Sunday, May 29, 2016

Passage to Hawaii: day 28

2016-05-25 10:00PM UTC, 22°03'S 143°28'W # noon
2016-05-26 10:00PM UTC, 19°59'S 143°50'W # noon
2016-05-27 10:00PM UTC, 17°48'S 144°14'W # noon
2016-05-28 10:00PM UTC, 16°08'S 144°19'W # noon
2016-05-29 10:00PM UTC, 14°49'S 144°06'W # noon

Sea temperature: 85deg

My noon to noon runs for the previous five days, working backwards, have been: 80nm, 101nm, 133nm, 125nm, 104nm. Generally a slow run.

I passed three islands 10nm to my East on the 26th, very early in the morning, the first land I had seen since leaving New Zealand, when I was around 20 26s 143 43w. After doing that, my run continued to the waypoint I had setup to mark the start of my transit through the Tuamotus. The transit was around 60nm, with the first 20 passing between two atolls, then 20nm of open ocean, and then two more atolls to pass by. I started the transit on the 27th at around 8pm, very dark as the moon had yet to rise. Later when the moon was up, I could just make out the atoll to my East. The wind at the start was good, around 18 from the S, so I was moving well. The forecast was for the wind to quickly fall off leaving me with light wind - I was hoping to finish the transit before this happened.

I passed by the first two atolls, sailing well, with my sleep timer set to 15min but staying awake until I was past. During the middle 20nm the wind began to fall, and by the time I was in sight of the eastern of the last two atolls, Katiu, I was doing around 2 knots.

I'm not a sailing purist, and will motor if needed, but I hadn't motored on this passage yet and I was hoping to have that trend continue. I raised the spinnaker at 6am as the wind fell further and started to veer. I was just able to make my way around the atoll, at between 2 and 3 knots and get into open ocean again. A few hours later the wind picked up, I snuffed the spinnaker and have been sailing with my genoa ever since. Although, 'sailing' isn't quite accurate as there have been several spells, lasting several hours each where I was drifting, waiting for a little wind to arrive.

Its now the evening of the 29th. The forecast is starting to resolve into a tradewind pattern. All night and morning I have had squalls, rain, cloud and variable wind. Now the wind around 10-12 from the SSE, I have puffy clouds floating by, and the wind is expected to back around to the East, gradually, over the next 36 hours. I'm heading NNE or NE at something like 4-5 knots, and once the wind backs around a little further I should be able to head directly North - to the equator! Yay!

Today is day 28 of the passage I've covered 3150nm with 2300nm to go. If I average 5 knots I will finish in 19 more days. At 5.5 knots, it will be 17.5 days. 6 knots would mean 16 days. I would be happy with an average around 5.5.

I'm starting to wonder about the state of my hull - due to my finger injury I was unable to dive and clean the hull before leaving New Zealand, so I left from fertile water having been in for 6 weeks, with visible growth before I left. It now feels like I'm not moving as well as I should be in light wind. I'll dive the boat when I get to Hawaii and see if my imagination is playing tricks or not. It will be nice to clean the hull and have Luckness nice and clean again. Oh, and my poor crushed fingers are doing very well, both still in a dressing, which I change every two days, but not for very much longer I think. The fingers look a little abused, and they are both a little longer than they used to be, but I'm pretty hopeful.

All well onboard.

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Tuesday, May 24, 2016

Passage to Hawaii: day 23

2016-05-20 10:00PM UTC, 30°53'S 148°05'W # noon
2016-05-21 10:00PM UTC, 29°12'S 146°23'W # noon
2016-05-22 10:00PM UTC, 27°39'S 145°15'W # noon
2016-05-23 10:00PM UTC, 26°03'S 144°06'W # noon
2016-05-24 10:00PM UTC, 23°45'S 143°40'W # noon

Sea temperature: 74deg

My noon to noon runs for the previous four day, working backward, have been: 140nm, 114nm, 110nm, 134nm. Nothing dramatically fast or slow.

I jibed a few days ago, as the wind backed around from W to SW, S, SE. As soon as I was heading west rather than E or NE I jibed and headed back in the proper direction. I have been downloading small weather forecast files, so I don't have a very good idea of what the overall weather picture looks like, but it appears there is a large high to my south and that I started sailing up its eastern edge and am now sailing along on top of it, headed north. I expect that for the majority of the time remaining in this passage, the wind will continue coming over my starboard side, as it is now.

At this point in the the passage, the goal is to head north to the Tuamotus, those atolls I enjoyed so much when I visited them in 2014, pass straight through without stopping and then from there continue north to the equator, cross it, and then head more or less directly to Hilo, Hawaii. I say "more or less" as there will be some strategy required, depending on what the weather looks like at the time. I'm roughly half way to my destination.

At the moment, the forecast looks good for several days. I'm sailing north in east winds or around 15 knots, so sailing slightly upwind but nothing too awful yet. Once I'm through the Tuamotus I can fall off a little if needed, as I have ended up pretty far east. I'm currently planning on transiting through the atolls north starting around 144°30, and that point is a little over three days away. The weather looks steady for that period, and then it kind of falls apart and there is a mixture of north, west, south and calms for a bit - there may be a front rolling through, although that is far enough ahead in the forecast that it lacks any real accuracy.

Last night, at around 6pm, an hour after the sun had set and hours before the moon was going to rise I was reading in the cockpit when I heard a whale blow very close by. The whale surfaced again to my port side, maybe a few hundred feet away, then behind me, then port side again. For a while he (she?) followed in my wake, a few hundred feet back. Now, I like whales, love seeing them in the wild, but I was getting a little nervous and was happy when it headed off never to be seen again. Majestic, but I prefer to admire from afar. A little later some dolphins arrived, and kept me company for 10 or 20 minutes. Half an hour after they left I was in the cockpit checking my instruments and chart plotter, seeing where I was going and how fast I was headed there, when a flying fish flew into the cockpit nailing me in the back. Fish stink all over my coat. It was certainly a good night for wildlife, as this was my first sighting of whales or dolphins on this passage. In the morning I found 8 flying fish on the side decks, Luckness is a pretty good fishing boat, she has good luck.

This is now my longest passage. My previous longest was Hawaii to Neah Bay in 21 days, 2012. I have at least three weeks left before arriving in Hawaii.

All is well here.

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Friday, May 20, 2016

Passage to Tahiti: day 19

2016-05-17 10:00PM UTC, 33°52'S 151°43'W # noon
2016-05-19 8:00AM UTC, 32°57'S 149°38'W # reduced sail, drifting in no wind
2016-05-19 10:00PM UTC, 32°42'S 149°28'W # noon
2016-05-20 5:00PM UTC, 31°18'S 148°22'W

Yesterday's noon to noon run was: 52nm, for the 18th it was 91nm, the 17th was 110nm.

The wind has been light these last few days, as you can see from my noon to noon runs. Its improved at the moment, and looks pretty good through the 7 day forecast period, some more light wind areas and some ok wind. I am in the area they call the variables - I'm looking forward to the steady trade winds, far north of me.

Yesterday I drifted for 7 hours over night, as the wend fell to the point that my spinnaker wouldn't even fly. I reset my alarm timer to 90min and had my best sleep of the passage that night, which was nice. I still haven't motored. I would rather save what diesel I have in case I really were to need it along the way somewhere.

My SSB radio is having a hard time connecting to the sailmail stations, it may need some attention. Unfortunately I'm not able to get at the part I want to look at - my antenna feed connection to my backstay - as its high and I need flat water to get up there.

I always warn that if this blog stops receiving updates that nobody should worry. Please keep that in mind, as there is more of a possibility of that happening now than in the past. Also, this passage may last longer than you would expect from a passage to Tahiti... I'm in the final stages of my decision of whether or not to carry on to Hawaii, and am leaning toward doing that. I'll post if that's the case, or in the case of the radio stopping working, if there is a 30 day or longer gap in posts, that is what I'm doing!

All is well here.

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Tuesday, May 17, 2016

Passage to Tahiti: day 16

2016-05-14 10:00PM UTC, 35°34'S 157°59'W # noon
2016-05-15 10:00PM UTC, 34°56'S 155°36'W # noon
2016-05-16 10:00PM UTC, 33°47'S 153°56'W # noon
2016-05-17 7:00PM UTC, 33°53'S 152°00'W

Yesterday's noon to noon run was: 107nm, for the 15th it was 123nm, the 14th was 149nm.

One of the things that you try to plan around when heading East from New Zealand is the position of the high pressure systems. In the southern hemisphere, highs circulate counter-clockwise. If you are heading east, you would like wind from the North, West or South, not coming from the direction you are going. In order to achieve this, you need to be below the high pressure systems, as that is where the west wind is. However, there is actually not that much control we have over this as high pressure systems can be large enough that being south of them would not be practical. Also, generally the later in the season you wait the more northerly the highs migrate.

The normal pattern is also that there is a low which follows the high, and the low is followed by another high.

I have had some good luck with this passage and have been riding to the south of a high for the last little while, with wind behind me, generally making good progress. The high has now pretty much moved to my east and the low that follows is approaching. The pressure where I am as fallen from 1021 to 1012 currently. Highs are generally warm with blue skies, lows are generally colder with heavy cloud - I have that now as well.

The weather forecast shows my having north winds where I am, however I am experiencing NE wind, which is moving me well to the east but also a little to the south. As the low moves over me, the winds will back around and come from the N, the NW, W, SW, S, etc. I hope that the winds will start backing tomorrow, which will allow me to make progress north again.

The passage will be a little more work for the next week or more than it has been, but I have been waiting for a break in the beautiful sailing I have had - it lasted much longer than I had any expectation for.

All is well here.

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