Monday, March 31, 2014

Passage to Nuka Hiva: Done!

Date: Mar 31, 2014
08° 54.909' S 140° 06.097' W
Previous 24 hour run: 143nm (strangely, same as March 29th!)
Water Temp: 85.1
Log: 13032
Distance to go: 0!

The previous day's run (March 30th), over 24 hours, was 109nm.

The passage length was 20 days and 8 hours. I anchored in Taiohae Bay, Nuka Hiva at 4:10pm.

I'll keep this short, as I am starting to crash. Its funny - while underway I always feel alert and not tired. If I feel tired on passage, I just have a nap or two. I arrived at the anchorage feeling fine, not tired at all. After anchoring I started to work on a few chores to get Luckness into shape for being at anchor. Putting sail covers on, etc. As I went through these tasks I just got more and more tired. There is something about being underway that charges me up. Once the boat stops, I start to feel how I should feel after being on a passage for 20 days, sleeping in 20 minute intervals.

This bay is absolutely beautiful. The hills start almost at the waterfront, and are steep, lush and intensely green. There is a sweet fragrance in the air. This place reminds me a little of Hanalei Bay, on Kauai, Hawaii. Only more so. More intense, more green, more lush. I'll try to post again in a couple of days when I've had a chance to sleep, figure out the wifi situation on shore, and started to explore a little.

All is well! Luckness is in fine shape, I don't think anything broke on the passage and my list for further improvements is very short.

More later.

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Saturday, March 29, 2014

Passage to Nuka Hiva, Day 19

Date: Mar 29, 2014
06° 09' S 136° 55' W
Previous 24 hour run: 143nm
Water Temp: 84.2
Wind: E 8. Boat: 3.5 @ 200T
Log: 12847 (*)
Distance to go: 255nm

I've been out for over eighteen days. The previous day's run (March 28th), over 24 hours, was 132nm.

One more milestone I passed recently, is that I can now turn on my engine and motor my way to anchor. My motoring range is something like 400nm. I have no intention of doing this, but its nice to know its an option.

The wind I've been enjoying has started to fade away. Since 8am the winds have diminished from 13 knots to 8. At 13 knots, the boat moves well, with the sails full. At 8, on the broad reach that I am now on, the boat moves at around 2.7 knots with the sails flapping back and forth as waves move under the boat. Luckily I have a current working with me, so my speed over ground is 3.5 to 4 knots. Unfortunately, its not the 6 to 8 knots it was yesterday.

As the winds died, the sails started to flap in the wind more and more. Once I realized this wasn't a short term phenomena, I put the second reef in the main in order to keep it from slatting so badly. This slows me down a little more, but reduces the chafe on the sails and stress on the rig. I'm now running with a full genoa and a double reefed main, on a broad reach, making slow progress toward my destination.

Luckily I haven't yet been becalmed on this passage. My wind vane self steering continues to steer the boat reliably.

With the boat slowing down, I now expect to arrive sometime between late monday or tuesday. The light wind conditions I am in now are forecast to last for a few more days, perhaps improving on monday.

All is well aboard.

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Thursday, March 27, 2014

Passage to Nuka Hiva, Day 17

Date: Mar 27, 2014
02° 48' S 133° 55' W
Previous 24 hour run: 117nm
Water Temp: 82.4
Wind: SE 11. Boat: 5.5 @ 225T
Log: 12744 (*)
Distance to go: 525nm

I've been out for over sixteen days. The previous day's run (March 26th), over 24 hours, was 107nm.

Soon after submitting my last blog report, I crossed the equator! Yay! Here I am, sailing in the southern hemisphere now. Cool.

I'm sailing at a fairly good clip toward my destination. The winds have turned to the SE and are pretty steady - I'm definitely in the trade winds. Yesterday the winds were fairly light most of the day, and then started to pick up toward the evening. I had the full genoa and main up, sailing well. By just before sunset the wind had picked up to around 12 knots. The grib weather forecast didn't call for anything much stronger than that for the next few days and I was wondering about reefing the sails. I decided to reef, and did. At around 11pm the wind had picked up to 18-22 knots and I put second reefs in the sails. The wind kept up this strength until morning, when it started to fall off.

Today, the wind has been in the 10 to 13 knot range all day, from the SE. Its nice sailing conditions.

I've been napping all day today, as sailing on a close reach, as I am, means the boat is more active which makes it more difficult to get good sleep in my 20 minute intervals. However, four or five more days of this should get me there! It'll be really nice to arrive, anchor, see the sights and sleep well that evening.

That's about a wrap for this entry. Sailing along in moderate trade wind conditions, getting there.

(*) My ship's log is wrong now, as my Tack Tick wind instrument has once again, failed. I'm leaving the system turned off most of the time now, so that when I want to know the conditions I can turn it on and see the wind. This means the log is not accumulating miles. This thing has failed on every passage I've made, over around 7 days. I thought the replacement unit I received in Seattle would solve the problem. Obviously not. I'll be looking for a replacement when I get to NZ.

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Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Passage to Nuka Hiva, Day 15

Date: Mar 25, 2014
00° 07' N 131° 41' W
Previous 24 hour run: 133nm
Water Temp: 81.5
Wind: ENE 9. Boat: 5 @ 190T
Log: 12662
Distance to go: 746nm (Distance from the start 2794nm.)

I've been out for over fourteen days. The previous day's run (March 24th), over 24 hours, was 125nm.

I'm sailing peacefully and easily in the SE trade winds, making my way comfortably toward my destination. The sailing today has been just beautiful.

Yesterday wasn't as nice. I thought I might have passed through the ITCZ in my last blog report. That was wrong. There was more to come. The day started with squalls all around, but my sail plan, with a reef in my main and two in my genoa, was able to handle all the varying wind strengths easily. I turned the boat a little more downwind a couple of times to ease the loads, but that was all that was required. Starting in the early morning, around 4am, I started seeing sheet lightning and hearing thunder. This is one of the things which freaks me out the most about being at sea and being surrounded by rain - the possibility of thunder storms. Here they were, starting up. I didn't see any lightning strikes and only saw sheet lightning, but it kept me suitably freaked out for many hours. Finally the lightning died away. The squalls turned into continual rain. It was just a solid rain cloud, with no end in sight in any direction. This lasted for a while. The winds were light, down to around 7 knots with the seas being pretty confused - 4 to 5 feet high with waves from the NE, E and SE. I wasn't able to make very good progress but was able to maintain steerage the whole time, with the knot meter showing 0.0 knots but the GPS showing around 1 knot of speed. The Monitor was able to steer the whole time, so I was never totally becalmed. At around 4:30pm I broke through another set of squalls, looked ahead, and started seeing patches of blue surrounded by fluffy white clouds, far ahead. By 5:30pm, I was able to look behind me to see a lot of convection, squalls and grey clouds, but looking ahead and to either side I saw clouds which are typical of tradewind conditions. The wind had improved, I was moving well and thought that I had left the worst behind me.

I sailed all night with the waves gradually improving in character, with some SE waves - more orderly, much less confused. Their heights were also more suitable for the wind conditions I was in, something like 8 - 12 knots. Today, as I mentioned at the start, the sailing has been beautiful. I believe I passed through the ITCZ yesterday and hope to not see it again this trip! My ITCZ crossing was really painless compared to many of the stories I had heard. The whole trip I was expecting to spend at least a day, becalmed, looking out at glassy seas. I was wondering if I would be patient enough to wait for wind to arrive, or if I would just turn on the engine and motor until I found wind. This latter is a popular strategy among many sailboats which make this trip. Well, it turned out that I was able to sail through the whole way, with two periods of very slow progress, but I was never quite becalmed.

Of course, I may yet be becalmed. If the winds I am in really are the tradewinds - they are light. The GRIB weather forecast I have shows decent wind for a few days, and then starting to trail off. I'm hoping the forecast improves in a few more days.

Another milestone was passed yesterday. I sailed all day yesterday with the sun to my south. When the sun rose this morning, it rose slightly to my north. I've passed underneath the sun!

The last milestone which I will make in a few hours is my crossing of the equator. Yahoo! Southern hemisphere, here I come!

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Sunday, March 23, 2014

Passage to Nuka Hiva, Day 13

Date: Mar 23, 2014
03° 58' N 129° 08' W
Previous 24 hour run: 144nm
Water Temp: 83.3
Wind: ENE 10. Boat: 5.5 @ 190T
Log: 12418
Distance to go: 1020nm (Distance from the start 2794nm.)

I've been out for twelve days and four hours. The previous day's run (March 22nd), over 24 hours, was 152nm.

I thought it was hot a couple of days ago. Ha ha! What have I gotten myself into?! It doesn't help that the boat has all its portlights and hatches closed securely in order to avoid salt water getting in, as would happen otherwise. So the boat interior is hot, with a couple of fans blowing the hot air around. Outside its better as there is a cooling breeze - if you can stay out of the sun!

I may have already mentioned this, but this passage is going really well. I just got a weather download and the ITCZ is from 04N 122W to 01N 140W, so its around 2° 30'N at my longitude - 60 miles south of me. The wind forecast has a nice SE wind filling in for this whole area in 6 hours - so it may be that the ITCZ is going to head north (of the SE winds) and move over me soon. If this happens, it will be a sweet way of crossing the ITCZ! Anyway, I'm crossing my fingers that I can get the ITCZ behind me soon. So far, the boat has moved continually. The least amount of wind I've had is around 6 knots, but the sea state was such that it was sailable. I'm now on a beam reach, trying to maximize my speed in this lightish wind, and still heading roughly toward my destination.

Its really beautiful out here. The seas are an incredible blue, the skies are textured with multiple layers of clouds scattered in all directions with a background of the blue skies. I got up this morning at 4am Marquesas time, 5am local, and had a coffee and enjoyed the view. Sunrise was at 5:08 Marquesas time so I watched as the colors in the sky went from the grays of pre-dawn to a full blown sunrise. There were blue skies above me with fluffy clouds surrounding me in all directions. As the sun rose, the clouds were hit by the red, orange and yellow tones at different times, my own little light show. Of course its easier to enjoy sunrises when the boat isn't plowing through waves that are spraying the deck and the boat motion is gentle. I'm enjoying the easy sailing that I have currently.

Its now been six days since I had a ship appear on my AIS display. Its really deserted out here. Its also very clean. I've only seen a single piece of litter in the water in the last six days. The litter is a welcome change from my travels north of Hawaii.

Signing off for now, I've got some squalls to watch.

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Friday, March 21, 2014

Passage to Nuka Hiva, Day 11

Date: Mar 21, 2014
08° 45' N 128° 00' W
Previous 24 hour run: 131nm
Water Temp: 82.4
Wind: NE 19. Boat: 6.5 @ 190T
Log: 12181.7
Distance to go: 1356nm (Distance from the start adjusted to 2794nm, to be closer to reality.)

I've been out for ten days and four hours, and I'm now over half way there, by distance. The previous day's run (March 20th), over 24 hours, was 137nm. The previous two daily runs are a bit misleading, as both days have a big dog leg in the track when I would jibe. The boat is moving better than it appears from those numbers.

Its an obvious thing to say, but its getting hotter. The cabin temperature is now 80° with the humidity at 63%. Outside in the sun its starting to get a little intense. I'm so glad I took the time to make the sun covers for the cockpit. The sun is moving north every day and is currently just north of the equator, as I type, 28' north. Yesterday was the equinox, with the sun moving from the southern to northern hemispheres. I expect to cross underneath the sun next week. At the moment, the sun, at its highest point is 81° above the horizon, so not quite directly overhead yet.

Two days ago I was heading generally SW when I decided that I wanted to take myself further west before crossing the ITCZ. The wind where I am right now is really good, so I'm taking advantage of it. The wind currently appears to be lighter than this south of the equator. This morning, just after sunrise I jibed and have started to head more directly south again.

From this morning's weather reports, the ICTZ is currently at around 5N south of where I am. The wind has been forecast to be good as I approach 5°, with around 14kts of grib wind (usually more in reality) on the 23rd at 5° from 069T. That seems to suggest the ITCZ moves slightly south at that point, otherwise there would be more east in the wind...? The following 12 hour forecast shows the ITCZ moving north with east winds in the area and much lighter, and light from there on as I move south. There is a chance that I may be able to meet the ITCZ at around 4N and have it then start heading north as I head south, and we'll cross each other. The grib forecasts are pretty granular - the ITCZ may not be reflected well in them, but I like what I see and there is a chance I may be able to squeak though without too much bobbing around. I like what I see well enough to not change anything, just keep plowing through as fast as is relatively comfortable.

The boat is moving well in the 19-25 knot winds we've had over the last few days. By moving well, I mean making good speed. The boat is rolling, pitching, and yawing as she moves up and down the waves that are coming from several directions. The cockpit is no longer a salt water free environment, plenty of waves have crashed aboard. Moving around the cabin has to be done carefully. But these are great sailing conditions, and this passage is looking good.

Everything is well onboard.

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Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Passage To Nuka Hiva, Day 9

Date: Mar 19, 2014
11° 17' N 124° 22' W
Previous 24 hour run: 140nm
Water Temp: 81.5
Wind: ENE 14. Boat: 6.0 @ 225T
Log: 11914
Distance to go: 1706nm (Distance from the start adjusted to 2794nm, to be closer to reality.)

I've been out for eight days and four hours. The previous day's run (March 18th), over 24 hours, was 138nm.

The daily runs are surprising to me: 140, 138, 118, 139, 140, 141, 134. As you can tell, the sailing has been good this passage. Its also been consistently good. The sun has been shining all day, for the second day. Even on the cloudy days, my solar panels have been able to recharge my batteries back to 100%. The trend has been for me to burn just under 40Ah overnight. The fridge continues to be pretty efficient.

I've altered where I think I'll cross the ITCZ. I was originally going to cross pretty far east, around 126. I think I'll cross further west now, perhaps between 128 and 130 somewhere. I thought that I might jibe this afternoon, but instead I think I'll just let the boat run. I'm currently heading a little south of my waypoint and will end up around 9N 128W, and if I continue from there, everything being the same, 8N 129W. From that area I'll be able to either jibe to head further west, or head more directly south and see about crossing the ITCZ. Of course, as I download and look at the weather forecasts, I can make those turns earlier or later.

Overnight, Luckness caught 9 flying fish. I was able to get two of those back into the water before they stopped flapping, but the rest were found on deck in the morning as I walked around. The deck is starting to be covered in fish scales and blood splatters as they smash into the side of the cabin and fall to the deck at night. I expect some rain as I near the ITCZ, and that will be nice!

Also along the marine wildlife theme - a large pod of dolphins visited with me yesterday in the afternoon and then again later that evening after sunset and before the moon had risen. I noticed the pod in the evening by the noise they make as well as the streaks of light in the water as they brushed against whatever type of organism is giving out phosphorescence. Its always good to see them. You get a sense of an animal completely in its element, and having a lot of fun in everything they do.

I had my first AIS contact in a few days just a little while ago. The freighter is passing 13nm north of me, I doubt I'll even see him.

Its beautiful out here! Its definitely starting to warm up, and the temperature is going to be going up for quite some time still!

Signing off, for now.

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Monday, March 17, 2014

Passage to Nuka Hiva, Day 7.

Date: Mar 17, 2014
13° 45' N 120° 26' W
Previous 24 hour run: 118nm
Water Temp: 80
Wind: NE 17. Boat: 6.5 @ 232
Log: 11660
Distance to go: 1808nm (Distance from the start was 2620nm.)

I've been out for six days and four hours. The previous day's run (March 16th), over 24 hours, was 139nm.

The sailing has become more downwind, with the wind mainly in the NE quadrant, a little ENE which backed pretty quickly back to NE. I expect the winds to become more ENE soon.

I am currently on starboard tack, wing-and-wing with the genoa poled out. I'm running a little north of the line I have penciled in to a waypoint at 9N 126W. Its in this area, and as I approach it, that I will start to consider my options for crossing the ITCZ. I realize that some of you know a lot about the ITCZ, and some of you have no idea what those letters mean.

In the past, the ITCZ area has been called the doldrums. The new name for it is ITCZ. What's going on is that south of the ITCZ, which in this part of the world is generally 4-8 degrees north of the equator, you have SE trade winds blowing, north of the ITCZ you have NE trade winds blowing. If you notice - that means there are two bands of wind blowing together - the winds converge. In the region where winds converge at the surface, they can do nothing but go up. When you have wind going up, that's a low pressure zone - in this case a trough with the special name ITCZ. IT = inter tropical, between the tropics of Cancer and Capricorn. CZ = convergence zone, the winds converge. Low pressure zones are characterized by clouds, rain, and where the winds are converging, low wind. Air moving vertically up isn't wind, wind needs horizontal movement. Its also an area of lots of heat, and heat also causes air to rise. Rising hot air from the surface of the ocean is full of moisture, which as it rises condenses to form clouds and later rain clouds. After building for a while, the rain clouds have the rush of air that was moving up stall out, reverse, and then the water falls from the cloud and in the process creates movement of the air down. This air hits the surface and moves out in all directions, causing havoc with the local winds. Squall winds can be intense, 20-30 knots, appear quickly but normally don't last very long. You can see them approach though, at least if its not a dark night anyway.

When sailing in the winds above the ITCZ, they are mainly consistent, same south of the ITCZ. I think. Inside the ITCZ, and close to it, the winds are highly variable. There will be squalls down there, rain, clouds, high winds, low winds, winds from different directions. Its an area everybody has to go through to get to the South Pacific and generally you want to do it as fast as you can. In the old days, sailing ships could spend many days in the doldrums, waiting for some wind to arrive.

Of course I've never been there, so this is what I understand. Book learnin' you know.

Lots of people turn on their engines when they hit low winds in the ITCZ and just motor on through. The width of the zone varies from 50 to 300 miles wide. There are however, few sources of information available to help choose a place to cross the zone. Ideally you would cross at a narrow point which has some wind so you could sail the whole way. I would rather sail than motor, but am not a purist...

I've been downloading GRIB data weather files with wind and rain data, and this helps a little to choose where to cross. I can also download a text forecast. This morning's text forecast said a bunch of stuff, the gist of which is that the ITCZ currently is south of where it normally is (04N 121W to 01N 130W) with no significant convection. This is interesting, and may alter my choice of how soon I try to cross the zone. More on the ITCZ later...

Not much going on out here. Sailing along toward my destination. I had to alter course last night at 1:30am to avoid a close encounter with a freighter. I saw it on AIS over 20 miles away and noticed that the crossing the AIS display was showing varied between 2 miles ahead of the freighter, to 2 miles behind and everything inbetween including ramming straight into its side. I watched this develop for a while and the crossing stayed confused, so an hour out, I jibed. The jibe left me on a better course toward my destination as well as avoiding the encounter. I ended up crossing 3 miles behind it at 3am. I have had to alter course twice so far to avoid freighters. Surprising eh.

Well, carry on with your days. I'll do the same.

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Saturday, March 15, 2014

Passage to Nuka Hiva, Day 5

Date: Mar 15, 2014
16° 37? N 117° 11? W
Previous 24 hour run: 140nm
Water Temp: 77
Wind: NE 16. Boat: 6.5 @ 220
Log: 11422.0
Distance to go: 2060nm (Distance from the start was 2620nm.)

I've been out for four days and four hours.

The previous day's run, over 24 hours, was 141nm. Its been pretty consistent sailing, although hour to hour it does not feel that way. I'm now sailing wind-and-wing, with my Genoa poled out to windward, main to leeward, each with a reef in them. The boat speed varies from around 6.5 up to 7.5 as the boat rises over and rides down the waves.

Yesterday, the winds were on the lighter side, generally in the mid-teens until around 3am when they started to pickup with gusts to around 20. From there they slowed down back to the low-mid teens to where they are now. It continues to be good sailing conditions. The cockpit is still dry! My monitor windvane has been working like a champ, steering the boat since I started sailing just south of Cabo San Lucas.

There is little to report. I have seen two freighters since leaving, many more on my AIS, but only two were close enough to be seen visually. I had to maneuver once out of what looked like a collision course - but I saw the situation develop hours ahead of time and was able to make small adjustments to avoid the situation easily. AIS rocks.

I passed Isla Clarion, leaving it to my east by 16nm yesterday. This will be the last land I see until I arrive in the Marquesas. While I was close to the island a group of Boobies (birds) were circling the boat for a while. They took turns trying to land on my masthead, which was constantly in motion. As one bird tried to land, the others would generally make pests of themselves annoying the bird concentrating on landing until it gave up. This lasted for quite a while. I was glad when it stopped as they could do damage to my wind instruments up there, and I don't have anything onboard that I could throw, or shot, at them to encourage them to stop... Maybe I need to invest in a super-soaker water gun or something along those lines.

The dyneema chafe sleeves I installed on my genoa sheets seem to be positioned well, and are doing their job. The sun covers I hand sewed for the cockpit are working and are easily deployed and stowed. The positioning of my reef lines, after having been adjusted two or three times, seems good. The Amsteel monitor lines are holding up well - although there continues to be one source of chafe that I will try to adjust when I arrive. The chafe on the lines is now minor with the Amsteel holding up much better than the old Scanmar lines they replaced. All of those little projects I was working on before leaving seem to be paying off. Nothing has broken so far! My list of "things to adjust when I arrive" is remarkably short, although not empty.

The Pacific Puddle Jump net has formed, there was some uncertainty about it before I left. It is now being held on channel 8B, 8.297 Mhz USB at 0200 and 1400 UTC, with 8A the alternate frequency. There are currently 6 boats underway on the net, with 14 more checking in and waiting for their start. This list will likely grow over the next week or two. It seems that, as of right now, I'm the lead boat heading to the Marquesas. There are likely boats ahead but they are not participating in the net. This is not a race, everybody has different experiences and preferences and wind conditions and goals, etc. But its kinda fun to be in front, or to imagine I'm in front, for however briefly it may turn out to be.

All continues to be well onboard. I think I'll have pasta tonight, maybe with a basil pesto and some fried veggies and chicken.

Enjoy your Saturday everybody!

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Thursday, March 13, 2014

Passage to Nuka Hiva, Day 3

Date: Mar 13, 2014
19° 22? N 113° 15? W
Previous 24 hour run: 134
Water Temp: 77.9
Wind: N 14. Boat: 6.5 @ 235
Log: 11179.0
Distance to go: 2320nm (Distance from the start was 2620nm.)

The start to this passage has been just perfect. I motored out of the Marina on Tuesday the 11th and kept going for two hours until I found a west wind and started sailing. The winds south of Cabo San Lucas are flukey and inconsistent, I wanted to find some decent wind before I started sailing. For the first day I was initially close reaching and as the wind veered around to become NW, a beam reach. The boat speed was good, averaging over six knots in 12-14 knots of wind. I didn?t put down a waypoint at my first noon position, but the distance traveled from the second noon to the start, 27.5 hours, was 165nm.

The wind has gradually continued to clock around to the north and has generally kept to the low teens. There is a four or five foot swell, at 10 seconds and small wind waves on top of that. One of the nice things about this wave state is that there are very few hull-slapping waves which end up in the cockpit - so the cockpit continues to be a salt free environment, for now. (A hull-slapper is a wave which crests just as it reaches the hull, sending a vertical plume of water up where the wind catches it and blows it onboard. They can be annoying.) You couldn?t ask for better conditions. While the wind weakened somewhat yesterday, and having clocked around was putting it behind my beam, slowing the boat down, the sailing was excellent. Flat seas, little traffic, a nice boat motion. Just the sort of conditions I would want while I reacclimatize to being at sea again.

I have blue skies, the seas are starting to warm up and I?m making good progress.

All is well onboard.

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Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Outbound Mexico, Inbound the Marquesas

I'm leaving Mexico today, heading to Taiohae Bay on Nuka Hiva in the Marquesas group of Islands in French Polynesia.  Its quite a distance away.

I expect the passage to take something between 25 and 30 days, maybe longer - I don't want to try to estimate more closely than that as it would just be a wild guess and I don't see the point of that.  Luckness is fully provisioned, fully fueled and in good shape.  The dinghy is deflated, rolled up and stowed below in the quarter berth.  I have some easy dinners available for the first few days and am as ready to go as I can arrange.

The weather for the first part of the trip looks like it may be lighter winds than would be ideal.  For weeks and weeks the weather offshore and SW of Baja was ideal for this passage.  Over the last week the forecasts have shown light winds SW of Cabo San Lucas for many hundreds of miles in the direction I'll be heading.  There is a little pocket of moderate wind starting today and lasting for several days.  My intention is to sail SW trying to get out of the light wind that appears later in this week and putting myself in an area of more dependable winds.  Luckness and I may make it, or we may end up bobbing around in light air waiting for more winds to arrive as well.  I slowed my progress down the coast from La Paz by several days to leave during this window, I don't want to wait any longer

I had originally planned on heading to Atuona on Hiva Oa.  Atuona is a more logical port of entry for the Marquesas than Taiohae Bay as its further to windward of the other islands in the group.  Nuka Hiva is far NW in the chain which runs SE from there to the other islands.  The islands are in the trade winds, which south of the equator blow from the E to SE.  So my sailing to the other islands in the group will be an upwind slog.  However the anchorage on Nuka Hiva seems to be much nicer - large and easy.  Atuona looks like it can get crowded with a stern anchor required.  I was starting to stress about arriving there, tired and slightly worn out and having to deal with a crowded anchorage.  So I changed plans to make my life easier.  Also, I thought - if I can't sail upwind in the Marquesas, I'll need to reconsider how I plan to get back to the Pacific Northwest from New Zealand!

Puerto Los Cabos has been a good final stop.  The marina has changed in the two years since I was last here.  There are new docks, new showers - its generally fancier and looking more complete than it was.  This marina is a good departure point.  There is a good supermarket in town, Mega, which has a very good selection of Mexican and gringo foods.  Checking out of the country is also easy here - it cost me $150 to hire an agent, but having done that you basically just show up in the office at the right time, pay him and pick up your exit papers.  I also like the location of the Marina in relation to Cabo San Lucas.  Far enough away to avoid the madness, but close enough to make for a short motor sail to escape the land-effect winds and get into what I hope will be more dependable offshore winds.

Here I am leaving Marina Cortez in La Paz.  (Thanks to Dominique for the photo.)

s/v Discovery and s/v Luckness
S/V Discovery is in the Puerto Los Cabos Marina beside me.  Andy and Betty leave today for the same destination in the Marquesas as I am.

I'll try to update the blog every few days, and update my position daily.  If the updates stop happening, please, nobody panic.  The sea is a harsh environment for electronics.  If the blog stops being updated, then just look forward to the big post that will arrive when I get access to wifi in the Marquesas.

To all my blog readers - thank you for all your support and good wishes.