The last post had Dick, Maurie and Dean departing Oahu heading for Victoria. They are still en route and I suspect that they will arrive here by the end of the month. Last week I discovered that I had inadvertently been missed on Maurie’s email list administered by his wife Maureen as he sends her ham messages. Prior to Maureen departing VK in Rangiroa, some of his writings were included.
Steven showed me how to use a hot spot from my cell phone data so I hope to be able to use it to send today. I have been in Victoria hospice since early last week to work on pain management. The building on the Royal Jubilee campus is so antiquated that WiFi is dodgy but I hope this works. Timing has been almost perfect for sorting out my neuropathic pain while Dick is still on his way home. My own blog will have a post soon.
June 11 Dick on ham radio~~Hi there. As advertised, the HF radio works and then it does not. Maurie and I are reasonably sure that it is a propagation issue, that is, atmospheric conditions, and not the radio or the connections. Enjoy it when it happens!
It is getting cooler, especially at night, but still shorts and bare feet. Today the wind has switched behind us and we are on course with both the genoas up in 10 knots of breeze with a cloudless sky above and just a few fluffy clouds on the horizon. Another beautiful day. Heidi will be disappointed – these last couple of days have been idyllic, if a little slow. But speed just means we get cold sooner. What a conundrum, because we always like to get the boat going as fast as the conditions will allow – which is what we are doing of course.
So here we are on the edge of the Pacific High. Marie is also following our position and looking at the wind. Marie says we need to be at 40N and 150W by Tuesday. ha ha – that is 600 or 700 miles by tomorrow??!! not going to happen. There are developing winds. Geoff says keep going north until you get the westerlies. We are getting the grib files now so we have it sorted from our end too.
All good. Fish cakes and Caesar salad for lunch.
Same day also ham radio from Dick~~Still heading north with some east in 9 knot southerly. Geoff says we should get north past the “horses” as quickly as possible. Had to look up the horse latitudes and from Jimmy Cornell’s Ocean Atlas they are from latitude 25 to 35. We are at latitude 31.5N so we still have 3.5 degrees to go north which is 210 n.m. so about 2 days at current 100 miles/day in the light winds. Then hopefully we can head for Juan de Fuca.
We are getting the grib files through the HF radio. There are favourable winds near but tantalizingly just out of reach at the moment. It is still exceedingly pleasant out here. Boat nice and steady, quiet sea, no banging!
We caught a beautiful 35 lb tuna today. Gorgeous fish. Had yellow fins. Too much meat, so we let him go. Provided some excitement. We have photos but no way to send them. We will keep fishing for another mahimahi or smaller tuna.
Maurie~~Things are going well and we have just over 2000 miles to go. We are starting to think about turning east but a bit cautious about doing it too soon in case we get northerly winds if we get too close to the American coast. It is starting to get colder and we are wearing jumpers and light parkas at night, still T-shirts and shorts during the day. So far no rainy days just a few nasty rain squalls at night.
Friday 8th June
During the night we have rain squalls where the wind reaches 30 knots. We have only a small main area and about half a genoa, so it is no problem. During my watch I took a few more wraps on the genoa just to ease the speed and minimise the pounding, but we still do 6-7 knots, and still heading directly north on a beam reach. In the morning it is a steady 20 knots, but the seas are now larger and more confused, so it is not quite as comfortable as yesterday.
We have a new bird, this one never flaps and is always nearby, larger then the blue-grey glider, but flies in a similar pattern, just skimming the wave tops in big gliding loops alongside, then in front, then behind. It could be a fledgling albatross, it’s big enough. I have a photo so we will look it up.
Later today we see another this size flying the same way but black and white, not close enough to photograph and it doesn’t stay around.
At 10am we have done 157 miles for the day but still 2155 to go and we have a line started on the big chart!
The day is fine with a 15-20 knot breeze from the east and we have a comfortable day going north. Various birds fly by and at 4pm we have another hitchhiker on the starboard rail, the same type as yesterday but a younger bird judging by its plumage.
Saturday 9th June
The wind is more or less constant during the night, but by 3am has dropped to 10-12 knots and I take out all reefs. We are doing a comfortable 5 knots in slight seas. At 3:30am a 300m tanker goes by 3 miles in front of us heading west at 16 knots. He is lit up like a xmas tree, very visible.
Dawn finds us still heading north in 10 knots of easterly wind. The hitchhiker is still on the starboard rail and we assume it has been there all night. Dick has been unable to get the HF radio to connect to any shore station so we are relying on Dean’s Inreach for weather and messages, 160 characters at a time.
At 10am we have done 127 miles in the last 24 hours, a little less than the previous day but much more comfortable and I have had 9 hours of solid sleep. After breakfast and a coffee I am superman.
The HF radio still is not functioning and we suspect the connections outwards towards the aerial tuner and aerial. We check them all and unplug, clean and replug them. Success! The radio is again operational and Dick sends and receives messages and downloads the weather grib files, giving us a weather map of the area over the next 6 days. This shows we could be in for some south winds up to 40 knots about 5 days away. That could be fast but uncomfortable, but at least it is from behind. We can do that without any sails up if we have to.
After a great lunch of pancakes and maple syrup Dick again downloads weather maps for a larger area. This shows we may be circling a local high, with light winds close to the centre and the 40 knots further out. We decide to try and stay in the 20 knot zone if we can, but these things vary with time and sure as eggs are eggs we will get one or the other, maybe even both…dead calm and/or 40 knots. Time will tell.
At 3pm the wind drops to 7 knots and comes more from the north. We are doing 3 knots and 350 degrees, not what we need to get to Canada, but we get what we get. A flying fish glides away on the windward side and I wonder when we will stop seeing them. I have seen them off the Northland coast in New Zealand and maybe they will still be there at 34 degrees north. We will see.
A big black bird glides over the waves towards us and past us. A few flaps and it is gone. I’m going to get this one and dive for the camera, too late it is out of range. Later we see it sitting on the sea just out from the boat and I get a shot. Then it takes off and glides by again, always a little too far away for a good photograph. I finally get a distant snap of it gliding away. Another different bird.
It is 5 o’clock, happy hour and the dinner hamburgers have thawed. If a fee trawls in the forest and there is no one here to there it does it sake a mound? Philosophical questions abound.
Maurie~~Monday 11th June cont…
At 5:30 we decide fishing is over for the day, the boat is going fairly slow for trolling lines I think, 3.6 knots, and we walk to the lines tied to the aft rail. Suddenly the starboard one I am reaching for twangs tight and the reel lets a little line go. Something has hit it and is still on. I untie it and feel the pressure…this is different. Reeling it in slowly and then its as if another one has got on, huge pressure, I let a little slide through my fingers. The fish stays down and I am worried the line or hook won’t hold him. As we get him closer to the boat he must see it and gives another huge pull. Again I let the reel rotate through my hand, hard plastic on soft skin I feel it burning and take a tighter grip, the line holds. Dick finds some sailing gloves and I hold the line in my left hand while he threads the glove onto my right. Now we are in business. Dean gets down on the starboard steps ready with the gaff, using a hand to keep the line from chaffing against the backstay. The fish is near the surface now, some kind of tuna, swimming between the hulls. We have no way of slowing the boat down substantially, Dick has rolled up the poled genoa and sheeted in the main and jib tight, but we are still doing 3 knots.
We finally tire the fish enough to get him on the surface, and I try and hold him still for Dean to get the gaff into him. He is a good size and still swimming and wriggling. Two of us cramped onto the narrow step working with a wriggling fish is too many and in the melee Dean gives a soft curse, the fish has knocked the gaff out of his hand. It’s floating handle end up in our wake. Never mind, gaffing was always a hit or miss affair anyway. I hold the fish on the line while Dean puts the left glove on and reaches down, grabs it by the tail with his gloved hand and hauls it aboard.
“That’s too much fish for us,” says Dick. Dean and I look at each other…catch and release wasn’t part of the plan. As the game fisherman said in Honokohau Harbor, “Yeah, I’m going to enter the catch-and-release tournament, I’m going to bring it aboard, measure it, tag it, photograph it, then I’m going to kill it and eat it.”
Well, we photographed it, forgot to measure it, and let it go. Hell, if we’d kept it we wouldn’t be able to fish again for the whole rest of the trip. It swam away, uninjured except for the hook puncture.
Sunday 10th June
A lovely calm night but cloudy, no stars. When the moon finally came up at 3:30 am it was a faint glow through the light cloud. Dawn and we are trucking along at 5 knots in 11-12 knots, beam reaching on a course of 025, finally rounding the corner of the high and starting to head east. The cloud has cleared and we take the chance to do some cleaning and washing as it looks like a good drying day.
At 10 am our daily run is 106 miles, lowest yet because all afternoon yesterday we were doing 2 to 3 knots in 6 to 7 knots of wind. We have 1970 miles to go, I watched it click down from 2000 to 1999 during my watch. Is that a millennial jump? I must check that the plasma flux capacitor on the time machine is working properly.
We are reading, listening to music and really enjoying the sailing, alone on our ocean. We could be looking for Dryland in “Waterworld”, or waiting to hit the outside wall in “The Trueman Show, but we are certainly not worried about falling off the edge of the world…I don’t think. Always sailing towards the horizon. If we ever get there we may be the first.
All afternoon we have been seeing objects on the ocean surface. A discarded plastic box-shaped container, a piece of flat material, a spherical black buoy, some fishing floats, a black “albatross”, two birds sitting together. Flying fish, many different birds. We are halfway through the last Mahimahi and are trailing fishing lines again.
The wind is dying and going aft as night falls but the sky is clear and bright. We are watching for the green flash at sundown but so far the horizon has always been cloudy. We may have to photoshop it in.
Monday 11th June
All night the wind has been below 10 knots. During my watch it dropped to 6 knots so far aft that VK was below 2 knots. I altered course to keep the genoa out of the shadow of the main, and when Dick came up we poled it out to starboard. Later Dean and Dick hoisted the other headsail, now we are doing 3 knots in 7 knots of wind under twin headsails. Marie has texted Dean that for fair winds we need to be at 40N 150W by Tuesday. We would have to do 660 miles today, 28 knots but that is where we’re headed. Geoff also had an Inreach message: “keep going north until the westerly kicks in”. Now what is that a quote from? Peter Pan… to Neverland turn left at the third star? Something like that. So we stay on a course of 020 at 3 knots which will bring us to 40N 150W when we get there.
At 10am we have done 99 miles for the day, so still almost keeping ahead of our estimate. This morning there are the black “albatrosses” sitting on the water and more flotsam, none of it close enough to say for sure what it is.
As the day goes by we see mostly ocean and the occasional smallish dark bird flying over it. At 5pm we have the main and twins out, doing 3 knots in 8-9 knots of warm southerly wind. We are making the most of it as the forecast is for it to rise to 30 knots over the next 2 days. There is much reading going on.
Tuesday 12th June
During the night the wind died so Dean started the starboard engine and we were doing 3.5 knots with sails slack. At 3:30am the wind picked up to over 8 knots and when it got to 10 I stopped the engine, the wind kept rising and by 5am we were sailing at 4 knots.
At 10am we are doing 5 knots in 12 knots of breeze slightly starboard of astern. We are heading 020 at 32 34N, 157 13W and have done 90 miles for the day, and have exactly 1800 miles to go. Geoff, via Inreach, says “Once through the horses you will get westerlies and can head east”. Horses? We think he means “horse latitudes”, which we look up in “Cornell’s Ocean Atlas, just to be sure. “A zone of light and variable winds extends on the polar sides of the trade winds, corresponding more or less with the high pressure areas of the two hemispheres, approximately between latitudes 25 and 35. These zones were given the name of Horse Latitudes, because sailing ships that were becalmed in these areas were sometimes forced to kill the animals on board due to the shortage of drinking water.”
So we are heading roughly north in fine weather, again reading, sleeping and totally enjoying it.
The wind stays constant at 16 knots, roughly astern and we make good progress.
Wednesday 13th June
No changes through the night. We have sail ties ready to reduce sail and tie the hanked-on genoa to the deck, but morning finds us romping along at 8-9 knots in 19-20 knots of wind. VK has no bad habits at this speed and wind direction.
We have fishing lines out, but so far no signs of fish. We haven’t seen flying fish for a couple of days, although several different varieties of bird are gliding around. Dean and I have been trying to transfer the fish photos to his iPod and iPhone, both from my Samsung tablet, Android phone and Dicks Mac computer, via Bluetooth. No connection. We try Wi-Fi. No connection. We suspect apple arrogance, but it’s probably just our technonability.
At 10 am we have done 140 miles. The wind is constant but the grib files show light northerlies 4 days out, so we alter course to 025 to try to avoid them. Time will tell.
All day the wind stays constant, the sky is clear, and we progress NNE.
Dick on ham June 14~~1557 to go to R.Vic
Charging along in 25 kn under grey skies that look like the PNW, but we are at the same latitude as SF and Auckland. June 15~~Still 30 kn southerly with drizzle and grey sky and sea. Heading north, looking for the westerlies. Miles going by fast. No shortage of wind and dismal outlook as we continue north! Welcome to the PNW, eh?!
Yesterday we did 176 n.m. which is up in record territory. We have reduced sail a lot. Dean’s inReach had us doing max 15.8 kn – lots of surfing down waves. 19 C here this morning. Freezer working well – froze the beer. Made bread yesterday. The passage continues. Wearing long underwear and toque. grrrrr… We have moved out of the 30+ kn wind zone and are now headed more towards Juan de Fuca instead of Kodiak!. Wind down to 20 – 23 and likely to stay that way through the night according to Dean’s inReach.
1330 to go to R. Vic. We are about half way.
Maurie June 14~~Thursday 14th June
At 5pm yesterday Dick and Dean lowered the second genoa, tied it on the deck, took down the pole from the windward starboard genoa and gybed it. During the night the wind increases to 30 knots at times. At 2am Dean and I rolled up some mainsail to about half and we travelled more comfortably.
This morning before breakfast Dick and Dean again go forward and remove the second genoa, bag it, and remove the temporary forestay. We are now sailing with very reduced mainsail, full genoa, steering 020 at 7.5 knots with a 25-30 knot southerly wind on our starboard quarter. The weather forecast is for this to hold for the next 2 days.
The day is fine but slightly cloudy, there are flying fish, and birds, which is a sign there might be predators that we can catch but it’s cold out there and neither Dean nor I feel like going out and setting a line, much less hauling in and dealing to a large fish. We still have a couple of meals of the last Mahimahi in the freezer, so we’ll wait for a day with less spray around.
At 10 am we have done 176 miles, a new trip record and close to the all-time record. The ocean rollers are giving us a good comfortable ride with half main and reduced genoa.
It has got very cold. We have been reading, sleeping, playing crib in the cabin all day and at 5pm I decide it is time to put on thermals and beanie. We are at latitude 38 degrees and it will probably get colder. I have more layers to go on top but for now I am warm. Still heading north and still doing 7.5 knots.
Friday 15th June
During the night the wind increased slowly to 30 – 35 knots and we have rolled up more sail, just two small triangles now. At 10am we have a day’s run of 168 miles and 1400 miles to go, we have a new maximum instantaneous speed of 16.4 knots surfing down these big rollers and occasional dumps of spray are landing in the cockpit. We are in full wet weather gear going out to check sails and instruments as any one of these results in a soaking.
Our weather gribs show this will continue for the next 12 hours and then slowly abate and in the next few days we may be wishing for more wind. We are at 40 degrees 14 minutes North and no sign of westerly winds. We may have to go right up to the 49th parallel, the latitude of the Canada-US border to find them. We are moving easterly where we can but just right now our course is somewhat dictated by the wind direction, too much east and the rollers are too much on the beam. Already we have cracked the coffee jug lid and a plastic biscuit container when unexpected lurches landed things on the galley floor.
It is 8pm after dinner and the wind has dropped to 25 knots, the lumpy bits of the ocean don’t have so many white fluffy bits on the top anymore. We are not lurching so much and we are steering 042 and have 1340 miles to go. All is good.
Saturday 16th June
At 3 am the wind increased to 30 knots, rolled up some genoa. We are still on course 045 and doing 6 – 7 knots. At 6 am during his watch Dick saw dolphins come alongside and swim with us for a while.
It is now 10 am and our day’s run is 154 miles, not so bad with the true wind angle showing 120 degrees to VK’s heading. At this wind angle there is still the occasional pounding if we go too fast.
We have 1250 miles to go and OpenCPN shows this can be done in 8 days if we continue at this speed. But we won’t. The forecast is winds of 35 knots from SSE for about 12 hours in a day’s time and then westerlies of 10 knots as a small high approaches from the west. Then confused light winds. I guess this is why they call this area “the variables”. Anyway, that forecast will be out-of-date tomorrow, so we will see.
We are again mostly reading and sleeping, with one or other of us in wet weather gear going into the cockpit to check on wind, course and sails. There has been a light drizzle for 2 days now, we are staying mostly dry but there is always the possibility of a dump of spray right through the cockpit. Just one of these is a drenching.
We see two birds we haven’t seen for a few days, albatross size, white with black wings both sides, like a large black-backed gull.
After lunch we have a matinee movie “Reign of Fire” (2002). It’s about stumbling on, and releasing a hive of dragons which burn the world to cinders and hole everybody up in a castle in Manchester. The characters use the kind of technology seen in “Mad Max” and “Waterworld”. Long story short the hero and heroine blast the big bad boy dragon… who would have guessed… leaving only female dragons and they are never seen again. My guess is they petitioned their agent like crazy until she finally gave three of them parts in “Game of Thrones”. Popular vote here rated the movie 2/10.
The wind is getting up and we are winding the mainsail all the way inside the mast, in preparation for the predicted 40 knots coming tonight. There is a general cargo ship, “SM Long Beach”, crossing ahead of us heading east, 25 miles away. It’s not lonely out here.
Sunday 17th June
During the night the wind rose to over 40 knots at times. We had a smallish Laser-sail area unrolled on the genoa and no main, still doing 7 knots. When I saw 43 knots I rolled it up to a smallish Opti-sail area. Early this morning Dick saw 45 knots and came downwind more. We are now heading more or less at right angles to our rhumbline course, but safety and looking after the boat is more important. The weather is due to settle down later today. Two more ships passed astern of us early this morning, 20 and 40 miles away. It’s getting busy out here.
At 10 am our day’s run is estimated at 153 miles according to Dean’s Inreach. But we are still heading North, because we have to. We are at 44 30N and 150 30W and could do with some easterly travel when we get a chance.
We decide to not watch the weather, hoping for a break, and instead watch “The Hunt for the Wilderpeople”. Great movie, Dean gives it a 5/10, Dick and I give it a 7.5. The kiwi connection.
After lunch we check the weather again, the wind is dropping so we unfurl all our sails. Then it drops to 9 knots…and we still have the rollers from the 40 knots, just no frothy tops. So, it’s flop flop flop from the sails and 1.8 knots of boat speed. We start an engine and rock along at 4 knots towards Vancouver.
I see a really small bird like the little storm petrels we see at home on the Hauraki Gulf. It may be a storm petrel and it’s the same size, the size of a sparrow, flitting across the wave tops. Another one to try and identify.
At 6pm we are still doing 4 knots in 10 knots of breeze with one engine. But….the wind has shifted to the west and we are now on port tack. This is the first time for the whole trip. Van Kedisi is unsure what to do with it, especially since the rollers are still coming from the starboard side. And for once our 4 knots is directly towards our destination. Van Kedisi is coming home.
Dick on ham June 18~~Hi there,
12C here in the cabin in the north Pacific just over 1000 miles from anywhere. Can I trade in 5 cooling fans for a cabin heater?!
We have the wind on our north side and we are heading towards Juan de Fuca Straight at 5 kn in relatively calm water.
Down to our last box of red wine – obviously should have bought more of them, according to Dean. Ice cold beer just not quite so appealing at this temperature. Maybe hot rums are in order. Very traditional. Ha ha.
I told Dick a couple of days ago that it was hot here in Victoria~~Answer Well, when the crew wake up I will be able to tell them that as we continue north it will get warmer. Ha. Going to be a tough sell! We finished the rum yesterday while motoring so we need it to warm up for G & Ts. Under 1,000 n.m. to go. We are sailing again in a 12 kn southerly. Westerlies ahead in a few days.
June 20 Dick on ham~~774 n.m. to Cape Flattery. Wind has gone lighter and nearly astern so we have slowed down a bit. 14C here at 0600. Grey, but Dean saya inReach says maybe sunshine today. Last time we saw the sun was nearly a week ago. Brian says I should stop whining, Vancouver nice and warm!
June 21 today ~~0600 – 650 n.m. to Cape Flattery. 2nd genny came down at 0200.
Still grey and cloudy but the fog/mist has receded and we can see the horizon.
Motor sailing on course in 8 knots of breeze
HAPPY SUMMER SOLSTICE EVERYONE!