Departure for San Francisco



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!



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



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

7 Comments on “Departure for San Francisco

  1. Doesn’t look like a wahoo to me, Randall. Does it have fearsome teeth? I once caught a fish like that at night, and it looked so nasty, and with so little meat that we consigned it to the deep. Once dried, eat carefully. If it doesn’t taste really good, you know what to do with it. Yahoo, nyet.

    • OK OK. You and Charlie have caught me in a Tristan Jones/make-it-up-if-you-don’t-know moment. See, I thought there were three fish in the tropical sea, Tuna, Dorado and Wahoo, and this fish sure weren’t one of the first two.

  2. That ain’t no wahoo. That’s a snake mackerel. Thor Heyerdahl and crew caught one on Kon-Tiki, or maybe it jumped aboard and into a sleeping bag. I’ve remembered the photo ever since. I don’t think they’re very common. And I think they usually come out at night, as seems to be the case in your photo.

    • Well damn. Snake Mackerel. Guess that’s why it tasted like chicken. Memorably ugly fish with an outsized jaw and needle-sharp teeth. And yes, dark of night. Would have preferred a Dorado.

  3. Pingback: SOLACE Update: Successful San Francisco Landfall | Figure 8 Voyage

Leave a Reply