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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  1. Hey Craig! That's going to be one long passage! I was wondering: why not stop in the Tuamotus for a couple of days to get some good sleep if you're passing through anyway? Aren't you going to get too exhausted?

  2. Funny! Speaking of whales, we just watched "In the Heart of the Sea" last night, about the experience that supposedly inspired Melville's Moby Dick. Your discomfort with close proximity to a whale is understandable! But, what a wonderful evening full of wildlife! It's crowded here. Enjoy your SPACE! :-)