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kjb
Sept 30
Hanalei Bay to San Francisco
Day 20

Anchor Down, Drakes Bay, Point Reyes National Seashore

POS: 37.59.77N by 122.58.51W
Time: 0930
Miles since last noon: 138
Total miles of passage: 2889
Avg. Miles per Day: 144

I know, it’s not quite San Francisco.

Drakes Bay is 25 miles north of the Golden Gate Bridge, a sweeping crescent defined by the massif that is the point of Point Reyes and the peninsula the joins it to the the mainland.

It is so named because Sir Francis Drake is thought to have careened his Golden Hind in the sprawling estero behind Limantour Spit at the bay’s north end.

I like ending cruises here. The seashore is vast and undeveloped with Doug Fir-forested mountains and limestone cliffs within view of the boat. And though the anchorage is protected and beach access easy, one usually anchors alone.

Before taking on the bright lights of the big city, it’s good to stop here for a beer and to get cleaned up. That final dash can always wait one more day.

For me it’s a tradition. Also a tradition is Joanna’s visit. She’s on her way now with snacks and champagne. Can hardly wait to see my lovely wife.

Tomorrow, the final few miles…

ddd
pjl
jnn
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alfj

Sept 29
Hanalei Bay to San Francisco
Day 19

Noon HST position: 38.58.32N by 125.15.31W
Miles since last noon: 173
Total miles of passage: 2751
Avg. Miles per Day: 145
Miles to San Francisco: 160
Course: SE
Sail: All plain sail, wind angle 120 degrees to port
Speed: 5 and 6
Wind: N15 – 20
Sky: Clear, some scattered high cumulus
Bar: 1017
Air Temperature: 68 degrees
Sea Temperature: 55 degrees

8pm. The dark of night. Sitting and reading by headlamp from my usual spot near the companionway. Hatch closed, except for a small gap for fresh air. Closed because now that we are before the wind, little bits of sea spray are swept onto my glasses when a wave taps MOLI on the quarter, which is a bother when one is with a book.

But the sea is subsiding, I think. At least it is quieter than earlier in the day.

Then that now familiar whooshing sound followed by a metallic THWAP as the wave makes Mo’s port flank and climbs aboard. Rushing white water covers the pilot house windows and flies over the cabin top. Suddenly I have a lap and face full of ocean as I also have the sense of going weightless.

Mo rolls over and down. Now a rushing sound to starboard as the decks and windows go under at the bottom of the wave. Crashing sounds from the main cabin. Water flying around in the pilot house.

Then Mo is up, shaking it off. Again, I dash to the companionway hatch to check on Monte. He’s smoking a cigarette and reading Playboy. Unperturbable, that dude. “Drew you a bath,” he says, pointing. “You were complaining of being smelly.” I look down and see the cockpit is half full again and with various bits of line and a winch handle subbing for a rubber ducky.

Below looks like a mobile home after a tornado. Water all over the sole of the pilot house. Also there, a soaked first edition of Ranulph Fiennes MIND OVER MATTER, the clipboards holding my food inventory lists, my foulies fallen from their hook, and a towel, which I retrieve and begin drying off.

Everything that has been on the counter in the galley is on the floor or in the head. No shock there. More impressive is that a can of NIDO dried milk has made the journey from the counter all the way into the head sink, about six horizontal feet (when Mo is upright). I can hear the EU Football announcer shouting, “Scooooooore.” Nothing came off the gimbaled stove.

In the salon, all the books that were on the lower shelf (which has a four-inch high fiddle rail) have been cleaned out, and half are now on the bunk on the opposite side of the boat.

It takes an hour to mop-up and restow the boat, during which time the companionway hatch stays shut all the way.

These two “knockdowns” (quotations because I’m not sure the mast and sails were ever in the water, though the boom has, by now, had several deep handshakes with Neptune) are odd. The wind has not been that strong and the wave action, though steep, has had no curl.

Two clues: wave action yesterday was often chaotic and today the sea temperature reading was 55 degrees, a seven degree drop from the day before where a one degree drop is more usual. Both of these suggest that we sailed through a collision of currents, which could well have perturbed the sea-state.

I dislike yachtie galley gear. Plastic/non breakable dishes. Stainless steel, spill proof cups. No idea why, just do. When I look forward to the morning brew, the image is of a very normal, ceramic mug filled with coffee from boiling water poured through fresh grounds.

Admittedly, balancing the filter atop the cup can be a tricky business. Thus the gimbaled stove. In 20,000 miles of solo cruising, this has always worked.

Until this trip. Until again this morning.

We still had our difficult waves. One lurch. The coffee cone full of hot water and hot coffee grounds allowed itself (yes, it wasn’t paying close enough attention) to be thrown at me, all down my front and scalding my left wrist before proceeding to plaster the far wall and crash into the head.

After a profoundly sincere screaming fit and an extended clean-up operation. After another go and success, a lovely mug of Joe, which I absent-mindedly set down while reaching for my book, upon which it promptly flipped over.

Out has come the non-flip cup and the instant coffee canister. I can take a hint, after a time.

kl-n

Hot coffee grounds threw themselves at me and onto the floor.

kb

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hkjh

Sept 28
Hanalei Bay to San Francisco
Day 18

Noon HST position: 40.26.66N vy 128.12.57W
Miles since last noon: 169
Total miles of passage: 2578
Avg. Miles per Day: 143
Miles to San Francisco: 330
Course: SE
Sail: Triple reef in jib and main. Wind angle: 120 degrees
Speed: 7
Wind: N25-30
Sky: Clear, some scattered high cumulus
Bar: 1017
Air Temperature: 67 degrees
Sea Temperature: 62 degrees

Wind has veered into the N, allowing me to relax Mo’s wind angle without a change of course. This has quieted things down considerably. I no longer feel like a war correspondent on the front lines.

Seas are still up, however. Steep and confused and occasionally combining  into a Big Bertha whose break is a mushroom-shaped collapse that then foams-out for a 100 yards. Beautiful to watch if you are a sailor; not the least bit surfable.

At around 10 this morning and before the winds went N, one of these Berthas (I presume, as I never saw it) delivered an interesting imitation of a knock down. Sound like thunder, then heavy water at the pilot house windows and suddenly Mo was on her right ear.

When gravity returned to something like normal, I jumped up to check Monte, who was so unperturbed he’d not bothered to put down his espresso, but the cockpit was half full of water (upside: I got to see how fast it drains) and the line in the port side cubbies was afloat.

In the galley, the only notable casualty was my coffee grounds container, which had launched into the head and exploded. This provided nearly an hour’s entertainment with broom and pan, though I noted an improvement in the smell.

Over the last two days we’ve taken so much spray over the boat that a rime of salt crystals has built on the the cockpit teak. And I’ve been able to ascertain with certainty which hatches leak in weather and which don’t. In short, all leak. Or leaked, until I tightened up their knobs with a screwdriver.

My only disappointment: whenever I bring my camera on deck, the entire seascape suddenly goes all shy. Not a whitecap can I find nor a wave with as much heft as a bedroom pillow.

I’ve not been cooking much since the weather went north. Not for lack of appetite, mind you, but I’ve yet to master the galley in boisterous seas. For example, I need to rethink the cupboards, which tend to happily pour their contents, en masse, onto the counter top unless I time the roll perfectly. Then there’s the gimbled stove, an island of calm in this shake-n-bake world. The only problem is that, boat motion being what it is, I’m either clawing my way up hill to reach it or fighting to keep from being thrown bodily onto it.

On a related note, it’s getting noticeably cooler. Temperature in the cabin as I type is 64 degrees. What this means is that I can eat cheese again, which was untouchable when the cabin was 80.

Two days to San Francisco at this pace, but you’d never know it by looking out the window.

SOLACE update. Steve and crew appear to be doing well. To reports, the repair to the quadrant steering, replacing the parted cable with Dyneema line, has continued to function. They are currently jogging NW and SE at around 40N and 140W while they wait for winds to become favorable for a return to an easterly heading. This should happen by week’s end.

mmm

lkjlkjl

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Sept 27
Hanalei Bay to San Francisco
Day 17

Noon HST position: 41.45.90N by 131.15.47W
Miles since last noon: 154
Total miles of passage: 2409
Avg. Miles per Day: 142
Course: SE
Sail: Triple reef in jib and main. Wind angle: 70 – 80 degrees
Speed: 6
Wind: NE, ENE 25+
Sky: Clear, some scattered high cumulus
Bar: 1020
Air Temperature: 79 degrees
Sea Temperature: 62 degrees

Comfort cannot be expected by those who go apleasuring.
H. W. Tillman

All yesterday and today we have been just shy of a beat in 25 knot northeasterlies.

Seas are not large–some are to 10 feet–but they are steep and we are taking them beam on. They break over Mo with the least provocation, least provocation being that curling wave is here and boat is here. Smash. The decks are streaming.

From below the canon fire produced when Mo drops bodily off a wave onto her side or, when on her side, the next wave slams into her bilge, is startling, partly for the sound and partly for the whole-boat, things-coming-unglued vibration it produces.

One cannot be sure the watery collision wasn’t with a solid object that has torn a hole in the hull. Several times today I’ve checked under the engine to make sure the slimy inch of water gathered there is still but an inch (it is).

I open a galley cupboard for a can of soup and the entire contents empty onto the counter. I aim at the head, but gravity decides it is tired of such strict confines–today left is much more interesting than down. I reach out to steady myself but before my hand contacts the bulkhead, the bulkhead has thwapped me in the forehead.

Only lying down seems safe, and though my new berth on starboard is comfortable, I slept last night as if in a war zone.

That’s just what it’s like to beat into fresh northeasterlies.

ALL THAT SAID, our course is excellent and warms my heart. If this is as E as the NE winds get, then I called my northing perfectly, because as I write, Mo is on a rhumb line course for the Golden Gate Bridge. Distance: 441 miles.

Let’s hope I haven’t spoken too soon.

By way of follow up to the story on WAVE SWEEPER, the abandoned sailboat Mo and I discovered a day and a half ago, the below release from the Coast Guard was sent to me courtesy of Joe Cline, editor at the Pacific Northwest sailing magazine 48*North…

CREW OF 1,000-FOOT CONTAINTER SHIP RESCUE SAILOR IN DISTRESS 990 MILES WEST OF THE COLUMBIA RIVER.

WARRENTON, Ore., — The Coast Guard coordinated the rescue of  a sailor in distress more than 990 miles west of the Columbia River by utilizing the Automated Mutual-Assistance Vessel Rescue system, Tuesday.

Responding to the AMVER request, the crew of the 1,098-foot container ship Oocl Utah altered their course to retrieve the distressed sailor, safely took him aboard the ship and is currently transporting him to their next port of call in Busan, South Korea.

Watchstanders at the Coast Guard 13th District Command Center received the notification of distress from the operator of the 37-foot sailing vessel Sea Sweeper stating that weather had torn his sails on the vessel’s lower mast, was having issues with its engine and batteries and was running low on potable water. During his transit the operator was also battling 30 mph winds and 8-foot seas.

Due to the great distance of the sailing vessel, the Command Center personnel issued the AMVER broadcast asking any mariners in the immediate area to assist the operator of the Sea Sweeper.

The crew Hong Kong flagged Oocl Utah responded to the request for assistance and proceeded with the rescue of the sailing vessel operator.

“The AMVER system was created for events just like this one,” said Petty Officer 1st Class Michael Brown, an operation specialist at the Coast Guard 13th District Command Center. “Thanks to the merchant mariners who volunteer for this program, help can be provided to those in need even when they are hundreds of miles away from traditional assistance.”

The operator of the sailing vessel was reportedly found without proper safety equipment including a life raft and emergency beacon onboard his vessel. The lack of essential equipment was a factor which prompted the AMVER assist. Boaters are reminded to always have proper safety equipment such as an Electronic Position Indicating Beacon, life raft, lifejackets or mustang suits, signaling and communication devices onboard their vessel before getting underway.

A message has been issued to all mariners operating in the area notifying them of the adrift vessel.

The AMVER system is aa assistance and rescue program with vessels from all over the world to participating in the program. AMVER helps provide assistance in areas beyond the reach of Coast Guard assets. Vessels participating in the AMVER program agree to have their general positions tracked by the AMVER system and volunteer to assist vessels in distress that may be in their area.

For more information about the AMVER program, click here: http://www.amver.com/default.asp

 

image188

Flying the storm jib in tame conditions.

 

gl-vhb

Routine maintenance on the Monitor tiller lines. Here “sewing” a new and old line together so as to ease running the new through the Monitor block assembly.

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kjhjlj

Sept 26
Hanalei Bay to San Francisco
Day 16

Noon HST position: 42.48.56N by 134.14.24W
Miles since last noon: 157
Total miles of passage: 2255
Avg. Miles per Day: 141
Course: ENE, then E
Sail: Twins poled overnight. Close hauled, triple reefed next day
Speed: 6
Wind: SW15 to N20 -28
Sky: Overcast, some rain (Pacific Northwest sky)
Bar: 1019
Air Temperature: 70 degrees
Sea Temperature: 64 degrees

Up at five to find Mo heading SE. The wind had shifted into the N overnight, as per forecast. I let us run until first light and then slowly wound up sails, took in the poles and got Mo ready for several days of reaching.

Winds should be 20 – 25 from the N, then NE, then ENE and finally back to N-ish over the next two to three days. Not ideal for a boat that wants to go E and SE.

It appears our cruise will end with a bash.

While this high settles in, my goal is to 1) carry true wind on the beam and keep apparent wind below 60 degrees off port. 2) to somehow keep from getting pushed below 40N until the wind comes back into the N. Those may be tall orders.

Currently am triple reefed in both main and jib in winds that have increased to 28 just as the sun set. (Of course!)

I’ve also taken the opportunity of some wind and a very wet foredeck to practice-set the storm jib. Good thing as I’d stowed it in a way that made it extremely awkward to get at the tack and hanks. I flew it in 20 knots, and now that we’re touching 30, I wish I’d left it up.

Handel is still with us.

Several days ago he moved his quarters from inside a cockpit cubby to the vang clutch on the starboard clutch assembly.

This was an unfortunate choice as it is outboard of the cockpit, quite windy, and thus cold, and was often washed by waves. I’d not seen him for several days and thought him overboard.

Still, I tried to leave the vang clutch unused as long as I could on the off chance … but today it had to come into action.

Luckily Handel was out and inspecting his estate when I needed to begin work there, and I was able to move him to a protected spot underneath the dodger.

In typical fashion, Handel was unhappy with my safe-as-houses location, and has since wandered into the hatch slide pocket. So, again, I have to live in fear that moving the hatch will crush him.

So it goes with Handel.

kjhipn

Handel is still with us and now living in the hatch slide pocket.

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Sept 25
Hanalei Bay to San Francisco
Day 15

Noon HST position: 41.50.33N by 137.12.05W
Miles since last noon: 171
Total miles of passage: 2098
Avg. Miles per Day: 140
Course: ENE
Sail: Running under large genoa
Speed: 7+
Wind: SW to SSW 20 – 25
Sky: Mostly clear
Bar: 1017
Air Temperature: 76 degrees
Sea Temperature: 65 degrees

10am.

I’m in the cockpit. I don’t know why. I look up and off MOLI’s port quarter and to the west, mast and sails. Maybe four miles distant. Hull down. A sailboat.

My first thought: SOLACE! Steve and crew have, in fact, repaired their pedestal steering and are underway these past 24 hours. She’s faster than MO, but that’s too fast. Last report put her over 200 miles to our stern.

Second thought: something’s wrong. Even without binoculars I can see that the sail set isn’t working. With binoculars and from the top of the larger waves, it’s clear the genoa is luffing terribly.

What are the odds I’d encounter a sailboat here that was making due east for the coast and that I’d see it just the moment its crew lost control of the headsail?

Seeing another sailboat has sufficiently small odds. But there’s nothing due east except Crescent City, California, a fishing town, and due east is the wrong heading given coming weather.

I wait five minutes. No need to bother them if they’re on the foredeck, I think.

Five minutes later the sail is still beating. I call on channel 16. I call repeatedly. No answer.

A sinking feeling in my gut. I have to go.

MO is running fast. Winds have been 20 – 25 SW and SSW for several days. The wave train is large and long period; seas 10 and 12 feet and breaking happily. Really beautiful stuff. But it makes for slow action on deck. The starboard genoa pole is still out from yesterday, a vain hope, and to port and out free, the large genoa. It takes fifteen minutes to pull the pole, rig for the number #2 jib and tack about.

It takes another twenty minutes to work up to the vessel’s position.

Here’s what I wrote to Joanna and my friend, Kelton, immediately after the sighting…

Subject: URGENT. POSSIBLY ABANDONED SAILBOAT. PLEASE FORWARD TO COASTGUARD

Date: September 25, 2016 at 4:18:49 AM PDT

JO, KELTON, which ever of you can get to this first. URGENT.

I have discovered a *possibly* abandoned vessel, a sailboat, adrift, sails out and torn.

Urgent because vessel does not appear to have been adrift/abandoned for very long.

PLEASE CONTACT LOCAL COAST GUARD AND FORWARD INFO. ASK THEM TO ROUTE ACCORDINGLY. I don’t know who to contact or would do myself.

Abandoned Vessel Position: 41.49.463N. 137.20.131W.
Sighting Time: 1100 Hawaii Standard Time.
Sighting Date: Sept 25, 2016.

Vessel Approximate Course ESE.
Vessel Approximate Drift Rate: 2-3 knots.

Vessel Name: Wave Sweeper.
Vessel Port: Vancouver, BC.

Description: Sloop. 30 – 35 feet on deck. Yellow hull. Fiberglass. Home-built dodger of wood. Jib out and torn to ribbons. Main out and boom down and in water, sail also torn. Main hatch open. Boat appears to be dragging a drogue from quarter lines; drogue not seen. No dinghy seen, though a kayak on coach roof. No life raft seen, nor place for canister observed on boat deck or rail.

Action: Multiple hails on VHF, channel 16, upon approach and departure and via air horn upon passing by. No response.

Scan of area found no other debris or sign of raft.

I made two close passes and have departed the scene assuming boat is abandoned.

RR
S/V MOLI

I was still panting when I wrote this. Reading every sentence aloud. Typing as fast as could. Hurry, hit send. Good.

Because you just don’t know. It all looked so fresh. No weed on the hull. No bird shit on deck. The kayak at the ready. The BBQ on the rail. Hatches open. I half expected someone to come popping from below. He’d offer me a beer. “Hamburgers up in a jiffy, mate. Sorry about the mess.”

Except for those awful sails. The banners of ghosts. They could only mean disaster. Loss of control. Loss of self. The kind of panic that unhinges a person in a second.

Something terrible had gone down here, and it looked like it had gone down yesterday.

Joanna immediately contacted our local Coast Guard station, and they routed my email and photos to the Offshore Rescue Unit.

Here was the response…

From: RCCAlameda1
Sent: Sunday, September 25, 2016 2:44 PM
To: JOANNA BLOOR; RCCAlameda1
Subject: RE: [Non-DoD Source] Fwd: URGENT. POSSIBLY ABANDONED SAILBOAT. PLEASE FORWARD TO COASTGUARD

Ms. Bloor,

The Sailing Vessel WAVE SWEEPER was the subject of a Search and Rescue case from July 19th of this year. The master of the vessel was rescued and brought safely to shore.

Thank you very much for your report.

Respectfully,
United States Coast Guard
Rescue Coordination Center Alameda

I had been trending slowly NE under deeply reefed jib. Waiting for word. Waiting for orders or release. Release from responsibility and that horrible dread.

When the note came, relief. I had misread the signs. That’s OK. The story had ended well, at least for the man.

I opened the big genoa and we flew free again. Hull down, that dead boat astern. Sails still beating their warning. Then she was gone. I breathed in. Shake it off, man, shake it off…

Because a sailboat is a rocket ship traversing vast, open space. This is its chief attraction and its chief danger. Because after a time one becomes as comfortable with the space as with the rocket ship. One feels a familiarity, a kinship…with both. Or worse, one feels a certain invincibility. One forgets that the thin fuselage of the ship is the only thing keeping doom at bay. That the space is alien and uninhabitable. That it does not wish harm; it does not wish, but that it is prone to random violence. That it eats your mistakes for breakfast.

That in a moment it can be over.

Such sightings tear at the web of security we weave about ourselves. Like seeing a messy crash on the side of the freeway. Suddenly you realize that going 80 in traffic isn’t, in fact, as safe as being home in front of the tele. It’s a jarring moment because it’s so obvious and because you’d forgotten.

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Sept 24
Hanalei Bay to San Francisco
Day 14

Noon HST position: 40.46.44N by 140.22.61W
Miles since last noon: 177
Total miles of passage: 1927
Avg. Miles per Day: 137
Course: ENE
Sail: Twins poled out until the wind veered a little more into the south. Now genoa only.
Speed: 7+
Wind: SW to SSW 20 – 25, most 25 today
Sky: Mostly clear
Bar: 1016
Air Temperature: 76 degrees
Sea Temperature: 68 degrees

1am again. Sail changes. No big deal. Wind is up so simply roll in a bit of the twin headsails.

But while in the cockpit I hear a barking. By now I know where to look. I see that starboard tiller line block is frozen, the one I installed new two days ago. I can see the sheave is cracked. No, wait… And then as I brighten the beam of the headlamp and get nearer, the sheave simply falls apart. I dash below and flip on the autopilot.

Part of me can’t believe it. Part of me is not surprised. It is 1am, when MOLI mayhem appears to be scheduled.

All the steering issues on this trip seem to come back to my making poor choices. I don’t say this to be self-critical. It’s all a part of learning what this boat needs and can tolerate.

For example, when the first block froze on the way to Kauai, the larger block I used as replacement (all I then had) appears to have changed the line angle and caused, at least in part, the extraordinary chafe that broke the tiller line earlier in the week.

The new block added two days ago, delivered to Kauai with a great number of other spares, fixed this issue, BUT the block did not have a swivel shackle as had its predecessor; it merely had a saddle. I had manually applied some twist to the strapping that holds this assembly to the rail, but it wasn’t enough. The block was out of alignment with the line; the twist put severe pressure on the sheave, grinding it against the cheek until it failed. In two days!

And here’s the basic learning: The tiller line assembly cannot tolerate alignment issues because the weight of the tiller in a seaway is extreme. Often when making fine adjustments to the chain I must fight hard to get chain and tiller to match up…and our weather/wave action has been far from heavy on any of the three legs.

I’m also beginning to suspect that using covered line in such a high pressure, high repetitions installation is a mistake. The cover simply gets ground up.

New, well aligned block in place. New line run. Last? We’ll see.

*And I had no more 90 degree turn shackles, proving again that one cannot have too many spares.

I can smell home.

Though I’m positive we’ll get at least one more weather surprise, I feel Mo and I are on the last lap, the last 1000 miles, in any case. I’ve been away most of this year and constantly since May. I’m ready to sail under the Golden Gate Bridge.

Knox-Johnson missed a beer in the pub. Schrader missed his dog. I miss my wife, Joanna. I’m a man of few friends, but she is the best of them, and I want again the simple luxury afforded couples that make a habit of staying within three states of each other–the ability to touch base at will, to check-in, to have a chat.

How she handles running her own business, the house, and our lives while I’m away, how she tolerates the doubled responsibility without resentment I don’t know. But I am grateful, and I look forward (in truth) to being the one to take out the trash … at least for the next year.

On that note, a special shout-out to Sarah, Joanna’s mom, whose birthday was this week. Sarah, you done good work. If I had champagne aboard, I’d toast you with it, but your toast will have to settle for beer.

img_0513

The block simply fell apart as I watched. Of course, it’s 1am, when all mayhem happens.

img_0514

onky experiment. Trying to take a wind even higher on the beam with just headsails. Starboard poled out; port hanked in without pole. Kinda worked. But don’t tell anyone at the club.

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Sept 23
Hanalei Bay to San Francisco
Day 13

Noon HST position: 39.33.77N by 143.17.84W
Miles since last noon: 158
Total miles of passage: 1750
Avg. Miles per Day: 134
Course: ENE
Sail: #2 jib full all night; then twins poled out, wind 100 to 120 degrees on starboard
Speed: 7+
Wind: SW 10 – 25
Sky: Mostly clear. Thin cirrus and then SF style high fog, burned off
Waves: SW to 7
Bar: 1013
Air Temperature: 77 degrees
Sea Temperature: 66 degrees

For a few hours last night wind eased as a ridge passed quickly over. I decided to sleep instead of make more sail and press more miles into the day. The two previous nights had been largely devoid of that luxury and my attempts at napping, mostly exercises in staring at the ceiling. We’ve paid for my log-sawing in our daily totals. A fair deal.

Not so today, however.

With this morning’s forecast, I’ve decided it’s time to work some northing into our passage. Our current heading is 60 degrees true and our current target is an imaginary Gastro Pub at 43N and 133W. Here, I am told, the brew is rich and cold and the steaks are hot.

The reason: by Monday a large high may settle north of us and bring brisk NE winds to what will be our then location. I want to be positioned to take those winds on the beam.

The forecast is sure to change and I likely won’t need 43N (who cares about cold beer anyway). But that’s today’s plan.

I rose at 6. Had a cup of coffee. Lofted the port pole and the #1 genoa. Had a second cup of coffee. Lofted the starboard pole for the #2 jib, and we’ve been flying since.

We’re taking the winds, now just over 20 knots, deeply on the starboard quarter. Jib #2 is canted way forward, #1 hauled in taught. Both soon carried a second reef. We’ve covered 31 miles in the 4 hours since noon. And they’ve been easy miles. Monte Cristo is finding this so untaxing that he’s reading the paper and smoking a ciggy, and we’re still on course.

Things are not so rosy for SOLACE and her crew. The attempts to braid the broken steering cable together have failed as has the dyneema line used to replace the cable. This latter solution has stretched and slipped off the quadrant. No word on its being tightened or replaced. Steve has rigged a block and tackle from the emergency tiller to the center cockpit, and the crew are using this to steer (much as did Shackleton in the southern ocean), which he reports is at least an easier arrangement in light winds. High winds are still a struggle. Currently they are some 170 miles back of MOLI but are making consistent, if difficult, progress, and generally in the right direction.

Standing in the cockpit staring north and west. The cobalt waves tumbling like liquid glass, exploding in white cascades. The kind of day made for staring at.

Then an oddity in that wave. An olive colored shape moving below, surfing down the inside of the curl. Then another. Then two more. Not large–say the size of small dolphins. But not dolphins. They never break the surface to breath. So, fish, then. But what?

After a time, I think I see sharp pectoral and dorsal fins and perceive a compact and bullet shape to the body. Silver flashes from the water when they suddenly change course. Tuna? They hung out off port quarter all afternoon, waiting, I fancy, for Mo to scare up some flying fish.

image1kajlsdhfn
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Sept 22
Hanalei Bay to San Francisco
Day 12

Noon HST position: 39.13.10N by 146.35.73W
Miles since last noon: 179
Total miles of passage: 1592
Avg. Miles per Day: 133
Course: E
Sail: main double reefed; #2 jib triple reefed; then #2 jib only, double then single reefed, wind moving between abeam and quartering.
Speed: 7+
Wind: SW 15 – 30
Sky: Mixed cloud cover
Waves: SW to 12
Bar: 1011
Air Temperature: 78 degrees
Sea Temperature: 66 degrees

Why does it always happen at night?

1am. Sleeping lightly in my bunk on portside. The press of my body into the portside settee cushions is comfortable. Such a relief from the constant twist and roll. But too comfortable. Not right. Mo is on her side and staying there.

In the pilot house I see the indicator shows wind 90 degrees to starboard and pegged at 30 knots. I have up a double reefed main and triple reefed jib. We’ve been on the edge all day, frothing along. Now we’ve tripped over it.

Blap Blap Blap. The AIS alarm. On the chartplotter, the signature gray triangle of a ship and our course, which has been E, is now SE. It appears on the screen that we’re set to T-bone the larger vessel.

I look into the cockpit. Monte Cristo’s (wind vane) steering chain has fallen off the tiller. Odd. That only happens in light winds. I used to lash it to the tiller (the lanyard is sitting right there), but in any wind at all it stays perfectly secure in its chock.

“Moli Moli, M/V Regent Star.” I do a quick measure. Four miles out. He’ll have to wait.

I dash into the cockpit and grab the tiller. Here I see the ship half hull down, lights along its deck are dipping in the distant swell and the vessel’s already abeam. “Couldn’t hit you if I tried,” I yell. Blap Blap Blap. “Moli Moli, M/V Regent Star,” says the radio. Jesus but these ship guys are sensitive.

The wind is up for sure. Its force in the rigging is an impressive roar, and I can feel it warm but hard on my chest. I give the tiller a heave. With wind back on the quarter, I slap the chain in place, but something is mushy. The cover on the starboard tiller line is sliding around.

I follow it back and see that where the line passes the dorade vent, the cover has broken revealing the bright blue dyneema core.

“You everlasting bitch!”

This is a known chafe point, so I check it regularly. I had, in fact, checked that afternoon and seen only the slightest frizzing on the cover. Shouldn’t have seen any! I changed that whole line out two days ago due to heavy frizzing of the cover at the first turing block. I did note then some broken strands at the dorade. But the whole run is new!

Mo takes a dive; slams on her side. First order: get the main down.

I strap in and crawl forward. Anything beyond my headlamp beam is black. Ship is long gone. No stars; no moon. Not even white caps, though the ripping white noise says they’re there. Spray in my face. Every surface on Mo covered in a slippery, salty film.

I rig the lazy jacks and begin to lower sail. The angle of the lazy jack line looks wrong. It’s pressed against the mast and has snagged a sail car. Yank yank yank. Ten minutes to get unstuck. Why do lazy jacks make things more difficult?

Sail wrapped loosely. It’ll do till morning. Mo’s motion much better.

Back in the cockpit. Thinking. What next?

The wife has asked why I call the wind vane Monte Cristo. “Because I *Count* on him,” I say. He’s a singlehander’s most essential piece of kit.

Nothing for it but to change the tiller line now. Too much pressure on Monte. And I can see the dyneema core is looking worn already. Can’t risk it breaking.

But what is going on?

Maybe my replacement block is too large (this is the one that froze on the trip down). Maybe it’s changed the angle of the line and into the dorade. I dig out a smaller block and begin the process of reeving new line down and through Monte’s cascade of blocks. It’s quick enough work, but involves hanging my ass over the stern and reaching down into the water for the line’s bitter end.

It makes no sense, I think. To chafe so fast. Almost like it was cut. One more time I trace where the line touches the dorade and the ring moves. What? The dorade ring is loose. I tighten it all the way down and note that in doing so I close off a line-sized gap that allowed access to the threads.

I also note Handel the gecko sitting in his usual spot, a witness to the accident. “You were watching! Was that what happened?” I ask. “That the line got trapped under the dorade ring and the threads cut the line?” Handel said nothing, so we’ll just have to see.

4am. I roll back into my bunk. Problem fixed for now but not solved.

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Donning foul weather gear in topsyturvyville can be a real trick.

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To add insult to last night’s injury, this morning my coffee making process, which has worked … forever … failed. We rolled on a larger swell; the cup slipped, and a filter full of hot water and coffee spilled generously into the galley. I’ll be cleaning up grounds for weeks

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Sept 21
Hanalei Bay to San Francisco
Day 11

Noon HST position: 39.00.45N by 150.11.80W
Miles since last noon: 170
Total miles of passage: 1413
Avg. Miles per Day: 128
Course: E
Sail: Twin headsails poled out; change to double reefed main and #2 jib; wind abeam and on starboard quarter.
Speed: 7+
Wind: SW to 30
Sky: Mixed cloud cover
Waves: SW to 10
Bar: 1013
Air Temperature: 79 degrees
Sea Temperature: 69 degrees

Wind, glorious wind. And for once I made sail changes before all hell broke loose.

The breeze backed into the SW after dark and our course began a gentle loop to the north. Knowing stronger winds were due in the wee hours and not wanting to surrender easting, I got the poles down after dinner and hoisted the main and #2 jib. A ship passed above us and then the moon rose inky red into a mess of cloud.

By midnight I’d reefed the main. By morning winds had increased to over 20 knots. I reefed the #2 jib after coffee. By nine o’clock the main had two reefs and the jib, three. Winds were steady 25, gusting 30. Lots of gusting. Mo boiled steadily along.

It’s like space travel. I am using an approaching weather system to slingshot my tiny ship out of the gravitational trap of another weather system. But instead of accelerating in toward a planet, as a spacecraft would do, ship and I must wait for the weather system to arrive. Then we don’t miss it!

Our slingshot has arrived.

If we are fast enough, Mo and I will be able to ride this wave nearly to the coast. My intention is to stay down here around 39N, angling only slowly up to 40N, in order to avoid the light airs at the top of this stream.

But I’d best hike it up to 40N by next week, because after this low moves through, a high drops back in that can give us a final push to San Francisco or, if my approach is too shallow, drive us down to Morro Bay. I like Morro Bay just fine. I’m just not going there.

Standing at the main mast. Admiring how Mo settles into stronger winds with a will. The waves haven’t much too them yet, I think. Perky but without much heft. (Did I not see the decks were streaming with water?) Then came a smasher rolling into Mo’s flanks. I thought I’d avoid the splash by hoisting myself up into the rigging. Like that wide receiver who jumps over his tackler. I heaved, one big pull-up, legs tucked in, way up. And the wave, seeing my maneuver, threw its entirety into my chest. I have never been so suddenly and entirely wet without jumping into the water. We both had a good laugh over that one.

Note that it’s getting cooler. Today is the first day of sea temperatures below 70 degrees and a cabin below 80 degrees. I’ve put on long pants and wear a long sleeve shirt to bed.

Handel the gecko is still with us. During sail changes last night I noted him sitting in his usual spot near a starboard cockpit winch. Thinking he had crawled from hiding to expire, I reached for him and he moved, slightly. His vital force remains, though it must be much diminished by his meager diet, at this point no more than a dream, and the cold. Handel never looked plump; now he’s positively gaunt.

With the wind up, the giant birds, the black footed albatross, that Lancaster Bomber of the sky, is really in form. Never have I seen them reach so high when banking. But on this wind the top of their curve rivals the top of Mo’s mast. And they approach. This morning two sailed in and out of the disturbed air that passed around Mo’s sails. Playing, I presume, though they look too serious for that.

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My best friend and ever the more so when the wind gets going. I can’t imagine steering 20 minutes in weather like this, but Senior Monte Cristo just keeps cranking away.

 

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Sept 20
Hanalei Bay to San Francisco
Day 10

Noon HST position: 38.57.05N by 153.31.40W
Miles since last noon: 143
Total miles of passage: 1243
Avg. Miles per Day: 124
Course: Tacking up to SOLACE, E after
Sail: Full main and #2 jib; Twin headsails poled all night and next day
Speed: 5-6
Wind: WSW10 -15
Sky: Mixed cloud cover
Waves: Small opposing swell; NE and SW
Bar: 1015
Air Temperature: 80 degrees
Sea Temperature: 72 degrees

Stats from Sept 19
Noon HST position: 38.36.38N by 155.42.44W
Miles since last noon: 132
Total miles of passage: 1100
Avg. Miles per Day: 122

All day MOLI climbed to SOLACE’s position (39.03.87N 155.27.59W), first close hauled NW in warm sloshy seas, and then NE, doing 7 knots under main alone.

By 5pm I had a visual, a tiny fleck of white on the horizon two points off starboard that did not melt like whitecaps, but instead held and grew slowly, so slowly. Relief. Nothing teaches the size of the ocean so much as trying to find something in it as small as oneself.

I slid under SOLACE stern just as the sun went down.

SOLACE is a San Diego boat, a fiberglass, double-cockpit, flush-deck sloop with a sweet, tear-drop hull; she’s 40 feet overall, built in South Africa in 1989. Owner Steve Harris and crew, daughter Kelsey and friend Kim, have made a cruise to and of the Hawaiian Islands this summer and are now headed home.

As reported earlier, MOLI and SOLACE departed Hanalei Bay together. Two days out the autopilot motor on SOLACE failed. Steve has attempted repairs to no avail. In the interim he and crew have been hand steering in watches of 2-on and 4-off. All was well until a couple days ago when steering failed. The quadrant cable parted. Steve rigged the emergency tiller and has been working on a permanent fix since then.

Over the last five days, our respective positions have been within 60 to 100 miles apart, and we’ve been communicating multiple times daily via the DELORME InReach.

“Special Delivery–please hold still,” yelled Steve as I maneuvered MOLI as close as I dared. Steve lobbed a small plastic bag that bullseyed Mo’s foredeck…and stuck. Amazing. I retrieved a bag of Kim’s fresh-baked peanut butter cookies. Double amazing!

“But you’re the yacht in distress,” I yelled back. “What can I lob in return?”

“Who said anything about distress? You made the trip to see us. A little conversation is all we ask.”

I doused the sails and drifted, and we talked on the radio for the next hour and a half.

While a fix to the parted cable is in the works, Steve and company have found steering SOLACE with the emergency tiller rough going, possible, but not for extended periods in even moderate seas. That said, Steve’s learned that balancing the boat under sail with emergency tiller lashed is doable, and he can now make way on most points of sail with a triple reefed main and a scratch of a jib.

A fix for the quadrant has been more of a long term project. The first attempt, braiding the wire rope back together, failed under load, and last Steve reported he and crew were disassembling the pedestal so as to reeve Dyneema line in place of the failed cable, a job similar in simplicity to performing arthroscopic surgery while riding a mechanical bull.

“Heck, we might not go back to hand steering even when the wheel’s repaired,” said Steve. “Otto Jr. (lashed tiller) is doing just fine, and I’m finding sail balancing to be fun.”

We reviewed what spares I had that might be useful.

“Thanks, but we’ll be fine. This is an exercise in self-sufficiency. We’ve got plenty of water, food and fuel. We can make way in nearly any direction, although slowly. We’re in good spirits. I’m very confident we’ll reach our goal, and we may rival your time yet. All we miss out here in this big place is someone to talk to other than ourselves.”

At 8pm Steve said, “Well, it’s been nice to hear your voice, but we best be getting on with our respective journeys.” And so I rigged MO’s genoa poles and made my way east toward moonrise while Steve balanced SOLACE on a course northeast. By4am his masthead light was bobbing green. By morning we were alone.

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Steve, Kim and Kelsey…just before the cookie lob.

 

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Date: Sept 19
Time 1330
POS 38.48.86N by 155.35.88W
Course/Speed: NW 6 – 7 knots
Wind: WSW15-20

I’ve just come about and am on a beat to meet SOLACE, whose noon position was about 10 miles N of me on a slow NW heading. I’m trying to get upwind.

SOLACE is the yacht that departed Hanalei nine days ago and at the same time as MOLI.

Two days out their autopilot stopped functioning, reports owner, Steve, and so he and crew of two others have been doing 2-on 4-off hand-steering watches.

All was well until a couple days ago his steering failed. Steve says the quadrant cable parted. He’s rigged the emergency tiller and has been working on a permanent fix since then.

We’ve been communicating multiple times a day via the DELORME InReach.

Steve and I quickly parted company out of Hanalei. I suspect his boat is a tad faster in the light airs that have been ours for the taking. Also, we chose different routes, he getting a head start with his easting.

Mo and I have quickly made up ground, however.

It doesn’t appear that Steve or crew need assistance. He has the materials to effect repair. I’m just stopping by to lend moral support. I am in the neighborhood, after all.

Now to see if two specs on the ocean can actual find each other…

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Sept 18
Hanalei Bay to San Francisco
Day 8

Noon HST position: 37.05.07N by 157.16.02W
Miles since last noon: 76
Total miles of passage: 968
Avg. Miles per Day: 121
Course: NNE and N
Sail: Main and light wind genoa, mostly close hauled
Speed: 2 – 4
Wind: SW11-0
Sky: Mixed cloud cover. Squalls.
Waves: Light SW swell; heavy chop from NE, subsiding
Bar: 1019
Air Temperature: 80 degrees
Sea Temperature: 75 degrees

Wind went soft in the night.

By now you’re thinking, “will this guy talk about anything but the weather?” Sorry if that’s dull. In my universe, weather is all.

What was SW11 at noon was SW5 by 8pm. I kept Mo close hauled heading north-ish*, and we were able to generate just enough breeze to maintain steerage.

That is, until 3am when I woke and found us heading south. Or rather, pointing south and going no where.

I got Mo turned around over the next hour only to find our little puffs were gone and the “Bang Bang” chorus had resumed.

Nothing left to do. I dropped the main, wound up the jib and went back to my bunk. Mo bucked and complained in the growing swell, throwing the sack of apples onto the floor where the rotten one exploded. I slept poorly.

Dawn was heartbreak. Wind SW3, maybe, and a steep NE chop, this from the easterlies above us, enough to dunk the anchor on the bow.

Thought it through over morning coffee (wait for wind or motor north). I so didn’t want to use the engine on this passage. But I cannot miss the next low. It already looks to be too brief to get us over the top. If I have to wait around somewhere, wait up where it will be blowing on Tuesday.

So, we motored. And then wind filled in from the SW to 11 by noon, the chop died right away, and now we have a lovely, quiet sail north.

*that we were close hauled in a breeze whose true direction was our port quarter is indication of how uncommitted was our propulsion.

New strategy (of many): head N and NE toward 39N and then turn due E. The low arriving on Tuesday should bring good winds there, but current forecasts show it developing a hole at and above 40N. Get above 40N and I may be dead in the water again by Thursday.

I will freely admit the complications of this passage, the moveable feast of a highs and light winds, are proving a test.

Updated the water and fuel log today.

Of nearly 200 gallons in fuel, I’ve only used 27 gallons since departure from Neah Bay, Washington.

Of nearly 160 gallons of water, I’ve used approximately 22 gallons since filling up the aft tank in Nawiliwli. (I’ve been relatively free with water since I have so much.)

Other positives. I’m not the least bit low on cookies.

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It’s an indication that it’s getting colder that I’ve put on boots. Almost switched to long pants last night.

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Updating the water and fuel usage log.

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A morning nap is OK when you were up at 3am.

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Sept 17
Hanalei Bay to San Francisco
Day 7

Noon HST position: 36.02.56N by 157.38.48W
Miles since last noon: 130
Total miles of passage: 892
Avg. Miles per Day: 127
Course: NNE and N
Sail: Headsails poled, running overnight; then main and light wind genoa on broad reach today
Speed: 4 and 5
Wind: SW5 – 10
Sky: Mostly clear
Waves: Mixed to 3 feet; still, large train from NW to 10; shorter period, steeper than yesterday
Bar: 1018
Air Temperature: 81 degrees
Sea Temperature: 76 degrees

The problem with light and variable winds is only that they are light and they are variable.

All night I ran with wind on the port quarter, both headsails poled out and canted to starboard, course NNE. The course was a secondary consideration because all day the main had slatted in the light southwesterlies, banging as we fell off a low, rolling swell and banging again as we rose to the next.

As you may recall, slatting sails makes it into Dante’s Inferno, ring four, subring six, category, “images of absolute hell for sailors.”

The bang fills the cabin with a sonic chaos and shakes Mo like an earthquake. And then there’s the worry over wear on the gear. Any moment a batten could crack or a seam, pop. Can the boat take 150 miles of this?

I pleaded with the main to keep quite, to hold onto the wind like it had promised–I yelled myself hoarse, and all it said was, “Bang, Bang Bang!”

With the main doused and the twin headsails out our speed decreased by a half a knot, but their dumping and filling at least was less wearing, on me and on them.

John and Phyllis at Attainable Adventure recently published a post discussing their five rules for successful passage making. Five! I could hardly believe it. Who can remember five of anything? I have three rules, which is on the order of two too many.

They are:

1. Keep the water out.
2. Stay on board.
3. Keep the boat moving.

My first rule is also John and Phyllis’ first and is, I believe, a tip-of-the hat to Eric Hiscock, who was once asked how to successfully navigate the southern ocean. His answer was simply, “Keep the water out.” Buoyancy first; all else follows.

The second of these is rather obvious in concept, and as I’ve demonstrated on previous passages, sometimes more difficult in practice.

It’s the third rule that I’m applying today because today and for the next several, I really don’t know where to point the boat.

I have been aiming for a broad band of southwesterly flow beginning roughly here and dead-ending in Vancouver Island, but upon my arrival, the broad band is disintegrating and being replaced by a large high pressure system under the Aleutians. In a day or so, 40N will be experiencing strong E and NE winds, the opposite of what was.

Between here and headwinds is a whole lot of nothin.

So, I think the near term plan is simply to keep climbing N and NE; to keep the ride comfortable for the boat, and to maintain a point of sail the vane can understand. That likely excludes taking anything aft of the beam while the wind is light (5 knots of breeze on the port quarter is a nonsense where the vane is concerned) until we get into real wind again.

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Once weekly head wash day.

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Opening a new box of cookies is a much anticipated pleasure.

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Sept 16
Hanalei Bay to San Francisco
Day 6

Noon HST position: 34.15.60N by 158.44.30W
Miles since last noon: 110
Total miles of passage: 762
Avg. Miles per Day: 127
Course: N and NNW
Sail: Headsails poled with main sheeted in easy on a quartering breeze
Speed: 4 and 5
Wind: SSE10, then SW7
Sky: Mostly clear with cumulus; squalls overnight
Waves: Mixed to 3 feet; large train from NW to 10; 12 sec period
Bar: 1017
Air Temperature: 84 degrees
Sea Temperature: 77 degrees

Wind veered into the SW overnight. Thinking it might, I started my sleep cycle early and rose at 3am to make the necessary sail and course changes.

I noted from the hatch the full moon, half past its zenith, and the approach of a rain squall.

When I climbed into the cockpit well, my right foot just missed stepping on a ball of hair rolling around down there like a tumbleweed. Balls of hair being rare aboard, this sighting surprised me.

By headlamp, the ball turned out to be a small bird, a storm petrel that had fallen into the well and could not extract itself.

Like many pelagics, storm petrels spend their lives on the wing at sea. Land is, as Safina says of the Albatross, “a necessary inconvenience” and is visited only for breeding and hatching young. Thus, a storm petrel’s legs are mostly useless. The bird can’t walk ashore and attempting to do so on a rolling boat while simultaneously reaching for flight is what was producing the tumbleweed effect.

With some misgivings I very gently wrapped my hand around its body from above. But the bird fought not at all nor made any move to bite. Likely we were each other’s first alien contact.

Being still only half awake and unused to such visits, I utterly failed to do a proper identification. But working backward from the photo and memory, I’d say it was a Leach’s Storm Petrel, largely because the white rump was not a dominant feature; also the tail appeared to be forked and the longish legs were not long enough to protrude from behind the tail.

The bird had left a quantity of scat in the cockpit admirable for a body of its size and was disheveled, but appeared unhurt. In my hand it gave the impression of being weightless and fragile as a handful of straw. Its legs were motionless, jet black and cold as they rested against my fingers; its beak, tubenose obvious, no larger than pencil lead.

Think on it. This creature, which has all the heft of a paper airplane, can ably maneuver in the worst of ocean weathers. Thus the name.

I placed it on top of the dinghy. It looked up and around but didn’t twitch a wing. Oh, duh…the dinghy is under the sails and the rigging. I moved it to the top of the windward solar panel and faced it SW. Bat-like it was gone into the night.

In the morning I noted a dusty smudge twenty-feet up the port backstay. Storm petrels will often follow behind Mo at night. They use the phosphorescent glow, produced by small, water-borne animals that collide with the hull or are tossed in the wake, to make hunting easier. I can only guess that this bird misjudged one of Mo’s rolls. I have a few stubbed toes to show how easy that can be.

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White Tailed Tropic birds at play in the rigging today.

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Sept 15
Hanalei Bay to San Francisco
Day 5

Noon HST position: 32.25.71N by 158.58.93W
Miles since last noon: 128
Total miles of passage: 652
Avg. Miles per Day: 130
Course: NNE, now N
Sail: Broad to beam reach, now starboard quarter; Flying all three sails.
Speed: 2 to 6
Wind: ESE to 16, then SE5-10
Sky: Mostly clear; rare, small cumulus
Waves: Mixed to 3 feet
Bar: 1016
Air Temperature: 89 degrees
Sea Temperature: 77 degrees

First Albatross sightings. Two big Blackfooted Albatross, one flying–lots of flapping in these light breezes and small waves–and one squat in the water awaiting more opportune conditions. A beautiful, clear, still day, to which the Alby says, “Can you believe this crap weather?”

Also, several Sooty Tern sightings. At distance their flocks are sprays of small insects jerking and diving, and in company are a Frigate bird or two eager to collect their tax. Today, additional large splashes at water top suggested Dorado were busy from underneath.

Haven’t caught any fish since the Dorado. Actually won’t try until I’ve finished the two already aboard.

Wind rose with the afternoon again. Not before this trip have I noticed a diurnal quality to ocean winds.

Yesterday, for example:

0700 SE7
1000 ESE8
Noon ESE11
1600 ESE16
1900 same
2200 ESE11
0700 SE6

Mo and I rode NNE most of yesterday and overnight in order to escape an area of really light wind right on the 160W line. In the afternoon and until about moonset, we slicked up the sea-top beautifully. But the moon took our breeze with it, and by 5am we were ghosting NE and then E.

At dawn I turned Mo N as there’s really no point to any more easting at this low latitude.

All morning we barely made steerage before a light SE breeze that wouldn’t commit to blowing as had its cousins of yesterdays. Even now (2pm) we barely have 10 knots true on starboard quarter.

But am I ever using those 10 knots. I’m flying everything.

In really light wind on the quarter, it’s tough to get more than one working sail of a sloop (main or jib) to draw. Either the main catches the breeze and blankets the jib or one douses the main and just flies the jib.

Not me!

At about 10am, employing usual tactics, I polled out the big jenny to port and dropped the main. No go. Not even enough wind to hold the dear out.

Back up went the main, but I left the big jenny poled so at least it was still.

Then I poled out the smaller jib to starboard, but swung it way out so it would fill with the wind from starboard quarter. Then I snugged in on the main sheet until the main boom was positioned more for a broad reach, the idea being that it would spill its minimal breeze forward and into the two headsails.

I’m not entirely sure this is what Mr. Solent intended for his rig, but we are moving briskly, and what’s more, a) the sails slat hardly at all, and b) the main kept on such a short lead disallows rolling.

And it looks good, dammit! (Note: Personal observation which might be contested by others.)

Mo and I are still aiming for that flow of SW winds at around 35N, but forecasts show the flow being erased by this weekend when a massive high moves in under the Aleutians.

So, we may have persisted our way into a big puddle of nothing.

As N is the only direction that makes sense, I’ve decided not to worry about it for now.

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Running before a light breeze is hot work at this latitude. Not even a nap is relaxing.

 

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The last five slices of bread didn’t make it. Gifted to the ocean.

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Sept 14
Hanalei Bay to San Francisco
Day 4

Noon HST position: 30.28.56N by 159.49.93W
Miles since last noon: 92
Total miles of passage: 524
Avg. Miles per Day: 131
Course: NW to NE to NNE
Sail: Close hauled; light wind genoa and full main
Speed: 2 then 4 and 5 knots
Wind: NE5-10; E and ESE5-8
Sky: Mostly clear; rare, small cumulus
Waves: Mixed to 3 feet
Bar: 1013
Air Temperature: 86 degrees
Sea Temperature: 76 degrees

I have been banking on a wind shift to the E with intentions of using that to boomerang my way into a seemingly stable southwesterly flow at about 35N between 160 and 155W.

So I was beyond pleased last night when around 8pm Mo began slowly rounding to the N and then, by 10pm, into the NE without my touching a brace. All night we sailed with the Pole Start on port, just as close hauled on starboard as we’d been for days, but at a right angle to our previous course. Our target, that river of wind that might carry us all the way to the mainland.

We’ve threaded the needle, I thought. I slept the dreamless sleep of the contented and woke happy.

The morning indeed suggested we were passing cleanly between Scilla and Charybdis; to leeward I saw the colorless sky and low cirrus of the dead zone I’d wanted to avoid; to windward, rabbit-dropping cumulus, the very last of the trades.

But the morning’s weather forecast confirmed that “no plan withstands contact with the enemy.” Overnight it had erased my SW flow and replaced it with, bySaturday, a great glob of nothing at all. Between 35 and 40N and right in our path sat a ridge of high pressure.

Which leads to the following rule: The good thing about weather you don’t like is that it will change; the bad thing about weather you anticipate is that it will change. Said another way, don’t bet on the forecast.

So, now I’m a man without a plan. We appear to have sailable wind between here and 35N and between 160 and 155W, and my current goal is simply to keep us moving roughly north as efficiently as possible. We’ll see what the high at 40N has to say for itself when we get there…

In the late afternoon I brought in the fishing lure for an inspection and found that the likely reason for its two-day failure to produce was that some beast had bitten the end of the hook off. Additionally, the rubber hootchie was mangled something fierce and much of the plastic cover over the stainless leader had been ripped away.

Replaced with another lure and had aboard a small Dorado by evening. This is the second fish to come on the hook after dinner, so all of it is drying on deck, lightly salted. Had some for lunch with a bell pepper and the last of the cucumber and found quite enjoyable the texture of the leathery outside and still moist, sun-warmed interior flesh.

I have failed to mention my neighbor, Steve and crew of the yacht SOLACE, since the first log because, to no one’s surprise, we became separated within the first day and a half of departure, and because I’m ashamed to admit he is winning the (unofficial) race that no two yachts can avoid.

Presently SOLACE is 35 miles N and E of Mo’s position. I gave up the lead on the first night when we drifted west as I slept, and these oomph-less headwinds haven’t allowed me to win it back. Our boats are similar in size and light-wind sail plan, but Mo is much heavier and has the drag of her long keel to overcome. And I predict we shall overcome when running before the (please, god!) heavier winds in the north.

Steve and I are in contact daily via the inReach device. He reports catching a Dorado and freeing a sooty tern that became tangled in the fishing line. The bird rested on deck for an hour before taking off.
He also reports that the autopilot has become temperamental, more on which as it develops.

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Lunch of bell pepper, cucumber, and dried Dorado.

 

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The hook was bitten in half.

 

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Cleaning the solar panels of salt crystals so they are at maximum efficiency.

 

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Sept 13
Hanalei Bay to San Francisco
Day 3

Noon ***HST*** position: 29.09.63N by 160.07.61W
Miles since last noon: 130
Total miles of passage: 432
Avg. Miles per Day: 144
Course: NW
Sail: Close hauled; working sail with reef in main; out reef and open big jenny at 3am
Speed: 7 then 2
Wind: NE20 then NE5-10
Sky: Mostly clear; rare, small cumulus
Waves: NE2, NW8
Bar: 1013
Air Temperature: 84 degrees
Sea Temperature: 77 degrees

Wind built yesterday, topping at 20 knots in the afternoon, and then eased as the night matured. By moonset at 3am winds had diminished to NE10-15, and in a fit of uncharacteristic responsibility, I rose, shook out the reef in the main and popped the large genoa. This, and the rebalancing it required, took an hour, but it brought our speeds back up to 6 knots. It failed to improve our course, however, which is still aimed for the center of still air to the NW.

In anticipation of our arrival, wind has eased today instead of building with the sun. As sailors will know, this makes for a busy time of sheet trimming and vane adjusting. When it became positively zephyrous at 5 knots apparent, I switched to Otto (auto pilot) as Monte (wind vane) gets vertigo and must take to his bunk in such conditions.

For several hours we made no better than 2 and 3 knots of boat speed, worse when I tacked E and found the swell from the NE just enough to stop Mo in her already minimal track.

If you think you have someplace to be, days like this can be an unfathomable torture. Home is 2000 miles ENE, and I’m headed NW at 2 knots?!?! Great! I’m ready for that root canal now. Can someone please call a cab?

I have been known to scream and yell on days like this. But for some reason, I’m relaxed this trip. I’m ready for a long go round the mountain, and the forecast seems only to happy to oblige.

In truth, some of my most memorable times have been in utter calm, between the Tuamotus and Tahiti, for example; or two days out of Sitka, when the sea becomes, as Callahan notes in ADRIFT, a big blue desert, and the rollers like blue dunes.

For one thing, it gets quite. A fast boat is a noise bucket. And you begin to see differently. On the surface today, skimmers; tiny white insects (I guess) pinhead-sized and skating around as if on a mill pond. What are they and how do they survive when the sea is in froth? Just below the surface, odd shaped jellies hanging out at various depths, and millions of tiny balls I presume to be eggs. Then a random bit of plastic; on top is a small crab; beneath, a small fish. One has the sense of sailing through a nursery.

When the sun is just right, light rays are cast into the sea, cone-shaped, radiating in and down with a roundness like organ pipes, and only then does the ocean feel precipitous. 18,000 feet to the bottom. I had to look it up; never think about it otherwise. The usual impression is of being on top of the waves but under the weather. It takes a calm day to realize one is floating 3,000 feet above the tallest mountain in California.

I have a gecko aboard, first noticed in Hanalei where he perched on a cockpit winch and gorged on gnats attracted by the glow of Mo’s cabin lights. He’s a small fry, a mere inch long, and I noticed him again last night when I rose for sail changes. His name is Handel, named for the Composer Seamount were were passing over at the time, and because it will take something on the order of the Messiah’s return for him to survive the trip. What a conundrum for him. Millions of skimmers on the ocean’s surface, yet not a one within his reach. I guess one could call his situation cruel, though I doubt he sees it that way or even thinks of his probable meeting with death in the next few days.

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Handel perched in the cockpit, navigating by the stars.

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De-molding moldy bread before enjoying it with cucumber and deviled ham.

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Sept 12
Hanalei Bay to San Francisco
Day 2

Noon PST position: 27.05.77N by 159.30.04W
Miles since last noon: 133
Total miles of passage: 302
Avg. Miles per Day: 151
Course: NNE to NW
Sail: Close hauled on starboard; all working sail; then added large genoa just before noon.
Speed: 5 – 7
Wind: ENE to 20; then NE10+
Sky: Mostly clear; rare, small cumulus
Waves: E1, NE4, then long slow NW6
Bar: 1014
Air Temperature: 85 degrees
Sea Temperature: 78 degrees

If it weren’t for the writing of this log, I’d still be sitting on the weather rail behind the main sheet winch admiring the day.

Soft, warm wind at my back, Mo’s gentle gallop over waves like low hills rolling down from the northwest; the sound from the bow much like that of a pulsing waterfall. And then, the view. Mo and her bright yellow decks gliding effortlessly over a big blue marble, undulating glass under a pale blue sky.

Maybe Talavera is right; maybe “the Western Ocean is infinite and unnavigable.” But if infinity is made up of days like this, it is almost a thing to be wished for.

I say effortlessly where Mo is concerned, but not her crew. For me it’s been a day of sail changes and sail tweaks and trying to claw as much northing as possible into our increasingly north wind. That there is barely any sea running helps.

For two days I’ve been working slowly east in hopes of catching up to the tale end of a low that may just be grazing 35N by 155W later in the week. But I’ve been lazy at night. As winds have eased and shifted in the wee hours, I’ve chosen to sleep rather than tune the violin, which is what orchestrating sail, rudder and wind vane on even the smallest upwind coarse changes can feel like. Let groggy head sleep; who gives a fig about five miles of westing?

But I give a fig, once awake. Two nights of laziness and one day of a northing wind means Mo and I are now west of Hanalei. I’d not usually care except that as far out as the GRIBS can see, between 30 and 35N and west of 160W is a glob of still air which I suspect will be the end of our joy and the beginning of trouble. If the passage to Hawaii is a sleigh ride, this trip home is an uphill slog. If I could just catch up to that low.

I’m not eating much yet and am certainly not cooking. Too hot. Yesterday’s intake included a carrot and a banana and a nutrition shake for breakfast. Lunch was an avocado and bread with peanut butter and jam; dinner, a can of lentils, eaten from the can, and two beers for desert. Much the same so far today.

This will change soon, however. The bread has betrayed me by going moldy with surprising quickness, even when kept in absolute dark. I bought two loaves less than 10 days ago and am already tossing half of each slice overboard. Avocados and bananas are all going ripe at once, which is their want. They’ll be gone within two days. Then it’s on to the more hardy bell peppers and zucchini, the apples and oranges, and then the hardier still canned and dry foods.

We’ve left the boobies behind and are back to the zone of tropic birds and arctic terns, of which two pair each today. The younger, drab colored tern dove (unsuccessfully) on the lure I’ve been trailing astern since departure. Adult birds always give the lure a look, but only the juveniles are fooled enough to go in. So far the hook has caught no flyers (ever may it be so); sadly, it’s also caught no swimmers since the scrawny, no-eyed Wahoo. I suspect that it’s not fooling anyone; refusing to drag any way but upside down, it looks like a super-speedy flying fish, long dead.

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Sept 11
Hanalei Bay to San Francisco
Day 1

Noon PST position: 24.49.78N by 159.24.41W
Miles since last noon: 168
Total miles of passage: 169
Avg. Miles per Day: 169
Course: N
Speed: 6 and 7 knots
Wind: E20 then ENE15-20
Sky: Tropical cumulus then high cirrus and low cumulus
Waves: E3, NE6
Bar: 1012
Air Temperature: 85 degrees
Sea Temperature: 79 degrees

It’s not sweet sorrow, departing, unless bad sleep and a knot in one’s gut are how such is defined. The excitement of being in the ocean groove, of being, as Safina describes the albatross, “embedded in the wind,” must wait until the embedding occurs. The boat at anchor, or at least the captain at anchor, wishes for no such thing.

This slog over the high looks so long and contrary–all that northing, almost back to Alaska–before the turn east and south–that Talavera’s warnings against Columbus voyage ring in the ear. “The Western Ocean is infinite and perhaps unnavigable.” I’ve made this passage twice. It still feels that way.

But at least we chose the right day for our noon weighing. The strong trades were due east, a rarity, allowing an easy reach to the north, the sea under sun, an electric blue ball begging to be crossed. Spray everywhere, of course, as MOLI dove into a rolling northeast swell. But finally underway. The threshold had been crossed.

I say “we” because I am in company with another yacht, SOLACE, a 43 foot fiberglass sloop built in South Africa. She has three aboard; owner Steve Harris, daughter Kelsey and friend Kim Kirch. Kim, who took the excellent photos of MOLI as we exited Hanalei, has a business card that reads “boat captain, photographer, shredder.” Given my left coast orientation, I had thought that latter title a reference to the recycling trade and so had to withstand the shame of correction. Ah well, once a square, always a square.

I met SOLACE in Hanalei because of the twenty-five boats at anchor there, only we two were passing through, and because Steve offered cold beer and hamburgers one evening. Beer I have aplenty, an entire locker. But it’s not cold!

SOLACE started her summer jaunt in San Diego and arrived in Hilo via Ensenada. Now she’s headed home by way of Cape Flattery.

It is odd to be in company, interfering as it does with the “World of My Own/Knox-Johnson” stuff I am so taken with. But it’s fun to talk on the radio and to (unofficially) race.

All yesterday I had the weather gauge on SOLACE as we both reached north. By sundown I was three miles to windward and SOLACE hull down. But overnight and while I slept Steve snuck around my stern, and when I woke, he was six miles to windward, his mast the merest toothpick on the horizon. I’ve gained some of that back throughout the day, but who knows what he’ll pull tonight!

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Caught my first fish. A Wahoo, I presume. Not much to him. Had been dragging so long his eyes had pulled out.

 

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The Wahoo had the bad taste to be caught after dinner. So, instead of eaten on the spot, he’s being dried for later.

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Renaming your boat is forbidden. The rule is unwritten, understood by all, universally ignored.

Thus it gives me pleasure to introduce the Figure 8 Voyage vessel, MOLI, nee ASMA, TAONUI, GJOA.

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My wife wishes me to point out immediately that MOLI rhymes with HOLY (thus the macron over the “o”) not HOLLY; it is the name that native Hawaiians apply to the Laysan Albatross, which roosts solely in this island chain. Most are partial to the atolls further north, Laysan and Midway, for example, but a growing number are repopulating Kauai.

My choice of landfalls, Kauai’s Hanalei Bay, has not been a random one. In 2005, I joined the crew of COYOTE in Hanalei for my first ocean crossing, a rough-and-tumble, fun-as-hell August slog north to Tofino, BC. In 2012, I launched from here in my own boat, MURRE, to solo all the inhabited Hawaiian islands, this as a last hurrah on a solo of the Pacific; then launched from here again for a solo to Alaska.

In a sense, Hanalei is where it starts for me as a blue water sailor.

Hanalei, or more specifically the windward bluffs nearby Kiluea Point, is also home to one of my favorite pelagics, the MOLI. Anyone who has made a passage north and east over the Pacific High has likely seen this bird soaring in strong winds and big seas with an ease to make a small boat sailor green with envy. These birds are gray bombers; strong and fast, self-assured, wave sailing, ocean marathoning loaners. What’s not to like?

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Photo credit, pelagicoddessey.ca

Let’s quickly dispense with the idea that the albatross is a symbol of bad luck. Such an idea likely originates with Coleridge’s Rime of the Ancient Mariner, where a dead albatross wreaks havoc on a ship and its crew. But recall that the sailors aboard that ship, as did sailors of that era generally, thought the albatross a bearer of good luck, and misfortune only ensued when a thoughtless crew member shot a bird flying close astern. More importantly, all it takes is seeing one of these masters in action to know that the superstition is just that.

Some remarks about the albatross to exemplify my admiration, excerpted from Carl Safina’s Eye of the Albatross, noted below.

-During their whole lifespan they expend 95 percent of their existence at sea—flying most of that time. Theirs is a fluid world of wind and wild waters, everything in perpetual motion.

-Land is little more than a necessary inconvenience for breeding…an albatross may make round-trip foraging treks of several thousand miles, sleeping aloft, foraging in darkness and daylight, searching out food enough for a single feeding for their single offspring.

-And so they span long stretches of space and time, distant from any shore, seldom within sight of a coast, embedded in the breeze. Doing so, they cover distances equivalent to flying around the Earth at the equator three times every year. A fifty-year-old albatross has flown, at minimum, 3.7 million miles.

-These creatures are gliding machines. More than anything, albatrosses’ long, narrow wings make them extreme-range mileage mechanisms. The ratio of wingspan to wing width of a Wandering Albatross is 18 to 1, similar to the best-perfected human-made gliders. Their wings’ lift-to-drag ratio—lifting force to air resistance—is a remarkable 40 to 1, more than triple that of many eagles.

-…albatrosses as we know them could only have evolved in the windiest place on Earth—the Southern Ocean, where an abundant supply of moving air breathed creation into Life’s most surpassing capacity for flight. 

-Albatross flight looks easy. You have no idea. A Wandering Albatross’s heart actually beats slower during flight than while sitting on the sea. Black-browed Albatrosses use no more energy while flying than when brooding a chick upon their nest…Here’s one of the birds’ secrets: for the long hours and days of flying, albatrosses needn’t really hold their wings out; using an extraordinary wing lock at the shoulder and an elbow lock for rigidity, they snap them into the unfolded position like opened switchblades.

What solo sailor could wish for a better emblem of his aquatic endeavors than an animal completely adapted to, completely comfortable in any weather in any ocean that sailor should choose to explore.

If you are the least bit interested in the MOLI, I recommend Carl Safina’s Eye of the Albatross, a life history of mind-bending breadth and depth focused specifically on the Laysan species. Safina’s tale of a single bird, radio tagged and followed throughout the book, is told with tenderness and is packed with detail. This is the grail of albatross books.

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Hob Osterlund’s Holy Moli is also well worth exploring. Osterlund founded the Kauai Albatross Network, an organization helping preserve the vitality of the Laysan albatross and promoting safe habitat on the island. Osterlund’s book focuses on the Laysans that roost on Kauai and Midway and is framed as a memoir. Like Safina, her tale is also struck with wonder.

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But enough about birds. The sail cover is off; the anchor is on short rode; stores (yes, more stores) are stowed; the lee cloth is rigged, the wind is up…

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It’s been a month since I arrived in Kauai’s Hanalei Bay. And having, with Joanna at last, enjoyed the island’s green mountains and sweet aroma, it’s time to depart in the morning for home.

Getting back to sea is essentially getting back to work, as these crossings are practice, if you will, for next year’s Figure 8 Voyage; so, before weighing anchor, I thought I’d list a few learnings from the passages to date.

1. THIS BOAT CAN MAKE MILES (PHEW!).

One requirement of the Figure 8 is speed. In order to position boat and self for the route’s high latitude weather windows requires an average of about 130 miles a day.

Predicting a potential Figure 8 boat’s abilities in this area was an early challenge I’d solved (partially) by analyzing the average daily miles of boats like Morgan’s AMERICAN PROMISE, Schrader’s RESOURCEFUL, JOSHUA, SUHAILI, GYPSY MOTH, even Rutherford’s ST BRENDAN. The result suggested that about 65% of theoretical hull speed was a reasonable expectation for a heavy displacement cruiser in the 40 foot range when well sailed over a very long, all-weathers course.

This exercise applied to GJOA suggested her 38 foot waterline and theoretical hull speed of 198 miles a day would just make the 130 mile a day requirement.

But with GJOA I had the additional advantage of her history as TAONUI and her non-stop, solo voyage round the world. In 2002, then owner, Tony Gooch, departed Victoria, BC, and completed a 24,249 southern ocean circuit, returning to Victoria after 177 days. Average: 137 miles a day.

This was my expectation upon departing Kodiak.

However, to my great glee, GJOA has handily beaten this expectation on each of her first two (admittedly short) passages. The second, in particular was just flat-out fast. Slowest day: 153 miles. Fastest Day: 177 miles. Average for the 2600 mile course: 159 miles a day.

To be fair, it was a “really fast year” for passages from the mainland to Hawaii, this according the Transpac guys I’ve met. No doubt! We picked up winds of plus 20 knots our second day out of Cape Flattery and held those velocity ranges right on through the whole run.

Moreover, I was really pushing the boat, especially in the first week, and as my friend Gerd Marggraff has said, such high speeds, i.e. near a hull’s maximum, put a lot of strain on boat and crew. Over a longer course, I’ll need to be more conservative in order to avoid injury to either.

So, while I don’t expect to charge through the Figure 8 at 160 miles a day, knowing that I can make or make up such time relieves some of the mileage pressure.

How GJOA performs in lighter winds is unknown to me, but the passage over the North Pacific High to San Francisco will likely shed light here.

 

2. THE BOAT IS EASY TO HANDLE.

Next to the 30 foot ketch on which I’ve done most of my soloing, GJOA’s 44 foot deck, 62 foot mast and three large working sails were initially daunting, not to mention those two 25 foot genoa poles.

But the rig has turned out to be well-balanced and easy to maintain, with the gear sized to match its power and special thought given to singlehanding by men who are not brutes.

An example: for reefing the main, Tony Gooch removed the standard hook for the reef tack and replaced it with a spring-loaded clip. Through the tack is rove six inches of two-inch webbing with a ring on each end. The webbing is long enough to be grabbed easily and solidly by the hand that’s not managing the main halyard, and the clip locks the ring in place. No more fighting to get the tack on the hook only to have it slip off before the reefed sail can be raised!

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Another example is the boat’s double headsail configuration. Though raising and lowering the genoa poles does take some planning (see previous post), and getting them aligned correctly, some practice, their permanent connection to a long mast track, their light weight and three simple, pre-rigged control lines make them easy to tame (the one exception being that moment between getting the pole over the rail and clipping the sheet into its slot). This allows exceptional control of two very powerful sails, all from the cockpit, control which allows the sails to be flown longer in increasing winds and over a large range of wind direction.

Many other examples we can save for later.

All in all, I’ve found GJOA easier to handle than I had anticipated.

 

3. SYSTEMS SIMPLICITY IS A REAL BENEFIT.

Thoughtfulness like the above is as evident in what the boat does not have as in what she does. No refrigerator, no freezer, no water maker, no electrical galley pumps, no electrical bilge pumps all have significantly reduce maintenance work and worry, not to mention eliminating the complication of having to power them while under sail.

(GJOA has solved the water problem for the singlehander by carrying nearly 200 gallons in two integral keel tanks.)

On a related note, I’ve been pleased by the ease with which the 300 watts of solar power added in Homer has been able to keep up with the boat’s admittedly minimal electrical requirements. Weather between Cape Flattery and Kauai, being either totally socked in or squally, was not ideal for solar power generation, but I found that one good afternoon of sun every day or two was enough to top off the tanks, and for the most part, that’s what we got.

Granted, GJOAs current requirements are low. A chartplotter (screen turned down), VHF radio, AIS transmitter, and the Iridium GO! are on 24/7; the iPad is typically charged once a day, LED running lights are lit after dark, and one LED cabin light gets some use. That’s about it. So, not surprisingly, the largest deficit the panels had to make up on the whole passage was 54 amps in a 450 amp system. Not a tall order for 300 watts on a day with any sun.

 

4. I’M STILL LEARNING TO ADAPT TO LIFE BELOW DECKS.

Comfort, where such is meant to indicate convenience and ease, “should not be expected” from a small boat upon a big ocean, and any complaint speaks more to my failure to adapt than a failing of the boat.

Still, my now common joke regarding GJOA’s below decks is that, for a German luxury yacht, “she’s a bit Martin Luther.” Her seat-backs in the main salon are straight up and down, disallowing any posture but the most pious. Add that there’s no obvious place to sit in the pilot house except atop the two long, teak cabinets that run down either side. Back rests that once fit the aft-most sections of these cabinets have long since been removed, as have their cushions, making them, as instruments of repose, about as relaxing as an oaken pew.

(I’ve provisionally replaced the seat-backs and cushions before the trip home.)

The galley sink, being well off to port, tends to take on water if the boat is on starboard tack or it fills and empties as one rolls when running in a seaway. Initially I thought this a disadvantage and even for a time, when on such tacks, I took to shutting off the sink drain valve and moving my dishwashing to a bucket in the cockpit. But further experimentation has shown that breakfast dishes left in the sink on a morning of heavy downwind sailing (emphasis on downwind) will be thoroughly cleaned by lunch time from the continual rinsing. Score one for adaptation.

 

5. THE RIGHT STUFF IS BREAKING.

Of all the issues encountered to date, I’m most happy that the steering problems arose before the Figure 8. Issues here include malfunctions in the autopilot and the windvane, both induced through generous applications of owner absent-mindedness.

On the approach to Cape Flattery, the autopilot failed. The symptoms were complicated, but the cause was quite simple: I allowed the hydraulic fluid reservoir to run dry. Learning: check the damned thing!

And the massive chafe on the Monitor during the run to Kauai was caused by a frozen block right off the tiller line (replaced while underway). As it turns out, the strain this generated also wore the lower block on the Monitor, so all have been checked and two replaced as have been the tiller lines (again). At this point the only original item on the Monitor is the stainless tubing.

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Other failures have included a genoa pole car that split, spilling its bearings, when put under too much load by the captain, one genoa wrapped nearly to death (sheet cut) in a yachtsman’s gale off Port Angeles, one dead starter switch (both replaced), a burned up engine bilge pump impeller (also replaced).

All in all, I’m learning quite a bit about managing Gjoa while underway.

And now…onward…

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For the humor file, the following…

I’ve begun to shoot passage video. No talkies yet. That takes a fortitude I’ve yet to muster. But action shots. Reefing sail. Cranking in. Not falling overboard. Harpooning the Great White Whale. The like.

To a one, they are awful. 

I attempt to channel Sterling Hayden; I’d even settle for H. W. Tillman. The camera, however, refuses to film anything but a diffident bank teller, heavily bearded, who finds himself mysteriously teleported to the foredeck of a sailboat in mid ocean. His ignorance is complete; his awkwardness, without peer.  

Thus the videos are not to be had. That said, my first attempt has been excerpted here due to its being an excellent tutorial upon the lofting of a genoa pole.

I will say in my defense that by this time I’ve swung the poles a dozen times or more, and not even the first went like this. What’s really on display, my argument will continue, is an introvert’s natural aversion to being filmed, even when the camera is his own and there isn’t another soul within a thousand miles.

But judge for yourself.

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LESSON ONE: First loosen the green line. Which green line? The green one. But there are three.

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LESSON TWO: It is suggested that while upon the foredeck, one will, at all times, hold on with both hands.

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LESSON THREE: Clip the genoa sheet into the pole socket…while holding on with both hands. 

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LESSON FOUR: Haul Away!

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LESSON FIVE: However, while hauling, it is best not to let go of the green line, any of them, as the pole my come crashing from the sky.

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LESSON SIX: Having swung the pole, admire your handy work…especially that most clever after guy.

Really, how could it have gone worse?

Regarding that last shot, and for those unfamiliar with this operation, all lines must go outside of everything. In fact, I have a mantra I repeat while attaching the lines, simply “Remember, Outside of Everything.”

So, how then, if concentrating so hard on that one move, could I have managed to get the after guy (line in the bottom right hand corner) INSIDE of the rail?

This mistake requires the whole rig come down and the procedure to be done again.

Good job I’m alone and off where no one can see my mistakes.