litle progress, got fed up and started motoring. By 1:30pm I found more than enough wind to sail again, NNE 12, and started sailing close hauled at around 300 degrees, WNW.

This is when the chaos started. It was massive squall after squall with much more wind than forecast between them. I was sailing with fully reefed main, staysail and double reefed genoa and needing to reef the genoa further for each squall. By 6pm I saw that the squalls were not stopping and that I needed a sail plan I could sail with all night, so rolled away the genoa and sailed with fully reefed main and staysail, at 2.5 - 3 kts. Shortly after doing this the first of the final 5 squalls hit, one after another with maybe 15min between them, and by the time the second squall had hit twilight had faded to night and I could no longer see them coming. It was a little crazy - but with the new sail plan I could now just ride the squalls out - Luckness would speed up and roll more in the squalls, but the sails, rig and boat were fine. I was sailing close to the wind as I didn't want to lose the easting I had worked so hard to achieve. The fourth squall was the worst, with apparent winds in the mid 30's, the others had apparent winds of 25-28. Overnight the wind increased into the 20-23 knot range and backed to the E, so I'm now running downwind with the same sail plan, doing 5.5-6 towards my destination. Yay!

At 2pm I was hit with another squall, 2:45pm another large one and there are more on the horizon as I write this.

The forecast I have to work with now is from yesterday - the radio has been having a hard time connecting with all the rain/cloud around. I'll update the forecast tonight. It currently shows that this wind will continue for the next few days, at which point I sail off the edge of the forecast area. I do hope that is true, I'm a little fed up with the whole ITCZ thing.

I've crossed through the ITCZ only twice. Now I realize how lucky I was the first time. A friend was sailing his Pacific Seacraft 37, s/v Pamela, across the ITCZ a few weeks ago and simply sailed across, no fuss - although sailors are known, at times, to minimize these things. Looking at my forecasts, if I had been, I think, 5 days earlier I may have done the same thing. I just happened to hit it at a bad time, and timing these things is something you sacrifice when you do this passage as one long trip rather than having a stop in the middle. With a stop you can plan a little for your departure weather again, I had to just accept what I got.

I think I'm almost through the ITCZ now, and will soon be in the trade winds. Even with the current squalls I'm making good progress with the wind I have. With luck, I'll have a more or less straight run into Hilo.

All is well aboard.

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