|San Diego to Hawaii April 2003
This was a light trade wind trip of 2280 miles in company with two old pals making their first passages. Dick Ryan is from Seattle and the owner of Contagious, my earlier cruiser, a Hans Cristian 43. Alvin Koo is an old pal from Honolulu who lives aboard his sloop in the Ali Wai Basin. The passage was SW to a point 300 miles west of Isla Guadalupe then direct to Hilo. The trip took 2 weeks, 8 hours to Radio Bay. Alvin wrote a log of his impressions , of interest to first passage makers.
19 April, 8:30 a.m.
What must it have been like, say 1492, to stuff your clothes into a duffel, walk up to the rough hewn pier toward a two-masted, square rigged caravel, getting ready to sail west across the ocean further than any man has ever done before? What would you take? Linen shirts, a slicker certainly, foodsÖ I doubt it (were there such thing as snacks back then?), a knife, a bosunís knife with blade, marlin spike and shackle wrench (there were no such thing as shackles back then).
What thoughts would have run through your mind? Would death be there or a certain fatalism? Would it be an adventure or a test of machismo? Would the thought of climbing the rigging in a howling gale give you pause? Would you skip down the dock in a burst of excitement?
Going down to the sea in ships, I donít think, has always been the same.
It is 2003. Finally, a vague desire is coming true. I own a boat. I have gently wrestled with the idea of sailing it to the deep blue ocean. Iíve always known a first passage should be on board a longer, more well equipped boat than mine with an experienced skipper. Who better than Denny who taught me to sail so many years ago. Capt. Denny Morgan circumnavigated the Pacific from Seattle down the coast over to the Marquesas and Tahiti across Polynesia up to Japan and back across the North Pacific in the early 80ís. He has more than 40,000 miles to his name. Heís seen storms, faraway and isolated places and hungers for more. He says all cruisers do it for the adventure and the beauty. Denny is the first one who started calling me Capt. Koo. Capt. Dick, our other crewman, is a long time friend of Dennyís. Ryan first fell in love with sea driving big boats as a quartermaster in the Navy. He bought Dennyís Hans Christian 43, the Contagious, in í93 and has been sailing it since. This will be his first passage on a sailing vessel.
My journey starts at an airport. I must fly to San Diego to sail back to Honolulu. What a contradiction to fly over at 400 miles per hour in five hours only to sail back at 7 knots in 14 days. Thatís the plan anyway.
I fly Aloha to Anaheim on itís latest version 737-700. It has drop down video screens for the inflight movie and gets across the Pacific with as much comfort as a plane three times itís size. The John Wayne Terminal in Orange county is a huge, modern arched tunnel. My first view of the mainland is a huge blue light on the seaward side of Catalina.
Iíve packed a new high tech, waterproof foul weather jacket that is completely waterproof but breaths so that you donít trap condensation and sweat inside the jacket. What a concept. My warm clothes are polar fleece, which wicks perspiration from your body, not linen. San Diego should be in the 60ís or colder. I have snacks, jerky, dried ika or cuttlefish (calamari), Buzzy gave me a frozen Zippies chili, Easter egg chocolates and spicy Spam. How thoughtful. I donít own a bosunís knife anymore, dropped it in the ocean, but you canít get one through security.
Going to sea today is more like a picnic than an odyssey.
Dennyís boat, the Jubilant, is a 53 foot Spencer about 17 years old. It is a fine boat. In front is a parlor. Well, itís more like a parlor than a cabin. One wall has teak drawers and an entertainment center. The other is a booth with table. The galley area has an overhead teak cupboard with a brass clock and posts. Further forward is a head with automated vacuum flush, and the V berth has a two deck bunk layout on one side with a desk and swinging seat that tucks under the desk.
Aft, a passageway leads past the engine room to an aft lounge with contains a miniature pot bellied stove heater, a nav station, couch and extra bunk. Behind that is a head with full bath tub and a stand up, custom made blue ceramic urinal, unique in the annals of the sea. The captainís suite is a double bed sized mattress lying fore and aft in the stern.
This might compare to the 4í high ceilings in the hammock sleeping area of Columbusí day with loss rates of up to 90%, due to scurvy, drowning and other miscellaneous causes.
Dennyís boat has a chronometer, compass, short wave radio, weather fax, computer, GPS satellite position system, auto pilot, radar, watermaker, auxiliary generator, freezer and fridge. We will have steaks and chops the whole way across.
Dick is excited, taking pictures of the sailors Ė us Ė before and hopefully, after. Our neighbors are excited for us and our adventure. I came aboard about 10 p.m. last night. We buy Coke Classic at a Vonís and return the rental car. Denny has been working on the boat for weeks now. It seems we shove off with no other preparation than a case of Coke Classic.
We back out, motor through a slipway, and pop out into a wide channel between thousands of boats in various marinas. The Stars and Stripes from the Americaís Cup is not at its usual dock. San Diego seems to be a continuous ring of marinas inside the bay. Denny is moored at Shelter Island, which seems to have a mile of mega power yachts all 80í plus lined up on the outer most fingers of a series of floating piers.
We see some research dolphins in the harbor jumping following a 20í inflatable. The entry to Point Loma is over a mile long, lined with fishermen in their boats, sea lions on the buoys. The channel curves south around Coronado Naval Station. About 10 miles out, two huge pods of dolphin greet us, one group of 20 riding our bow for five minutes. Off to our port is the Coronado Islands of Mexico. San Diego disappears into the haze at about 15 miles. All around, finally, is sea.
We plan to motor for about a day. The winds are light and we want to average 7 knots crossing. If we drop below 6 knots, we will start the engine as Dick is on a schedule. The winds are also westerly, which is against us going to Hawaii. We bear south in light air, looking for trades, warmth and paradise.
By 4 p.m. it is getting chilly. The wind cuts and itís cold in the shadows. I sit on the cabin top writing to get the most of the sunís last heat.
We will run 3 hour watches starting at 9 p.m. I have the first watch, mostly itís a matter of staying up, watching the radar or sea for ships and making adjustments for wind changes, if any. Dick is not feeling well. His stomach is bothering him. Itís not clear whether itís seasickness or something he ate. He never gets seasick on his boat, never in the Navy.. Itís not crippling him, just making him enjoy the first day less. Iím OK on deck or below for short periods as long as I donít try to read or do something complicated. If I do, I get queasy and have to come up on deck.
The first thing we do is cook breakfast. Bacon, eggs and baguette bread. Lunch is salami and cheese melted on bread. Dinner is salad and scrabbled eggs with asparagus. Itís 6 p.m., dinner time!
6:15 p.m. We cut the engine and the boat comes to life under sail at 6.5 knots. Jubilant carries 400 gallons of diesel, nearly enough to power us the whole way to Hawaii.
Sunday, April 20
Remembering last night: wellÖ the sail only lasted a half hour and then we started the engine again. I jumped right into bed to prepare for my first 9 p.m. to midnight watch. Everybody hit the hay early.
I bundled in long sleeve tee under a fleece liner under a foul weather jacket. My pants are rain pants over jeans with watch cap and wool gloves. Itís good. Iím warm. But when Iím alone, Iím immediately sleepy and have to move, change seats and stand to stave off the sleepiness. In the dark, I get a bit queasy at first as I look too much at the boat. I have to look at the stars to maintain equilibrium.
Thereís no moon. The sky is cloudless but hazy, only the biggest stars are clearly visible. Wind is 5 knots probably, hard to say since weíre motor sailing. Seas are gentle with regular 10í ground swells. I start meditating and move to keep awake. I also attack the hot, spicy jerky .
About 10:30 p.m., clouds slowly start drifting over from the west. The wind has been from the west all day. We thought they would come from the north, so we could run southwest to the easterlies which dominate the Tropics above Hawaii. We expect the wind to change direction any time.
The moon rises at 11:22 p.m. I have been waiting for it. It peeks up orange behind a small pile of clouds. I have to wait about 15 minutes before it rises above the clouds. Itís beautiful. It slants rough cut slabs of gold on the waves like pictures youíve seen of men fishing the Grand Banks. Dick pops up at 11:50 p.m. bright eyed and ready for his watch.
Going to sleep at sea is a wildly different thing. Iím in the bow so the motion is pronounced. It is up and down, side to side, with the roar of waves splashing against the hull against the drone of the engine. I jam myself against the hull so I donít feel in a free fall half the time. The mattress seems like a water bed, tossing you up, accepting you back down gently. I fall asleep pretty easily. Dick says he is moving from the aft lounge bunk to the forward cabin with me if we cannot fix the wind vane. He says the sound of the auto pilot is too loud. Dick is a notorious snorer, self admitted, and it frightens me a bit.
Denny let me sleep in on my watch till 7 a.m. We run three watches. I was on 9 p.m. to midnight. Dick followed me, Denny next. 6 a.m. is supposed to be me again. Denny said I looked to peaceful and snored so softly, he couldnít bear to wake me. I guess I was hard to get up. Dick cut the engine during his watch, and we are sailing!
The wind is 15 knots, overcast, boat speed is 7 knots, wind is still from the west, weíre beating into it at 210 to 240 degrees SW to SSW. The first thing we do is eat Buzzyís Easter chocolate eggs. Happy Easter! The next thing is to try to set up the wind vane. It just doesnít hold a course. It swings from 260 to 150 and speed varies down to 4 knots as the boat heads up too high and then falls off to far. Denny says he paid $300 for it from a guy who gave him such complicated directions it was like making love to the thing. He says if we canít get it to work, he is ready Ė and happy to do it Ė to send it to the deep. It would make him happy to see it go, he says. Denny works on it for maybe 45 minutes.
Not knowing shit from shinola has never been a deterrent for real men to refrain from trying to fix things they know nothing about. I fiddle with it for maybe 15 minutes but cannot make it balance so that a slight shift of wind makes it change direction from one side to the other. It seems the vane sail is too flexible. It flops over so that it takes too much to make if flop back the other way. I finally come back to the cockpit and Denny heads back aft. We are not paying attention until he returns with a smile on his face. Itís gone, he says. Just like that. Just took the sail off and flung it into the sea and good riddance. Dick and I look back, and sure enough, itís gone. He cut away the rest of the vane and rudder assembly. It started dragging at the boat and affecting boat speed. We have to heave to. Finally, as Iím aft, looking at the rudder assembly all bent and twisted, it falls away and spirals into the deep taking about 15 feet of bright white Ĺ inch nylon line with it.
Breakfast is cereal and fresh strawberries. I pass as a non-breakfast eater. The wind packs up to 20-30 knots but keeps blowing from the west. I take another nap.
We canít get a channel on the shortwave. This is a minor but vexing problem. There is no way to email, post our position and tell people we are all right. It bothers Denny mightily, as he struggles to fix it. Also, we donít have weather fax, but Denny is not worried. Heís been watching the weather for about two months, and is familiar with its seasonal patterns. I cook for the first time. Lunch is salad with cheese and salami on the side. Salad is romaine lettuce, sweet peas, asparagus, strawberries with honey mustard. The cook has to wash up. In a rolling sea, itís the trickiest part of the job. We are eating light but good. Dick tells us all about the Atkins diet, which he has started. Denny has the book on board. He asks Dick if heís read the book. Dick hasnít. Thereís only a short pause as he continues to tell us all about the diet and what we should be eating.
I nap again before my 3-6 p.m. watch. The wind is steady 20-25 knots, the deck is wet. The wind is beginning to clock around toward the north. Using the head is challenging with the boat healing so much. Sometimes you have to lean away to get the downward angle right. But Jubilant is big and itís not easy to send it far over. It averages 10 degrees rolling to 20. It feels safe.
We bullshit the afternoon away. Dick is now broadening his business vistas from being a manufacturerís rep to doing public speaking for a new company that does profit enhancement consulting and training. He is a lifelong salesman and also does training on building relationships. The opens the door to a broad field of jokes about relationships.
Weíre probably averaging 7.5 knots with winds gusting 15-30 knots. A big tuna (aku), maybe 10 lbs. plus, hits about 5 p.m. Itís hard to get in by handline. At first itís down for about three minutes, as we get ready to bring it in. Dick mans the helm. Denny gets the gaff and vodka, which if squirted or poured into the fishís mouth will kill it instantly. He does not look real fisherman-like standing there ready with a two foot gaff in one hand and a fifth of vodka in his other. Pulling the aku in is rough. I put on gloves and start wrapping the line around my hand, a very dangerous business if a shark should decide to come up and chomp on our fish The line is out a 100 feet. The fish breaks the surface and starts sledding at 8 knots on the top of the water with about 50 feet of line still out. I bring it two feet at a time. Denny has to help me but itís still a tough go. We try luffing the sail but the boat only slows down a few knots. Weíre reaching aft of the beam, running really, and letting out the sail is no good. Next time, we will have to head up or heave to if we get a tuna this big. Itís hooked well, however; itís been on for over 10 minutes. We work it to about 25 feet of the stern and suddenly the lure flies free. I see it floating there, like itís dead. I feel like turning the boat around. It doesnít move for a few seconds, and finally I see its fin, sticking up in the air, wave weakly. It works its fin again like itís trying to swim. It will be all right. We couldnít gaff it if we tried. The boat keeps heading out into the Pacific, going to Hawaii.
Dinner tonight is a huge, thick, baked stuffed pork chop with black bean peas and asparagus stir fry. Itís about 6:30 p.m. and Iím signing out.
Monday, April 21
9 a.m. Back on watch. Itís the beginning of the third day. Weíre doing about 180 miles per day. Itís already warmer. and the wind is shifting. Itís now from the northwest, though light. Weíre motor sailing at 6.8 knots. I think Denny turned on the motor on his watch. It feels good to feel a little heat. I think I will get rid of at least one layer by the end of the day. Breakfast for the guys was cereal and strawberries. I had strawberries and brown sugar. Denny finds 4 squid on deck.
Last night, it was heavily overcast and dark. I had to steer at one point because the short wave is acting up and affects the auto helm. But in the pitch dark, no compass light, I had to go by the feel of the wind and waves. I gybbed twice. fortunately not heavily. When the moon came out, I couldnít see it. Just a slight general light in the overall sky. I could see a vague horizon. I go to sleep when Dick goes on watch so snoring is not a problem. But actually when I wake him, he hasnít been snoring at all.
We feast. I cook Buzzyís gift of 2 lbs. of Zippies chili. Great! Make long grain rice in a pot without a rice cooker, heat the chili, dice onions, and fry one sunnyside up egg for each bowl like a loco moco. We have been talking about loco mocos. Fantastic. Great treat 400 miles in the middle of the ocean.
The sun has come up. Itís a beautiful day. The weather seems to change every few hours. We missed some rain squalls earlier this morning. Right now itís blue skies, everywhere. Steering 230 degrees.
We break out the li hing mui, cherry and plum. Itís local time. We finished the chocolate yesterday, have started working on the gummy worms and finished the Japanese nuts in one fell sitting. I am saving the ika for tomorrow. Did one bag of teri jerky last night. Have also done pop corn.
Doing the dishes takes awhile. You have to wash, rinse, wipe and put away all in the same time frame. Canít leave things lying about to get launched in a rolling sea. Also we throw everything but plastic over the side: food, paper, soda cans that we break open first. After lunch Denny and Dick vacuumed the carpets and polished the mirrors. I find this amazing. Right now Denny and Dick are reading. Iím writing and we are all enjoying the sun in the cockpit.
Everybody ended up napping for a few hours. I took a shower, brushed my teeth at 5:30 p.m., sat around for 10 minutes in shorts, no shirt. Felt great. I take off the long tee and sweat pants for the afternoon. At 6 p.m., we noticed a squall. The breeze freshened. We were doing 8+ knots so we decided to take in the roller jib. But one sheet was badly frayed. So we changed ends on that sheet. Trying to hold the jib while we did was a bit dangerous, our first seamanlike feat. The jib was flapping something awful even turning into the wind. Denny and I were up front trying to control it and give Dick instruction on bringing in the roller, letting out the jib sheet on one side, taking it in on the other, starting the engine, heading up. Dick was a bit busy, but so were we trying to hang on. We thought the wind was still light enough, but it wasnít. It was blowing maybe 25 when we were in the midst of it. Got it all done and let out only a portion of the jib, probably about 100 percent of the of 130 percent available. Brought in the fishing line. Donít need any more excitement. Doing 7.5 knots. Wind is probably 18 knots NW. Seas 6-8 feet riding the trough.
Having spaghetti and salad for dinner. Sunset at 7:40 p.m. San Diego time. Scattered clouds. Hope I see a nice moon tonight. Fell off to 205 to stop heeling so much to make it easier to cook the pot full of water for the spaghetti. Speed went down to 5.6 knots. Denny makes comments, but Dick says donít pay attention to him. ďCapt.ís losing it. We know whatís important.Ē Weíll come back to course after dinner. Dinner is great. Dick lost part of the pot of noodles onto a counter and into a bin despite our precautions. Cussed up a storm.
I have been waiting the 2-3 days that everyone says it takes to get your sea legs. I figure even the queasiness of trying to read below should go away. Dick tries to get us all to watch a Pierre Brosland/James Bond movie. Iím surprised I feel fine watching it. But the sounds sucks. Something wrong with the computer, or the engine noise is just too loud. Thereís enough action and good looking women, however, to get the gist of things. Iím still on egg shells about the queasiness till the next day, when I realize. Nothing. Iím a seaman.
3:15 a.m. Tuesday April 22
Back on watch. Wind NW maybe 15, 7.5 K overcast, cannot see the moon, still running the trough in easy 6-8í seas. Position is roughly 27.19N123.30W about 460 miles form San Diego. Hope the clouds break so I can see the moon. Denny says the wind has been very fluky going from 4K boat speed to 8.
Denny has been fiddling with the radio for 2 days now. We cannot even make voice contact. or get a weather fax. This latter could be bad if a storm develops we canít see. But from a seasonal point of view, it should be a fair wind all the way. Also I hope Lei is not worried. Dickieís is a little concerned because
Rebecca ,his wife, is expecting an email. I guess Ron might be trying to make contact since he has a ham radio. Dennyís now hoping itís something physically simple like a bad connection in the back of the radio. He will work on it this morning. This is the dramatic part.
Getting colder. Temperature must have dropped a few degrees in the past half hour. Made some hot water to drink.
Denny has disconnected the computer from the radio in one last effort to make voice contact. Heís eliminated all the other components over the past two days. This has cost a lot of consternation and swearing. Heís ready to give up trying for communication after this.
Eureka! Contact. Heís made voice contact with the Pacific Seafarerís net. They will post a position on the YachtRep site but nobody from my family knows where to look for it there. Butís itís great news. Later, we will ask someone else from the Manana net to make a phone call for us. So thereís one drama down.
The wind is 10-15 and has clocked almost due north. This is good. Seas are confused still from the northwest, so weíre in transition looking for the trades. Because of the wind shift, Denny has decided to run the spinnaker. This will give us speed going southwest to Hawaii. We have to do sailorly things like douse the mizzen and roll up the genoa. Rig the pole, rig the spinnaker lines. Dick is up front with Denny leading as I write. Itís a huge 1400 square foot spinnaker so this should be interesting.
The spinnaker is up, a big red and white thing, white in the center shaped like a Mercedes upside down ĎYí. We had salad with bread, cheese and salami for lunch. Everybody was whipped getting the spinnaker up, jackets off, bodies fully warmed.
But the wind is dropping, probably zero to 8. We get up to 5.2 knots boat speed and the then slow down again. Dick is talking about starting the engine, he has to get back for a speaking gig by the 5th, but we would have to take down the spinnaker to start the engine. After all that work. Weíll see how long we go.
Still warm. We must be cooled off by now. Dick has been swabbing the decks, cleaning the windows, heís used a dollop of Simple Green, another bucket with Soft Scrub and a bottle of Windex. I take off my clothes down to shorts and tee shirt. Itís so nice. And itís mostly overcast. The next time the sun comes out with a nice breeze it should be great.
Denny got a call with suggestions how to fix the computer to send emails. Heís working on that and maybe receiving a weather fax.
Sitting in the sun, barefoot, shorts, tee shirt, shooting the shit. We tell drinking war stories. Motor sailing 6.8 knots, following sea in 10K of wind, just the main out, seas 4-6 from NNE, starting to receive a weather fax, but no dice. Took down the spinnaker. Set the pole for wing on wing with the genoa poled out on the starboard side.
Just had chicken stir fry with broccoli, asparagus and snow peas. Very nice. Couldnít get the weather fax. Now motor sailing at 7.5K, 6-8 seas from NNW. Wind 10 from NNE. Steering 240 on a rhomb line looking for the easterlies.
Back on watch for 9 p.m.-midnight, 1st watch. Still motor sailing at 7K, same wind, seas and course. Main sail is banging away when the wind stalls or turns a bit easterly. That put it nearly dead astern and creates a dead air space with the boatís engine driving it nearly as fast as the wind.
Denny reached a sail net that will put our position up on Wingo. Buzzy will be able to see it. And Lei, Ron and others. Thatís good. Heís hoping maybe he can fix the computer yet to do emails. We went over our weather fax of the 18th again and realized when plotting our course on it that itís pretty much accurate for what we are finding.
The sky has turned cloudy. It was a pretty sunset through one layer of clouds. No stars. It will be dark soon. Iíve pulled out a life vest and harness and am wearing it when on deck all alone. I still prefer being on deck to down below. I sing, look out, meditate, let time float.
7 a.m., Wednesday, April 23
Motoring all night. Denny and Dick pulled in the genoa and centered the main to stop the flopping. I turned to 210 south looking for wind. It is still behind us at NNE. The sun is coming up now all gold behind a thick layer of clouds, one fairly high squall bearing down on us from the NE. Looks like it will catch us too. Weíre in the center of a patch of blue in a ring of clouds. The moon is half full and still bright in the sky. Air is definitely warmer. Iím now in jeans, tee shirt, sweater and jacket.
I change course to 240 and the squalls are passing 2 miles across our stern.
Itís funny, but instead of feeling tiny in a vast sea, the world becomes the boat. I judge everything by the boat, safety, comfort, food, companionship. The sea is but a vista, a changing environment from which we seek friendly waves and wind. The sea doesnít seem any more vast than looking at it from shore. You can only see 8-10 miles clearly. Beyond that clouds and details blend in the haze and horizon. We have a cheerful boat and it is dry and warm and pleasant.
We put up sail, wing on wing at about 9 a.m. Doing 5.5-6.5 knots, going 240 with the wind and seas nearly astern, light seas 4-6. The flag is pointed abeam but that doesnít mean the wind is from abeam. The flag is half pushed by the wind created by the boat and half by the wind astern, so total wind is probably about 12. It is very pleasant sailing, quiet, just the sound of the waves and the water, rushing past the boat. Ate scrambled eggs and kielbasa for breakfast.
Tried the spinnaker. Wind dropped again. We arenít having much luck with this spinnaker. Every time we put it up the wind drops. At lunch. Salad, dried turkey jerky, sourdough bread. Downloaded pictures from the digital camera and looked at Dennyís Mexican slide show that Donna did. Very good. It inspires me. Great photography plus background music: James Taylor singing Mexico.
Spinnaker got wrapped up in topping lift. Took it down. Motoring again in bright sun, about 75 degrees, I would guess, maybe 4 knots wind, just a beautiful calm ocean. Every bodyís reading, except me, Iím writing. Shorts, tee shirt time, lay in the sun for awhile, but felt my face baking. Went below to nap.
Conversation: Dick, ďDenny, how do you eat your nuts?Ē Denny looks stumped, throws 3-4 nuts in to his mouth. Dick, ďYouíre not supposed to eat them like that.Ē Dick takes an almond from his palm, holds it between his first finger and thumb. ďSee, you take one at a time, then you can savor the taste.Ē Alvin to Dick, ďDo you, if you had say two pecans, would you eat them together or separately?Ē Dick, ďSeparate of course. First, your Filbert, then a cashew, whatever. You get a different experience of the taste depending on the order. Of course, if you change the order, the taste changes.Ē
I cannot say how entertaining this kind of conversation is. We are still motoring. We have the genoa pole set up for wing and wing in case the wind picks up.
Just finished dinner. Roast leg of lamb with blueberry chutney and stir friend vegetables with worchestshire, an invention of Dickís. Great. Fine dining at its best.
Still motor sailing. Dick is doing clean up, Denny is reporting our position on Pacific Seafarerís net.
12:30 a.m., Thursday, April 24
Midnight watch. The wind is still a whisper. Motoring at 1400 rpm, 6.8K at 245 degrees, partly cloudy sky. Can see a good portion of the sky, maybe 40%. The stars that we can see are brilliant. The San Diego haze and California smog are finally gone. I see something Iíve never really seen before, a star right on the horizon. Itís so bright it looks like a ship. I think it is Capella, part of the Orion group.
Orion is to our right at about 1:30. The Big Dipper is to our starboard quarter high in the sky circling around the North Star like a clock, but backwards. I hope I get a nice view of the Southern Cross. It should be great with this air visibility. I rarely get to see it all in Honolulu due to the smog at the horizon.
We are at 24.48 128.33W about 830 miles out of San Diego or over 1/3 the way in just under 5 days. Weíre in the Tropics.
Still motoring looking for wind. Denny has made radio contact with someone who says the trades are between 25-8 degrees north. We are already below 25 degrees and so hope for the winds momentarily. But nothing is in sight.
The sky is cloudy and slightly chill. The guys eat honey apple oatmeal with granola for breakfast which inspires me to cook up a batch of ramen. We take out a meatloaf to defrost for dinner and plan a lamb omelet and rice for lunch. This is getting to be like cruise ship travel.
The guys say they will consider adding something to our log. Denny knows a lot about the history of sailing and Dickís observations are always provocative. We could make a nice CD of pictures and everything from this. This reminds me to take more pictures but the batteries seem low. I need to learn how to re-charge them and to read the manual so I can make the flash work. Donna got some great sunset pictures and great colorful stuff of Mexican buildings and beaches.
The sun is out! Itís great. I change to my red surfing shorts. The sea is so beautiful and calm. I tell Dick that you donít expect so far out in the ocean to have the sea so calm and friendly. What you feel is afraid of breaking 15 foot rollers and the sea mocking you. Dick agrees. Yeah, he says, ďyouíd think youíre really going to see something out here. But no, itís like sailing in a lake.Ē Weíd like the wind but nice is nice.
We had lamb and asparagus omelet and rice for lunch. Real good. The lamb had lots of the skin of the end cut on it. Made it real tasty.
Iíve just finished reading the manual for the digital camera and maybe we can get some more interesting pictures.
Still motoring. The wind continues to swing toward the east. This means trades sooner or later. But so far no 15-20 mph trades.
Dick has made fudge brownies using extra virgin olive oil. We have some trepidation that the oil night not be good. But it smells great. Itís cooling now. Dick asks if we need to find a container to put the brownies in. I say, ďI donít think so.Ē Dick breaks out plates and Cool Whip.
You cannot believe how moist and light this is. Plus the ambience is five star.
We switch to sail, wing on wing, sometime between naps and reading. The wind continues to come around to the east. The speed is 5K, slow for our planned arrival, but we persist since it is closing in on dinner time.
Dinner is meat loaf, salad, rice. Not just meat loaf but a specially prepared and seasoned pre-made loaf from a gourmet meat shop in San Diego. Clancyís or something, Denny thinks. Great. I stuff myself.
We take pictures, clean up, fiddle with the sails and go back to motoring. Looking for the trades. Looking for the trades. Dick is watching a movie on his computer. Dennyís doing roll call on the short wave. Iím on watch.
3 a.m., Friday, April 25
Back on watch. Life is becoming a series of watches, eating, sleeping, and waiting for the wind. We are not really searching for the wind anymore. We have adjusted our rhomb line to Maui instead of Hilo. It will be about 250 degrees magnetic. That means WSW. We should be in 15-20 knots trades blowing from the east. We are way south far enough.
Our last position marked was 23.47N 130.51W. We are still 1400 miles away or 7-8 days sail in a good trade wind. We have sailed about 1000 miles mostly southwest direct to Hawaii. The sky is mostly cloudy. A few stars. No moon. Wind is very light, seas flat. Iím reading more. Dick is watching movies on his watch. Caught Denny playing solitaire on his computer. He says he is very frustrated with the lack of wind. Me, Iíd rather motor in calm than ride 20 foot following seas, screaming to Hawaii.
The sun is out. Iím sitting bare back and in my shorts. Weíve had an eventful lunch hour. We started by hauling out the genoa wing on wing and getting 6K or so. Then we had a nice lunch of salad, a fried hamburger patty and a slice of bread followed by dessert.
ďThis is like stew. Tastes better the second day,Ē Denny says.
ďItís crunchier,Ē Dick says. ďChewy-er.Ē
We are, of course, speaking of the fudge brownies. Dick says we can make another batch Sunday. This should last till Tuesday, he says. Denny and I look at each other. Dick has voiced his concern that we donít have enough extra virgin olive oil. I say, ďNow Dick, we donít want to be docking with no extra extra virgin olive oil.Ē
I think we have plenty of oil to use up the other three packets of brownies. Denny thinks we should, of course, use the oil for brownies until the oil is gone. Certainly, we shouldnít use it for cooking.
Next, we raise the spinnaker. This is a lot of work. Take in the genoa, adjust the pole, pull up the spinnaker. Finally.
Weíre running at 6.1-7.1 knots. Weíre screaming out the speed as it inches up in tenths. The wind is gentle against bare skin. The sea is flat with dots of smiling white caps just folding over the tips of 4í swells. The sound is waves breaking over our wake, water gurgling past the hull, the whine of the auto pilot. We hope we will sail like this or faster the rest of the way to Hawaii.
We caught two tuna.
I napped then awoke to the boat going 7.1 knots. They say it went up to 8 knots. Pleasantly sailing in a gentle breeze under the spinnaker. I look back and son of a gun, thereís an aku sledding on the back of the boat. This one is much smaller. He dives a couple of times but I see him all the way and it only takes 3 minutes or so to get him in. We douse him with vodka and he shudders for a full minute, his whole body vibrating violently. A gush of blood comes out of the gills.
During this time, the wind has shifted slightly and Denny begins adjusting sails while I clean the fish. It takes 10 minutes or so to skin it, cut the filets out and inspect it. The stomach is empty. We put the filets in a baggy and swab the deck.
Then itís Coke time.
As I look back again, there is another aku on the line. Dick brings this one in. Same drill. Kill it with vodka, immediately filet it, swab the decks. I take the line out of the water. Itís the first time in my life that I donít want to catch any more fish. Itís too much work.
We have a pork loin defrosted but we will cut the aku up for sashimi and fry some with rice and a bed of lettuce and ko chu jang. Iím going to rest awhile. Meanwhile, the wind has fallen and the boat speed is running 4.5-4.9K. Weíre talking of watching it through dinner before we douse the spinnaker and start the engine. Well, Iíd better start cooking.
Dinner was delicious. We spent a lot of time talking about whether to keep the spinnaker or start the engine. Dick has to get back to Seattle. He has a flight out of Honolulu Monday afternoon and an engagement in Portland on Tuesday. Denny and he have discussed that we will try like hell to get him to Hawaii in time, including motoring a good portion of the time, but if he misses it, he misses it. The world wonít end. But Dick has been increasingly watching boat speed and calculating arrival times. We finally trimmed the sail, raised the pole and loosened one sheet to give the sail more curve and pulling power. Speed is now 7.2 knots, up from 5.5-5.9 or so. Dick is happy. Itís much more pleasant sailing than motoring. Well, it just went up to 8 knots.
Also, the air is definitely warmer. Iím still barefooted and comfortable. Running 230 degrees in calm seas and maybe 15 knot winds almost from NE. So wind is still clocking around. A true trade for us would come from due east.
On watch. Beautiful weather. Maybe 12-15K breeze from ENE. 4í seas 60% clouds, haze high up, a few stars, but I am in tee shirt and jacket, barefoot and comfortable on deck. We went through a long thing at sundown deciding and re-deciding whether to take down the spinnaker. The wind would die off and leave us cruising at 5.2K and weíd wonder whether we should douse the spinnaker while there was still some daylight/twilight left. We even started by centering the main and moving the vang, breaking out the harnesses to work on deck in the dark. But the wind picked up. Denny finally came up from radio call and we decided to keep going. We got up to 7 knots and settled in 6.2-4K range, almost as good as we get with the engine.
Itís quieted down now. Denny and Dick went to bed. I try not to watch everything too closely because the wind isnít bright enough or steady enough to just let us run clean. Iím hoping it will stay like this or freshen the rest of my watch.
I will look at the Photo Suite program to see how hard it is to create a slide show.
Spent watch doing slide show. Speed 5-8K mostly 6+ knots. Same wind and seas. Spent time below. Look at speed and boat direction when I hear sails flap. Check radar. Good watch, feel good.
Trying to sleep while the boat is running under a spinnaker is wonderful. Everythingís quieter. Mostly you hear water gurgling next to your head. The boat motion is gentle and rocking with occasional drops and rises. The sails clang and bang but mostly in the distance.
This compares to motoring which has an encompassing drone accompanied by a driving and steady diving motion, occasional slaps of the water and mostly the engine gnawing at your consciousness. Wailing into the wind is loud too. The sounds are of water slapping, splashing, gurgling, things thudding, banging, diving, bouncing, leaping. This is compounded when motor sailing into the wind, all of which we have done. In comparison, the gentle roll and creak of running under sail is a balm.
6:22 a.m., Saturday, April 26
I take that back. Sailing under spinnaker is noisy. In the background of my dreams, without the drone of the engine, it sounds like furniture being moved or what it must sound like to be a pin-setter in a bowling alley.
Awake you hear a nylon three strand rope creaking as it stretches and rubs the cleat with each pull of the main boom. The main still bangs and backs when the boat overruns itself. The water slaps. Maybe I have already forgotten how loud the engine is.
ďWhatís that?Ē Denny asks.
Di-dee. Di-dee. Di-dee.
Dick smiles weakly. this started last Saturday in San Diego. Dick refuses to give up his watch or its alarms. And Denny is not letting him forget it. We have to find running themes to the rhythms of life.
Weíre under spinnaker now going 5.4K. Thatís another theme. Denny has broached the idea that wee should just sail no matter what the speed. We are constantly watching the knot meter and wondering whether to adjust the sail or start the motor. Put the spinnaker up, take it down. Move the pole. Odds are that we will make Hilo in plenty of time.
ďIím just amazed that we havenít made 9.5, 10 yet,Ē Denny says.
ďAll we need is 15-20 knots steady wind,Ē Dick says. We keep thinking the trades should start blowing anytime now. It would be nice. The boat would stop banging and clanging away because the wind is too light. The banging occurs because the small changes in boat speed as a wave rolls under is enough to collapse or backwind the sails.
Weíve been motoring and sailing off and on most of the day. Itís been beautiful though. Balmy, blue skies, calm seas. We havenít run the lure because we still have a lot of fish. We ate an apple sausage omlette and bread for brunch and just finished a tasty roast pork loin, salad and rice for dinner.
In between I got totally obsessed with creating this slide show complete with music and titles. Dickie got in the spirit and took a whole bunch more pictures. Itís looking good. Weíve downloaded maybe 70 slides and five songs so far and should have a very nice show.
Itís sunset now. Weíre all relaxing. Dick is cooking fudge brownies. Ahhh, life is good. Sundown 8:35 p.m. San Diego time.
We douse the spinnaker and turn on the motor.
1:00 a.m., Sunday, April 27, 2003
Itís a beautiful night. Thereís a slight haze high up but we can see the stars. We are steering under Rigel in Orion. The Big Dipper is high to our right. Jupiter is overhead followed by Hokulea. I still donít see the Southern Cross. But we stayed up till 10:30 p.m. just enjoying the evening. Then itís back to the log and the slide show.
We are greeted with cranberry pancakes for breakfast and are treated to Jackís (?) life story of the rise and fall of a car tycoon (Dickís brother).
Itís a lazy day. Weíre reading, ate salad, napping, motoring. A wind comes up out of the north suddenly. We watch a squall dissipate. But the wind stays. The spinnaker goes up. It is so quiet under a fresh breeze with nothing banging, cruising 6+K.
The wind goes round to the northwest, and the barometer falling. Shit, the sky turns gray. The main starts fluttering and the spinnaker has to come down. An hour later the glass is still dropping and it is now blowing gale force with a big following sea. The ocean is most awe-inspiring, a bigger swell than we had ever seen and wide breaking crests. Below the noise of the wind is alarming. Dickie makes tea, as Beryl did for Miles Smeeton in his sailorís classic ďOnce is Enough.Ē Outside, the wind gave a long ďwhooooĒ in the rigging, and there was the roar of a breaking top, and a rush of water along the deck.
Two hours later, from the crest of a wave, we could look around over a wide area of stormy grayish-white sea. The wind has risen in a high pitched howl and plucks at our foul weather gear. As the wave passes under Jubilant, we can hear it break, grumbling away, leaving a great wide band of foam behind it. We struggle to shorten sail. The sea has turned white from wide breaking crests and the blowing away of the tops of smaller waves, so that everything is lined and streaked with this blown spume. It is frightening and exhilarating in the same moment.
Suddenly, there is a roar behind us and a mass of white water foams over the stern. We are drenched. Dick puts the camera in a baggie and takes a few pictures. It seems we are getting used to the bigger seas. The next wave was a wall of water towering above us, so wide we couldnít see her flanks, so high and so steep that it didnít seem to be breaking but water was cascading down its front, like a waterfall. There was a great lurch and heel and a thunder of sound as the Jubilant is ripped apart, water raging into the cabin. Suddenly, I am standing waist deep in water looking for the log book. God, if we could only get out of this what a great story it would make.
In fact, Beryl and Miles Smeeton survived just such an incident going around the Horn, not once but twice. They are a popular writing couple in cruising circles. Just wanted to see if you were awake.
Sunset. San Diego time. Spinnaker out but wind down slightly 4.5K seas flat but nice, fresh breeze from north seems to be pushing trade looking puffy clouds smartly. We made decision to sail if we can. If we stay below 5K for an hour, we will probably motor. Ate leftovers of meatloaf, pork loin, salami, cheese, crackers, sashimi and fudge. Was very pleasant. Denny turned in early and Dick is doing the roll call.
MONDAY, April 28, 4 a.m.
Itís another week! Weíre more than half way there. We expect to be in Friday or Saturday depending on whether these darn trades ever show up. Where are they? It is our longest drama. The trades would be so nice. Denny started the engine a couple of hours ago. Itís cloudy and the seas are light. I just made some ramen with an egg broken into it.
Donít have much profound to say. Just feel very comfortable and well rested. We nap so much the watches at night are not taking a toll. Iím beginning to look forward to seeing land.
The guys are busy doing boaty things. Dick is washing clothes in the bath tub. When he said he was going to wash clothes, I thought for a second I had missed something and that Dennyís yacht palace had a washer and dryer. Where would he put it? Dick will hang the clothes to dry on the lifelines. Denny is doing routine maintenance on the refrigeration. He has his head in the bilge. I started putting together Dennyís 1,300 slides from his Pacific trip in 1980 in several slide shows. Plus, we continue to try to think of photos to take. The wind is calm, seas calm, tempers even, but really, where is the fucking wind?
Weíre sailing without the engine at 8K while Denny works on the refrigeration. It is so quiet. Waves lapping, water gurgling past the hull, blue skies, cool breeze, feels like nap time. Weíre about 50 miles north latitude of Honolulu. Itís 84 degrees and 58 percent humidity. Itís getting warm.
Nearly finished with my watch. A small breeze from the north
is up. We are motoring with the main at 7K. Denny says the radio says Hawaii winds are light for two days out. We may motor al the way in. I spend most of the watch watching the movie ďGreen Mile.Ē Great movie. Movies like that, I donít know how the writers can imagine such things that fit together so well and move you so much. Itís based on a Stephen King novel. Amazing. It must be a gift.
Lunch was chili and beans with extra hamburger. Dinner was pork loin with black bean broccoli and rice. Still eating good. Dick promises to make brownies on his watch. Denny and I are now working on his South Pacific slide show. Our Hawaii show is up to 120 slides and 6 songs. Quite a job. I shaved tonight after at least two weeks. It was the longest Iíve ever had it without shaving. But I started feeling it and not liking it. I donít think I looked any saltier with the hair.
1 a.m. TUESDAY, April 29
At about 12:15-20, the auto pilot quit.
A nice breeze had come up and we were motoring at 7K. We changed shifts. Then, in bed, I noticed the main mast creaking and woke to tell Dickie to put up the running back stay. When I went on deck it was really blowing. We didnít know it but the boat had come around to the north. Back below, we noticed the apparent wind up to 20K and the GPS showed boat speed dropping to 5K. Very perplexing. I went up to check the compass but Dick then noticed the GPS showed us heading 350 degrees to the north. I corrected the course to 250 and then noticed that the auto pilot wasnít making any noise. After a few minutes with Dickie reaffirming that the auto pilot was not engaging, we decided to wake up Denny.
Denny looks and finally pulls out the manual. At least 45 minutes have passed. We have shut down the engine so we can hear whatís going on. Dick is up above steering. This our first major sailing problem. Iím going to sleep. I may have to be steering in a little while.
ďThis is a whole new experience.Ē
We have changed our watches to 2 hours on and 4 hours off. Denny now thinks the auto pilot electric motor that powers the hydraulic pump is gone. It looks like we will have to hand steer the rest of the 600 miles to Hilo. We have changed our course from Lahaina to Hilo. All of a sudden the trades donít seem so important. What we would give for a spare autopilot.
Luckily, we have been napping a lot so, so far, I feel rested and all right.
Steering by hand can get creative. When I first come on there were no stars, no moon. Steering by compass is harder because you lose contact with the rhythm of the sea. You are constantly adjust course to ride the needle of the compass. The trick is to find the exact point of the rudder so that the boat steers straight, given any lee or windward helm. But with the hydraulic steering, itís not so easy.
Finally, a few stars come out. I can steer by putting the head of Scorpio just to the left of the port shroud and one bright star off the starboard shroud. Later I sailed to Venus rising just to port, maybe 5-10 degrees, off the mizzen mast behind us. then I steered to the sunrise and the sunrise clouds. Later, I could sail to clouds up ahead but these change quite a bit.
Our course to Hilo is 147 degrees, but after Dickie came up, we vanged the boom out to take advantage of a small breeze and adjusted the course to 135 degrees to make it easier to steer. 247 is almost dead down wind.
I am praying to God to help us do this. I am afraid of lasting the next 4 days, though I donít feel we are in any danger. Certainly, the enjoyment factor is threatened. This is what it must be like in all the books about sailing Iíve read where the engine always craps out or some sail rips or a piece of equipment fails, and the author always keeps going. Like Dick says, weíre out of options. Weíre way past the half way point. Itís amazing that somewhere in the middle of the Pacific is all that civilization and spare motors parts just waiting for us.
Weíre already thinking of what kind of slides to take for this. A picture of the auto pilot pump with the caption ďOtto dies.Ē Things like that. Ahh well.
Small things mean a lot.
This tiny thing drives the whole ship.
While we were waiting for the trades, something else happened.
Back on watch, steering. Weíre eating alone catch as catch for lunch. Iím making ramen. Have to dash down and leave the wheel for a minute. Sometimes the boat stays. Sometimes it veers up north or down south.
A small pod of porpoise comes by and plays for 3-4 minutes. Itís a nice treat 600+ miles from land.
Now Iím steering off a cloud on the port side, sitting in the shade. You can do it from any angle.
The outhaul on the main just broke. Weíve pulled down the main and are motoring. Denny thinks it will take 1-2 hours to fix. At least we can fix it. This is sailing. Independent, self reliant. Keep the boat moving.
Back on watch. Steering 248 degrees to Hilo. Wind has died down. Outhaul is fixed but we ran the genoa out on the pole until it collapsed. Took the pole down. Ran the genoa sheeted normally until it too collapsed. The water is beginning to look oily now, almost completely flat, just a zephyr to stir the surface. Running barepoled at 6.6K under power. Very easy to steer now with so little wind and waves.
2:15 a.m. WEDNESDAY, April 30
Just came off watch. It started beautifully with a clear sky full of stars. I steered by Scorpio rising and the Southern Cross on the port side. Jupiter and Procyon were too high ahead and I had to crane my neck to see them for steering. But after an hour or so it started to cloud in from the east. A little breeze also started coming up. At the end of the watch, Dick and I pulled out the genoa but it just flapped. So we rolled it in again. The wind was too flukey. It was a pleasure sitting down and steering by the Southern Cross all shift.
Another good watch. Calm see, winds, partly cloudy, steered by various stars, had nice run with Venus off the mizzen. Great golden sunrise. I think I got in a good picture of it with the main boom in the foreground.
On watch. Vessel ho! A white ship end on to us looks like itís bearing down right on us about 8 miles away. I think it is a fishing long liner. Seas calm, breeze 5K from ESE, sailing 2.1K because weíve stopped the engine to disconnect the autopilot and disassemble the electric motor. Dick is getting excited. He thinks we can fix it. 12:40 p.m. Itís now 6 miles away. I can see a white topsides and black hull. 12:48 p.m. Itís clearly a freighter headed east. He wonít answer the VHF call. 1:00 p.m. Passed within Ĺ mile of Helium Trader out of Korea bound for Panama. Looks like a 4-500 foot general freighter riding light with lots of red and the bow bulb showing, two cranes on deck. Denny talked to the captain, we think.
Ate an omelet specially made by Chef Richard, who likes to be complimented on his cooking. We are generous in this regard.
Had a nice bath this afternoon. It is a real treat to bath every day. The only way to cruise. What I do is sit in the tub and use the hand held shower head and wet myself thoroughly. Then I turn the water off and soap up. Then back to the water. We are running the engine so much that we have all the water we want. Today, I spend extra time just shooting myself with cool water. The engine also makes steaming hot water, all we want.
It is a beautiful evening, but, frankly, I have never loved steering. I get other people to steer on my boat all the time or use the autopilot. Iíll be glad when we get to Hilo.
2:10 a.m. THURSDAY, May 1
Itís been the clearest night of the trip thus far. No clouds nearly. A skyful of stars. Iíve seen a more brilliant night at Hale O Lono, but it may the lights on the boat that affect my sight. It was pitch black at Lono.
I see the little Dipper for the first time. Only three stars are really visible. The others are more suggestions of a pattern and light I know to be there. I watch Alpha Centauri rising. The Southern Cross is bright. The top star is about 12 degrees above the horizon. I have figured out that my hand held with the thumb up, held at armís length, the bottom of the palm on the horizon, is about 15 degrees. The right star of the Cross is dim. Itís good to know since Iíve always had trouble seeing that star in Honolulu. I watch Sirius set. I can see it till about 2 degrees above the horizon.
I see three falling stars. I make the same wish on all three. I wonít say what the wish is. I steer at first with Jupiter on the right shroud. This gives me a heading of about 250 degrees. But the wind is up slightly and the sails back and heel the boat over at 240 degrees, so I fall off a bit, putting Jupiter inside the shroud. I steer to Jupiter standing up. Later, I sit down and steer to the Southern Cross off the port side, just above the big self-tailing winch. It is a very comfortable pleasant watch. I think we will make it.
I go check the computer. Itís less than 400 miles; I ring the shipís bell. We sing ďThree hundred miles, three hundred miles.Ē The things we do to entertain ourselves.
Off watch. Thank god. But it was a good watch. Steered off Cassiopeia and Arcturus (Hokulea) on the starboard side. The Milky Way appeared for the first time. It ran from Cassiopeia through the Great Summer Triangle of Vega, Denab and Altair, northeast to southwest through the tail of Scorpio.
Saw two more falling stars. One a fiery long one. Made two more wishes. Watched Venus rise at about 3 degrees above the horizon at 7ish. Started steering by it for awhile at 7:20 a.m. By change of watch, itís a bright dawning enough to see the compass and all the clouds. Kept on singing to stay awake.
The Trades! The Trades!
Woke up under sail. The guys put the spinnaker up. We are touching 8 knots under sail alone. We chant off the tenths as the knot meter goes up. This is great. It snuck up on us. The captain of the Helium Trader said it was calm all the way to Hawaii. We also asked on the radio and two people reported calm weather in Hawaii till the weekend of through it.
A slight breeze has been taunting us for several days. Itís just a tease, thatís all. It blows a big, we raise the sails, it stops. Thereís just enough wind so that as we veer off course we can feel the breeze brightly and the boat heels, but not enough to sail. We tried, and the genoa collapsed. This morning the breeze came up to 5-10 knots apparent. By 9 a.m. the small white caps were building on a flat choppy sea. So here are. The trades. Here is how the Smeetonís describe their coming of the trades:
ďFor us, ignorant people of the land, it was just another dull day, but the things of the sea knew that a change was here. First there came a whisper, a breath, a feeling of expectancy; then a distant murmur, gradually taken up and growing in the sea and sky around us. Softly at first, but steadily growing, came the wind from the northeast, and all the surface of the water around us took form and purpose, while the little waves chattered merrily as they ran past.
ďWhenever the trade wind comes, it comes to make a studied and dramatic entrance. It comes like a jolly aunt to lost and hungry children, with rustling skirts and good humour, to take them home to tea. It always brings joy and relief with a promise of sunshine and good passages. In Tzu Hang all spirits rose immediately and we were soon bowling alongÖĒ
A small ďLĒ shaped 1-1/2 foot rip suddenly appeared on the spinnaker. Such bad luck. We have to take it down. The wind is not enough to warrant jury rigging a repair and raise it again. We put up the genoa and average 5K or so. The wind drops and turns a bit toward the south. Finally, we start the engine. Again.
When Dick comes on watch at 2 p.m., the wind freshened and he immediately pole out the genoa and vanged out the main. Boat speed jumped to 7K with a 6+ average. Yea, Dick.
That came after switching fuel tanks for the last time. We have 72 gallons left. Denny figures we are on the edge of running out of diesel if we motor all the way to Hilo. He suggests that we try sailing anytime we think we can get over 5K boat speed. Otherwise, weíll run out of fuel. So Dickís move is brilliant. Heís been sailing for an hour and a half and the boat is heeling so much to starboard itís becoming hard to sleep. My bunk is on the port side, and it feels like Iím about to fall out. Originally, we should have stayed on a starboard tack the whole way from San Diego to Hawaii. I may have to change how I sleep.
Dick says, ďFinally, we have the wind here we wanted all this time, and zap, we donít have the gear.Ē
If we had the spinnaker, it would have meant another knot or two of speed. The seas are tipped with white caps now 4-6 feet from the east. Wind is 15K from the east. Tradewinds! (I think)
Ate fluffy omelete by Chef Richard for lunch and spaghetti with bite sized pieces of steak for dinner.
11 a.m., FRIDAY, May 2, 2003
Well, frankly, weíve been here before. Seas calm. Wind light from ENE. Motoring. Sun warm through a haze and bunch of cumulus clouds. Weíre discussing our two most important subjects, lunch and dinner. We plan spaghetti with pesto and sausage for lunch and meat loaf for dinner.
We put the genoa up and are doing 6+. Iím holding my breath. We are estimating an ETA to Hilo at mid-day tomorrow Saturday. Whee!
We just spoke to a sailboat, Miakala, out of Puerto Vallarta on VHF, headed toward Hilo. We are also picking up Coast Guard on VHF at 280 miles out. The voice traffic makes you feel we are really getting closer to civilization again.
A flying fish skitters away as I watch a tanker, the Stolt Efficiency, passing us one mile to the south, bound from Balboa, Panama Canal to Yokohama. Dickie saw another ship this morning. thatís three so far. Plus a lot of flying fish, which often scatter by the dozen as we pass.
Itís the last night. We are celebrating. Had meatloaf with string beans and bread. Watched a beautiful sunset. Weíre all up. Waiting for the brownies to cool. We started telling campfire stories but it turns out we donít know any. Weíve all enjoyed the trip but weíre all looking forward to land.
8:13 a.m. PST/513 HST SATURDAY, May 3, 2003
Land Ho. I ring the bell about 7 a.m. PST after sighting a flashing light at 16 seconds interval. Next came the glow of Hilo about 10 degrees north of that. Itís tremendous. I rang the bell twice but nobody woke up.
At this moment our GPS computer shows 49 miles to Hilo bearing 257 degrees at 7.1 K. We should be pulling in about 12:30-1 p.m. to the quay (pronounced Ďkeyí). It has been a remarkable thing to do, cross on entire ocean on a sailboat. I donít know what to say or do. I should take a nap. I slept poorly last night, excited I guess. I got an hour before my 12-2 watch, then I woke up at 4ish when the wind came up and Denny and Dick vanged out the main, boosting speed to the 7-8K range. Finally, I think we can safely say: This is the trades. I stayed up for an hour and a half before trying to sleep again.
Now, as dawn breaks, weíve lost sight of Hawaii again. Canít, obviously, see the lights. And weíre still too far away to see through the haze. Plus itís too dark. I expect weíll see land in an hour and a half at about 9:30 a.m. PST. Iíll call Lei and Nicole at 7ish HST. Wow.
8:33 Ė Itís now 47 miles out.. Looking back, itís a big ocean. Vast. You donít feel it until youíve crossed it. Even now, we canít see land yet, itís too early in the day, so it looks like all the other days. But Iíve seen it. I know itís there. Weíre headed right for the end of the breakwater.
7:45 a.m., HST
Weíre definitely inside 30 miles. We can see Mauna Kea perfectly clearly to its summit. Mauna Loa is hidden by clouds. Weíre tidying up the boat when the wind comes up. Finally, the trades are 20-25K. A squall is bearing down on us. Ate cranberry pancakes for breakfast. Called home!
Thoughts on the new winds: ďThe seas were burly as we fell off the face of a wave. Weíre cutting, no knifing through the water. The boat fights to round up.Ē 8.1 under sail. 8.4.
ďItís nice to get a little wind like this at the end of the trip.|
ďYeah, itís like a little tobasco at the end of a meal.Ē
Lei and Nicole are real excited. Elisha was shy. Breanne said hi. Manukai asked if we were fishing. He wants to go fishing. He wants to our fish. The miracle of modern technology touches me. We go 2,200 miles and we can talk from the boat on cell phone 30 miles out at sea.
Weíve taken down the pole and tightened the genoa on a port tack. Put the sail cover on the mizzen. Weíve been talking about how great it will be to have a loco moco for the entire trip. A loco moco is a Hawaiian specialty, a bunch of rice covered by a hamburger patty covered by brown gravy and covered by a sunny side up egg. Then the guys learned that Hilo is the home of the loco moco. They were very excited. Nicole says Cafť 100 is considered to be the true home of the loco moco, but she and Man think it sucks. She recommends Brandtís. Dick says thatís why itís good to get local consultation. Weíre talking of doing a taste test. Go to Cafť 100, share one, then go to Brandtís and try another.
The wind has died. It wasnít the trades. It was the squall, which has passed.
Dick: ďI thought it was going to be that way the rest of the way. Why was I thinking that?Ē
Finally, finally, weíre getting close now. We can see the green of the mountains. There is a huge cruise ship in the harbor. We take in the sails, start putting covers on, getting ready for landfall. We motor in earnest.
Hilo draws close like a sleepy South Seas town. We can see only one high rise. And a large building with a green roof. The breakwater dominates the scenery as it stretches more than a mile across the bay. From our angle, it looks like it stretches across the entire bay but it doesnít. Itís hard to find the ned of the breakwater from 10 miles out.
To the right, the Hamakua coast is dotted by sections of houses above cliffs and between high, arched bridges over deep ravines. We can see the saddle between the two big volcanoes. We can also see the volcano smoking through a pronounced crater on the slopes to the left.
Radio Bay at the end of the Hilo Bay is a tiny, protected harbor where we have to moor Tahiti style, the bow anchored and the stern tied to the dock (quay). There were two big cruise ships, the Europa, a Lloyd Haig ship, and a Royal Caribbean cruise line ship.
We walk into town to get a loco moco at Kenís Pancake House. It is everything weíve been fantasizing, two eggs on two scoop rice. They have a sumo size with six scoops rice and three eggs. They also have a hostess named Sophia, who is the tiniest cutest thing you ever saw. Denny and I flirt with her, and our older waitress, Ruth, notices and comments: ďDoesnít she have the cutest dimples.Ē Yeah, and not only that.
We rent a car, make an aloha reservation for Dick on Monday morning, reach Nicole, who will look for someone to fix our auto pilot, drive around town, stop at a Starbucks Ė itís two weeks old (theyíre everywhere, probably next in Papeete and then Moorea). But like good Seattlers, we stop. Cleanup the boat, nap, then dinner is a nice steak at Harringtonís overlooking Ice Pond at the end of Reedís Bay near Coconut Island. Hilo must specialize in cute hostesses, because the gal at Harrington is a cutie. I donít get her name, though, I am in love with Sophia. We have breakfast with two other cruisers that Denny knows from Mexico. Thatís the cruising life.
Thatís about it. Weíve sailed 2,280 nautical miles. Itís amazing when you think about it. We ate better and lived in more comfort than any sailor should have a right to expect 4 May 03 9:17 a.m. HST Out
Go to Voyage Photos