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.


  1. Good luck and safe travels.

  2. I wanted to say good luck in my previous comment, but some people think that will bring bad luck (illogical I know). Obviously you're not one of them, so GOOD LUCK!

    Hey you'll be getting to Hawaii right in time for your birthday! :)