Plan Foiled


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.


Lunch of bell pepper, cucumber, and dried Dorado.



The hook was bitten in half.



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


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