Wednesday, June 11, 2014
Hilo: San Diego to Hilo passage log
May 20, Tuesday
Hilo 2167 miles 258 °T
0816 left dock. Low coastal clouds. Light winds from the south. Used Torqeedo all the way out channel. Didn't want to take an hour to tack out. In ocean by 0840. Raised mainsail in channel. Jib outside. Headed north to remove Torqeedo and outboard bracket. Tacked at 0940, heading 190° at 5 to 6 knots. Sunny. Being heeled makes everything difficult, but boat in full passage mode.
32° 31’ N 117°21’ W Hilo 2158miles 259°T
SOG 5.5 COG 207°
day’s run: 16 miles
Rough this morning. Heeled 20°-30°. Wind has backed, but still forward of the beam. Not far from Coronado Islands. Lots of water over bow. One wave doused me while standing in companionway.
I’m still close enough to get the Internet on my iPad mini and saw the first Yellowbrick position. Location was correct, but had speed of only 1.7 knots, and we have steadily been making 6 and 7.
Looked over the side to see if kelp on rudder and was surprised to see black instead of white. It is much easier to see white antifouling.
A distressing amount of water dripping through the closed companionway hatch. My covers inside and out are doing no good. Fortunately I’m sleeping to windward. The port quarter berth is soaked. Moving everything stowed on that berth from side to side to always sleep to windward would be a hassle. Inside bivy? Wrapped in tarp? And these conditions are not all that rough.
1600 I changed ship’s time from daylight to standard. -8 UTC. I should have done so at the start.
An hour ago I put three wraps in the jib. We’re still going as fast, 6 and 7 knots, but heeled less. Good sailing, but wet. Except when sitting, I always have to hold on with one hand.
No land in sight. Saw two ships outside of us heading north.
1830 Furled jib deeper just before sunset. Still making 6+ knots. A little while ago a ship passed well to the east of us. Hopefully clear of shipping lane.
Cold wind at sunset.
May 22, Wednesday
0745 A hard night. I could find only one position to sleep that didn’t cause low back pain. Slept dressed except for shoes using sleeping bag as blanket. Got up at 0300, sat at Central, drank orange juice, then back to pipe berth for a little more sleep. Up for good at 0500 first light.
These are not severe conditions. Just difficult and wet on GANNET, where it is wedge myself in and do minimum because even the simplest task takes serious effort. I changed course 20° further off the wind to heat water for coffee this morning and didn’t even try to heat water last night. Dinner of nuts and brownies bought during my last supermarket run.
Sunny this morning. Wind 16 knots WNW but crucially forward of the beam. Waves still coming aboard.
I used the new WEST Marine hand bilge pump for the first time this morning. The hose came off, spraying water around the cabin, which was already wet enough. I’ll use 5200 on it when I can, but in the meantime have to hold the hose in place. I have a second pump somewhere that came with the boat, but it doesn’t even have a hose.
I have propped one of the plastic covers I had made for the companionway over the port pipe berth where it directs most of the drips to the bilge.
30° 11’ N 118°28’ W Hilo 2077 miles 261°
SOG 6.5 COG 195°
day’s run 151/145 miles (25 hour day because I changed time)
Sunny. Wind 16-17 WNW. Beam reaching under main and partially furled jib. 63 miles due north of Guadalupe Island.
We’ve sailed 167 miles from Mission Bay jetty, but only reduced the distance to Hilo by 90. Have to go SSW to avoid Pacific High and reach NE trade winds.
1445 Tried to go out and sit on deck, but it is too wet. Some 5’ waves explode against GANNET who is tearing through the sea, lee bow wave seething and hissing. We’re mostly making 6 and 7 knots, but I’ve seen frequent 8s and occasional 9s. Fine sailing, but rough.
All courses in this log are true, unless otherwise noted, and boat speeds by GPS. I variously use the Velocitek mounted on the mast, the iNavX app in my iPad mini, and my Garmin Quatix watch.
1600 I managed to get on deck for a while, sitting well aft by the tiller pilot. From bow to the forward end of the cockpit, the deck has been constantly wet since the start.
I studied the companionway. I never have been able to envision an acceptable dodger and still can’t. And I do like standing there. Maybe a curtain inside to protect the pipe berths?
We will have sailed 200 miles from Mission Bay by sunset.
I gashed myself—not seriously—sometime yesterday. Probably while removing the Torqeedo from the transom. I only knew by blood stains appearing on my Levis. That’s why there are passage clothes.
1800 Wine in the bilge. Only boxed. I’ll pump it tomorrow. There is always a small amount of debris in the bilge I can’t reach; but I knew that at sea GANNET would have a self-cleaning bilge.
Dinner of spaghetti with meat sauce—a wave just boomed into us—a big hollow thud—and a second plastic of wine I didn’t spill. Music now from the waterproof EcoXgear bluetooth speaker at my feet. I am at Central.
I looked for Guadalupe Island which is 4,000’ high and only 35 miles distant, but didn’t see it.
1830 Wind just veered NW. If it stays there life is going to be more pleasant.
1900. Wonderful. I’ve been standing dry in the companionway as GANNET dashes on. I was concerned that I have overloaded her and already know of things I’ll discard, but with the speeds she’s been making, I haven’t. More 8s and 9s than I would have seen under these conditions in any other boat I’ve owned.
A bird with scimitar wings darting about the waves.
Waves just forward of the beam, or just aft. A difference of 20°, but huge. Resisting or propelling. Coming aboard or not.
May 22, Thursday
0600 I’ve been up for an hour. An easy night, making a smooth six knots, heeled only 5°-10°. I slept well, though I got up several times. I wedged the Sportaseat turned on its side to protect from the half companionway bulkhead. Worked well.
The full jib has been set since 2200 yesterday.
This morning I found that the wind has backed and we are again on a beam reach, though with wind and waves just aft of the beam. I re-trimmed the sails which resulted in an increase in speed from 6.3 to 6.7 and in angle of heel.
Angle of heel is going to be a limiting factor on GANNET. On THE HAWKE OF TUONELA and RESURGAM I reduced sail when they heeled more than 15°, but otherwise the limit was when the self-steering vane could no longer control the boat. On GANNET I’m going to have to accept 20°; but life on board is too difficult at 30°.
I’ve yet to experience conditions where the tiller pilot can’t handle GANNET. That may come.
I found blood stains on the pillow case this morning. There are a lot of exposed bolt ends and nuts in GANNET’s overhead. I’ve cut them short and smoothed them, but occasional collision is inevitable. I need a carbon fiber skull cap.
0730 Low cloud layer. I shaved. When GANNET is heeled, I can rinse measuring cup and spoon in the ocean just by leaning out while standing in the companionway.
28° 02’ N 119° 47’ W Hilo 1991 miles 263°
SOG 5.8 COG 225°
day’s run 147
I found a handheld anemometer I brought from THE HAWKE OF TUONELA and had forgotten. On deck it shows wind speed of 9 knots, which I think is accurate.
With easier motion this morning, I wiped myself down with fresh water, changed into shorts, typed previous handwritten log entries into the MacBook Air, am charging the Torqeedo battery, and duct taped the hand bilge pump hose connection, which might work.
Just before noon I ate the last of the cheese and sourdough bread for lunch. From now on lunch will be cans of chicken or fish or a protein bar.
Sun not quite burning through layer of low cloud. Deck dry except for spray over the bow. I should be able to sit on deck and listen to music this afternoon.
1330 Wind has increased to 14 knots and backed to slightly forward of the beam. Still a smooth ride. Occasional spray reaching companionway, but not dripping below.
1530 Wind lighter and veered more northwest. Continued solid low clouds. Leaden sea.
I had a Heineken on deck with music. Pleasant to be up there and dry and watch GANNET slide across the waves.
May 23, Friday
0700 Up since 0430. My back still bothering me while sleeping.
The wind was lighter and more uneven during the night. Small waves sometimes rolled wind out of the sails; then would pick up and we’d do 7 knots for a while. However, the average since yesterday noon is only 5.6. Complete low cloud cover continues and barometer has fallen slightly, so I conclude we are not moving into high.
A small squid on deck just aft of the mast this morning.
I stood in the companionway after sunset. On CHIDIOCK TICHBORNE I once counted twelve or thirteen shades of darkness. There might have been that many last night, including an eerie milkiness to windward of the hull and abstract luminescent patches to leeward of the stern.
I don’t see that an aesthetically acceptable dodger is possible; and I enjoy standing there too much. This is a problem not of solution, but mitigation. Perhaps a low coaming around the companionway to divert some water and a curtain down below.
I also like being able to lean over from the companionway and rinse things. GANNET has an automatic dishwasher. After my uncooked oatmeal this morning, I stood, leaned, and it was washed. Same with spoon. I had only to dry with a paper towel.
And I like at times to sit on the pipe berth, leaning back against the hull, and look down through the companionway at the passing waves.
All of which would not be possible with a dodger.
0900 Wind lighter. 5 knots. That is what I estimated and what the Kestrel anemometer read. I never used it much on THE HAWKE OF TUONELA and don’t recall that I’ve ever changed the battery; but so far it seems accurate.
Discovered yesterday that I forgot to buy skin lotion. Sun, salt and washing less during passages are hard on skin. I do have aboard an ample supply of sunscreen which seems to help.
I did some restowing, moving the fully charged Torqeedo battery farther aft in the space between the pipe berths, which in addition to housing two anchors, anchor rode and the Torqeedo, is something of a catch-all.
26°21’ N 121°15’ W Hilo 1903 265°
SOG 4.7 COG 224°
day’s run 128
I set the asymmetrical at 1030. Hadn’t done so for a while and it took a while to sort out the lines. The wind is still almost on the beam and at the forward limit of setting that sail. Still it has stabilized the boat and given us an added half to a full knot, making 4.5 to 5 in about 6 knots of wind.
Low clouds have burned away to reveal a thin layer of higher cloud. Warmer. Temperature in cockpit 83; in cabin 80.
Only an inch of water in the bilge this morning. The duct tape on the bilge pump hose held and the connection did not leak when I pumped.
1530 Sun has finally burned away most of the clouds and the sea is again blue and sparkling.
I lowered the asymmetrical an hour ago. The wind had backed and it was collapsing. Furled smoothly. Now making 5.5 to 6 knots under main and jib.
Might even have dinner on deck.
1800 Dinner of Louisiana rice and beans in the Great Cabin; but I spent much of this lovely afternoon on deck.
We’ve only averaged 5 knots since noon, but are now making an easy 6 on a higher course of 235° with wind still on the beam The wind has never been above 9 knots and usually 7 and less.
A continued pleasure to reach over from the companionway and rinse clean the measuring cup from which I ate dinner.
Back to the deck for sunset libation. No birds about. But infinite beauty.
May 24, Saturday
0500 A slow night, but we generally kept moving until an hour ago when a slatting mainsail caused me to get up to rig a preventer; but as soon as I extruded myself from the pipe berth we started sailing. Now making 6.2 knots. The plan is to keep the wind on the beam until we are pointing at Hilo—we have about ten more degrees to go—and then ease sheets as the northeast trades settle in, raise the asymmetrical and let the little boat romp.
Sky again covered with solid layer of low cloud at first light.
Dramatic post-sunset last evening. Horizontal bands. The lowest a black sea illuminated by constantly shifting gold and silver facets. The highest dark gray cloud. And between light shading upward from peach to ivory randomly dotted with silhouetted clouds.
Yesterday afternoon I was playing music from the iTouch which is still set to Evanston time and noted that it was 6:30 p.m. when Carol would normally be coming home from work. We looked forward to that, particularly on Fridays. I saw her coming home to an empty condo. Sometimes I wish I could be in two places at once. Too bad that tele-transportation is not possible. She would have enjoyed dinner on deck.
The barometer is still high, but down two millebars. A good sign that we are not sailing deeper into the high.
I think today will be a solar shower day.
0700 Wind weird for a few minutes. Mainsail backed. I went on deck and changed course 10° higher, swung the boom back, rigged a preventer with the block and tackle intended for the mainsail Cunningham; and the wind returned to where it was, though fluky.
I tired earlier to make the Bluetooth connection from iPad mini to Yellowbrick without success. Perhaps too far apart. Conditions not settled enough to try again. While at the Yellowbrick I noted that the battery is at 96%. It was at 98% when we left Mission Bay. I assume it is transmitting positions every six hours.
I am surprised to realize that there are nine GPS chips on this tiny boat. iPad. iPad mini. Three Garmin handhelds, one of which came with the boat and two from THE HAWKE OF TUONELA, Garmin Quatix watch, Yellowbrick, Velocitek ProStart, and the Nikon AW1 camera. (Actually there are eleven. I had forgotten that the Torqeedo has a GPS chip and that I have a Dual XPS150 in case the iPads can’t get a signal in mid-ocean.)
0800 Asymmetrical set. Making 4.6 knots in 5 knots of wind. Still complete overcast. Maybe not a solar shower day.
1000 Sailing at wind speed: 5 knots in five knots on beam reach with asymmetrical and main.
I think I have enough water for the luxury of a fresh water shower, so I unlashed the jerry can just forward of the port side of the main bulkhead and lifted it into the cockpit where I filled the solar shower bag without difficulty. There is a tap that can be moved from jerry can to jerry can. I have two, but can’t remember where I put the spare. (I found it today in Hilo after passage end.)
Those cans, which are of course plastic, have a lower, squarer shape that is easier to stow and more stable than the usual taller ones. I did not fill them to capacity and so have about four gallons of water in each, not five. When the port can is empty, I’ll exchange it with the one from the forward starboard side of the v-berth.
25°33’ N 123°15’ W Hilo 1792 miles 265°
SOG 4.0 COG 250°
day’s run: 118
Wind weakened and our speed dropped to 3.7 for a while. The wind has increased slightly and ocean now looks a bit more lively. Our SOG is presently 4.4 knots. Sun shining. Diffuse high cloud.
1415 The first solar shower on GANNET was not a success. I’m used to tying solar shower bags to the boom. GANNET’s is too low. I managed, but am going to have to find a better solution.
We are make 5.4 knots in about that amount of wind, which backed and so I’ve fallen off 15° to keep the asymmetrical filled.
Lovely sunny afternoon. Sailing is pleasant, just slow.
1640 Sky again more than half covered by low cloud and barometer has dropped two millebars. SOG 4.5 knots.
May 25, Sunday
0430 Still dark. We are nearing the west edge of this time zone.
Awoke a half hour ago. Both because that’s about as long as I can remain on the pipe berth because of pain in my lower back and because we were heeled 30° with GANNET atypically of late rushing through the water. Of the back, I think that the pipe berth does not permit parts of the body to sink into it as in a mattress and so is forcing something out of line. I’m getting enough sleep and will just have to live with it. Of the sailing, from the companionway, complete cloud cover, darkness only dimly broken by our masthead tricolor, asymmetrical taut, GANNET’s lee rail almost awash, 10 to 12 knots of wind, still on a beam reach. We’ve kept moving all night, but in fits and starts, until this wind reached us about 0400. I decided to let GANNET go until first light.
0730 GANNET’s bow is pointed toward Hilo and I had salty coffee. We’re making 5.5 knots under jib and main, though have been making 6 and 7 in what was 9 knots of wind. 6 to 7 knots of wind now.
I furled the asymmetrical two hours ago, not without complications. For the first time, the sail did not completely furl. The bottom did, but the top third didn’t despite my winching the halyard tight until I turned us farther off the wind and the sail was blanketed by the main. The wind wasn’t that strong and I am surprised that the sail couldn’t be furled on a beam reach.
That the main blanketed the asymmetrical with the wind on the quarter is both good and bad. To use the asymmetrical on a broad reach, I’m going to have either to lower the main or put a reef in it. I often sailed RESURGAM and THE HAWKE OF TUONELA under headsails alone, but am hesitant to do so on GANNET.
The (slightly) salty coffee came when I was standing in the companionway, cup in hand, waiting for enough light to take down the asymmetrical. We haven’t had spray that far aft for a few days and it took me by surprise.
Standing is good. Most of an ocean passage on most boats is spent sitting down. Even more so on small ones. On CHIDIOCK TICHBORNE and GANNET there is no where to walk. On CHIDIOCK TICHBORNE I sometimes stood hanging on to the mizzen mast. On GANNET the companionway is the only place possible, which is the definitive argument against a dodger. Or certainly against one that can’t easily be lowered when not needed.
24°58’ N 125° 15’ W Hilo 1681 265°
SOG 5.7 COG 260°
day’s run: 113
Wind has continued, but weaker now. 6-7 knots from the north. Complete low overcast as for most of the passage so far. Dark, starless nights. We continue on a beam reach as for most of the passage. I’m sailing a bit low of the rhumb line, but it may be that we have successfully turned the corner. Barometer continues high and steady since yesterday. Temperature 78°, but feels cooler.
1430 A few minutes of light rain an hour ago.
The world outside is gray, and surprisingly the wind has backed and we are on a close rather than a beam reach. making 5 knots in the right direction.
I bought four oranges, four apples, two lemons and a small sack of limes. The lemons and limes are meant to be squeezed into water to make it a bit more inviting, though some of the limes will find their way to tequila. Have to protect against scurvy. An apple or orange a day for the next eight days. I ate the first apple after lunch of a can of tuna and crackers. Pleasant to taste something fresh and crunchy.
Where I am presently sitting in a SportASeat facing aft on the Great Cabin floorboards has been designated as Central. But more precisely it is Horizontal Central.
Vertical Central is standing in the companionway from which I can reach jib sheets, mainsheet, traveler, backstay adjusters, boom vang, halyards, everything except the tiller—and I can reach that with the tiller extension—and I have a handheld wireless remote with which I can control the tiller pilot. Small boat for two Centrals. To avoid confusion I will just use Central for the horizontal original.
1615 I started to go on deck an hour ago and found it misting rain.
Sky darkened. Rain to the north and to the south. And the wind backed until we were close hauled. I eased us off to a close reach. GANNET tearing along but at a steady angle of heel. Although I saw some bursts into the 7s, I’ve had the feeling all day that we are moving through the water a half knot faster than the GPS readings. When this happens I postulate an adverse current, but I do not in fact know that is true.
May 26, Monday
0745 I think we have reached the trade winds. Low puffs of white cloud. Wind slightly east of north. Sheets eased. GANNET on a broad rather than a beam reach, making an easy 5.5 to 6 knots under main and jib. I may set the asymmetrical after a while, but GANNET has a long way to go. And I mean beyond Hilo.
Last evening I sat on the pipe berth perpendicular to GANNET’s centerline, with her heeled far enough so that I was looking down at water rushing past five or six feet below. If I raised my gaze to the horizon I could make out individual waves, but near the hull water was only a blur.
We leave this time zone today. If before noon today will be a 25 hour day. If not, then tomorrow will be.
Dinner last night was a protein bar. Heeled too far in the wind near the rain clouds to cook. These things are all right, but they are all flavored like candy. Chocolate. Vanilla. Peanut butter. Here’s how you make our fortune. (Note the pronouns: you do all the work and I get one-tenth of one percent of the profits. Two-tenths if you call them Webbars or Old Sailor Power.) Protein bars for adults: martini flavor, gin and tonic, margarita, etc. Laphroaig would be too much to ask. I am not suggesting that alcohol actually be in the bars, just the flavor. Much better than ‘chocolate brownie’ or ‘vanilla crunch’ which is what I had last night.
0930 We just crossed 127°30’ W and so entered the -9 hours UTC zone. The Garmin Quatix reset itself when I activated GPS and it obtained a position. I’m resetting the others myself.
I sponged the bilge dry and am presently drying some clothes that got wet late yesterday when a couple of waves caught me standing in the companionway.
Sunny with scattered trade wind clouds. Wind 8 knots slightly east of north. Marginal about any improvement by setting the asymmetrical. I’ll at least wait until the clothes dry.
I finished reading THE BLACK COUNT, a biography of the father of Alexander Dumas, who was born in the Caribbean to a white plantation owner and a slave and rose to be a distinguished general in French Revolutionary armies until he failed to be sufficiently obsequious to Napoleon.
The book left me with admiration for Alex Dumas, the father, and added to my lack of respect for Napoleon, who deserted his own armies twice, one in Egypt and another in Russia to serve his ambition and save his skin.
I have seen Napoleon’s first grave in St. Helena, unmarked because at the time of his death the French wanted “Emperor” on the gravestone which the British would not permit. And I’ve seen his second grandiose tomb in Paris built after the British and French become allies and his remains were moved. Were I French I’d start a movement to have him returned to that first obscure hillside.
24° 31’ N 127°45’ W Hilo 1544 265°
SOG 5.8 COG 261°
day’s run: 139/133 miles (25 hour day)
Asymmetrical set at 1000. Our speed readings and course vary considerably on GPS. The above are rough averages. Wind continues from just east of north at 7 or 8 knots. Waves around 2’-3’, some swells a bit bigger. We’re just aft of a beam reach. I’ve got the right sails up and trimmed. Nothing more to be done.
Found another small dead squid against the port toe rail near the stern, and a baby flying fish at the bow.
1500 Sail changes just got easier: there won’t be any.
I went on deck to listen to music and while sitting there noticed wrinkles in the luff of the asymmetrical which remained even after I winched the halyard tighter. My eye moved up and I found that the head of the sail had pulled away from the plate connecting it to the furling gear swivel. There are several ways to make a furling sail. One is to sew a double high-tech low stretch line in the luff which is what had been done here. The doubled line still ran to the swivel and was holding the sail in place.
I furled and lowered the sail. It appears to have been sewn to the head plate—it is not big enough to call a head board—by only a few turns of sail thread. I don’t see any way to reattach the plate without stretching out the sail full length. So GANNET is now a two sail boat.
I expect that this happened either when I went to furl the sail a couple of days ago or before and was the reason the top of the sail did not furl.
This sailmaker has made mistakes, some minor but irritating details, some major, on my last two orders. He’s about my age and has recently retired. It was past time. I would not have used him again, and only used him this time because two other sailmakers I considered took so long to provide me with quotes—more than a month—that I assumed they were not interested.
The wind has picked up a bit and we’re making 6s and 7s under main and jib anyway.
May 27, Tuesday
0630 Wind veered decidedly to the NE after dark and strengthened. A rough and wild ride last night. I was up many times and got little sleep. Once when I was asleep, a wave crashed into the hull just beside my head. Startling. Around midnight I put a couple of furls in the jib, which I removed at 0430 first light.
Complete low overcast again. I’ve had to come up 8° in order to keep the jib from being blanketed by the main. Making 6 and 7 knots west.
A wave caught me while standing in the companionway sipping coffee and evaluating GANNET’s sailing. Temperature in the 70s, so wet clothes not a great hardship.
24°09’ N 130°18’ W Hilo 1401 miles 264°
SOG 5.2 COG 265°
day’s run 144 week’s run: 940
Sloppy sailing. A half hour ago the wind veered east. Main gybed. Jib backed. I had to bring us up to 290° to get the boat back under control. With wind and waves out of synch, GANNET stumbles rather than slicing along. Wind now back where it was but light and we are again on course.
Our week’s run of 940 miles isn’t bad, but it only reduced the distance to Hilo by 766 miles. The 940 is noon to noon Tuesday to Tuesday and excludes the first 16 miles until noon on the day we left. In all we have sailed 956 since clearing the Mission Bay jetty.
Still overcast, but sun trying to burn through. I’ve put the solar shower bag in the cockpit, trying to heat enough water for a rinse and then will change clothes.
Tired. Fell asleep this morning while reading at Central.
1410 Most unpleasant day so far, but then I am tired, though that is due to the weather last night. Unsteady wind. Intermittent misty rain, including now. Jib collapsing and filling. GANNET lurching and rolling. The odd errant wave coming aboard and below around the closed companionway hatch. I’ve duct taped trash bags as a shield to the port pipe berth.
I don’t think I’m going to get my rinse and clean clothes today. Don’t even know that I’ll be able to spend any time on deck or standing in the companionway.
1600 Rain at several points around the horizon. To the north, south and northwest of us. We are sailing well now, making 6 and 7 knots on course under main and partially furled jib.
No time on deck today and only a few scattered minutes at the companionway, getting hit by spray quickly each time.
May 28, Wednesday
0630 I’ve been up since 0500. Complete low overcast again today with at present light rain. We’ve not had great weather. The nights have been almost totally dark. I think I saw two or three stars last night or the night before.
We sailed fast last night. Concerned about a possible accidental gybe, I got up around 0100 and brought us 5° closer to the wind and partially furled the jib. Then I opened iNavX on the iPad mini. It takes longer to get a position in mid-ocean. When it did I saw some speeds of 10 and 11 knots as we slid down five foot waves. Only momentary bursts, but we averaged more than 7 knots during the night.
While I wanted to shower before changing into clean—and dry—clothes there seems no likelihood of that happening today and I had enough of getting into the wet stuff I’ve been wearing, so I wiped myself down with a little fresh water and paper towels and put on fresh passage clothes. I’m also wearing my light weight foul weather pants because everything I lean or sit against in the cockpit, including the companionway, is wet. These are more than just pants. They come up over the chest, back and shoulders, but have no sleeves. I think called salopette.
Anyway, for the moment, I’m dryer and a little
0900 Already seems a long day. 5’ to 6’ waves. GANNET usually slides across them, but every once in a while one catches us.
1005 Prescient. A few minutes ago a wave poured aboard and down below, proving as we rocked from side to side that I’ll need a spray curtain for each side of the Great Cabin.
I mopped up, put on my foul weather parka and went on deck and tied a reef in the mainsail. This is actually at the second reef level. Another mistake by the sailmaker. GANNET has two internal reef lines running through her boom, as did RESURGAM and THE HAWKE OF TUONELA. So I’ve specified for decades that my mainsails have two reefs, one at what would normally be between a first and second reef and the other at third reef level. The sailmaker put in three normal reefs; so I run the lines at two and three.
This was the first time I’ve put a reef in GANNET underway. Fairly easy. Can do most of it sitting down.
I’m not sure how much wind is out there. Not more than 20-25 knots. But we are still making 7 knots.
I’m writing this by hand in a notebook. Will type it when possible. Too chancy to take the MacBook Air from its—hopefully—waterproof Pelican case.
24°00’ N 133°10’ W Hilo 1245 262°
SOG 6.0 COG 277°
day’s run 156
Conditions the same except sky a little lighter.
1430 Ate an orange. Can still smell it. Nice.
I removed the trash bag taped over the port pipe berth yesterday as too unsightly. May have to replace it. But then the water is only dripping onto a waterproof bag and into the bilge.
Barometer down slightly, but still high.
Every action difficult. Always have to be braced with body or one hand.
Despite cloud cover, getting ample charging from solar panels.
Being able to control tiller pilot with handheld remote from inside cabin is a huge advantage over having to climb out and go to the stern in these conditions.
1630 Confined to cabin. Only a few minutes on deck today. To go up there is to get hammered.
These are not severe conditions. Not even a gale, though the barometer is falling and it could become one. I don’t expect that. I think that the wind may be decreasing.
I’m sitting on the starboard pipe berth drinking tequila and lime and listening to Sibelius’s 7th Symphony. A while ago GANNET caught three successive waves and achieved a new maximum speed of 12.2 knots. She stays straight on waves with no tendency thus far to round up. The tiller pilot has steered laudably. I’m not sure how much power it is drawing. GANNET is so easy to steer that I decreased the rudder gain from factory settings. I wondered if the sound would bother me, but it has not. Usually it is lost in the sound of GANNET’s wake.
Sibelius just ended. And the sun seems to be casting shadows. Or was. Not anymore.
May 29, Thursday
0810 Rain when I got up at 0500, but since then some clearing, low overcast gone, and sun presently shining through a hole in mid-level cloud.
The wind did decrease a few knots last evening, but I let us continue under reduced sail, wanting a quiet night, which I had. This morning I completely unfurled the jib which proved to be too much. So I furled it a few wraps, then a few wraps more, and we’re more or less as we were yesterday, though going a half knot slower. Also sailing higher than the rhumb line because of the east wind. I may have to gybe one of these days.
23°56’ N 135°40’ W Hilo 1109 261°
SOG 5.2 COG 288°
day’s run 137
1245 Gybed before eating part of a protein bar for lunch and after untangling a snared traveler control line implausibly, almost impossibly, wrapped around and under the traveler itself. We were being forced up to 300°, and are now headed SW again with sun shining which is pleasant. Not sure how long we’ll remain headed this way.
This morning I switched the now empty water can at the main bulkhead with the one secured at the partial forward bulkhead.
1715 Our port broad reach lasted an hour when an accidental gybe—not serious—marked a return of the wind to the ENE. We’ve had two more light showers catch up with us. The most recent a few minutes ago. As each nears, the wind goes light and veers east. As each passes, the wind backs again to the NNE.
Dinner tonight of Mountain House Chicken Salad which doesn’t even require the water to be heated. Steeping in its pouch beside a plastic of boxed white wine.
May 30, Friday
0830 About two hours ago we passed the 1000 miles to go mark. We had sailed by then 1350 miles from San Diego and will have to sail more than another 1000 to reach Hilo, though perhaps not as many more as I expected.
Last night the jib kept collapsing behind the mainsail and I kept bringing us higher and higher and farther off the course to Hilo to try to keep it full. With high aspect ratio mainsails and large foretriangles on RESURGAM and THE HAWKE OF TUONELA the mainsail was not the main sail. Off the wind on passages I often dropped and put the sail cover on the mainsail and went under jib or asymmetrical alone. However, on GANNET the mainsail is the main sail. So this morning I decided to conduct an experiment and furled the jib completely and am sailing under main alone. We are still averaging 6 knots and can sail much farther off the wind and waves. I’ve put a preventer on the boom in case we swing too far off and gybe. However, GANNET has so far driven straight on waves with no tendency to round up or roll off.
Of driving straight on waves, my least favorite task is using the head bucket. Actually two buckets, one inside the other for added strength. I usually wedge this in the aft leeward corner of the cockpit where I can brace myself with my hands on the deck and mainsheet traveler and hope for no breaking waves. Today however we caught a wave. It did not come aboard, but we topped out at more than 10 knots at a time I very much would have settled for a sedate 5.
Sailing GANNET is a constant isometric exercise. Muscles are always being used to counteract gravity and thrust. CHIDIOCK TICHBORNE was too long ago for me to recall specifically, but GANNET is the faster boat and I believe has the quicker motion.
I have surmised that as a species we did not evolve with more than two arms because the extra appendages would have slowed us down when running was a survival skill. However, in many other ways an extra arm or two would be useful. This morning I found myself bracing a coffee cup with one foot, the JetBoil stove with the other, while I used both hands to screw the top back on my day water bottle.
23°48’ N 138°18’ W Hilo 965 miles 259°
SOG 6.0 COG 253°
day’s run: 145
No rain yet today. Some sunshine. Tiny flying fish on deck. Sailing deeper down wind under mail alone, less water coming aboard.
When I went to open a can of salmon for lunch my can opener broke. It had not been exposed to salt water. I don’t think I have another. If I do it is buried in a bag on the v-berth. Several of the cans aboard have tabs to open, and I have more than enough protein bars for lunch. But I should have bought a spare.
1715 I wouldn’t mind having a quiet night. I freely admit that this passage has been harder than I expected.
Mid-afternoon saw a return of passing showers and shifting wind, some of which resulted in a backed main. I sorted it out and got us going in the right direction again. Doing so in the middle of the night will be less amusing.
No rain now. Mid-level clouds. Slightly less wind than we’ve had. Debussy’s La Mer on EcoXgear waterproof speaker. Fettuccine de Leonardo steeping in plastic measuring cup. Boxed wine to be spouted into plastic ‘glass.’ What better have I to do?
This has been a dark passage, which is I think the title of a Humphrey Bogart movie. The nights have unrelievedly dark. Clouds blocking stars and I assume a new moon. I have an app that provides numbers to work celestial sights, but does not show phases of the moon. I’m sure such exist and will download one when next I can.
Dinner is served.
May 31, Saturday
0630 I wanted an easy night and had one until 0300 when the collapsing and filling mainsail woke me. I had left the slat out of the companionway and rain was coming in , which simply meant there was fresh water in the Great Cabin instead of salt.
Rain passed. We began sailing again. I went back to sleep. Repeat.
I finally got up an hour ago and found enough wind to set the jib as well—there is no point in having two sails shake the boat when they collapse rather than one—and we are now making 5 and 6 knots more or less in the right direction. Rain to the north and east. Some blue sky south. A pleasantly cool morning with GANNET moving smoothly. I drank both cups of coffee standing in the companionway.
I saw the first pencil slim sliver of the new moon last evening just after sunset; but at 0300 the sky was again uniformly dark.
23°28’ N 140°34’ W Hilo 839 257°
SOG 4.4 COG 266°
day’s run 126
A drying day. Mostly sunny, though showers passing close have kept the wind light and unsteady. I even sailed for a while with the forward hatch open to air out the Great Cabin. I hope to rinse off and change into dry clean clothes this afternoon. Speed varying from 4 to 6 knots. Only 4 now under main and full jib. This is the first day since I discovered I can not use the asymmetrical that I would have. It is the right sail for the conditions.
1730 After the last rain passed just after noon, it turned into a perfect trade winds day. Scattered puffs of cloud. Blue white-capped sea.
I bathed. Heating the water in the solar shower bag, then pouring it into the plastic container I use as a kitchen sink and then over me. Quite satisfactory.
I spent much of the afternoon on deck, listening to music and enjoying watching GANNET make her way through the sea. In an effort to make some southing, I gybed to port for a while, but we were out of sync with the waves and I gybed back.
I have no idea how many days I’ve spent on deck watching a boat slice though water. Thousands. It is still a pleasure, particularly with GANNET who accelerates faster than any boat I’ve known and is clearly special.
June 01, Sunday
0730 A rolly night. Sailing with the wind almost astern trying to stay near the rhumb line. Darkness complete as usual.
Rain to the north of us this morning, but sky now getting brighter.
We passed into a new time zone, -10 UCT, which is Hawaii time. Today’s run will be 25 hours noon to noon.
23°23’ N 143°34’ W Hilo 690 254°
SOG 6.3 COG 277°
day’s run 153/146 (25 hour day)
Morning rain and clouds cleared to a day like yesterday. Blue white capped seas. Blue sky with trade wind clouds. Wind continues from the ENE. We’re making good progress, but need to get south.
1530 Another beautiful afternoon. I’ve just come below from drinking a Heineken while standing in the companionway, admiring GANNET catching waves.
This passage will not be exceptionally fast. About as I expected and about as fast as I made passages in EGREGIOUS, RESURGAM and THE HAWKE OF TUONELA, which is, of course, rather remarkable. They were 37’ and 36’ long and sailed well. In EGREGIOUS I set what was then a world record for the fastest solo circumnavigation in a monohull—long since far eclipsed, but still—and in THE HAWKE OF TUONELA I beat that time by almost two weeks. So 24’ is sailing as fast as 36’ and 37’. Even more, I’ve never made a passage during which I’ve seen so many SOG readings in the 9s and above. I lost count of how many times GANNET went above 9 in just this past half hour. Only momentarily and never above 11; but then these are only 4’ and 5’ waves.
I gybed just after lunch. We are headed more or less SW and so the starboard side is the low side for the first extended period since leaving San Diego.
I transferred a new carton of oatmeal into the plastic container I use daily without spilling too much into the bilge. I did this the day before I left. Also powdered milk and trail mix. One container of Quaker Oats lasts 13 days. I also transferred trail mix. The container of powdered milk is good for the passage.
1750 Old man stands in companionway of small sloop that comes to about his waist. He balances with one very weathered hand holding lightly onto a halyard stopper. The other a jib winch. A big grin is on the old man’s face as he watches a small sloop rush though the water, little more than an arm’s length away. And because he is precisely where he is.
Use yourself up, old man. Use yourself up.
1900 I remained in the companionway, which is the very best place on GANNET, even better than Central, listening to music and sipping Laphroaig from plastic—sorry, but on GANNET underway crystal is unwise—until after sunset when I searched for the moon and found it as expected higher in the sky and fuller than yesterday. I’m glad to know the moon again.
June 02, Monday
0800 Morning chores completed. Breakfasted. Daily water bottles filled. Teeth brushed. Measuring cup, kitchen sink, and toothbrush power washed by ocean. Shaved. Bilge pumped, though it didn’t really need it. Only a couple of strokes.
Last night the wind decreased, but GANNET kept moving smoothly. Sleeping for the first time during this passage on the lee side, I didn’t even secure the end of the lee cloth. Quite pleasant. When I got up a couple of times, I even saw stars.
We continue on a port broad reach. After sailing for several days just above the Tropic of Cancer, we are now definitely in the tropics. Down around 22°N with two more degrees of latitude to go before we’re even with Hilo. The wind has veered a little and I was able to ease us off four more degrees.
21°55’ N 145°18’ W Hilo 563 258°
SOG 6.3 COG 244°
day’s run 140
A lovely day. GANNET making her way effortlessly west until twenty minutes ago a wave popped on deck and flooded through the open companionway onto my berth, depositing two baby flying fish. Fish now removed and berth paper toweled dry. Prior to that the deck was dry. The pipe berth is vinyl. No harm, though I’m glad it didn’t happen while I was sleeping there.
June 03, Tuesday
0700 A line of clouds coming up behind us that might have rain. Sky clear ahead. Wind and sea as they have been. Wind ten to fourteen knots; waves 3’-4’. GANNET averaging 6 knots on a very broad reach, surfing to 10 on the odd wave.
An odd wave came aboard last evening at last light and poured through the open companionway as did one several hours earlier. I used to hate when that happened late in the day on CHIDIOCK TICHBORNE because it meant I’d spend the night wet. On GANNET I wiped off the berth again with paper towels and was fine. A luxury vessel.
I expect that we will have about 400 miles to go at sunset tonight. 6 knots will get that done by Friday; but we will have to sail more than 400 miles to reach Hilo, gybing at least once. If I can’t make it in with an hour or two to spare Friday, I’ll slow down or heave to and wait until dawn Saturday.
20°47’ N 147°30’ W Hilo 430 263°
SOG 5.8 COG 240°
day’s run 145 week 1002
The clouds advanced toward us this morning, but the sun burned them away before they caught up. Sunny. Hotter than it has been. Wind and waves diminishing. Less than 10 knots and 2’-3’ waves.
GANNET’s second week has been a thousand mile one, though six miles less than a six knot average. If we had been able to fly the asymmetrical we would have surely have made those additional six miles and probably would have reached Hilo on Friday. I’d have the sail set now if I could.
GANNET will in fact have sailed farther than 1002 miles the past seven days.
My method of measuring daily runs is to create a waypoint in iNavX each noon and then activate “go to” in iNavX which provides distance and bearing to that waypoint. Any deviations from the straight line distance are not included.
When I used celestial navigation, I did the same, counting only distance between noon positions—somewhat less accurate then—not the distance traveled over the bottom, which, particularly when beating, would be considerably greater.
Yesterday I finished reading Volume 3 of Shelby Foote’s THE CIVIL WAR which covers 1864 and 5. I was interested to read more about The Overland Champaign which was going on 150 years ago now. It is a very long and good book. I like long books on passages, and this was a more than thousand mile book.
After it I started an Elmore Leonard’s, TSHIMONGO BLUES, which I finished this morning. Hardly a two hundred mile book.
1700 Easy miles. No water on the deck even at the bow. But our speed has dropped to 5 knots.
I did a burial round this afternoon, tossing the corpses of a dozen or so flying fish from deck to sea. I’m sorry. I don’t mean to kill anything. They were washed aboard. The largest two inches. Most only one inch. I have seen few flying fish of size.
Sounds: GANNET moving through the water. At these speeds a grumbling hissing. And Bach’s ART OF THE FUGUE performed on the piano by Pierre-Laurent Aimard, which is, although excellent, the one of the four I have I listen to the least.
1800 Distance to Hilo exactly 400 miles.
Music now a Brazilian group, Criara, I first heard many years ago on Australian radio. I don’t think they exist any more, but they had a good sound.
Life is hard. Easy miles are to be enjoyed, however slow, not despised.
1900 This is so wonderful. That I am out here in such perfect beauty. The sea. The sky. The wind against my skin. GANNET making her graceful way. There is no ugliness except me, and I don’t much look in a mirror.
June 04, Wednesday
1050 On Hilo’s latitude, so I gybed back to starboard a few minutes ago. Another fine day, but with a little more wind. SOG back up to 6 and 7.
19°46’ N 149°33’ W Hilo 311 miles 270°
SOG 5.6 COG 270°
day’s run 131
Wind has again decreased and with it our chances of being in before Friday sunset. I’m going on deck to see if I can do anything to increase our speed.
1715 At 1700 we had 282 miles to go. Last light here is about 1900. So in 48 hours I am either inside the Hilo breakwater or about to be, or I have slowed down waiting for Saturday dawn.
An hour ago several trade wind clouds united and dropped rain. Enough so I closed the companionway for ten minutes. They are presently a few miles downwind of us and still raining. Behind them has been more wind. I’ve just been standing in the companionway, listening to music, plastic of boxed chardonnay at hand, watching GANNET slice along at 6 and 7 knots and more. This is more interesting than 5. She accelerates like no other boat I’ve known.
1830 I just got soaked standing in the companionway as GANNET blasts her way west. This was take-it-off-and-throw-it-overboard soaked, which is what I did to my t-shirt. It’s cotton and will disintegrate.
A few minutes earlier I laughed aloud as I watched the Velocitek register 10.4 as we surfed down a wave.
June 05, Thursday
0630 I woke an hour ago to light passing rain, rainbow, small waves rolling light wind out of sails, and GANNET making 3 and 4 knots. Another shower now. We have 203 miles to go. Still possible tomorrow if the wind returns, but increasingly unlikely.
0915 A rough, wet, unpleasant morning with repeated passing showers bending the wind back and forth and GANNET on the ragged edge of control until I furled the jib and put a reef in the main.
Now the sun is out and the reef could come out, but I’m going to let us jog along slowly for a while more. Even at this pace we will be off Hilo tomorrow night.
19°49’N 151°57’W Hilo 177 miles 269°
SOG 5.0 C)G 280°
day’s run 134
I removed the reef at 1000 and we are sailing under mainsail alone, forced about 10° high of the desired course by the wind. We’re going about as fast as if the jib were set. I’m not racing to beat tomorrow’s dusk, but will heave to or otherwise slow down twenty-five or thirty miles offshore and start heading in at midnight or 0100.
With warm sun, I managed to dry my soaked clothes and bathed in sea water warm enough not to need heating.
1420 Reef back in the mainsail.
A solid line of rain from northeast to south formed behind us just after noon. I knew it would bring strong wind ahead of it and leave a hole behind. It did. Even with just the reefed main, GANNET heeled far over and dashed off at 9 and 10 knots for several minutes.
Now we’re wallowing in the hole. Sail collapsing and filling. I may just leave the reef in and the brakes on if GANNET begins moving comfortably when the wind fills in. No point in speeding to a stop light tomorrow night.
June 06, Friday
0600 Sun has just risen on what looks to be a pleasant morning. No rain around. We continue under double reefed main, making 5 to 5.5 knots. Hilo is 82 miles distant. Last light here is just after 1900. So as has been obvious for a while, we won’t make it in before dark. I don’t know exactly what I will do tonight. Start off by trying to heave to.
Yesterday continued contrary to the end.
At 2300 I was awakened by the off course alarm. I struggled from the pipe berth and went on deck to find GANNET pointing north with the tiller pilot fully extended trying to make her go even farther into the wind. After I became oriented with help from a quarter moon to the west, I got us sorted out and on our way. Of course I got wet in the process. I’m still uncertain what happened, except possibly the mainsail backed briefly forcing us off course and then swung back before I got on deck.
I hope today is less weird.
20°10’ N 154°14’ W Hilo 54 miles 242°
SOG 4.4 COG 242°
day’s run 131
As I expected GANNET is a hard boat to slow down. We averaged almost 5.5 knots sailing with only double reefed mainsail.
I gybed to port a half hour ago.
I pulled out and checked anchor and rode this morning. I’m using a new deployment bag for the rode and want to be certain it will run free.
Sunny. Wind steadier today about 12 or 14 knots. Some high wispy clouds.
1545 Hawaii is a big island, more than eighty nautical miles long and rising to over 13,000’. We are now 37 miles offshore and I still don’t see it. I even checked the position given by the iPad mini with the Quatix watch. Reassuringly they are the same.
In another couple of hours I’ll try to heave to. If that doesn’t work out, I’ll find a wind angle to sail back and forth during the night.
1700 Hove to. Thought I should try before dark. GANNET satisfactorily headed back east at a couple of knots. So I’ve resumed sailing and will continue in beyond 1800. Still no sight of island.
1830 Finally. With the setting sun a clear line of the northern slope of Hawaii is visible. The rest is still lost in cloud although only twenty-six miles away. I’ve looked back and seen Tahiti’s Mount Orohena, which is 7,000’ high, from fifty miles, and the sharp horizontal top of Cape Town’s Table Mountain, which I think is only 3,000’, from the same distance. I’m pleased at this evidence that there is land in front of us.
June 07, Saturday
1700 I hove to last night at 2000 twenty-five miles from my Hilo waypoint. GANNET settled down well and we eased our way back north until at 0100, when we were thirty miles from Hilo, I turned us and headed in. First light is about 0500 and I expected to be inside the long breakwater by 0730.
At 0500 we were eight miles out. We finally rounded the breakwater at 1200. Rain showers were scattered along the coast. The wind died. Waves did not. Full main and jib slatted and banged. Slight wind returned, but from the land blowing right from where we wanted to go. The Hilo waypoint remained five miles distant. At 0900 I told myself that I would give it one more hour and if we were not sailing at 1000, I’d try to work our way back to sea and head for Honolulu. At 1000 nothing. So I turned GANNET’s bow north and in a few minutes wind, fluky but better than nothing reached us and I decided to try to get into Hilo one more time. It took two hours, but I finally did.
I’d had so much time that morning that I managed to get the Torqeedo on the transom and the anchor and rode deployment bag in position at the bow.
Once inside the breakwater—and I did not use the Torqeedo earlier because GANNET is a sailing vessel at sea and I don’t think the Torqeedo could have powered her through that chaos anyway—I furled the jib, sailed part way to Radio Bay, the usual transient boat anchorage, and then lowered the main and powered the final half mile.
Dave, who lives here and has built several boats and with whom I have corresponded, was out sailing his 14’ Paradox whose unique appearance I recognized from photos. He followed me to Radio Bay, which was crowded, and came alongside GANNET after I anchored in a not very satisfactory location and suggested I might prefer a mooring he knew of in nearby Reeds Bay. Indeed I would and that is where GANNET and I finally are.
Before leaving Radio Bay I did row ashore and enjoy a hot fresh water shower.
GANNET’s cabin is a mess. Neither sea mode nor port mode. I’ll sleep tonight again on the pipe berth.
It is a great pleasure not to have to brace myself and fight gravity every instant.