Friday, March 30, 2012

Passage to Hawaii: day 18

Date: Mar 29, 2012
Distance remaining: 463 Previous 24 hour run: by GPS: 150

Date: Mar 30, 2012, Time: 10am Hawaii time
19° 49' N 149° 28' W
Wind speed: 18 / wind dir: 050 (NE), Heading: 280, Speed: 6.0
Barometer: 1018, Water Temp: 73
Log: 5003.0
Distance remaining: 316 Previous 24 hour run: by GPS: 149

Its been sweet sailing for the last three days. I can leave the boat on a broad reach all day, starting below my rhumb line and end up above the line after a 24 hour run. Then I switch to wing-on-wing and let the boat run for another 24 hours and end up below the line. All the time I'm making good progress toward my destination. Right now I'm back on a broad reach, running well in moderate seas. There is the occasional wave which reaches up and hits the underside of my starboard solar panel and splashes its way into the cockpit. But aside from these infrequent rude waves its been a pretty dry ride. The boat continues to pitch, roll and yaw in the waves we are in, but not as much as it has earlier in this passage or earlier off the coast of Oregon. Its a pretty comfortable ride, although you rarely relax on board - I'm constantly bracing myself against something. My sea berth has been great for sleeping in - when lying down I can feel the boat rolling/pitching/yawing but the motion is minimized by where the berth is (close to middle of boat) and I can easily fall asleep. Being rather tired probably helps with this.

If everything remains relatively the same weather wise, I should be in Hilo on Sunday. Yipee! I don't want to arrive at night, and so will make a decision tomorrow on whether or not I continue at this pace, or slow down to ensure a daylight arrival. If I slow down, I'll arrive on Monday. I'm not exactly racing along as it is - the main is reefed as is the genoa. Its a conservative plan which handles the occasional gust up to the mid 20's easily and is comfortable. I would make a lousy racer if this passage is typical of how I'll do all long passages, as I'm not pressing the boat or myself very hard.

I continue to see a lot of flying fish around, although they are getting better about staying out of the boat. I am also seeing schools of infant flying fish - roughly 1 inch long with little wings. As the boat moves through the water I'll come across a school of these and they will all take to the air and fly away. It looks like the surface of the water erupts with tiny insects that are flying away - its hard to believe they are really fish. Which leads to the question: if a group of flying fish is referred to as a school in the water, do they become a flock when they take flight?


March 29.  24 hour surface
March 29.  48 hour surface
March 29.  72 hour surface
March 30.  24 hour surface
March 30.  48 hour surface
March 30.  72 hour surface

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Passage to Hawaii: day 16

Date: Mar 27, 2012
Distance remaining: 745 Previous 24 hour run: by GPS: 121

Date: Mar 28, 2012, Time: 10am Hawaii time
20° 12' N 144° 13' W
Wind speed: 13 / wind dir: 055 (NE), Heading: 280, Speed: 5.5
Barometer: 1018, Water Temp: 73
Log: 4751.7
Distance remaining: 613 Previous 24 hour run: by GPS: 134

If I recall, in my last report I reported that the winds were lightish but that the boat hadn't fallen below around 4 knots of speed. Shortly after sending that report, the boat speed fell to 2.5 and stayed there for a while. Drat. Even with the swell falling this light wind left Luckness at the mercy of all the waves that rolled through, rocking her side to side for hours. On top of this, the previous night's run had left us north of the rhumb line and in order to get back south we had to sail wing-on-wing - which accentuates the rolling. Another good training day! At around 10pm more wind arrived which sped the boat up but left it rolling.

Yesterday I didn't touch the sails or monitor steering adjustment at all - the boat was heading in a good direction and I just let her run. The wind would back and veer slightly all day, leaving me slightly north of where I wanted to go, then slightly south with the result being that Luckness was almost directly on the rhumb line all day, with little diversions north and south.

Last night's run left us south of the rhumb line as the wind backed to be more northerly over night. This morning I lowered the pole, brought the genoa back to the port side and went onto a broad reach where I am now, making decent speed toward the destination. I think I'm now in trade winds! The winds are now NE and ENE mainly with lightly scattered low level cumulus floating by. Last night the boat continued to roll as I was still wing-on-wing.

I have 'seen' two more AIS targets today so far, neither one of them came within visual range but its a reminder to me that there are other boats out there. Both were cargo ships running at around 13 knots.
As you may recall, my 20min timer has three levels of alert after 20min: 1min of blinking light; 1min of alarm clock loud alarm; and then a fire-alarm intensity horn until the reset button is pressed. Last night I managed to incorporate the alarm clock buzzer into my dream three times, telling myself that 'that noise is nothing to worry about.' Then the fire-alarm buzzer would go off and I would get up and chuckle at the dream. Its as if parts of my brain aren't sure about what is going on out here. Before starting this passage I was wondering what it would be like. Now that I'm 16 days into the passage I'm still trying to figure out my reaction to it. Sailing all this way is a very physical process with lots of moments where you can reflect about where you are and what's going on. My 'upper' brain is totally on board. I know where I am, how far there is to go, how to get there, what it takes, where I am in relation to other bits of land etc. But my 'gut' doesn't seem to realize where I am sometimes. I think its related to the lack of landmarks as we move - there just really isn't anything to see out here to help you track your progress and my 'gut' doesn't seem to understand latitude/longitude. When moving south from Seattle I could at least track the stars shifting as I made progress - the north star is now lower to the horizon that it was when I started for example. However going west there are no landmarks to follow. I think there is a part of me which is in denial! I can look out and see something like 4nm visually in all directions, so there is a patch of 50 square miles of ocean I can look at from my cockpit. But one patch of ocean is much like the next or last. I remember on my trip from Neah bay to Drakes bay just north of San Francisco, I was offshore the whole way and only saw land as I left and arrived. In a way that trip didn't become 'real' to me until I saw land again - the time inbetween is spent in some sort of limbo where you know time is passing, things are happening, progress is being made, but in some way its artificial until you can see a different piece of land again which makes it all concrete.

Anyway. I'm looking forward to shouting "land ho!" and seeing the island of Hawaii come into view sometime in the next week or so.

Everything is going well here. Thanks for reading!

Later eh.


March 27.  24 hour surface
March 27.  48 hour surface
March 27.  72 hour surface
March 28.  24 hour surface
March 28.  48 hour surface
March 28.  72 hour surface

Monday, March 26, 2012

Passage to Hawaii: day 14

Date: Mar 24, 2012
Distance remaining: 1117 Previous 24 hour run: by GPS: 110

Date: Mar 25, 2012
Distance remaining: 987 Previous 24 hour run: by GPS: 130

Date: Mar 26, 2012, Time: 10am Hawaii time
21° 01' N 139° 46' W
Wind speed: 14 / wind dir: 045 (NE), Heading: 260, Speed: 5
Barometer: 1018, Water Temp: 71
Log: 4534.0
Distance remaining: 864 Previous 24 hour run: by GPS: 124

In my last report I was afraid that I would be left becalmed out here for several days as a new high built north of me. However as it turns out the winds have been pretty decent. I've maintained a boat speed above 4 knots all the time and have had periods where I have been surfing down 10-14 foot swell at 8+ knots. Yipee! On average, the winds have been on the lighter side. Also note that I now have less than 1000 miles to go. It seems a bit strange saying "less than 1000nm!" as if the remaining distance is hardly anything. This has been an interesting experience so far, a good one.

Its generally been cloudy here, although the cloud is mostly low level and allows enough solar energy to get through so that my solar panels are able to keep my battery bank charged. The battery bank has been reaching 100% at some point during the day, every day (the panels are currently generating 11amps in a blue sky patch with 9Ah left until a full charge.) The temperature is starting to warm up a little. For the last two weeks, I've been wearing multiple layers as the daytime temperatures have only been in the mid 70's. The water temperature has warmed up by a few degrees now, it has been down to 67 along this passage but is now 71. I expect the warming trend to continue as I approach my destination.

Luckness is continuing to sail well. Yesterday I didn't touch the sails all day, and other than a few small adjustments to the monitor direction the boat sailed itself. I've been noticing little bits of chafe appear on the monitor control lines, and the application of some teflon tape to the line in the region of the chafe has been able to keep it in check. (Its not teflon tape, but some high tech low friction sail tape I've forgotten the name of, its nicknamed "millionaire's tape" due to its cost. Pretty handy stuff.)

I'm feeling good. I continue to eat well and have no aches or pains. My 20min sleep sessions seem to be working. I feel fine during the day, no yawning and I'm able to read with good concentration. I usually nap briefly in the middle of the day, and then after its dark here and I've eaten my hot meal, I'll start sleeping again at around 9pm and keep doing it until 6am or so. While my sleep is continually interrupted I seem to be getting enough overall.

I don't have much to report here. I saw an AIS target today but was never able to see the ship as it was 16nm away at its closest point of approach. I have been seeing albatross along the passage. They are amazing birds and I can watch them soar around for quite a while.
I'll report back in a couple of days.


March 25.  24 hour surface
March 25.  48 hour surface
March 25.  72 hour surface
March 26.  24 hour surface
March 26.  48 hour surface
March 26.  72 hour surface

Friday, March 23, 2012

Passage to Hawaii: day 11

Date: Mar 22, 2012
Distance remaining: 1342 Previous 24 hour run: by GPS: 129

Date: Mar 23, 2012, Time: 10am Hawaii time
21° 34' N 133° 27' W
Wind speed: 8 / wind dir: 010 (N), Heading: 200, Speed: 2.2
Barometer: 1020, Water Temp: 67
Log: 4219.4
Distance remaining: 1219 Previous 24 hour run: by GPS: 123

The boat is slowing down again. I've been watching the weather every day, downloading weather discussions, GRIB data and receiving weather faxes. The wind I have been in for the last three or four days has been gradually weakening first far behind me but approaching me faster than I could move west. Today the weaker weather has arrived (or, the stronger winds have left...) and I'm currently just puttering along in light wind. With 8 knots of wind I would be moving well in flat water, but this water isn't flat and 8 knots isn't enough to move very quickly downwind where I am. I've also reduced sail area as the rocking motion of the boat is hard on the sails as they roll from side to side. Its also noisy and annoying to listen to the sails slat all day. Its going to be a relaxing few days, as it looks like stronger wind won't arrive for at least 48 hours, perhaps longer. However something else will be arriving before the wind. There has been storm after storm far to the north of me, heading east toward the coast of BC/Washington. Some of those storms have weakened into gales and have dipped further south. As a result, I'm going to start receiving larger swell. Its pretty awesome to be sitting in swell produced by storms thousands of miles away, it gives you a good sense of the theory of waves, how powerful storms can be, how large an ocean it is, etc. On the other hand, the swell is forecast to be up to 18 feet high, which will be a little annoying. Its nothing dangerous, it will just be long period large waves. But when there is no wind locally, more waves just add to the sailboat-as-carnival-ride effect. This is my training year however, and I just think of this as a Good Opportunity to receive some more training.

In the last blog post I said something like "there just isn't anything out here!" Shortly after that message went out my AIS receiver's alarm went off as it had started to receive a new target. It was 15 miles away with a calculated closest point of approach of 4nm, behind me. I watched the situation develop and it all unfolded according to what was expected. So there are other boats out here! The receiver saw another target again today for a vessel that passed within 16nm of me, out of visual range.

Aside from weather and other traffic, the big news here is that I'm now over half way to Hawaii! Last night at around 10pm I crossed over longitude 132deg 30min which was half way for this trip. The first half took 10 1/2 days. I'm getting an extremely slow start to the second half here, and it looks like its going to stay that way for a few days. At some point as I approach Hawaii I expect the wind to become more consistent, it'll be interesting (to me!) to see how that expectation turns out.

Things are going well here. I have good reading material, I'm eating well and staying safe. I hope the same is true for all of you!


March 22.  24 hour surface
March 22.  48 hour surface
March 22.  72 hour surface
March 23.  24 hour surface
March 23.  48 hour surface
March 23.  72 hour surface

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Passage to Hawaii: day 9

Date: Mar 20, 2012
Distance remaining: 1611 Previous 24 hour run: by GPS: 140

Date: Mar 21, 2012, Time: 10am Hawaii time
21° 42' N 128° 57' W
Wind speed: 15 / wind dir: 045 (NE), Heading: 250, Speed: 5.7
Barometer: 1018, Water Temp: 67
Log: 3999.8
Distance remaining: 1471 Previous 24 hour run: by GPS: 139

I should add a note on the distances. The distance remaining is in a straight line from where I am right now to Hilo. The GPS distance run over 24 hours is between two waypoints. I create a waypoint each day at 10am and then measure a straight line distance between them.

Also a note on the wind etc information. That information is accurate as of 10am on the day I recorded it. Its not an average for the whole day. So for example, yesterday was a pretty slow day even though the wind I recorded at the end of the 24 hour period was pretty decent. It wasn't that strong all day.
So, with that out of the way...

I've entered a cloudy region and have been experiencing light rain from time to time. This is almost the first rain I've had since leaving the Pacific Northwest. Its nice! The boat is slowly being cleaned up as it picked up a lot of salt during all the upwind sailing I was doing at the start. The rain isn't dense enough to wash the boat very well yet, I'm hoping that will come later on...and then stop. I'm not prepared for steady rain until I get back to Seattle.

Two days ago I was thinking about this and that, and then it hit me that I had been sailing west for 7 days! "I must be sooo far offshore!" I thought to myself. Then I wondered what would be north of me, thinking it would be Alaska wilderness. So I looked it up and discovered that I was still east of where I had left from in Neah Bay. Coming down the coast from Seattle to Mexico you actually head quite far east. Neah Bay is at longitude 124deg 37'. On the 19th at around 6pm I crossed that longitude. Today I am further west than I ever have been in a sailboat! (I won't keep repeating this every time I blog, its implied from now on.)

Luckness caught two flying fish and a squid overnight. I threw them all overboard when I did a walk around this morning. Having seen a flying fish up close now, I realize that they actually do have wings. (Phone the discovery channel!) This makes sense out of something I saw a few days ago - it looked like a bird had come up out of the water, started flapping is wings and took off away from me, skimming a few wave tops before it got going. I thought it was a bird, fishing. But I realize now that it was a flying fish. I always thought that they glide rather than actually flap. That's kinda cool.

As I'm in a region which appears like its going to have steady NE/ENE winds for a while, I've poled out my genoa and am now sailing wing-on-wing pretty much toward Hilo. Its nice to get the wind behind me and do a little downwind sailing for a while. I turned on my computer and SSB radio to receive some weather faxes a few hours ago and received the 24/48 and 72 hour surface forecasts. It looks like the high which is providing the winds I'm currently in is changing shape again and I may go back to north winds in 72 hours. This trip is certainly giving me a lot of variety.

Things are going well here. I'm a little behind on sleep as the last two nights have been bumpy and noisy. Now that wind from a better direction has arrived the boat is quieter and is moving more gently than she was. I should get back the sleep I'm missing by this time tomorrow. I have heard from some other singlehanders that once they get far enough offshore they just sleep for a steady 8 hours at night (there are lots of different patterns, some do what I'm doing.) I'm still doing my 20min timer routine and will keep it up. It would be nice if I saw something from time to time after having dragged myself out of bed every 20min to scan the horizon for hazards. There is just nothing out here! A few days out of Cabo I was having amazing VHF reception, hearing the coastguard in LA and San Diego from time to time (which was _way_ beyond where I should have been able to hear them.) I was seeing AIS targets a few hundred miles away. Now whatever condition caused that has gone away and I'm back to more normal VHF/AIS reception. I saw a target on my AIS 3 days ago. Our closest point of approach was 16nm, so I never saw it. There has been nothing on AIS(*) since then.

That's all for today. I'll try to blog again in a few days. So far I am reporting my position once a day, so if you want to know where I am, use the "where is luckness" link.

(*) oh. For non-sailors. I just realized that I've been using the term 'AIS' as if everybody knows what it means. All large vessels (cargo ships, etc) are required by law to transmit AIS. The information they transmit includes some information to identify their vessel, their exact location, their course, their speed and some other stuff. My AIS receiver knows where I am, what my course is and what my speed is. With this information, its able to calculate what the closest point of approach between our two vessels will be, and when it will be. It has a number of criteria which I can modify that are used to sound an alarm if the other vessel is going to come within some distance of me. Its a really awesome bit of technology. AIS information is transmitted via VHF signals, which are line of sight. Normally I receive information on the other vessel at 30 or 40 miles, sometimes greater. This means that by the time I actually see it, if I ever see it, I know how we are going to pass each other and if I don't like the outcome, I will already have started making changes. Smaller boats such as most fishing vessels, sailboats, etc are not required to have AIS. So when I scan the horizon every 20min, I am really looking for small targets which tend to be slower as well.


March 20.  24 hour surface
March 20.  48 hour surface
March 20.  72 hour surface
March 21.  24 hour surface
March 21.  48 hour surface
March 21.  72 hour surface

Monday, March 19, 2012

Passage to Hawaii: day 7

Date: Mar 18, 2012
Distance remaining: 1899 Previous 24 hour run: by GPS: 102

Date: Mar 19, 2012, Time: 10am Hawaii time
21° 51' N 123° 56' W
Wind speed: 12 / wind dir: 050 (NE), Heading: 290, Speed: 5.0
Barometer: 1022, Water Temp: 66
Log: 3757, Batteries: %100
Distance remaining: 1751 Previous 24 hour run: by GPS: 147

Mostly sailor talk today.

Two days ago the wind was decent but not the steady trade winds I hope to encounter on this passage. Between 10am and 10pm the wind was in the 9kn range giving me a boat speed of around 5 knots. At 10pm my log records my being becalmed. 3 knots of wind and a boat speed of 0. Once there is any swell in the area, 3 knots isn't enough to move the boat as the waves take away any speed you have built up by the light wind. By 12:20am the next day wind was in the range 5-8 and I was moving slowly at 3-4 knots, but in directions which didn't really help my goal (arrive in Hilo) as the direction of the wind was all over the chart. A north wind arrived at around 4am and I started to move in a useful direction (toward Hilo). By 6am I had 11 knots and was moving at over 6 knots and this lasted until 10am when I move to the next day in my 24 hour cycle of measuring progress.

Yesterday at 10am also marked a steadily increasing N to NNE wind. I was finally seeing winds behind the beam! Yay. At 2pm I had 17+ knots of wind doing a beam reach toward Hilo at 6.5 to hull speed at 7.2. This kept up until around 1am when it started weakening. I had left the boat running quickly all night seeing if I could make a 144nm day by the log (6 knots for 24 hours) and was foiled by this weakening wind. It felt like I was doing over 6.5 knots for the 12 hour stretch of 10am to 10pm but the log only recorded 70nm during this period. This was an exilerating sail. The swell had built up to 10 feet with combined wind waves, so there were periods sitting in the cockpit when I was looking up at the wave tops. But as the wind wasn't that high, there were few breaking waves. The boat tracked like it was on rails, it was really awesome. The boat was balanced with a reefed main, staysail and double reefed genoa, the monitor wind vane was having no problem steering a straight course across the seas. I sat for hours and watched it all pass by. By 2am the wind had weakened t 12 which would be plenty of wind in light seas, but in the water I was in my speed was reduced to 5. Currently I'm sailing in variable wind speed (5 to 10) at boat speeds from 3 to 4.5. The seas continue to flatten but there is still a 5 to 6 foot swell around and so as the boat rocks in the light wind the sails backwind and there is a lot of noise among the blocks, lines and sails on the boat. The previous night with 17 to 20 knots doing a beam reach in larger seas, the boat was quiet as it cut through the water.

Looking at the weather forecasts, it seems I have several more days of the present conditions. The high that had good wind in the area I'm currently in dissipated two days ago. A new one moved in but is also going to dissolve quickly. A third high is approaching and is three days out now, although this is all subject to change.

If sailors want a steady sail to Seattle from Mexico, they would wait until later in the summer when the pacific high is well established. That would give them a trade wind ride once they entered them, which I would probably have by now. At this time of year, the weather is much more variable. But I'm enjoying being out here and am looking forward to the two more weeks (or more) that I have left.
?oh, a bit of non sailor talk! I found my first small (2in) squid on deck this morning, along with a small (3in) fish.


March 19.  24 hour surface
March 19.  48 hour surface
March 19.  72 hour surface

Saturday, March 17, 2012

Still sailing to Hawaii! Day 5.

Date: Mar 16, 2012
Distance remaining: 2112 Previous 24 hour run: by GPS: 142

Date: Mar 17, 2012, Time: 10am Hawaii time
22° 16' N 119° 32' W
Wind speed: 12 / wind dir: 312 (NW), Heading: 249, Speed: 6.0
Barometer: 1018, Water Temp: 66
Log: 3543, Batteries: %95 (-19 Ah)
Distance remaining: 1996 Previous 24 hour run: by GPS: 117

The wind was fairly variable two days ago, the previous time I sent an update. The wind strength ranged from around 9 to 17 knots, and the direction was NW to N. I remained sailing upwind the whole time - I've yet to have the apparent wind behind the beam. Just before dark the wind started to strenghten and I unbagged the staysail. At that point I was sailing with a reef in the main and two in the genoa in 17 knots of wind and if I needed the staysail during the night I wanted it to be ready. A had less sail up than I could have had, but I wanted a comfortable ride during the night.

Yesterday the winds ranged from 8 to 13 knots and the direction NW to N, another variable day. When I made my record in the log 20 min ago the wind was 12 knots, its now fallen to 7. I expect it will strengthen soon, back and forth.

It seems that I'm in an area of ill defined winds and weather, and the GRIB weather downloads show this clearly. They also show that in a few days, as the local weather changes and I make my way west that things should improve. Its possible I may have my first NE winds on monday which would allow me to sail downwind?if there is enough of it. Sailors are fickle. To much wind, not enough. Wind from the wrong direction. I'm making pretty good progress and am happy to be out here.

At the moment I'm sailing with full genoa, staysail and main making pretty good progress through these light winds. My direction is SW back toward my rhumbline and this varies every 30min or so according to the wind direction.

I assume sailors will all find the above completely fascinating - but non sailors may find it a little dry. Hey, I saw some dolphins yesterday! A large pod or perhaps 100 dolphins came over to play for an hour or so. I moved forward to the bow and waved and yelled at them, which they seemed to like as they became more animated. They're fun.

Other than that, the only other fascinating thing is the color of the water - its a deep blue, really nice. Its also very clear - as the dolphins dove down around the boat I could follow them for quite a distance down. I hadn't realized it was that clear until there was something to see down there.

There really isn't very much out here. There have been no ships transmitting AIS within 100nm of me for the last two days and I have seen no ships visually for two days when I was able to spot a freighter 7 miles away at night (which I had seen on my AIS receiver over 10 hours earlier.)

Everything is going well! I'll send an update to the blog in a few days perhaps. It may be longer if nothing continues to happen. By the way, on a trip like this, 'nothing' happening is a good thing. I hope not to have exciting stories to tell, aside from wildlife sightings, at the completion of this journey!


March 16.  24 hour surface
March 16.  48 hour surface
March 16.  72 hour surface
March 17.  24 hour surface
March 17.  48 hour surface
March 17.  72 hour surface

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Third day outbound

Date: March 15, 2012, Time: 10:00am
22° 30.6' N 114° 44.5' W
Wind speed: 12 / wind dir: 345, Heading: 270, Speed: 6.5
Barometer: 1017, Water Temp: 69
Log: 3308.9, Batteries: %100
Distance remaining: 2263 Previous 24 hour run: by GPS: 142

I'm currently a few miles south of my rhumb line, and hours ago I altered course to head more directly toward my destination. I'm about 10 degrees north of the direct bearing to Hilo and so will make a little more northerly over the next little while. For most of yesterday and this early this morning I was sailing on starboard tack at 40deg apparent. Once I relaxed that to 60deg where we are now, the boat sped up nicely. So far, its all upwind sailing. I'm looking forward to some downwind sailing later... The weather GRIB file shows a high ridge approaching in 24 to 48 hours. This will confuse the winds here and delay the tradewinds I have been looking forward to. Drat.

At 5:45am (8:45 local) I was on deck looking around when a whale broached directly in my view! It was maybe 200 yards off the starboard beam of Luckness. The whale went down and then broached again. Most of the whale's body got out of the water and there was an incredible splash. It was awesome! 15 minutes later I saw the same whale broaching again to my stern and more north of where it was last time. Other than that, there isn't much going on here. Sleeping, eating, reading, some gymnastics as I move around the cabin. The swell is increasing in size, to perhaps 9 feet but the ride is fine.

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Heading to Hawaii: second day

Date: Mar 14, 2012, Time: 10:10am hawaii time
22° 19.'8 N 112° 10.8' W
Wind speed: 11 / wind dir: NW, Heading: 278, Speed: 5.7
Barometer: 1016, Water Temp: 67
Log: 3190.9, Batteries: %100
Distance remaining: 2406 Previous 24 hour run: by GPS: 146

After leaving the Marina in Puerto los Cabos we (Sockdolager, Zulu and Luckness) encountered south wind of around 5 knots. We all motored over to the tip of the Baja peninsula south of Cabo San Lucas in order to get more wind and a better departure angle. None of us wanted to hang around this area with all its traffic, but rather wanted to get our trip underway and start making our distance offshore. Sockdolager and Zulu are both headed to French Polynesia. It was cool being in a group of three boats and six people, where everybody was undertaking a major passage. It almost seemed ordinary to be doing this.

As we rounded the cape, the wind kept veering and ended up at WNW, which was forecast. I started sailing, heading south of my rhumb line but making distance away from the cape. Over the next several hours the wind continued to veer, ending at NW for the evening. The wind strength increased to the range 12 to 18 and I was off to a fast start. Luckness was moving through the water nicely, although with my apparent wind angle at 50-60 degrees on starboard, in these winds it was a wet ride. By the morning the wind had continued to veer to be roughly from the north, where it is now. The wind strength has come down somewhat, but I'm still making good progress. There also appears to be roughly a half of knot of current helping me, which is nice.

I'm currently around 25 miles south of my rhumb line between my departure point and Hilo hawaii. I'm currently making some of this back as my course is north of my bearing to Hilo - so at some point over the next day or two I'll probably end up north of my line which is where I'd like to be for this trip. The south I sacrificed yesterday was for a good cause: my comfort and progress. With the winds as they are now, I can start paying back the southing I borrowed yesterday.

Energy is plentiful, the batteries haven't been below around 98% full so far. The wind generator is working like a champ in these conditions.

Surprisingly, there are lots of targets being acquired by my AIS, I'm currently seeing 20 targets. However they are all far over the horizon. If I didn't have AIS I wouldn't even be aware they were out there.
Everything is going well with the boat and I.

I'll try to update my position reports daily, so those of you with access to my main blog page, you can click on my location link to see where I am once a day. Again - if I don't update for several days, please don't worry!

Monday, March 12, 2012

Mexico: See ya later!

Tomorrow morning I'll be starting my passage to Hawaii.  Its a little surreal for me when I say that out loud.  This passage has been so long in the planning phases that its a little hard for me to believe that tomorrow I'll be getting up, finishing a few little projects (breakfast for example), and then I'll be leaving Puerto los Cabos and Mexico behind.  In the lingo I've heard on some SSB radio nets: Outbound Mexico, Inbound Hilo Hawaii.

I arrived in Puerto los Cabos on Saturday March 10th after having left La Paz on Monday.  It was a pretty  relaxing trip down the coast.

Sockdolager left La Paz at around the same time and we met along the way and then we buddy boated down the coast.  'Buddy boated' is a good term for what we're doing, they're good buddies.  I first met up with the crew of Sockdolager, Jim and Karen, in Port Townsend as a Sailing Symposium.  We stayed in touch and have met up all the way down the coast and in the Sea of Cortez over and over.  They are heading to the Marquesas this morning.  Its going to be a mixed departure.  I'm super excited to be leaving on this trip as they are on theirs, but I'll be a little sad to be saying 'see ya later!' to some good friends.

Sockdolager arriving in the marina
Luckness and Sockdolager

The boat is refueled, although once I leave tomorrow I won't be motoring very much as Hawaii is simply too far for that to be a viable option for me.  I have 60 gallons of diesel on board, giving me a motoring range of roughly 300 miles (actually a little more than that, but for planning purposes you estimate low.)  Hilo is 2558 miles away from where I am as I write this, in a straight line.  (A great circle route to Hilo is 2534 miles - the difference isn't meaningful on a trip this length.)  It appears that the forecast shows wind in this area tomorrow, so I may be able to start sailing pretty soon after I leave and then not stop until I arrive.  That would be awesome.

If I sail at a constant 4 knots, I should be there in 26 days.  If I sail at 5 knots, it comes down to 21 days.  At 6 knots I get there in 17 days.  Just for fun, if I could sail at freeway speeds, I could be there in a day and a half.  I like to sail at a pretty leisurely pace, not pushing myself or the boat too hard  The winds won't be constant in direction or strength.  I may decide to stop along the way to take in the sights (or get some solid sleep) and so I expect this passage to take something like 21 to 30 days.  I have enough food on board for two or three people for a 30 day passage.  I'm not sure what came into me, but I couldn't walk by a supermarket without buying several hundred dollars worth of groceries - the boat is full of food.  My water maker has been working very well and my water tanks are currently full and I expect them to stay that way.

The weather between where I am and Hawaii has several different areas where there are statistically different winds.  On a passage of this length, you really only have a choice of the time of year you leave, and then you pick your weather window for leaving - but after a few days out the weather just starts being what its going to be.  Long range forecasts aren't available or accurate out past 4 or 5 days.  In the area I'm currently in, I expect to have NW winds initially.  After a while, the winds will tend to be from the north, and after that the winds should veer around to NE or east.  The trade winds are generally NE or east, with NE being more probable.  The trade winds are likely to be more fickle at this time of year than later in the summer.  However we're only talking averages.  The wind will be what it will be.  If anybody reading this is worried about hurricanes - this isn't hurricane season, don't worry.  Hurricanes need the water to be much warmer than it is now.  Warm water basically feeds hurricanes and they won't be a concern until much later in the summer.  If any of you are reading this from the Pacific Northwest there seems to have just been a nice little storm roll through the area.  What I'm experiencing down there is nothing like what's going on up there.  Here is a weather map of the pacific as it is today:

Hawaii is in the lower middle - look around 20° north and 155° west.  There is another low approaching the Pacific northwest and its iso-barametric lines are tightly packed.  Wind is generated by a pressure difference, tight iso-barametric lines means there is a large pressure difference, hence more wind.  Now look across from hawaii, east.  There are widely spaced iso-barametric lines in that area - which means much less wind.  Bummer for us sailors.  Anyway, I wouldn't be surprised if I experienced gale strength winds along the way for a short period - but no hurricanes.

I'll be receiving weather updates daily via my SSB radio.  If it stops working along the way, I'll then be doing what sailors have been doing for centuries.  I will have left at a good time of year when the weather looked promising in the short range forecasts, I have a well found boat and I'll just keep on sailing until I get there.

Luckness and I are ready to go!

Wish me luck!  I may update this blog while underway, but if it doesn't happen, don't worry!  Electronics can be a little fragile and I would hate for a radio failure to cause undue stress for any of you.  I'll update you when I arrive, if not before.

Monday, March 5, 2012

La Paz: See ya later!

Just a quick note that I'l  be leaving La Paz an hour or so after this is posted.  I was going to write up a long post about La Paz, but find I'm out of time - I may write something up later.  The short versions is: this town is awesome.  The people are super friendly and the town is interesting.

I'll be leaving here and stopping at a number of anchorages as I make my way down the coast toward the tip of the Baja peninsula.

There are basically five destinations for boats from here: north into the sea of cortez where they can avoid the hurricane season; south along the coast to avoid the hurricane area; toward the South Pacific; to Hawaii; or back up the coast to America.  There are a number of boats I've met who are heading to the South Pacific - every time I hear them talking among theirs selves about their destination, I feel a little pang of longing to join them.  My plan is to head over to Hawaii and from there back to the Pacific Northwest.  I'm looking forward to everything about this next phase of my trip: the passage, arriving in Hawaii and cruising around.

I should be starting my passage either late this week or early next.  The boat is ready to go, I believe I have all the provisions I need, and I'm feeling good.