Monday, August 29, 2016

This loop is now complete: 2013 to 2016

Since sailing into Neah Bay in late July, I've been transient in the Pacific Northwest.  Being transient in this area during the summer is no hardship by any means.  Summer is the time to be out on the water and enjoying the area, and that's what I have been doing.  

The ultimate destination of this cruise was Shilshole Bay Marina, where I have been on the waitlist for a slip to become available.  The marina contacted me last week to let me know that I could come in, and this morning I arrived and I am now tied up in my new home, slip C-82.  I've become a marina based sailor again.

Since leaving Shilshole in September of 2013 I have been in two marina's: four or five days in La Paz while I was preparing for my passage to the Marquesas and then a few days in Cabo San Jose while I was checking out of Mexico.  Since then Luckness and I have been at anchor, on a mooring or sailing between destinations every single day.  I'm looking forward to having easy access to land again.

My second cruise has finished, September 2013 to August 2016.  Over the past few weeks, since being back, memories of the cruise keep flashing into my head unexpectedly: the people I met along the way; the places I've been on this trip; sights I've seen; experiences.  What a fine way to spend three years.

Rather than posting a picture of Luckness in her new slip, which would be a pretty ordinary, here are a few pictures from my recent passages:

Posting pictures of sunrises and sunsets is somewhat of a cliche in the cruising community.  As a group, we see so many astounding sunrises and sunsets that if we were to post pictures of them all, the web would fill up with them. Here's one of the many astounding light shows I enjoyed along the way from New Zealand to Seattle - the sunrise on May 10th, toward the beginning of my passage from New Zealand to Seattle.

Its somewhat surprising how many people ask about the storms I've encountered while sailing, or ask about the largest waves I've been in.  There have been some time with more wind that I would have liked, or with rougher seas, but being becalmed with almost no wind, or no wind at all, is by far a more common occurrence.  And you know what?  Being becalmed in the tropics can be beautiful as well.  I love the deep blues of the water on ocean passages.

Here's one of my many new buddies, Dennis on s/v Pamela, as he was leaving Hanalei in his Pacific Seacraft 37, single handing his way back to his wife in San Francisco.

I mentioned my incredible encounter with the whale as I was traveling north from Hawaii, before I turned East to head into Neah Bay.  I took a lot of pictures, and most of them did not turn out well.  Its a well known fact, in some circles, that pictures of large waves do not convey the experience well. You could be in some dramatic waves, take a picture of them and then later when you see them?  They are completely underwhelming.  Well, the same may be true of whale pictures.  The whale above was very close to the boat, and was enormous!  Read back in the blog for more of a description of the encounter; the memory of this encounter will stay with me forever.  Astounding.

Some beautiful downwind sailing.  There has been lots, and lots of this.  I enjoy to sail, and there has been a lot of enjoyment on this, and my previous cruise.

Luckness, anchored in Friday Harbor.  Before I left on this cruise, you could walk down the dock at Shilshole and stand right beside Luckness and admire how beautiful this boat is.  As the cruise progressed, if you got too close you might (I would) start seeing little things that needed attention: the hull oxidizes easily in bright sun and greys, the wax needs constant attention as does the varnish.  Despite its reputation, stainless steel does rust, and needs fairly constant attention.  As the cruise progressed the distance you needed to be away in order to fully appreciate Luckness's beauty grew and grew.  This is about the right distance while I was in Friday Harbor - from this far away you couldn't see the rusting stainless, for example.  Over the past three weeks, I've been working on cleaning her up again - and if you were to walk down the dock at Shilshole today, you could again admire this vessels beauty from up close.  ( long as you ignore the varnish, and I have a completely different plan for that which will have to wait until next spring/summer to work on...)

It was a good trip, which is a very understated way of describing my last three years.  I'm not sure what my future sailing plans are at this point, but when I returned to the Pacific Northwest my intention was to stay for a while and then leave again.  I've sailed two loops now, the second larger and longer than the first.   I tend not to make long term plans; who knows what I'll be doing in three years time?  Maybe sailing down the coast on a new adventure?

Wednesday, July 27, 2016

Passage to Neah Bay: arrived!

2016-07-27 1:00PM UTC, 48°27'N 126°03'W
2016-07-27 3:45PM UTC, 48°27'N 125°43'W # motoring
2016-07-27 7:00PM UTC, 48°27'N 125°14'W # noon
2016-07-28 12:30AM UTC, 48°22.30'N 124°37.12'W # Anchored in Neah Bay

Sea temperature: 51.8deg

I'm anchored in Neah Bay!

The final day was quite varied. After the last blog post, I entered the stronger wind band. The wind picked up from 15, to 20 and then into 'near gale' strength which is 28-33 kts (gale starts at 34kts.) During the stronger winds I was doing my 20min sleep cycles, so the wind strength may have been higher. The forecast was for the wind to reduce the next day to 20 at 5am and then 15 by 11am. At 6am the winds were reducing into the 20-24 range. At 7:30am the winds had fallen to 16 and I was rolling out my genoa to keep the boat speed up. By 8am the wind had fallen to 4-8kts, from the NW, which was behind me as I headed directly East. At this point, the seas were still quite active and I had slowed dramatically.

I decided to motor at 8am. I started the engine and started to furl (roll away) the genoa (big head sail) when I felt the wind increase and I started to sail again, and ended up sailing at 5kts. This lasted for 10min when the wind faded again. I decided to slow down my decisions, give the wind a chance to recover - so I finished drinking my pot of coffee. No wind. So I started the engine again and again started to furl the sail at 8:30am. Again some wind arrived - I started to sail in it, and by 8:45am it had faded again. This time I started the engine, furled the sail and ignored any little puffs of wind. By 9:40am the wind was basically zero and it stayed there until I was 5nm from Neah Bay. I motored the remaining 41nm to anchor.

Shortly after the wind faded to zero, some fog arrived and then got gradually denser until the visibility dropped to less than 1/2 a mile. The fog stayed for the rest of the day, until I got to Neah Bay where it lifted - as I write this there is still a dense fog bank out to sea, but Neah Bay has sunshine - its glorious! As I arrived I could smell the pine forests and it really reminded me of home - various homes, pine forests have a strong association with me - mountains, hiking, creeks - things I am looking forward to exploring again.

The other notable thing about the day is that there were a *lot* of AIS contacts. While I was far offshore in the early morning, around 4am I had three cargo ships displaying on AIS, all with a closest point of approach to me of less than 5nm. There were two which would pass me within 20min and then one further away, 45min away. I decided to stay up to make sure there wasn't a wind shift which would have me alter course into them. As the third contact was approaching, two more appeared, again close CPA's, so I decided to not sleep until *those* two passed. This kept happening. At one point I had 12 AIS contacts, with 8 of them passing within 10nm of me - this at something like 70nm from shore. Its been a long day, as I slept poorly through the gale.

It feels so good to have finished this huge passage! I left New Zealand on May 1st and arrived in Hawaii on June 20 - 50 days at sea. I was in Hawaii for 14 days, but when you subtract the 2 1/2 days I was on passage from Hilo to Hanalei, thats down to 11. If you subtract the days when I was either arriving or departing, that's down to 9. So 9 full days in Hawaii. Over the past 88 days, I've sailed on 79 of them.

Its been a long day and a lot of sailing. Its time for a short break now.

I'm going to make a quick dinner, eat and go to sleep. I'll stay in Neah Bay for a few days, perhaps more. Over the next month or so, I'll slowly cruise back toward the San Juan Islands and Seattle, where I hope a slip at Shilshole Marine will open up for me, sometime in September.

All is very well onboard.

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Tuesday, July 26, 2016

Passage to Neah Bay: day 23

2016-07-24 7:00PM UTC, 48°18'N 133°05'W # noon
2016-07-25 2:00AM UTC, 48°05'N 132°32'W # jibed
2016-07-25 6:01PM UTC, 48°43'N 131°34'W # jibed
2016-07-25 7:00PM UTC, 48°39'N 131°29'W # noon
2016-07-25 9:45PM UTC, 48°31'N 131°15'W # wing and wing
2016-07-26 5:10AM UTC, 48°10'N 130°31'W # jibed
2016-07-26 7:00PM UTC, 48°28'N 128°50'W # noon
2016-07-27 1:00AM UTC, 48°30'N 127°56'W

Sea temperature: 60.8deg

In my last post I mentioned that I was trying to get in front of a ridge that was building between where I was and a stronger band of higher winds to my East. That didn't work. By the early morning of the following day the wind was falling and I started having to sail wider angles and jibing back and forth in order to make progress. I ended up jibing three times over the next two days, jibing NE for the last time Monday night at 10pm. Since then the wind has been increasing and I am now sailing due East at speed, having entered the stronger wind zone.

There is around 130nm to go to Neah Bay. That is a 24 hour day at 5.5 knots, so if everything remains constant, there's a pretty good chance I'll arrive and be able to sleep at anchor tomorrow.

Its so nice to be so close! My last day is going to be fast and salty, much like how this passage started.

All is well aboard.

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Saturday, July 23, 2016

Passage to Neah Bay: day 20

2016-07-20 7:00PM UTC, 47°31'N 142°55'W # noon
2016-07-21 7:00PM UTC, 47°31'N 141°08'W # noon
2016-07-22 3:50PM UTC, 48°29'N 140°17'W # jibed to wing and wing
2016-07-22 7:00PM UTC, 48°27'N 139°51'W # noon
2016-07-23 7:00PM UTC, 48°31'N 136°16'W # noon

Sea temperature: 55.3deg
Barometric pressure: 1022

In my last post I mentioned that the wind was starting to fall, and that I expected a light patch to follow - which is exactly what happened. I sailed in falling wind for the remainder of day 16, through day 17 and at 1:20 on day 18, July 21, the wind had fallen to the point where I was not making any progress. The seas had been falling through this period as well, so I was actually able to sail slowly in very light wind, but when I noticed the boat speed had fallen to 0.5 knots after a sleep cycle, I lowered the sails which were hanging limp.

At 4:15am a light N wind arrived and I raised sail and started sailing in it. At 5:10am the wind had faded and I lowered the sails. At 7:15am I raised them, lowered them at 8:05am, raised them at 8:40am, lowered them at 10:10am, raised them at 12:45pm, lowered them at 1:15pm. At 4pm I raised them again, and this time the wind held and I was sailing NE in 7kts of wind at 3.5 to 4kts boat speed.

The only real angle I had in this wind was NE or SE, and so I chose to sail NE and did this overnight. By 8:50 the next morning, day 19, I jibed to wing and wing and started heading almost directly East. I am still sailing wing and wing and making good progress.

The forecast shows the wind slowly fading for me until I reach around 130W, which is the start of a stronger band of wind which ends at around 125W. My next little goal is to approach 130W before a ridge of high pressure builds between me and 130W. If I can travel at an average of around 5.5kts, I am hoping to beat the formation of the ridge and sail straight into the stronger wind band. If the falling wind over the next few days slows me too much, then I'll enter the newly formed ridge and slow even further.

Once I'm either past the newly formed ridge or into the stronger winds, I'll need to jibe again, get back onto port tack and sail through the 15kt to 25kt wind and into Neah Bay - those are the forecast winds, I'm expecting them to be a little higher in reality.

I have something like 420nm to go, which at an average speed of 5.5kts is 3.2 more days. I have no real idea what my average speed is going to be over the next two days, it depends entirely on how fast and far the wind falls from its present conditions.

I'm looking forward to arriving, heading over to the anchorage that I've used a number of times before, and dropping the hook and resting easy for a few days. I hope the Pizza place I remember is still there...

All is well onboard.

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Tuesday, July 19, 2016

Passage to Neah Bay: day 16

2016-07-16 7:00PM UTC, 46°09'N 154°36'W # noon
2016-07-17 7:00PM UTC, 47°16'N 152°07'W # noon
2016-07-17 11:10PM UTC, 47°14'N 151°46'W # Jibed - Yay!
2016-07-18 7:00PM UTC, 47°53'N 149°39'W # noon
2016-07-19 7:00PM UTC, 47°48'N 146°07'W # noon

Sea temperature: 53.5deg
Barometric pressure: 1026 (center high pressure 1040)

I'm now around the top of the high on the final leg into Neah Bay.

However, backing up and starting again from after my last blog post...

I mentioned the fog in my last post. Fog has ended up appearing every evening for the following four days, and has stayed around for two afternoons as well - its very foggy out here.

In the morning of the 16th, my 13th day on the passage, I was doing my checks after a sleep cycle at 12:30am and noticed that there was an AIS contact, with our closest point of approach (CPA) in 60min. My alarm goes off when the time to CPA, TCPA, is 45min or less. The initial CPA was close, less than 0.5nm and seemed to be jumping around. At 45min the CPA was still indicating a close approach, within 0.5nm, where the solution was jumping around to show the closest point being 0.5nm ahead of me, then behind, then 0.1 ahead, then 0.0, etc. This is bad, and indicated that I was on a collision course with a freighter. The CPA normally jumps around like this, but what you want to see is a steady set of solutions where the CPA is, for example, 2.5 in front, or behind, or to a side, and then have all the following solutions be close to that one and always on the same side. Anyway, I adjusted my course while 45min away, the new CPA showed the freighter passing 1.5nm ahead of me. I stayed up and 'watched' it pass. I say 'watched' it pass, as there was dense fog, and even at 1.3nm I could not see anything, not even a hint of its deck lights. AIS is wonderful! If I hadn't had AIS and had not altered course the chances are likely that I would have continued and not noticed anything. Freighters have professional crews, excellent radars, and of course receive AIS. As I also transmit AIS, their AIS alarm would have gone off when we were around 8nm apart - my signal is not as strong as theirs, being the recreational AIS version. Even without my AIS transmission, if they were actually paying attention at that time of the morning, they could easily have avoided me with their radar. However I much prefer seeing the situation myself from far away and altering course to avoid it. I've altered course twice now to avoid close encounters with freighters, and had one alter course on me when they must have felt our CPA was too close. Its a large ocean, but its not empty.

That same afternoon, just after the sun had appeared from behind the fog at 6pm PDT (around 3pm local time), I was sitting in the cockpit looking around when I heard the sound of a whale close by. I jumped up and looked around, and there was a large whale close by. It finished its breath and dove. Then surfaced, breathed and dove again. And then a third time and disappeared for a while. I thought that might be the last time I saw it, but it returned - again within a few hundred feet of the boat, appearing slightly behind and then approaching a little closer for each breath. It stayed around for about 1/2 hour and it was an amazing experience. It seemed to move off, and later I saw a whale on the horizon when it rose and breathed its plume of mist into the air. A little after that, it returned and stayed close to Luckness again for about 20min, then left again. After another hour or so, it returned a final time, and then left and I have not seen him/her again. I have pictures - if any of them turn out I'll post them when I get to the internet. I have friends on two other boats who left Hawaii at around the same time that I did. Dennis on s/v Pamela saw a whale and had a very similar experience 4-5 days ago. Colin & Wendy on s/v Bangorang left after both of us, and they had a similar experience yesterday. Its amazing that these whales take time out of their day to hang around with us yachties for a while. This is a huge ocean, and if the whales wanted to avoid us they very easily could. I have seen a lot of dolphins approach Luckness, and hang around, enjoying themselves. After watching dolphins interact a few times, you end up realizing that they are curious about us, they're friendly and are having a good time. I hadn't thought of whales this way until now - but the fact that they approached all three vessels and hung around, in my mind, shows a real sense of curiosity and friendliness on their behalf.

By 2pm on the next day, day 13, I was starting to get close to the high. The final plan I decided on was to sail a constant apparent wind angle, on starboard beam, and let Luckness sail the wind as it veered around, and this ended up working really well. As the winds veered around I went from NE to E to SE to S at which point I jibed and started heading NNE, NE, and finally East. The wind had slowed to 5-7 by the time I jibed as I was very close to the high, but I kept moving the whole time and was able to sail around the top of the high, cool.

After passing by the high the next part of this passage had me exiting the high pressure system and passing through a region of higher wind to its East. This started yesterday and continues today and tomorrow. The winds yesterday were quite strong, 28-32 knots with large waves developing. Luckily I have been able to put the wind behind me and I'm sailing at an apparent wind angle of 120, port side, and the ride has been boisterous but ok. Today the wind has been falling all day and the same is expected tomorrow.

After I exit the higher NW winds, there is short light wind region followed by what looks like WSW 10-12 knots for three days. I'm hoping those winds end up a little higher than forecast as I will be sailing close to dead downwind toward Neah Bay and a little more wind would speed things up.

The ball bearing-less turning block for the monitor control lines is holding up well. I started greasing it with SuperLube a few days ago, and that's working better than the SailKote - not a slam on SailKote, its just that a little grease is a better approach to this problem. The block is turning pretty freely and I expect it to survive the passage. My backup plans are still available of course.

I've currently sailed 2040nm since leaving Hawaii, and have roughly 830nm to go.

All is well onboard.

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Friday, July 15, 2016

Passage to Neah Bay: day 12

2016-07-12 7:00PM UTC, 40°31'N 162°26'W # noon
2016-07-13 7:00PM UTC, 41°32'N 159°54'W # noon
2016-07-14 7:00PM UTC, 42°47'N 158°37'W # noon
2016-07-15 7:00PM UTC, 44°21'N 156°46'W # noon

Sea temperature: 57.2deg
Barometric pressure: 1028 (center high pressure 1036)

I've started to relax into this passage. After starting, there was a period of initial shock for me to be back at sea, on passage, yet again. It took until around day 9 for me to relax into the passage - normally the initial adjustment period is only a day or two.

I closed my last blog post by mentioning how far there was to go and how long it might take if I average 5 knots, and then mentioned that I was hoping to move faster than 5 knots on some of the remaining days. I should have mentioned that I also expected to move slower than 5 knots from time to time as well.

By 9:30pm on day 8, the day I last posted, the wind had fallen to 5 knots and the boat speed was less than 2. There are times when this is just fine. If the seas are calm Luckess will happily sail for days in such wind, maintaining steerage, making slow progress. However this was not the case, the seas were not calm and the sails were not happy - as the boat rolled back and forth the sails would slat and bang back and forth. As this light wind was exactly what the forecast said would happen I didn't let this go on very long before reducing sail and starting to wait it out. By 2:30am the next morning a light wind, 7-8kts, had filled in, which I noticed after one of my one hour sleep cycles. I raised the sails and started sailing slowly again - then went back to sleep. At 3:30am the wind was back to 4kts and the sails were not happy again, so I reduced sail and started to drift again. By 6:15am the wind had returned in the direction I expected, I jibed and started sailing. The situation was that I was initially approaching the high, with the wind on my starboard side, and then the high moved away and a low from the NW came down and I rode its southern edge for a while, the jibe was my transitioning from moving toward the high to moving away from it. It makes sense if you draw a picture...I hope.

This was around the time I started to relax into the passage. The morning was colder, cloudy and a little rainy, but the cloud was patchy - some blue sky, some dark cloud, some light puffy clouds with the sun rays shining through and lighting up patches of the ocean - it looked quite majestic and amazing. I keep seeing different but quite beautiful sea/cloud/sky-scapes, each day.

By the next day, July 13th, at 11:30pm I lost the wind again, and again, this was perfectly forecast by the GFS weather model. As the low moved out of the area it left behind a little light wind chaos as often happens behind a low (or a front.) The next low was scheduled to appear around the afternoon of the 15th, with a light wind filling in before it arrived. This also happened exactly as forecast. By 12:40am on the 14th a little wind from the original direction that had fallen earlier returned, and I rode it for 1/2 hour before lowering my sails again. By 4:30am more wind had arrived, from the proper direction, I again jibed and started sailing - and still am.

The next weather feature I will encounter is the high itself. I'm currently sailing at a heading of around 40-50deg, beam reach, starboard side, in 18-20 knots of wind, with a fully reefed main, staysail and a little bit of genoa, doing between 6.5 and 7 knots. I had more genoa out earlier and was going 7-7.5 knots, but the present speed is just fine and its easier on me as well as the sails/rig/lines/etc. I have learned that, almost every single time that I report the current conditions in a blog report, that shortly after doing so the conditions will change...

I've had my first fog of the trip. Last night, after a beautiful and warm (relatively speaking) afternoon, the sun set and the blue sky started to almost immediately develop a low layer of what looked like cloud. As the sunset turned to dusk the cloud started to descend and by dark there was a heavy dense fog from horizon to horizon. It was pretty amazing watching it happen - I could look around in a 360 degree circle watching the cloud approach the horizon until it touched and I had fog. That lasted all night and into morning, when the sun has again come out making this afternoon another of long series of (patchy) blue sky afternoons. Energy has not been a problem at all on this trip - my battery bank has been fully charged at some point during the day, every day since leaving Hawaii.

I've currently sailed 1510nm with approximately 1350nm to go - so I'm over half way there now. Yay! It looks like am going to have two days of good sailing, perhaps 36 hours of lighter stuff with the possibility of a little drifting as I hit the top of the high, depending on how close I end up to it, and then a few days of good sailing again. At that point the projected icon for Luckness in LuckGrib falls off my last weather forecast, both off its Eastern edge and at the extreme of its time. I'll download new weather as this blog report goes out and try to get a view of what I might encounter beyond my last forecast region and Neah Bay.

Not wanting to leave the blog post solely to sailing and weather topics - I've added a new food to my diet, a cold weather food. Before leaving Hawaii I bought a few loaves of Oroweat, a long life bread that seems to last forever, and I am now enjoying some cheese on toast everyday - yum! So tasty. The cheese is from NZ, a 2 year old Tasty cheddar. Actually, its name is Tasty Cheese, with Tasty being a category just like Edam, Brie, Blue, etc. When you shop for cheese in NZ, you can buy some Tasty, or something else, which made my decisions pretty easy. If you know Tillamook 2 year white vintage cheddar, that's very close. The Cheese on Toast is toasted under the grill in my oven, which is perfect for both toasting the bread as well as getting a good bubble going with the cheese. Of course just after pulling it out of the oven I shake a little Lea & Perrins Worcestershire sauce on top, doing that immediately so that the sauce soaks into the cheese. Oh, so good! Feel free to 'sail along with Craig' by having a little cheese on toast yourselves.

All is well onboard.

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Monday, July 11, 2016

Passage to Neah Bay: day 8

2016-07-08 7:00PM UTC, 32°34'N 162°29'W # noon
2016-07-09 7:00PM UTC, 34°41'N 162°59'W # noon
2016-07-10 7:00PM UTC, 37°07'N 162°50'W # noon
2016-07-11 7:00PM UTC, 39°23'N 163°11'W # noon

Sea temperature: 68deg (at Hanalei the sea was 82.)
Barometric pressure: 1029.

Today is the day that I leave behind the steady trade winds and start to have to navigate my way through the fickle winds close to the Pacific high. There has been some wonderful sailing over the last few days - days where I would hardly touch anything, just let Luckness sail, mile after mile. There was an occasional small tweak to the Monitor trim line to adjust my angle to the wind, or attempts to put out more sail, which were mainly reversed fairly quickly when a squall rolled through. The winds have generally been in the range low to upper teens, perfect sailing wind. This afternoon has been warm and sunny, with the wind lightening into the 6-8 range, with the seas also calming significantly.

As you would imagine, I have a lot of time on my hands at the moment. I've used some of this time to review my logbook for my previous passage from Hawaii to Neah Bay, from July 14 to August 4th, 2012. Reading my record of that passage, it was initially in much less wind, mid to high teens rather than low to mid 20's. The seas were much more comfortable, and most notable to me at the present, is that on the last passage I encountered very few squalls. In the log, I mention a few times that there was a rain cloud on the horizon and how it altered the wind speed and direction - like this was an unusual event. I had heard of 'squalls' by that time and how sailors disliked them, but I had encountered very few. On my trip from Mexico to Hawaii in 2012, I don't think there were any squalls? When my current passage and the previous one are combined, I have quite a lot more experience with squalls now, much more than I would have chosen. The previous few days have been mainly squall free during the afternoon, and then the evenings, overnight and pre-dawn have seen squall after squall roll by. Luckily there was enough wind that I could sail with a sail combination suitable for the squall wind, and still make good progress in-between the stronger winds.

Today is the first day in the last few, where I had what looked like squalls on the horizon during the morning and early afternoon. However, these squalls have now changed - they are more like rain clouds now than squalls, the winds generated have been very mild with little change in direction (and those two go together or course.) I like this new trend, and hope it continues, although I think the price I am paying for the reduced squall/rain cloud intensity is that the sea water is growing much colder - and as a result the air is cooling down as well. My theory is that colder = less evaporation = less energy released into the upper atmosphere = less intense squall.

As I mentioned, the winds have been falling today, and they are starting to change direction due to the shape and location of the high. What has been a fairly constant ENE/E wind is now forecast to veer (move clockwise) over the rest of today and tomorrow. My plan is to let Luckness run, with the wind on her beam, with my direction changing from N through NE and then East. At the point where I am traveling South of East, I'll jibe and start heading NW. Then as the wind continues to veer, I will sail NNW, N, NNE, NE, etc. That sequence is currently forecast to continue until Wednesday evening, when things sort of fall apart - but by then I'll have a couple of new forecasts and will figure out how I want to proceed from where I end up.

The new Monitor line I installed looks good, the Monitor is steering well. Sweet. Unfortunately the day after I replaced that line, the Monitor control line turning block, a twin block mounted on the cockpit coaming, started to shed the ball bearings from its top block. Its a little disconcerting to see ball bearings rolling around the cockpit. After a little thought, I dug out a spare block which I could mount to the top of this pair, running the monitor control line through it. I'll do this if and when needed. It turns out that the block is working pretty well without any ball bearings. The block frame is some sort of high strength metal and the block itself is made from some sort of tough composite/plastic material. The bearing-less block is continuing to turn, as long as I lubricate it with SailKote, a dry lubricant spray, a couple of times a day. So plan A, with regard to this breakage, is to do nothing but keep it clean and lubricated, until the block starts to look like its going to fail, which may not happen before I arrive in Neah Bay. Plan B and C involve various lashings and the spare block, and both would work fine if necessary. I probably should have been pouring a cup of fresh water through this block while on passage, every day. Oops. I'll look after the next one a little better.

There appears to be either a hurricane or a tropical storm developing between Hawaii and Mexico - this is the third or fourth of this years series. I was exchanging email with a friend a couple of days ago, he will have left Hawaii on Sunday to start his passage to Neah Bay. He, Colin, mentioned that at the time the GFS model was forecasting this latest storm hitting the islands sometime around the 15 or 16? Of course the storms track may change, it may miss the islands. In 2012 I left Hanalei on July 14th with no hurricanes or storms to worry about. I'm glad that this year I left when I did, as its nice to be so far north of the islands as these storms develop. I'm also glad that I did not stop in French Polynesia this year - I imagine that stop would have been at least two weeks. Sailing across the equator and ITCZ to see tropical storms approaching my planned destination at around the same time I was planning to approach them is a sensation I'd like to avoid... I also hope that the race fleets that are sailing between the mainland and Hawaii are OK. The single handed Transpac runs this year - that fleet left San Francisco on July 2nd, headed to Hanalei. There is also the Pacific Cup and possibly a third race fleet out there? I wish them all the best.

I've currently sailed 1080nm with approximately 1780nm to go. If I can sail at an average of 5kts, there are around 15 more days. I hope to move a little faster on some of those days!

All is well onboard.

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Thursday, July 7, 2016

Passage to Neah Bay: day 4

2016-07-03 8:30PM UTC, 22°13.24'N 159°30.69'W
2016-07-04 7:00PM UTC, 23°43'N 159°59'W # noon
2016-07-05 7:00PM UTC, 25°53'N 160°40'W # noon
2016-07-06 7:00PM UTC, 28°05'N 161°13'W # noon
2016-07-07 7:00PM UTC, 30°23'N 161°47'W # noon
2016-07-08 1:00AM UTC, 30°51'N 161°58'W

Here it is, day 4 of my final passage this season, the passage to Neah Bay. I've sailed just over 500nm, with approximately 2400nm to go. The mileage remaining will depend heavily on the shape and position of the high as I sail around it, or through it, as the case may be.

The start to this passage was quite boisterous - the wind was 20-25kts with 2-3m seas. Once I was out in the open ocean again I understood why the Hanalei anchorage had been so rolly and uncomfortable - I was surprised there wasn't a larger swell entering the bay. Hanalei was doing a very good job of reducing the swell from the outside, but the swell that did make its way in was making life aboard Luckness a little tiring. Now, its not like Luckness is currently steady by any means, she's rolling quite dramatically at times, but at least I'm making my way towards a calm anchorage, the one at Neah Bay. Something like 20 more days of this and I will be able to sleep calmly through the night - that doesn't seem too far away?

The first day had excellent wind, as we sailors say, when there is lots of wind to move our boats along. Excellent wind for sailing, however also excellent wind for generating large waves and helping to push the water onboard when a wave crest hits the side of the boat. It was quite a wet first three days - typical of this type of sailing, which is currently upwind, with an apparent wind angle of 60-70.

The barometric pressure in Hanalei was 1016 when I left and has now increased to 1025. The GFS weather model is currently forecasting a center high pressure of 1033, so I am clearly approaching the high. The wind has been decreasing, which is a trend which will likely continue until I get around the high and onto the final leg heading East to Neah Bay.

There has been a pretty steady supply of squalls since I left. This afternoon has been squall free, as were the previous two afternoons, however the evenings, nights and mornings have seen many squalls roll through. My sail plan is currently underpowered for the conditions, fully reefed main, staysail and some genoa, in 15kts of wind, but its easy, as when the squalls roll through I do not need to adjust anything. I am losing some mileage and gaining convenience - an easy choice at the moment. Depending on your point of view, I have either really learned patience and am sailing with less sail than I used to in an effort to reduce breakages and wear, or alternatively I have become timid and am carrying less sail than I used to in the same conditions, in an effort to reduce breakages and wear. This started when I was around 15 days out of New Zealand in perhaps the most remote ocean I have ever been in, and I started to make much more of an effort to reduce the forces on the rig, rigging, sails, lines - in an effort that nothing break. Friends on other sailboats I was in contact with, on their own passages, were reporting their breakages to me. I have been lucky this trip, so far.

However, despite my effort, I had my first breakage since leaving New Zealand. I was sitting in the cockpit yesterday, looking around at the ocean, passing the time, as I do, when I heard a snap, or slap. I looked around, thinking that was weird - you learn to classify the sounds your hear as the familiar sounds, the ones you can ignore, and the unusual sounds, the ones you need to investigate. That sound needed to be investigated. The Monitor fin was swaying back and forth in the wind, the wheel seemed to be turning, nothing else seemed out of place - and then after a few moments I realized one of the Monitor self steering control lines had snapped and the boat was no longer being steered by anybody or anything, she was slowly turning into the wind. I moved myself to the wheel to hand steer and after a little cursing turned on the autopilot to let that steer and started to see what had gone wrong. The control lines have three areas of chafe. Two of the areas were much worse than the third, and I had added dyneema chafe sleeve to those areas which had solved the problem nicely, I thought. However the third, fairly minor chafe area had gotten worse in an area I hadn't been inspecting, in the area the line enters the leg of the monitor and goes down to the pendulum - that part of the line had worn through and finally snapped. It was 3/16" Amsteel, a 12 strand dyneema. Drat. I replaced the control line, while underway. It was fairly easy. As the winds and waves at the time were pretty active, by the end of the process I was completely drenched - many waves had taken the opportunity, with me exposed by the stern, to come aboard. In the past I thought I had fixed the Monitor control line problem in a clever way, with the dyneema chafe sleeve - I will now consider these lines to be sacrificial, and simply replace them before every long passage - its an easy replacement and I have something like 100' of the 1/4" Amsteel line I replace them with (I used larger line as there was no chafe sleeve added this time.)

I'm making steady progress towards my destination. The next four or five days will be interesting, for me anyway, as I start to enter the area of the high, and I'll find out if I end up motoring out of it, waiting for more wind to arrive, or getting lucky and being able to sail the whole way. How exciting! Stay tuned!

All is well onboard.

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Sunday, July 3, 2016

Passage to Neah Bay: about to start

I arrived in Hawaii on Monday June 19th, and now, two weeks later, I'm ready to start the trip back to Neah Bay. This has been a quick stopover.

The climate average data suggests that early July is a good time to leave Hawaii for the trip back to the mainland - this appears to be the time with the lowest probability of encountering a gale on my trip back. Of course climate data is the average of many years and decades of actual weather, and what I you will encounter on any given trip may vary widely from these long term averages. However, I feel like I'm ready to leave, and that's what I'm doing.

The trip to Neah Bay from where I am is roughly 3000nm, which should take somewhere over three weeks to complete. The last time I sailed this passage, I finished it in 21 days. I would be surprised if I was able to sail it any faster this time.

The big weather feature on this passage is the North Pacific High. The cliche is that in the summer, a large high pressure system develops and parks itself to the NE of Hawaii and just sits there. As winds circulate clockwise around the high, this generates the trade winds in Hawaii, and as I travel North the wind will generally be on my beam or behind, giving me a beautiful sail all the way to Neah Bay. The reality is quite different from this cliche however. The high is constantly being pushed around by the lows that move across the North Pacific, and the high will grow, shrink, move, morph into long ridges, spit into two, become stronger and weaker, join other highs which come in from the West and so on.

Leaving Hawaii, it is hard not to have 4 or 5 days of trade wind sailing - wind from between the E and NE - and make good progress North or slightly West of North, depending on the comfort level I choose. At that point you start to approach the region where you are probably close to the high and need to take its shape, size and position into account. There are several problems with this. A first problem is that weather forecasts are really only good for 3 or 4 days - so you can leave with a good high resolution forecast and a plan, but by the time you start to approach the high the actual situation may have changed. A second problem is that at the speeds I travel, compared to the size of the high and the speed it travels, it is difficult to plan any sort of tactical move to take advantage of movement you see in the high.

It looks at the moment like the high may initially stay to the NE of me and that I will have good sailing until Sunday July 10th - a week of good sailing. At that point the forecast is at 192 hours and is strongly into the region where what you are seeing is pretty random. Yesterdays forecast for this time region was quite different, the day before that was quite different again.

If I can get a week of good sailing, with a possibility of it continuing for the reminder of my passage, and do so at a time when the climate averages are suggesting there should be no strong weather systems in the area - that's pretty good!

I'm still at anchor and plan to leave in the next few hours. All well here!

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, 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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Wednesday, June 8, 2016

Passage to Hawaii: day 38

2016-06-04 10:00PM UTC, 06°28'S 144°00'W # noon
2016-06-05 10:00PM UTC, 04°18'S 144°36'W # noon
2016-06-06 10:00PM UTC, 02°33'S 145°39'W # noon
2016-06-07 10:00PM UTC, 01°05'S 144°53'W # noon
2016-06-08 10:00PM UTC, 00°28'N 144°15'W # noon
2016-06-09 2:00AM UTC, 00°44'N 144°19'W

Sea temperature: 82deg

My noon to noon runs for the previous five days, working backwards, have been: 101nm, 100nm, 123nm, 135nm and 114nm.

Shortly after my posting the last blog entry, another mild squall arrived and sent me heading almost due W. As the squall died off, rather than the wind falling off to calms, the wind gradually weakened and veered around, leaving me heading N in 12-16 kts of wind - sweet! Generally, I headed north in nice wind, until it backed around to the NE which sent me to the NW, then the wind veered back to the SE, sending me NE, at which point the wind became mainly easterly again, and weakened - which is where I am now, with a 7-9kt breeze, heading N or NNW.

I crossed the equator this morning, very early - yay! This happened as I was sleeping, again. Both times I've crossed the equator now I've slept through it.

At this point, I've traveled 4200nm with roughly 1400nm to go. The next challenge for me is to get into the tradewinds which are forecast to start at around 6 degrees N by the time I get to them. In order to get to the tradewinds, I need to cross the ITCZ, the CZ part of that name is the important part, signifying a convergence zone. At the moment the winds approaching the ITCZ from the south are pretty weak and the northern winds are forecast to increase - I think this may work in my favor, but the forecasts have been changing daily in this region.

The wind for the rest of today and early tomorrow looks decent, and then it gets a little patchy. I'll try to download a more detailed weather forecast to see if I can find a path through to the northern winds.

The winds above the ITCZ look nice - E or ENE of 15-20, and from my location that would mean I may have a broad reach into Hilo. The challenge is going to be sailing between where I am and the northern tradewinds. I could just motor through of course, so its not like I'm going to be stuck by any means, but it would be nice to sail through.

All well onboard.

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Friday, June 3, 2016

Passage to Hawaii: day 33

2016-05-30 10:00PM UTC, 13°34'S 143°38'W # noon
2016-05-31 10:04PM UTC, 12°05'S 144°00'W # noon
2016-06-01 10:00PM UTC, 10°49'S 143°40'W # noon
2016-06-02 10:00PM UTC, 09°35'S 143°35'W # noon
2016-06-03 10:00PM UTC, 08°22'S 143°52'W # noon
2016-06-04 1:02AM UTC, 08°14'S 143°53'W

Sea temperature: 86deg

My noon to noon runs for the previous five days, working backwards, have been: 75nm, 74nm, 79nm, 91nm, 80nm. The wind has been rather light and squally...

This is part of the passage is shaping up to be a very frustrating. Not quite there yet, but the frustration potential is pretty high.

Today has been pretty typical. Starting last night, I was in 'squall alley', with huge squalls to each side of me, reefed down, doing 3kts generally N or NNW with the wind 6-8. The squalls managed to not hit me, but by 10:30pm I was drifting, with no wind - no moon, quite dark. By just after midnight I had 9 knots of apparent wind and I was going N, trying not to lose any more of my easting. I ran slowly all night between 3 and 4 knots. At 8:30am a massive squall was bearing down on me, so I reefed to M2SG2 and 10min later my apparent wind went from 8 to 24 in about 30 seconds. That lasted for about 1/2 hour and I was luckily traveling north, where I wanted to go. Toward the end of the squall, it started raining, which was nice. By 9:20 there was a dead calm and I reduced sail. I drifted until 10:25 when the wind started to pickup again and I started to sail again.

The same again happened at 11:20am, although no rain this time.

At 2pm a squall just missed me. I was sailing in 5-7 knots, when 1/2 hour after the squall had passed on the wind suddenly picked up to 10-12. Yay! I said to myself. The GFS forecast was forecasting 10.5 knots where I was, the whole area to my east was free of squalls and I thought this was the real wind appearing. 1/2 hour later it faded to 4-5 and by 2:45pm I was drifting again. Just now, 3:30pm, some wind arrived and I'm sailing at 3 knots again, NNW.

The forecast is for increasing winds overnight, from 10 to 11. I'll believe it when I see it.

At some point over the past five days I've spend at least a few hours drifting, otherwise sailing slowly, generally between 3 and 4.

I updated my forecast a little while ago, its a bit of a mess. If I could park and start this trip again in around two weeks that might be a good idea. There are sailable winds forecast until monday afternoon when it goes to 5.5 kts. Then it turns light SE until wednesday. If I make fast enough progress to be across the equator by then, I'll have south winds of around 6 knots (traveling N in that wind? not so easy...) and those south winds last through the forecast.

The big feature I need to get past is the ITCZ, inter-tropical convergence zone. Depending on the winds, above and below the ITCZ, the convergence is weaker or stronger. I'm seeing NE winds above the ITCZ and south winds below - this must be setting up a massive convergence. Think lots of rain, tons of squalls, fickle winds for that whole period. Hopefully once I get above it the wind will become more typical and be a little trade-windy.

Its frustrating, but all well onboard.

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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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Friday, May 13, 2016

Passage to Tahiti: day 12

2016-05-11 10:00PM UTC, 36°35'S 167°09'W # noon
2016-05-12 10:00PM UTC, 36°20'S 163°52'W # noon
2016-05-13 5:00AM UTC, 36°09'S 163°00'W
2016-05-13 10:00PM UTC, 36°01'S 160°59'W

Today's noon to noon run, from noon yesterday to noon today, was 141nm. The previous day was 159, and the day before that was 124. I have been making better progress these last few days.

I'm currently riding the bottom of a high which is giving me steady NW winds. Right now the wind is around 14 knots, moving me along at 6.5 kts. I'm heading East, more or less.

It looks like tomorrow, Saturday, I will have good wind to sail in, possibly Sunday as well. Then there is a light day preceding a large low that may sweep through the area. I haven't yet updated my weather forecast, and once I do that may all change of course. Yesterday's forecast was the first of the series which showed the low that is expected on around Tuesday being so large - in the previous forecasts the low was not as deep and stayed much further South. GFS, the weather model I'm using has a tendency to inflate the weather forecast the further you get from its start, so I would not be surprised to see the large low end up not being as deep or as large. I'll deal with whatever comes along of course - lows tend to be colder than riding the bottom of a high such as I'm doing now, given a choice I prefer to stay warm!

If the weather is agreeable, I'll start turning more North on Sunday - I should have almost made all the Easting that is required for this passage by then.

There is not much to report from out here. There have been no AIS contacts for over a week - that was a Fijian fishing boat, 151' long.

All is well.

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Tuesday, May 10, 2016

Passage to Tahiti: day 9

2016-05-11 2:00AM UTC, 36°28'S 169°18'W

Today's noon-to-noon distance was 83nm, yesterday's was 99nm. This continues to be a slow passage although it is interspersed with some glorious sailing.

Yesterday before noon the wind had been falling steadily after a fun ride the previous evening. At noon I raised the spinnaker again, and this time it stayed up for 24 hours. Overnight last night was glorious. The wind was something like 6-9 from the N or NNW and depending on its speed I would steer a little into it, putting the apparent wind at around 60deg in order to increase the apparent wind speed, increasing boats speed to around 5kts. Then as the wind picked up and the boat speed started hovering just under 6 knots, I would steer down a little, decreasing the apparent wind angle to be around the beam, slowing the boat to mid 4 knots, ready for sleep again with room for the wind to increase. By noon today the wind was starting to increase to around 10-12 and I lowered the spinnaker and have been sailing with the genoa and main since, doing 5 to 6. The seas are very settled, with no wind waves to speak of, certainly no white caps and only a low long swell. Its warm, the sun is out - this is very enjoyable sailing.

The weather models have been struggling to figure out what is going on in this area, its a difficult area of relatively high pressure over a large area. As I was trying to figure out whether or not to jibe just before dark last night, I was looking at the previous days forecast, which called for south winds where I was. The most recent forecast I had at the time was calling or west winds, and the actual winds were north. I am hoping that the forecast for the next few days proves accurate as I hope to have some medium strength winds from the north backing to NW over a period of three days, which will help move me toward my destination.

All is well onboard.

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Sunday, May 8, 2016

Passage to Tahiti: day 7

2016-05-06 10:00PM UTC, 37°14'S 176°37'W # noon
2016-05-07 2:33AM UTC, 37°21'S 176°21'W # jibed to 100
2016-05-07 10:00PM UTC, 37°31'S 175°17'W # noon, spin+m1
2016-05-08 10:00PM UTC, 37°29'S 173°19'W # noon
2016-05-09 4:21AM UTC, 37°27'S 172°32'W

Today's noon to noon distance was 93nm. Yesterdays was 65nm. Tomorrow's is going to be better as I'm finally sailing in 12-15 knots of wind, port beam, heading East at 5-6 knots.

I spent hours traveling at around 1 knot yesterday and the day before, with the spinnaker up but not filling. Surprisingly, my Monitor self steering wind vane continued to steer and there was enough movement to retain steerage. I hate it when the boat slowly moves in circles without steerage, but luckily that hasn't happened yet this trip.

Today I have had mainly high cloud, with a few rain clouds floating by creating localized squall winds. I'm sailing conservatively with a double reefed main, staysail and double reefed genoa - but still moving well so I'm happy - this setup is good for a wide range of wind conditions, if it gets too light tonight I can easily unfurl some genoa.

Tomorrow looks like the wind is starting to change in front of a high I expect in the area the day after, but if the forecasts hold, I'll be able to sail tomorrow - I may slow down dramatically again the following day.

All is well aboard.

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Friday, May 6, 2016

Passage to Tahiti: day 5

2016-05-05 6:23PM UTC, 37°31'S 179°11'W # jibed
2016-05-05 10:00PM UTC, 37°30'S 178°44'W # noon
2016-05-06 5:55AM UTC, 37°25'S 177°54'W
2016-05-06 6:18PM UTC, 37°14'S 176°48'W
2016-05-06 10:00PM UTC, 37°14'S 176°37'W # noon
2016-05-07 2:33AM UTC, 37°21'S 176°21'W # jibed to 100

Today's noon to noon distance was 103nm. Yesterdays was 121nm. Tomorrow's is going to be a much smaller number!

Yesterday I had some wind and I used it to make my way towards my destination - that being the entire point of being out here. Today 1/3 of the day was making my way further south in hopes that I could find a little wind. By 4pm I decided that doing a tactical move at 2 knots was pointless, so I jibed and started heading east again. I had my spinnaker up at the time, as there is only 6-7 knots of wind, and like a chicken I snuffed the spinnaker, jibed the boat and re-raised it. That takes quite a while! I am not quite as fast as some racing teams I have seen, taking roughly 15 minutes to accomplish the snuff/jibe/raise. Although to be fair, 5 minutes of that was me trying to steer Luckness's stern through the wind with the GPS speed showing 0.0. I still haven't motored - its all sailing so far. Some of it very slow...

When I left I was expecting to be becalmed at points in time, but preferred to get out what I thought would be 300 or 400 miles and bob around waiting for wind than to wait longer in NZ. I've actually gone a little more than 480nm, and spent 1 1/2 hours bobing around today. I had the spinnaker up doing around 1.8 knots when the wind fell even further and I slowed below 1. With the swell pattern and my direction the boat was rolling and as a result the spinnaker was filling and spilling the wind as the boat went through its roll motion. I ended up lowing the sail and decided to wait for wind to arrive. The thing is, when you start that, you don't know how long you'll have to wait. The GRIBs were showing 9 knots of wind where I was, so I couldn't rely in them to tell me when wind would arrive - they were saying it should have been here. After an hour, no wind. Luckily after an hour and a half some wind arrived, I raised the spinnaker again and rocked off at 2 knots. Its been a slow day.

It looks like tomorrow is also going to be slow. The next day and a half after tomorrow look like they will bring some wind, then it vanishes again and then it may be back for a while, with the GRIB forecasts showing high teens/low 20's, all from behind me or sightly forward of the beam. It will be nice to start making some faster progress.

Today has been sunny and warm-ish. All is well aboard.

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Wednesday, May 4, 2016

Passage to Tahiti: day 3

2016-05-05 4:00AM UTC, 36°23'S 179°51'E

Since leaving NZ the weather has given me a nice gentle start. Today is the roughest it has been, and that is perhaps 14 knots of WNW wind and a 1.5m sea - still very gentle. It has started to cool down, which is a trend that is bound to continue until I make the turn north, heading to the tropics. However, that turn is likely not for at least 10 days.

I am currently heading generally SE, sailing downwind on a broad reach, or a bit deeper. From reading the weather forecasts and seeing my predicted positions in it, I have a plan on how to navigate the highs and light wind that are ahead of me. The plan may not work out of course, but I might as well make a plan as it helps pass the day if nothing else. I hope what happens is that I continue heading SE all night and then tomorrow jibe and head generally east. For the rest of the forecast there are currently West winds down by latitude 37 or below. There are light days and more medium days, so I hope that with a mixture of Genoa and Spinnaker, on and off, I can jibe my way East until the weather changes and I have to adjust my plan.

I've started re-reading the Aubrey/Maturin series by Patrick O'Brian. I haven't read this series for over 15 years - its such a pleasure to read.

All is well onboard.

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Monday, May 2, 2016

Passage to Tahiti: day 1

I left New Zealand yesterday, motoring out of the bay of islands in a flat calm. 3 1/2 hours later I found some wind and have been sailing slowly ever since.

I saw the nurse who had been treating my fingers last week, and she thought that they had healed well enough for me to leave. I saw her on Wednesday and left on the following Monday (NZ Monday, North America Sunday.)

The weather window that I have left on looks like its going to be on the light side. There is an unusual pattern established where there is a big high east of the country which seems to head east and then come back and join with the high that is following it. As a result, the weather in this area looks light for the length of the forecast - which I'll take, as a gentle few days will be welcome. I may end up drifting for periods of this trip due to lack of wind, but I wanted to get away and there is nothing wrong with a light wind sail in gentle seas.

This morning the wind eventually faded off to almost nothing and I lowered my Staysail and furled my Genoa and raised my Spinnaker (spin-drifter.) At first it just sat there lifeless, as there was no wind at all, but then a few whisps of wind arrived and I stared moving. I love this sail! I've been able to move along nicely in wind that would otherwise leave me wallowing. It looks like this trip I will be using the Spinnaker quite a lot, at least as far as I can see in the forecast, these things sometimes change. I'm currently moving at 4.5 to 5 knots in 5 to 7 knots of apparent wind, on my port side beam.

For a change, I'm going to be reporting my positions in a LuckGrib friendly manner. If you have a copy of my app, you should be able to copy/paste the following text into the 'create point' editor window. First step would be to create a vessel called Luckness, then paste the following into the position report field and press 'return':

2016-05-01 11:00PM UTC, 35°14.33'S 174°06.15'E
2016-05-02 4:50AM UTC, 35°10.3'S 174°23.6'E
2016-05-02 7:16PM UTC, 35°25'S 175°25'E
2016-05-02 10:02PM UTC, 35°28'S 175°34'E
2016-05-03 4:00AM UTC, 35°38'S 175°59'E

All is well. There are many miles to go!

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Monday, April 11, 2016

Departure Delay

In my last blog post I mentioned that I was looking for weather windows to depart New Zealand and start my sail back to Seattle.  Everything was going according to my plan, I was ready, Luckness was ready and I was enjoying my last few days in the country as I was planning on leaving sometime in the middle of the last week of March - the weather seemed to be coming around into a pattern I liked.

Then, after a brief moment of inattention, I made a stupid mistake and my departure is now being delayed for a while.

So...  I was anchored off of Paihia, one of the small towns here in the Bay of Islands.  I had just finished an early dinner on shore and had returned to my dinghy.  As I was untying the dinghy painter I briefly put my hand down beside me on what I thought was the dock - I saw it just out of the corner of my eye as I focused on the task at hand - and I felt a painful sensation.  I pulled my right hand toward me and looked down and saw that two of my finger tips had just been crushed.  I had put them into a small gap between one of the pilings holding the dock in place and the wharf, just as the dock had moved and the gap had closed.  Crap.  I recommend you not try this.  Its quite painful.

After a few moments of disbelief at my stupidity, I was able to retie my dinghy and then walked up the dock looking for some help.  The fingers looked pretty bad.  Anyone looking at them would realize that this needed much more than a bandage and aspirin.  An ambulance arrived less than two hours later and drove me to a local clinic.  This happened on the Saturday evening of Easter weekend.  The doctor who was at the clinic took a look at the fingers and realized that I should be in a larger facility, as I needed x-rays and someone with more specialized knowledge.  I called a taxi, as that was faster, and caught a ride to Whangarei Emergency Department, arriving at around midnight.  They treated me (I won't describe those details, a little grisly) and released me at 2:30am with both fingers wrapped heavily, one finger in a splint and my arm in a sling in order to keep the fingers elevated.  I found a room, caught a few hours of sleep, got a taxi back to Paihia the next morning and returned to Luckness.  This was the first night I've spent off Luckness since leaving Seattle in 2013.

The doctor has recommended that the broken middle finger on my right hand be kept immobilized for four weeks.  After having the dressing on the finger changed on the Tuesday following easter weekend, the nurse I saw recommended I give the fingers at least six weeks before I even consider sailing off.

If you're interested in a little more detail of the injury read on, otherwise skip the rest of this paragraph.  I crushed two finger tips badly, this according to both doctors.  The flesh was crushed and torn, I have 10 stitches holding it all together, the last bone in my middle finger was broken into several pieces and I lost both finger nails.  However both fingers are healing well.

So far, this story started well (I'm ready!), plunged (oh crap!) but now it starts picking up again.  Today its been 17 days since the accident and the fingers have been feeling better and better for the whole time.  The dressings on the wounds have been changed a number of times, and each time the fingers themselves as well as the dressings that come off are looking better and better.  I wouldn't want to go sailing today, but if I have the opportunity to heal through April and early May, I will be able to sail away.  Yay!

The public dock at Paihia is quite small.  When I came into the dock both sides of it were covered with boats already tied up, so I pulled around the back and tied my dinghy to the walkway.  The tide was lower when I was there than in the picture above, so the walkway was a reach above me, and forward.

This is the piling and surrounding wharf.  Each time I look at it now I can't believe how stupid I was to put my finger anywhere near that area - its an obvious danger area.  I've been cruising now for a few years, I know better.  Children would know better.  Somehow I felt comfortable while I was there, I relaxed a little, focused on the one task and made a mistake.  Oops.

I have to say, if you ever find yourself having some type of accident, there are few other places in the world that are as good to do it as New Zealand.  They have a healthcare plan here called ACC, which is an accident coverage plan that covers everybody in the country, including visitors like me.  I have paid a few small copay fees, but aside from those very reasonable charges everything else has been paid for by the tax payers of New Zealand.  Thank you everybody!  New Zealand is awesome, everybody should visit here.  I could go off on a rant now about the state of health care in the USA, but won't.

I mentioned in my last blog post that my immigration visa would be expiring in the middle of April.  I called the immigration office after seeing the nurse to have my dressing changed, on the Tuesday following Easter weekend, to speak with them.  The process I need to go through to be able to stay in the country longer is to apply for a new visitors visa, which I have done.  I have yet to hear from them on whether or not they will allow me to stay in the country to heal and then sail away.  I'm hopeful they will allow this.  If not, my plans are going to need to suddenly change...I'll deal with that if it comes up.  I've been doing some reading on how I can help with the healing process and one of the ways is to avoid stress.  When I think about being denied a visa extension to allow me to heal, I get stressed, so I'm trying to not think about it...

It turns out that I have had several misconceptions on how to best heal your flesh after an injury.  I had always thought that disinfecting the wound was the right thing - pouring hydrogen peroxide or iodine on the wound to clean it out.  It turns out that that is now discouraged, there have been studies that determined that doing that slows the healing process.  By disinfecting the wound with hydrogen peroxide or iodine you end up killing some of the flesh, and this slows healing.  Also, as the wound starts to heal, those chemicals will attack the newly growing flesh.  The doctor and nurses here are using either saline solution or simple tap water to keep the wound clean.  I hadn't realized this, lesson learned.

I have also had a misconception about how to treat the wound after the initial blood has stopped.  I always thought that having a scab form was a good thing, that you should expose the wound to the air as fast as possible to allow scab formation, that this was good.  This turns out to be wrong as well.  Moist, or humid healing is much better than dry.  When a scab forms the wound will heal from the bottom up.  If you keep the wound covered and humid then the wound can heal from the sides as well as the bottom.  Humid healing is now the best practice.  Another lesson learned.

This episode has been full of learning experiences.  Another thing I learned is how to talk to the first responders that you speak to when requesting an ambulance.  The people I spoke to wanted a bunch of information, which I was happy to provide.  They ask about the injury, which I described.  Then they ask about your pain level, on a scale of 1 to 10, 1 being nothing and 10 being high.  This scale is very subjective.  For someone who had never been injured, my finger tip pain would have been a 10.  However, I had a back injury many many years ago and that whole episode was very painful.  So when asked, I told them my pain was around a four, painful but I've had worse.  This, as my blood was slowly dripping down onto the pavement where I was standing.  They also asked about the amount of blood and I replied "not very much" thinking a few steady drops is nothing compared to an artery squirting blood all over, like you see on T.V.  I realized later that on hearing this they lowered the priority of my call.  The ambulance heading toward me was redirected to a different accident, and after collecting their patient I was on their way back to the hospital and so they stopped to inform me that the ambulance that would take me away would be along soon.  They looked at my fingers, brought me aboard and off we went.  After arriving at the hospital they took me off first and processed me at the hospital before going back to the other guy.  Next time, when asked, I'll say my pain is an eight or nine and there is "quite a lot of blood", as blood is meant to stay on the inside, not leak to the outside.  Of course there will never be a next time, as finally, I've learned my lesson and there will be no more accidents.  Ever.  Hopefully.

I'm hoping now to be ready to sail away sometime in early May.  I've lost at least 6 weeks out of my sailing season.  I was originally planning on stopping in French Polynesia for three or four weeks, I will need now to scale that back and maybe skip FP altogether.  It would be unfortunate to miss French Polynesia, but I want to be able to leave Hawaii in July, as the longer you wait for that final passage the greater the risk of encountering stronger weather.

One of my friends left NZ last week on this same passage, he'll be able to enjoy some time in French Polynesia.  Some other friends are planning on leaving soon, perhaps next week, they are also planning on seeing a few sights along the way.  I was originally going to be ahead of both of these boats - now I'm going to be trailing far behind.

I'll leave this note here.  I'm doing well, the fingers are making progress, and I expect to be starting my journey back to Seattle, after a delay, in early May.

Signing off, for now,
   The single handed single hander.