Wednesday, July 30, 2014
You can relax. The unnatural order has been restored: I can again do my age in push-ups and crunches.
Whenever I stop for long—and yesterday was the first time I did my full work-out since May 2, the day before Carol and I boarded the train in Chicago—I wonder if I will be able to do my age again.
Life aboard GANNET is naturally active and healthy—except for skin. As a young man who climbed down to view GANNET’s Great Cabin noted, “This requires you to be flexible.” Then, “This keeps you flexible.” He was right on both counts. But push-ups and crunches use slightly different muscles than sailing.
I started last week with 50 push-ups. Then two days later 60. And yesterday went for the full 72, followed by the two sets of 40.
There is always the question of how long my muscles can keep up with my age. So far I’m still good.
A mostly rainy morning with continued solid overcast this afternoon. I found Ajax ashore and intended to scrub stains from the deck, and still may.
I started to walk the mile/1.6 kilometers into town this morning, but was caught by resuming rain and took shelter under a tree before deciding to return to GANNET.
Apia has a population of 40,000, making it the fourth biggest city/town between Honolulu and New Zealand. Noumea, New Caledonia and Suva, Fiji, both are about 80,000. ‘Greater’ Papeete 130,000.
The photo above is titled: Inverted man at masthead with courtesy flags.”
This one: Still Life with Head Bucket.
And this is the bar/restaurant overlooking the marina, The Tide, which calls itself a cocktail lounge.
I have just signed a contract with them to shower in the cockpit twice a day. One for the lunch crowd. Once at Happy Hour. This is great. I’ve always wanted to be in show business.
Tuesday, July 29, 2014
I took a taxi up to Robert Louis Stevenson’s last home, Vailima, yesterday. Taxis are abundant, relatively inexpensive, and the usual way for visitors to get around other than walking.
I visited the house when I was here in 1985 but did not remember how big it is and how remote from the world in which he was famous when he died there at age forty-four in 1894.
His grave is a fifty minute walk up the hill behind the house. I hiked up in 1985, but not yesterday.
The house has spacious grounds and a beautiful view out over the ocean far below.
It is a fine house. But Robert Louis Stevenson isn’t there. He can be found in his works.
The Palolo Deep Marine Reserve is a five minute walk from the marina. I went over there Sunday to investigate and continued along the road past a church in front of which ladies in white dresses and wide brimmed white hats were sitting talking and girls in white dresses were running about playing.
After a cloudy morning, this afternoon became sunny and hot, so I collected my snorkeling gear and returned to Palolo and went snorkeling and swimming for the first time in years.
You swim out a marked trail fifty or more yards/meters in very shallow water before the coral drops off. There were colorful fish and less colorful coral, a lot of which looked to be dead. A lot of the world’s coral is dead.
The water temperature was perfect.
It was good to be immersed.
The tiller and GANNET’s interior wood showed the effects of sun and sea water. I sanded the tiller and parts of the companionway bulkhead and applied Deks Olje yesterday and today. More tomorrow. Had the wood been varnished, I would have had to do a lot more sanding, back to bare wood. That’s why I don’t varnish.
I keep finding damp places in GANNET.
I removed everything from beneath the starboard pipe berth, which took the full force of the incoming knock down wave. And when I went under the forward v-berth to get the Deks Olje, I found cans of paint and a saw stored there wet, too.
Today while oiling the forward side of the main bulkhead I noticed mold on the overhead and scrubbed it.
Yesterday I was asked to move from the slip I was in to the adjacent end tie so a catamaran could take the slip. To do so with GANNET was easy, just a matter of pushing her out and then leading her around a piling, but when I went to tie down the tiller amidships, I discovered that the new tie down line I bought had been washed away by the knock down wave. It was a very pretty line.
The metal polish is also stowed under the v-berth, so I used it to polish stainless steel, including the bow chain plate that I missed in Honolulu.
Adhesive has been removed from around the companionway. Several readers suggested WD40 which didn’t work. Others praised products that aren’t available here. I finally found a can of acetone—perhaps the last in Apia—and it, along with a putty knife and sandpaper and two hours, did the job.
I had used two types of Velcro, regular and industrial strength. They each have different adhesive backings. The regular was easy. The industrial was industrial.
Several readers also suggested cassette tape as superior shroud tell-tails. I think that an excellent idea, except that the technology is so old that I haven’t been able to find a cassette here.
The masthead Windex is behaving itself these days.
I also haven’t found pantyhose, though I must confess I haven’t looked very hard. I have seen red yarn, and may buy a roll.
The solar regulator is also behaving itself.
I changed the gas cylinder on the JetBoil two days ago. The new cylinder is only the third since San Diego. I already had four on GANNET, and have yet to touch the case of twenty-four I brought with me on the train.
I also just moved from the stern the first of the five monthly sacks of freeze dry food I brought from Evanston. I already had almost fifty meals on GANNET, which lasted this far.
I will buy more freeze dry food in New Zealand because I like their Backcountry Cuisine brand.
I may never have to buy more JetBoil gas cylinders.
I have little idea of what is happening in the world.
My internet time does not permit reading newspapers, beyond occasionally glancing at the headlines at the NY TIMES and NZ HERALD.
I, who routinely read a half dozen newspapers online when at home, find that what the world considers news doesn’t matter to me out here.
You may recall the line from an old Simon and Garfunkel song: I get all the news I need on the weather report.
Of weather reports I was planning to leave for Tonga Saturday. However, I checked the weather apps this morning. The wind between here and Tonga will be southeast Saturday at twenty-five knots which almost close-hauled would turn GANNET into a submarine.
Not departing Saturday.
In fact I might not even go to Tonga, but go west to Fiji instead.
Where I’d really like to be is the Bay of Islands, even though a friend who lives there emailed that it was 1°C/34°F a few mornings ago.
Saturday, July 26, 2014
Thursday, July 24, 2014
I need to buy panty hose. (I hear a collective gasp, interspersed with ‘Ah, Ha’s’.) But maybe I’ll settle for yarn.
As I was approaching Apia, the jib collapsed and backed. I glanced up at the masthead Windex and it showed the wind from the port quarter as it had been. I took over from the tiller pilot, gybed the jib, set the tiller pilot. The jib backed again. And I realized the Windex was stuck and lying to me. Since then, it has resumed moving, but was again stuck once at the same port quarter angle. So it may be back to tying bits of cloth—nylon from stockings or panty hose is good, but I doubt few women are foolish enough to wear them in this climate—or yarn to the shrouds.
That Windex was new when the mast was installed last year. I am not pleased.
As I walked down the dock a couple of evenings ago, two new boats had just come in and their crews were struggling with adaptors to connect to shore power. Not GANNET’s problem. By far the smallest boat here is also the most self-contained.
I thank Kris for identifying Naval Vessel 70 as the USS HOOPER. She was named after Rear Admiral Grace Hopper. While I would not have recognized her name, I have read of her. An early computer expert, she is responsible for the term ‘debugging’. Literally.
Dave of Hilo and his as yet unnamed 14’ Paradox recently completed a remarkable 415 mile cruise through the Hawaiian Islands. He reached Honolulu the evening before I sailed for Apia and I had the pleasure of seeing him again before I did so.
You really need to see GANNET to realize how small she is. You really need to see Dave’s boat to see how much smaller than GANNET she is.
I am very impressed by Dave’s achievement, including a maximum speed of 9.7 knots.
You can read more here. A great and original cruise. I congratulate him.
GANNET and I are both pretty much back in shape.
The above photo is the view beneath the tarp.
The ugly yellow strip below the companionway is residual Velcro adhesive. There is an Ace Hardware store in Apia, but they have never heard of Acetone, so the adhesive will be there a while.
Yesterday morning I used epoxy putty to reattach electrical wires that had come loose; and I cancelled an order I had placed to have a tiller pilot shipped to me here because it began to seem that it might take three weeks to arrive and I don’t want to remain in Apia that long. So I expect that I will sail for Tonga late next week, if the wind is not contrary. At the moment it is.
I did also hook up the two dead tiller pilots. They are still dead.
I have one Raymarine and one old Autohelm left with about 1500 miles to go.
The Vavau Group of Tongan islands is 300 south of Apia, but I have first to sail 25 miles west to clear this island. My memory of when I did that in RESURGAM in 1985 is that I was struck by a wall of wind funneling around island’s end.
Vavau has quiet anchorages and fine snorkeling. I think this will be my fourth time there.
I’d like to go down into the water for a change, instead of having water come up onto me.
Tuesday, July 22, 2014
GANNET is getting back in shape. And so is my skin, though slowly.
I’ve been drying things out and cleaning, even the bilge, part of which I can only reach using a hacksaw blade to push debris forward where I can remove it. I had my passage laundry done today. The Jordan drogue’s deployment bag is spread open on the dock beside GANNET. With all that heavy line, it has proven the slowest to dry.
I put up the tarp I bought to use as a sun shade yesterday afternoon. It helps. As does the battery operated fan which in a zip lock bag managed to survive the passage. It is blowing on me now.
I’ve not used it on passages because it wouldn’t stay in place and I’d have to hold it. Still that might be worthwhile for short periods.
I have only a limited Internet connection and am still catching up with email. Actually I’m falling behind. But am confident I will catch up eventually
This morning I ordered another Raymarine ST1000 from Defender. Shipping will cost more than half what the tiller pilot does.
There are three 45’-50’ catamarans here. Last evening I noticed that a man standing on the deck of the one nearest GANNET was 10’ higher than I.
July 01, Tuesday
0920 Left slip at Waikiki Yacht Club. Powered through basin. A fleet of small boats were racing and other boats around. Set jib off outer channel buoy, removed Torqeedo and outboard bracket from stern and stowed them between the quarter berths. Set main. It was 1010 before I had all the lines in the cockpit sorted out and GANNET properly underway.
Sunny. Wind 15 knots from the east. Lots of white caps.
Apia 2260 miles 202°
21°04’ N 157°56’ W Apia 2246 miles 202°
SOG 6.3 COG 202°
day’s run 14 miles (from Honolulu waypoint)
Before departing this morning I walked across to the supermarket and bought yoghurt, a container of fruit chunks, a roast beef and brie sandwich, a roll of paper towels, a bottle of water, and a box of chocolate covered macadamia nuts. Just ate yoghurt and fruit for lunch. Also two macadamia nuts which are very good. Should have bought another box.
Usually as I sail offshore the wind increases, but today it has decreased. Presumably circulating around the high island caused the increase near shore.
An instant failure. Before noon we were taking a lot of water over the bow. Little reached the companionway, but I decided to put up one of the new splash curtains. While standing in the companionway, my leg leaned against it and the track at the top came loose. I had tried to attach it with 5200 but obviously failed. I could try screws, and eventually may, but if needed during this passage I may just use duct tape. Or even just duct tape trash bags.
Wind and waves still decreasing.
I listened to the U.S./Belgium World Cup match on radio. I was slightly tempted to stay and watch, but once I am ready to go, I want to go.
1600 Asymmetrical set two hours ago. Our speed had dropped to three knots. Coming from the sailmaker, the sail had to be set flying the first time which is easier in light wind anyway. It has given us another knot and sometimes more and steadies the boat, but conditions remain very light. Sailing about 190°. Sunny. Pleasant. I’ve been sitting on deck listening to music and drinking an air temperature Stella Artois, rather than an iced martini in the yacht club bar. No complaint.
1745 Wind has been very, very light for the past hour. We’re probably averaging less than three knots. I can seldom feel any wind, so conclude we are sailing pretty much at wind speed.
I lowered the mainsail to see if we would sail better without it. We don’t. So it is back up. Waves are mostly less than a foot, but occasional three foot swells roll the wind from the sails. iNavX shows our estimated arrival at Apia in August!
A fishing boat has been moving back and forth in the distance ahead of us all afternoon. He has just turned north, presumably headed home. Good. I want the ocean to myself.
1900 A few minutes ago a moderate sized naval vessel, perhaps a destroyer or frigate, with number 70 painted on her bow, steamed toward me at high speed. As she neared, I got on the handheld VHF and called on Channel 16.
“Naval Vessel 70. This is the sailboat you are approaching. Do you want something?”
“This is Naval Vessel 70. No, sir. We just saw this rather small boat some distance from shore and wanted to be certain you are all right.”
“Thank you for your concern, but I’m fine. I’ve cleared for Apia, Samoa and am slowly sailing that way.”
“Very good, sir. This is Naval Vessel 70 out. Standing by on 16.”
“This is GANNET out.”
I did appreciate their coming over to check on what is a very small vessel unusually far from shore, though not for GANNET. That was professional and humane even though in this instance unnecessary.
July 02, Wednesday
0640 I had not noticed, but Honolulu is geographically in the -11 UCT zone. The time ashore there is -10 UCT. So I changed ship’s time this morning which will make this a 25 hour day.
I have also noticed that Apia is geographically in that same -11 UCT zone; but I believe that they changed to the other side of the dateline because of ties to Fiji, New Zealand and Australia, so I have no idea what local time is there.
Ship’s time won’t be changed again this passage.
Below deck many things are wet, including me.
The wind remained light last night although it increased slightly after midnight. I could still see the loom of light from Honolulu, then fifty or fifty-five miles distant.
The asymmetrical kept us moving, though only at three to four knots, until 0300 when the wind jumped to about fourteen knots. I put on a headlamp and my foul weather pants and went on deck, furled and lowered the spinnaker; unfurled the jib and raised the main. Our speed went to 6s and 7s. And water started coming on board.
We continue now under full main and partially furled jib. I have the sliding companionway hatch fully aft, but the vertical slat is not in place. It is too hot, even this early in the day, to close the cabin completely. A lot of water has made its way below. Sticking my head out to look around a wave caught me completely. That tee-shirt is now a rag.
I had not fully considered how heading out to Hawaii would change wind angles. This may well be a beam reach all the way, a good point of sail—unless you are trying to keep water from coming through a leaking hatch.
I may transfer all the stuff stowed on the port quarter berth to starboard, which I should have done at the dock, and sleep to port.
0800 I made the move to the port pipe berth.
It was less difficult than I expected. Avon RedStart; Jordan drogue; a 5 gallon jerry can of water; and the waterproof food bag; plus the safety harness and lines tied to the tube that runs just below deck on the side.
I pushed the Jordan drogue bridle and a life jacket back into the stern.
Conditions not quite as rough. We are still making 6s and 7s in the right direction, but not taking as much water aft. All the deck is wet, and if I go up there I need foul weather pants. On the other hand the cabin is already stifling. I’m sweating just siting at Central typing. To go out is to get wet from waves. To stay in is to get wet from sweat.
I need a breath of air. So, out.
19°30’N 158°26’W Apia 2148 202°
day’s run 99 miles (25 hours)
Rain ahead of us this morning, but did not reach us.
Wind veered south. Then died. Have been thrown around by leftover seas for past hour. Sails crashing.
Clouds to the north of us. Sunny and hot here.
Bow is pointed 200°, but GPS shows COG of 280°, so we are drifting that way on current.
Extremely unpleasant. Not a good start.
1600 Sailing. Only 2 and 3 knots. The sails are still over trimmed to reduce their collapsing. But for four hours the sea was a chaos of random undulations, many of which played catch with GANNET, tossing her up and down, side to side, collapsing sails, crashing boom, ten to twenty time a minute. I found a place in the shadow of the mainsail and read, but it was brutal. Already a very long day. Tired. I’ve been up since 0300 this time zone, and furled the asymmetrical before dawn.
1700 Dinner of salami, croissant, white wine, brownie.
I ate part of the salami for lunch. In this climate I don’t want to keep it long after cutting into it. Will eat the last for lunch tomorrow.
Still making 2 and 3 knots. I did see 4 twice, briefly. Slow. But wonderful after being becalmed.
1800 We’ve made 8.2 miles since noon.
What a day: ghosting under asymmetrical last night. Water over deck and pouring down below this morning. Becalmed this afternoon.
Just coming to sunset. As I recall it was a spectacular dawn. We also have the moon on this passage. And at this rate of profess, the next moon. And maybe the one after that, too. A sliver less than first quarter last night.
Who knows what the night will bring? I’m going to sleep soon.
July 03, Thursday
I went to sleep at 1930 last night and got up at 0530 this morning; however, I was up almost every hour, and awake from 0300 to 0400 when the wind died and the sails and boom began slamming around again.
We sailed at five knots most of the time.
The wind backed northeast at 0400 and the main was blanketing the jib, so I furled the jib. Unfurled again at 0530 when the wind had returned SE.
At present making 6 knots. Some water coming aboard, but not yet through the companionway. the slat is not in the companionway, but the sliding part is fully aft.
1040 If I remember correctly objects create a wind shadow eleven times their height. Hawaii Island is almost three miles high, so should have a wind shadow of thirty-three miles. However, although we have been more than 100 miles west of the island of Hawaii, I suspect that our light and fluky winds were caused by it. Now that we are south of Hawaii, trade winds have filled in. Are in fact strong enough so that GANNET was heeled 30° and I put a reef in the main and partially furled the jib, and we are still making 6s and 7s.
Trade wind clouds. Sunny. Hot. Wet on deck. Same down below.
18°07’N 158°55’W Apia 2016 202°
SOG 6.7 COG 200°
day’s run 88
Water still coming below around companionway and from two new leaks. One is at the hull/deck joint near the head of the port pipe berth. Some previous owner drilled a hole in the hull flange. There is a track on deck there. The hole does not go through the deck. I used epoxy putty to fill the hole and that seems to have fixed that one.
The other is beneath the port side halyard stoppers. I’m going to have to remove and rebed it somewhere.
1530 Wind has decreased a few knots and less water coming aboard. I took a flotation cushion to sit on and a car a Heineken and went on deck, sitting far aft. I wore my foul weather parka, but it was too hot, and so took it off. Didn’t get wet. Most of the day too wet to be on deck. Too hot to be below.
Fine sailing. Most waves 3’ to 4’, but every once in a while a set of steep and close together 6’ and 7’ waves comes through. If we were running before them, rather than taking them on or just ahead of the beam, they would give GANNET a great ride.
1730 Listening to Shostakovich Preludes. Sitting on the port pipe berth facing west. Wiped myself down with an antiseptic wipe. At least it got some of the salt off. Stood in the companionway for a while with plastic of Chardonnay. Little boat making her way easily through the sea now. Water over the bow, but not coming aft. Time for a freeze dry dinner, my first of this passage.
1830 Beautiful colors in the post-sunset sky. Low trade wind clouds gray. Higher clouds peach against powder blue sky. And the colors are reflected on the ever changing faceted waves. GANNET rushes along in a groove perfectly balanced.
I stood in the companionway for a while. It is so great to watch GANNET’s lee bow wave rise and hiss past an arm’s length away.
Less you think it is all classical music, Enya has replaced Shostakovich. A most unlikely juxtaposition.
I activated the Bay of Islands waypoint in iNavX. It shows our estimated arrival there as July 30. Not happening.
1900 I went to turn on the masthead tricolor nav light and saw that I didn’t need to. I had forgotten to turn it off this morning. An LED, it draws negligible power.
Just finished a sip of Laphroaig. Only a sip. Two bottles have to last 3,500 miles.
July 04, Friday
0700 Up since 0430, just before dawn. Slept well from 2000 to midnight. Less well after.
Have spent last hour and a half applying epoxy putty around the edge of the backing plate for the port halyard stoppers. This a particularly noxious leak because it dripped on me sitting at Central. I finally seem to have blocked water from coming below.
Three waves just crashed into and over us. I’m writing in a notebook. Too wet to remove laptop from waterproof case. I may be able to give my measuring cup and spoon a salt water rinse without going on deck.
Sailing to Hawaii was a mistake in that it changes the wind angle afterwards. Heading for the Marquesas and then running ahead of the trades would have been drier. Falling off 20° would make all the difference; but we can’t.
0900 Sky overcast.
Everything difficult today. Even brushing my teeth took planning and resolution. I’m not going to shave.
15°50’N 159°43’W Apia 1917 203°
SOG 5.8 COG 196°
day’s run 144
Sky still overcast. Sun hasn’t quite burned through. Not a trade wind sky.
At 1030 I furled more of the jib. Now about storm jib size. Speed down to 5.7-6.2 knots. That’s all right. Less water coming aboard. Life was just too unpleasant.
I could go through every piece of clothing aboard in one day, so I keep on wearing wet. However, the shorts I’ve had on since the start of this passage had become intolerable. So I changed. New pair still reasonably dry after an hour.
Fell asleep twice this morning while sitting up reading at Central.
1330 Light rain. Ocean silver, pewter and lead, with white foam, rather than blue.
Still averaging 6 knots with bursts to 9. Water over the deck accompanies the bursts. I couldn’t stand in the companionway for three minutes without being soaked.
1500 Rain ended. Sky still overcast.
1600 I managed to stand in the companionway for a few minutes, getting only slightly wet. GANNET’s cabin floor boards are about at sea level and, while most waves are four and five feet, I was looking up at some that must have been eight or nine feet, a few with toppling crests.
I have the port running backstay set. I don’t think we need it; but it is there and might keep the mast up if something lets go, so why not?
I am exceedingly pleased that I’ve been able to stop the leak from the port halyard stoppers and the one at the hull/deck joint over the port pipe berth. They would have made life aboard much worse. I need to remember to stock up on epoxy putty sticks.
1800 Do I ever think this is too hard? Yes. I did so this morning.
1830 A wave just broke across the deck. Not much came below. I’m sitting on the port pipe berth facing the centerline, feet braced on the starboard pipe berth.
A gray day to the end. No sunset. Just a dimming of gray sky. I look down at water rushing past a few feet away. GANNET dances up and down. A thud at the bow as a wave hits. Another thud just behind me. The little boat and the sea seem alive. But only I am.
2100 There was color in the sky at sunset. Patches of rose against the gray. I reached for my camera, but it had shifted from its customary place.
I received a rather preemptory email from a man I do not know demanding more photos of me while sailing. I have received others suggesting same. I am not unwilling to comply. But I am first a writer and a sailor. And when brushing my teeth is an ordeal, taking photographs isn’t going to happen.
July 05, Saturday
0630 An easy night. No waves came aboard that I remember. I slept well.
Up around 0500 sun rise. Partly blue sky with high clouds. We continued to average close to six knots during the night, but I let out two rolls of the jib.
13°31’N 160°22’W Apia 1774 203°
SOG 6.0 COG 196°
day’s run 145
I put two rolls back in jib. May remove them again. Trying to keep water out of the companionway, and mostly succeeding.
Sunny and hot. I can stand in the companionway for a while, but get hit by spray. Maybe I can sit on deck near the stern and keep dry later.
I see on the chartplotter that our track may take us near Kingman Reef and Palmyra Island. Still more than 400 miles ahead.
1645 A nice afternoon.
I sat near the stern earlier for an hour listening to music and have just been standing in the companionway doing the same. In between I did a jig saw puzzle on the iPad mini and read a history of Venice.
Sky two-thirds cloud covered which is welcomed because it makes it cooler. A few patches of rain to the east earlier. To the west now.
GANNET is probably averaging 5.75 to 6. She could easily carry full sail and make a knot more; but I’m here for the long haul and being dry is good.
1730 I love it: watching waves pass and a boat making her way through them. Waves like diamonds with constantly and infinitely changing facets. And no boat I’ve ever owned makes her way more easily through those waves than GANNET.
I’ve been standing in the companionway. I’ve got to reduce the water coming through the closed companionway hatch. I’ve prepared GANNET so that the water does not damage. But this water is warm, and if I go to the Southern Ocean it will be cold. Yet I can’t compromise one of the great vantage points in all sailing: standing in GANNET’s companionway.
1845 The setting sun turned the clouds into a mirrored shoreline. I looked up and saw a cove. A good place to anchor.
There are seven billion of us on this planet and only I experienced this specific beauty.
I smile down at the lee bow wave. I’ve been out here about as much as anyone who has ever lived. I’m almost certainly on my last lap. Soon the waves will be here, and I won’t. As a fine poet wrote, that we have so little time is our dignity.
1940 The first quarter moon just east of GANNET’s masthead after dark. And beside it Scorpio, my constellation. I was born on November 11. Of course I don’t believe in astrology, but I once imagined another sailor setting off across the oceans of the third planet from Antares, as a reader of my journal recently reminded me.
July 06, Sunday
0700 We slowed a while ago. I decided I’d shake out the reef in the mainsail after I ate my oatmeal, but by the time I had done so we were making 6.7 knots.
Sky ⅔ clear, but rain to the southeast. It may pass ahead of us.
I’d like to remove the reef even if only to put it back in again in order to clear a snarl in the upper reef line and change slightly the points where lines turn around blocks.
0810 Second line of light rain passing over us. Between them I unreefed the main and, briefly, it rained fish. An eight inch flying fish had landed in the furled part of the mainsail and startlingly fell onto my shoulder as I raised the sail. Some of his scales are still stuck to the sail. Another same size flying fish made a mess of the cockpit over night. I heard him, but didn’t recognize the sound. A brief heavy rain to wash away the debris would be welcomed.
11°15’N 161°05W Apia 1632 203°
SOG 7.3 COG 200°
day’s run 143
Great sailing this morning from 0900 until 1200. GANNET under full sail making 7s and frequent 8s and 9s. The wind had backed to the northeast, so waves were behind rather than forward and mostly not coming aboard. One did catch me while standing in the companionway. These shorts are only on their second day, so will have to be worn a day or two longer. It is warm water.
At 1130 a third line of light rain passed over, but when the sky cleared behind it, a solid mountain range of cloud was revealed to the east, which looked as though it might bring something more serious, so I put the reef back in the main and partially furled the jib and am waiting.
1530 Complete low overcast. Rain just ended. This was the fifth or sixth band today. All light. But this one bent the wind southeast, causing us to be close-hauled for a while. Now backing east again.
Between rain, none of which was heavy enough for a fresh water shower, I bathed in salt water, and managed partially to dry my shorts. Why wear clothes at all? Skin sticks to vinyl. GANNET’s non-skid deck is like sitting on sand paper. And salt is encrusted everywhere. Or was before the rain.
1700 An interesting sky. Infinite shades of gray. Low cloud. Medium cloud. High cloud. And two patches of blue.
I don’t know what to make of this. Perhaps we have just run out of the northeast trades.
We’re making 5 knots under full main and jib with the wind on the beam again.
Enough rain has fallen to wash away salt.
1730 Just finished dinner of spaghetti and meat sauce with a spurt of boxed red wine added, and a plastic of red wine on the side.
GANNET is making 5 to 6 knots across low leaden seas in that much wind. I love the way she makes her way so easily through the sea. Eric Tingstad’s EMERALD album playing on the waterproof EcoXGear speaker.
We’re just over six hundred miles to the Equator. The doldrums are in there somewhere, but usually not this far north. In my experience—and I think this will be my fourteenth crossing of the Equator under sail—the doldrums are always north of the Equator. I don’t know why.
At present the miles are effortless.
July 07, Monday
0630 Well, that was a surprise.
I went to bed last night around 2100 with GANNET making 5 knots on a close reach under full sail across a smooth sea and she kept on all night.
At midnight the wind had backed and was again on the beam, but GANNET was balanced and in a groove, so I didn’t retrim the sails.
At 0300 the wind had increased to perhaps six or seven knots and I did ease the jib and main.
When I got up at 0500 and could see the sails, the jib was perfect, but I eased the main a bit more.
Now we are surrounded by rain. I furled the jib completely until this line passes.
09°10’N 161° 48’W Apia 1501 203°
SOG 5.8 COG 198°
day’s run 132
We’ve been sailing well under full jib, which I unfurled by 0700, and main, but the wind is decreasing. Now not more than 6 or 7 knots. Sky covered with low clouds and haze. Rain to the east. Hot and humid. Sweating heavily sitting at Central. Going on deck.
1500 The heaviest and longest rain so far passed over us two hours ago. I went out and got a refreshing fresh water rinse. The clouds and rain also dropped the temperature.
The rain lasted twenty minutes and left a half hour hole in the wind behind it. Even now the wind is inconsistent. We’re making about five knots with waves often rolling wind from sails.
1800 A half dozen to a dozen sea birds have been around us most of the day. We are about 150 miles north of Palmyra and other atolls known as the Line Islands—the ‘line’ being the Equator—so I assume the birds are based there. Several different species. A bosun bird. A bobby with a powder blue beak. Some terns screeching like rusty hinges.
They all hunt directly in front of GANNET, clearly understanding that our approach will startle fish.
As sunset approaches GANNET is making 6 knots on a beam reach under a completely overcast sky. We have entered the Intertropical Convergence Zone, a.k.a. The Doldrums, one of the great engines of life on this planet. This is all about water. Water evaporates into the sky, is carried thousands of miles north or south, cools, falls as rain, fills river, runs to the sea, is carried by currents back here, and evaporates again, in an endless cycle, assuming our species doesn’t screw it up.
Here it is palpable. The air is filled with moisture. One breathes deeply to get oxygen rather than water. The sky is filled with moisture. Clouds are diffuse with vague, blurred edges.
The Doldrums implies lack of wind. So far, having boats that sail well, I’ve been slowed but never been stopped much by the ITC/Doldrums. GANNET is making 5.5 knots at present
July 08, Tuesday
0745 We had another easy, smooth night, although the wind backed slightly making our course closer to 180° than the 200° we had been steering. Kingman Reef is 65 miles ahead. I had expected to pass west of it, but may now pass east, between it and Palmyra. At the moment rain to the east and south has backed and weakened the wind and we’re making 3.5 knots on 210 ° which would take us well west of Kingman, but I don’t expect this to last.
0950 Almost becalmed. Frequent brief rain this morning has moved the wind back and forth. Rain now to east and north. Sun shining brutally through a patch of blue sky directly overhead. GANNET lurching along at 2 or less knots.
07°13’N 162°15’W Apia 1383 204°
SOG 1.8 COG 201°
day’s run 120 week 871
Almost becalmed again as I started to write. Now making 3.9 knots. GANNET’s speed this morning has ranged between 0.5 and 7.3 knots, probably averaging 3.5 to 4.
Week’s run of 871 only slightly above a five knot average. I expected this to be a slow passage, but I did not foresee the two slow days early on west of the island of Hawaii.
Frequent rain showers. I’ve stowed a bar of soap in one of the cockpit sheet bags and was able to wash myself in one of the longer periods of rain.
I discovered a nut, as in a nut from the end of a bolt, in the cockpit this morning. Disconcerting that I can’t figure out where it came from. A small nut. Hopefully from nothing critical.
1530 At the moment we are doing 6.7 knots and it is raining. When the rain stops, the wind will too and we’ll be flopping along at 1 to 2 knots. That has been the repeated pattern all day. We’ve made 10 miles in the three and a half hours since noon, and I’m surprised it is that much.
I think the nut may have come from one of the bolts holding a batten luff car on the mainsail. It is that size and I think I see one missing on the middle batten. If so, it is inconsequential. The two sides of each of those cars are held by eight small bolts that pass through the sail. Seven are more than enough and even without the nut, the bolt probably won’t work loose.
Rain and wind dying.
1630 Bach and dolphins. I took EcoXgear speaker and a plastic of tequila on deck an hour ago and was startled when the first dolphin surfaced an arm’s length away. They were a small species and darted across GANNET’s bow for a half hour, some leaping from the water several boat lengths away. We were only making three and four knots. GANNET is quick. They are quicker. I wonder how fast they can swim and will try to remember to search when I next have an Internet connection.
They were almost within arm’s reach. Who would be more startled if the moment ever comes that I can reach out and touch one?
I don’t listen solely to classical music. But on the speaker I did have Glenn Gould’s 1955 version of the Goldberg Variations, which made his reputation and career. I also have his 1981 version, which I have read he preferred, but I don’t.
I am at the moment listening to Bet Middler—
The off course alarm just went off. We were heading 160°. I thought the autopilot may have failed which would not be unexpected after almost four thousand miles. But it hadn’t. I went on deck. Got us back on course, and we continue on, tiller pilot steering. Who knows what happened?—singing, ‘The Rose’. Which is what it was doing then. Now it is Bruce Springsteen’s ‘Philadelphia.’
1930 The wind is being bent in odd ways. We are presently sailing under main alone because the wind is from the north and the jib was being blanketed. Continued rain.
2045 With only the main set, we are making 5 and 6 knots with wind from the north. Not being heeled much, when GANNET rolls rain water spills onto the port pipe berth, where I am sitting. Moderate to heavy rain now for several hours.
I have possible solution three, an acceptable dodger envisioned; but I don’t expect it can be implemented before New Zealand. I may end up sleeping in foul weather gear as I did in CHIDIOCK TICHBORNE.
2100 Rain diminished. Wind has backed to the east. I unfurled jib. Now making 4.5 knots under jib and main just aft of beam reach.
We are now due 21 miles north of western edge of Kingman Reef. I’m going to try to get some sleep. I don’t expect this to be a settled night.
July 09, Wednesday
0630 Rain, heavy to deluge, all night long. GANNET presently close-hauled against south wind under reefed main and partially furled jib.
At 0200 backing wind backed the jib. Off course alarm sounded. I put on foul weather gear and went on deck to get us back under control, but could only head 290°-300° or 150°-160°. The latter took us toward Kingman Reef, so we sailed northwest at 1.5 knots until first light when I was able to turn us southwest.
No solar charging. I’m not sure if that is because there is no sun, although we have had charging before with overcast sky, or a loose connection. First inspection does not reveal a loose connection. If this continues I’ll remove the electrical tape and check beneath. Will wait and see if we ever get any sunshine. I’m writing this by hand in a notebook rather than use computer. And just wrote down the latitude and longitude of the waypoint at the Apia Harbor entrance in case we lose electricity.
0900 Hard morning after hard night. Working while heeled 20°+ going to windward. However, on course again.
I removed electrical tape and inspected the connections. Two were suspicious. I replaced them. Still no charging. I even moved bags and inspected the connections to the ship’s batteries and the inline fuse. All good. Reread the regulator instruction sheet. The regulator panel light is on and its display shows battery voltage, just no charging. There really isn’t anything else to do. All six solar panels didn’t fail simultaneously. We are heeled away from the sun and cloud cover is thick and complete.
I turned my MacBook Air off rather than sleep, and am charging my full size iPad as backup chartplotter.
I noticed a drip from a hull/deck bolt and seem have to have successfully stopped it with epoxy putty.
0920 We have charging. Only 1.1 amp; but the system is working.
06°13’N 162°55’W Apia 1312 204°
SOG 1.8 COG 248°
day’s run 72
Continued complete overcast, though thinner. Charging now at 2.4 amps.
Light rain just resumed. Had stopped about two hours ago.
Wind light from the SSW. Full sail up, but making only 2-3 knots about 250°. iNavX now projects our arrival at Apia in September.
1715 Waiting for my beef teriyaki to cool.
Sky rather nice at sunset for a change. Even able to distinguish the sun setting. Still mostly cloud covered, but a few patches of light blue ahead, and higher cloud.
GANNET making an easy three knots in the right direction. Sometimes five. Sometimes two. It would be nice if this lasts through the night.
Swells rise and fall as though the ocean is breathing deeply.
July 10, Thursday
0750 A busy morning. I’ve been up since 0500 and only now just finished my breakfast.
Last night I went to bed at 1900, fell quickly asleep, and was awaken at 2000 by sails collapsing and boom banging. I went on deck and saw the dark shape of a large bird sitting on the stern pulpit near the Yellowbrick. While it was presumably one of the powder blue beaked boobies I have seen, the silhouette was sinister, as though it were a vulture. I like birds well enough, but they are messy house guests so I shouted. Nothing. I waved my arms. Nothing. I picked up the end of a jib sheet and threw it at him. A squawk and flight.
I also found that the wind had backed to the north and the main was blanketing the jib; so I furled the jib, eased the mainsheet and went back to the pipe berth. But as I lay there, listening to low swell roll the wind from the main, I knew I should set the asymmetrical, and after about twenty minutes I got up and did. This is something I never would have done before asymmetricals and gennaker furling gear.
Main down, asymmetrical up—the running backstay was already set—we had a wonderful night sailing silently and smoothly at five and six knots, until 0430 this morning when the wind veered to the ESE, slightly forward of the beam and the asymmetrical started collapsing.
I went on deck and saw a line of rain to our east with numerous white-caps coming toward us. The asymmetrical furled properly, was lowered and stowed; furling jib set. As the rain hit, with just the jib we were making eight knots for ten minutes. Then the rain passed, the wind decreased, but did not fade to nothing, and I set the mainsail.
We sailed for an hour under main and jib, then another line of rain with stronger wind caused me to partially furl the jib and put a reef in the main, which is our present configuration. When I last checked we were making six knots. I don’t think sail changes have been completed for the day.
04°50’N 163°19’ W Apia 1227 204°
SOG 4.2 COG 204°
day’s run 86
Mostly clear sky, which makes the day hotter. 90° in cabin.
We are close-hauled against ESE wind. Trade wind? Have we come though the other side? The next few days will tell.
I’ve let out more of the jib, but wind is weakening. Going on deck to increase sail and cool off.
1600 I think we are through to the other side. Sky with trade wind clouds. Wind SE. If so the Convergence Zone was father north than I expected. I thought it would be at this latitude.
No comfortable place on GANNET today. Cabin too hot. Deck too wet.
I did increase sail earlier, but then, after bathing in salt water in the cockpit, reduced it again. Now with reefed main and partially furled jib. GANNET could carry more sail, but life aboard too uncomfortable, heeled too far and too wet. I hope we aren’t close hauled for the next 1200 miles.
I sat on a flotation cushion near the stern for a while this afternoon and stayed relatively dry. However had to hold onto a block with my left hand and brace myself on the far side of the cockpit with my foot. Now I’d like to sit below and read, but have to stand in the companionway for relief every few minutes. To stand there is to be hit by spray from every third or fourth wave. Warm spray, but spray.
After bathing I put on a clean t-shirt. Not for warmth, but to keep the sun off skin. It is now moist.
1800 The t-shirt is now wet. I cannot put on a piece of clothing on GANNET without it becoming wet in a few hours, particularly going to windward. The only variation is how many days I continue to wear it while wet.
The t-shirt achieved wetness while I was standing in the companionway a few minutes ago. On a port tack, heeled to the west, I was looking to the east at clouds turning peach from the reflected sun, and then from behind a cloud appeared the full moon. I saw the moon last night when I went on deck at 2000 to set the asymmetrical; but haven’t seen it much this overcast passage. There is such beauty out here.
July 11, Friday
0500 Up fifteen minutes ago. Rough night. Waiting for light to retrim GANNET who is pounding and leaping off waves.
06300 First light about 0520. Dawn 0600. I’ve eased mainsheet traveler, brought it back, and eased again. Also reduced jib. We are still pounding, but probably less and, unfortunately, not even on course. Able to head 215°-220° at best, which means the wind is from the south. We need it to back to the southeast or, even better, east.
03°10’N 165°19’W Apia 1111 203°
SOG 4.8 COG 200°
day’s run 117
Wind has backed toward the SE and we are now on a very close reach, not pounding into and leaping off of waves, which makes a huge difference.
Mostly blue sky. Some clouds on horizon. Most behind us to the north. Hot.
We’re more than half way to Apia today, and 190 miles from the Equator.
1730 Some miles hurt, and some miles don’t.
Every mile last night hurt. GANNET was either slamming into waves or leaping off them and slamming into the next. My berth was wet and sticky with salt water and sweat. We were heeled enough so that only two positions were possible and both put stress on legs, arms or back.
Today the miles did not hurt. Sometimes you want the wind to back or veer and it does. Last night’s south wind became today’s southeast, giving GANNET an angle through the waves rather than bashing into them. Now near sunset she sails at 5 to 6 knots in not more than 7 knots of wind under full main and jib—I removed the reef and furls mid-afternoon. I’d like the wind to back another 20°, but that is being greedy. I can live with this the rest of the way, though I don’t expect it to last unchanged.
Some time tomorrow we will pass the less than a thousand miles to go mark and, probably after dark, cross the Equator.
A thousand miles at six knots is seven days. At five, eight days. Unless the trades die completely, a possibility though I think I’m ahead of any developing El Nino, GANNET will not average less than five, and given an angle more.
1830 Just after writing the last entry, I stood in the companionway and found six to ten dolphin leaping clear of the water two hundred yards to windward of GANNET. We were sailing at a good speed, but the dolphin weren’t interested and kept on moving.
A little later I watched the full moon rising to the east as the sun set to the west, and to add to the symmetry, I’m almost on the Equator where I will be moving from summer to winter, though I don’t expect to need long underwear soon.
July 12, Saturday
0630 Dawn and dusk are my favorite times of day in the Tropics. Cooler and more pleasant than mid-day, certainly aboard GANNET.
This dawn finds us making a smooth 6 knots close-hauled with rain at several places around the horizon. I drank my cup of coffee standing in the companionway, enjoying the breeze cool against my skin.
Last night was as pleasant as the one before was not. GANNET kept sailing effortlessly under main and jib on a close reach until 0300 when the wind weakened and I retrimmed the sails. I retrimmed again as the wind veered with rain clouds and we became close-hauled.
01°23’N 165°16’W Apia 990 203°
SOG 5.1 COG 233°
day’s run 121
We are being carried west by a strong Equatorial current. Such currents gave me on two successive circumnavigations on RESURGAM two hundred miles days, though well east of here. I see the current in the difference by the COG shown on the GPS devices being 30° higher than where GANNET’s bow is pointing by analog compass, and in the SOG being higher than it should be. I am seeing 5s on the Velocitek, when I look over the side and know GANNET is sailing 3.5 at most.
We want to go west, but we want to go south more.
1700 A disappointingly slow day. The wind didn’t return until 1500, and is still light.
I took advantage of the slow smooth sailing to bathe in sea water and rearrange some stowage. The ‘waterproof’ duffle bag I’ve been using for food in the Great Cabin was waterproof except for the zipper, which was only covered with a Velcroed flap. Living near the companionway, what it proved to be waterproof was in keeping water in, rather than keeping water out. So I transferred the food I had in it to a different bag, which is waterproof, but cylindrical and opens at the top, so if I want something at the bottom I have to remove everything above. It is also clear, so I can see what is inside.
We’re still seventy miles from the Equator.
Time for dinner of chicken Alfredo.
July 13, Sunday
0620 The Equator is sixteen miles away, so we’ll be crossing about 0900.
Last evening at 1930 just as I finished reading TREASURE ISLAND (Robert Louis Stevenson lived the last years of his life at Apia and so I’ve been reading him—ISLAND NIGHTS’ ENTERTAINMENTS; THE EBB-TIDE; TREASURE ISLAND) GANNET was hit by a squall, heeling far over, sails flogging, off-course alarm sounding, arm of tiller pilot pushing against full extension, torrential rain.
I pulled myself upright in the companionway, reached back and eased the mainsheet and traveler, then turned, eased the jib sheet and pulled on the furling line. It wouldn’t budge. The sail is slashing back and forth, the slack jib sheet flogging my back. I pulled on the furling line again. Nothing. Then recalled that this had happened once before. I’ve installed a Harken ratchet block as the last one before the cleat. I grabbed the furling line in front of that block and it came in. There is a lever on the block controlling the direction of ratcheting. I checked later and the block moved properly. I’ll look at it again today, but may replace it. Not being able to furl the jib quickly is unacceptable.
Jibless, with full main, GANNET rushed through the night, but under control.
All this happened in complete darkness. A full moon night, but the moon had yet to rise.
When the squall blew past, I stood in the companionway, but could make out no details in the sky which was almost uniformly black. I unfurled about half the jib.
An hour later it happened again. I was in my berth this time. Rolled out, furled the jib, then back in the cabin, found and put on my foul weather gear and waited for the worst of the rain to end because I didn’t want to bring soaked foul weather gear below unless absolutely necessary. While waiting I checked iNavX. We were making 7.3 knots under main alone.
Rain eased, I went on deck and reefed the main. Wind eased I unfurled part of the jib again. And ten minutes later the wind had died and waves were collapsing the sails and slamming the boom. On deck again to put a preventer on the boom.
When the moon came up—I don’t remember when. I was on deck so often—I could not see any especially threatening clouds, but I didn’t increase sail anyway. At 0400 this morning, another squall hit and I was glad I hadn’t. We were heeled so far that extricating myself from the pipe berth, which always takes something like a half-somersault with a quarter twist was almost impossible. Ultimately I toppled out onto the cabin floorboards. Only a few inches. No damage. To floorboards or me.
The good part of all this is that the wind has backed to the SE and perhaps beyond. GANNET is making six knots, still under reduced sail, on almost a beam reach on a course of about 200°, a little high of the rhumb line taking water only over the bow. Cloud covered sky.
0907 We crossed the Equator one minute ago local time. 2006 UCT. Still fine sailing.
This is my fourteenth crossing of the Equator under sail. Four in EGREGIOUS, including two on early attempts at Cape Horn, all in the Pacific. Two in CHIDIOCK TICHBORNE, one in the Pacific and one in the South China Sea approaching Singapore. Four in RESURGAM, two in the Pacific and two in the Atlantic. Three in THE HAWKE OF TUONELA, two in the Atlantic and one in the Pacific. HAWKE’s number is uneven because she began her life in the northern hemisphere and ended it in the southern, completing about one and three-quarters circumnavigators in between. One in GANNET in the Pacific.
Except for two will Jill in RESURGAM and one with Carol in THE HAWKE OF TUONELA, all in the Atlantic, the other ten, now eleven, have been solo.
00°17’S 166°06’W Apia 879 202°
SOG 6.1 COG 190°
day’s run 112
Sunny. Wind slightly weaker. Unfurled more of jib. Still sailing well and above rhumb line.
1830 By serendipitous chance, as I poured a plastic of Laphroaig to celebrate the crossing of the Equator, the last of the soundtrack to TITANIC began playing, “Hymn to the Sea.” I’m not religious. I don’t believe in or pour libations to the sea gods or any other. But it was appropriate, and I stood in the companionway and drank a libation to the sea, and GANNET, and the setting sun.
1930 A clear night. I can see the Big Dipper to the north. Scorpio to the east. And, I think, the Southern Cross to the south. I’m not certain because I can’t make out the firth star. But then I’m not known for visual acuity.
There is a pleasure in this vaguely differentiated darkness.
I realized a while ago that GANNET is probably the first Moore 24 south of the Equator. She does not know it but she is going home. There are three species of gannets, two in the Southern Hemisphere, one off South Africa, the other New Zealand and Australia. The third lives in Scandinavia, Great Britain, and Eastern Canada. How great to take a photo of a gannet from GANNET.
July 14, Monday
0800 An easy night with a clear, starry sky, until 0400 when the wind backed and lightened and I had to go on deck to trim the sails.
We’re now under full jib and reefed main. I’m waiting on the main until I see what some clouds in front of us hold.
I rerove the jib furling line, bypassing the Harken ratchet block. This seems to work and may be even better with a smoother lead from the remaining blocks.
02°27’S 166°48’W Apia 741 203°
SOG 5.7 COG 193°
day’s run 138
Quickly passing showers. One just did, first rounding us up until I reached out and eased the mainsheet traveler. We’re sailing on a close reach with full main and partially furled jib. I removed the reef from the main at 0845; and since then have been letting the jib in and out. Heeled over too far at the moment, but it will soon pass.
1630 A tale of two skies.
An hour ago a squall line reached us.
I had seen it coming and as it neared, partially furled the jib, then as I felt its force, furled the jib entirely and retreated to the Great Cabin.
With just main set, GANNET was still overwhelmed. I reached out and eased the traveller, then the main sheet. Not until I eased the sheet two more times, could the tiller pilot regain control. Through the clear companionway hatch I could see on the mast-mounted Velocitek that we were making 8 knots under main alone.
The wind lasted about fifteen minutes. Rain a bit longer.
When both eased, I opened and stood in the companionway, unfurled the jib, and we have proceeded at 6 and 7 knots since.
Leaning against the lower side of the companionway, which is now starboard, I generally am looking east. That way the sky is mostly powder blue with a few scattered high white clouds and a hunting tern. Turn around and face west I find another world with a gray to black rain filled sky from north to south.
It would not have been much fun had that squall hit us at night with full sail set. I’m not going to put a reef in the main just in case. But I might partially furl the jib before I try to sleep.
July 15, Tuesday
0900 Rougher last night and today. Sky clear. But wind stronger and has backed forcing us onto a closer reach, all of which results in a great angle of heel, despite reduced sail, and more water reaching the companionway with some coming below.
I did partially furl the jib last night, but had a hard night anyway with my back bothering me. I rolled from the pipe berth and sat up for a while at 0200 before returning the berth to sleep.
After dawn I put a reef in the mainsail. This in an only partially effective effort to make life aboard more endurable. We’re going to reach Apia on Sunday whether we push hard or ease off. This actually is good because Samoa has moved themselves to the other side of the dateline to be with New Zealand, Australia and Fiji, so Sunday will be Monday, and I believe Samoa has high fees for clearing in out of normal office hours.
Sunday will also be two months to the day that I sailed from San Diego.
I’m not sure, but I think that GANNET may be the first Moore 24 in the Southern Hemisphere.
04°39’S 167°27’W Apia 606 205°
SOG 5.0 COG 198°
day’s run 137
Wind has decreased, so I’ll increase sail. But the odd wave is still slapping aboard and coming down below.
1700 Standing in the companionway I just made a discovery. Early in my preparation of GANNET I put industrial strength Velcro around both the inside and outside of the companionway. Inside for a screen to keep insects out—I have the same around the forward hatch as well—and for the cover that failed to prevent water ingress. Outside for another cover that failed. The exterior Velcro is no longer of use and so I idly removed it. On the vertical edge of the hatch I found drain holes on each side, obviously intended to take the run off from the edge of the sliding hatch. I had blocked them.
July 16, Wednesday
0630 The wind went light last night, and then it didn’t.
I got up around 2300 when we were making only four knots, clear sky, waning gibbous moon and stars, and let out the full jib. No clouds on the horizon. At 0100 GANNET heeled far over. The judges gave me straight 10s for my dismount from the pipe berth. In beating rain I let out the main traveler, eased the mainsheet and completely furled the jib, which is decidedly easier since I bypassed the Harken block.
A half hour later we were barely moving, so I went up and retrimmed the main and partially unfurled the jib. An hour later another rain squall hit and I went on deck in beating rain and eased the main and furled the jib. A half hour later we were barely moving, so I went out and retrimmed the main and partially unfurled the jib. Which is the way GANNET remains.
At 0500 when I got up for good, Apia was 520 miles distant. 520 divided by 4 equals 130 miles, so we are jogging along trying to make average about 5.5 knots and, as a former submariner said, “Keep water out of the people tube.” We have taken several solid waves over the companionway last night and this morning. Since I removed the velcro blocking the exit holes, no water has come below. I was the problem.
Looking aft, trade wind clouds and blue sky. We’re still pounding. I’m not sure why.
06°37’S 168°08’W Apia 482 206°
SOG 5.6 COG 204°
day’s run 125 week’s run 783
Continues trade wind day, with more water coming over deck than usual and cabin intolerably hot. I’m going on deck even if it means getting wet.
1600 It did mean getting wet. Soaked. Clothes so saturated that if it were early in a passage I’d throw them overboard rather than let them fester.
Today has been a rather nice day, but not on GANNET. Wind and wave angles are wrong. No place on deck from bow to stern is dry, including me.
After taking my usual post-lunch salt water bath, I sat on the Sportaseat in the stern just forward of the solar panel and got wet back there. I was just standing in the companionway and remained until I couldn’t see through my sunglasses any longer. At least now in late afternoon it is cool enough to be able to endure the cabin.
While sitting in the stern, I watched several solid waves wash over the companionway and saw the stream of water coming out one of the exit holes I had blocked with Velcro. I’m not sure what I was thinking of when I did that, if anything. Not many waves washed over the deck while GANNET was on Lake Michigan or in San Diego. I’ll keep observing, but the hatch may be fine. It may even be excellent.
1900 Magnificent sky after sunset. Gray clouds outlined by rose, peach, gold and cream. GANNET rushing through the sea. More smoothly now. Dipping and rising with the waves without crashing through them.
Our week’s run of 783 miles is not impressive, but as expected when crossing the convergence zone. GANNET never did come to a complete stop, and her slowest hours were the second day out when west of Hawaii and she only made eight miles in six hours. However, this has been a pinched passage. The wind almost never free, almost always forward of the beam, seldom aft of it. Sometimes you just have to grind it out.
Several days ago I scraped my back going through the companionway. Naturally I hit the same spot again almost daily. I can’t see it. But I feel it.
I will be glad when this passage is over.
July 17, Thursday
Several showers from 0200 to 0400. When I felt us heel excessively I went on deck and furled the jib for the first one. Then was up again ten minutes later when GANNET was flopping around in little wind. The next two I let her ride out on her own. No problem after heeling to the first blast.
We have finally gained an angle to the wind. The bearing to Apia which has been within a degree of 203° is now 208° and that puts the wind just aft of the beam. The deck has been dry since I eased us off. I may lower the main and sail under jib alone. We’re making six to seven knots and only need a little more than five to be off Apia Sunday dawn, which is Monday in Samoa.
I couldn’t face my soaked shorts and t-shirt this morning, so changed to dry ones. Maybe with the change in course, they will stay that way for more than an hour.
08°41’S 168°55’W Apia 350 208°
SOG 5.6 COG 204°
I lowered the main at 0900. Sailing since then under partially furled jib, trying to keep speed down to 5-5.5 knots for Sunday morning arrival.
Sunny, moderate trade wind day. Powder blue sky. Puffs of low white cloud. Dark blue sea with white-caps. Wind 12 to 14 knots.
Twenty minutes after writing the above entry, I was standing in the companionway when I saw two 10’ waves coming at us, high above the average 4’ waves. They were steep and close together. As the first one hit us, I ducked down below, sliding the companionway closed behind me. However, the vertical slat was not in place. The second wave exploded over and into us, knocking GANNET down, masthead almost in the water. I only conclude that it wasn’t because the Windex is still up there.
With GANNET heeled 90°, I held myself from falling and looked down at the ocean. GANNET’s lee rail was below water. The ocean only a few inches from the cockpit. If it started to pour in there, we would be forced lower and the sea could reach the open aft side of the companionway. The slat was unreachable in the jumble on the starboard pipe berth below me. The wave was still gushing in and pressing us down. It was a matter of whether we came back up before we went over much farther and the ocean came in too. Time seemed to slow almost to a stop as GANNET was held in delicate balance. Probably a few seconds passed. GANNET came up.
A few things had been thrown across the cabin, but most remained in place. Everything loose in the cockpit was washed away, as I continued to realize during the course of the afternoon. The LuminAID light that was charging. Boat shoes that were drying. The measuring cup I use as a piss pot, excuse the expression. This is the second pair of shoes and second piss pot I’ve lost since leaving San Diego. I think I only have one pair of shoes aboard, a new pair of boat shoes I fortunately bought in Honolulu.
All halyard and sheet ends were trailing in the water, as was the still tied on head bucket.
The tiller pilot had despite my lashing been washed from the tiller and continued to function for a few minutes when I reconnected it before dying.
I backed the jib and hove to while I went below and retrieved unit 2. I hooked it up and we continued on as I cleaned up and pumped the bilge which was full of water. The shorts I had put on dry this morning didn’t make it through the day.
Most seriously the wave appears to have damaged the Solar Boost Regulator. I’ve checked all connections and tested the input wires from the solar panels. They are sending power to the unit, but it is not registering it or passing it on to the batteries.
I could bypass the regulator and link the solar panels directly to the batteries, which would risk frying them. We’ll see how long the battery power lasts. We don’t have far to go.
July 18, Friday
0700 A half an hour ago just as I was about to heat water for coffee, GANNET jibed. I scrambled on deck and found the tiller pilot dead. I pushed some buttons; unplugged and replugged it. Nothing. With her jib backed, GANNET had hove to by herself, so I went below, crawled forward and returned to the cockpit with unit 3. It works. We continue, unimpressed with unit two lasting less than a day.
The solar regulator shows a higher battery level now than last night. It also just clicked on showing charging, but the sun is too low to tell. The jolt from the wave was severe.
After writing the previous entry, I decided to get as many miles sailed as possible while we have electricity, so raised the main and fully unfurled the jib. Some fine sailing until sunset, with GANNET making 6s to 8s instead of 4s and 5s. After sunset the wind increased and I furled the jib. We continued on at 6 and 7 knots under main alone, until sometime after midnight, I partially unfurled the jib. Several brief rain squalls. One wave caught us abeam, but nothing like the one yesterday.
As on CHIDIOCK TICHBORNE, the organ that suffers the most while sailing GANNET is the skin. Lots of salt water rash and sores. Sitting is painful. I did buy skin lotion in Hilo, but may need to return to the diaper rash ointment I used on CHIDIOCK TICHBORNE. Fresh water showers and being dry will be welcomed.
240 miles to go.
10°47’S 169°53’W Apia 213 211°
SOG 5.5 COG 204°
day’s run 140
Rough morning with a lot of water over the deck. A few minutes ago I put a reef in the mainsail.
We again have solar charging. Why this morning and not yesterday afternoon, I do not know. Perhaps the wave’s jolt scrambled the regulator’s circuit board brain and it took a while to recover.
Brutally hot in cabin. Going on deck.
1730 There has been no good place to be on GANNET today; and for that matter there still isn’t.
I tried sitting in the stern, but the wind in early afternoon was 18 knots and blew spray all the way from the bow to me.
I’ve left the reef in the main and have varied the amount of jib set. Two squall lines went through and I furled the jib completely. Presently a small amount of jib set. Waves still coming over deck.
I prepared flags today, cutting short pieces of twine to tie them on. ‘Q’ flag. US. Samoa. I expect I’ll only have the Q flag up when I enter port and do the others at dock. I think visiting yachts have to go to a small marina in Apia now. When I was here before, the marina did not exist and we anchored out.
181 miles to go.
July 19, Saturday
0715 We’re 106 miles out. I just lowered the mainsail and we’re proceeding at 4 to 5 knots under deeply furled jib. I hope we have a quiet day.
12°41’S 170°52’W Apia 86 218°
SOG 4.5 COG 215°
day’s run 127
Continuing under furled jib. Uneventful day so far. Going to wash myself in fresh water this afternoon. And hopefully can sit on deck without getting a salt water rinse.
1800 58 miles to waypoint at Apia harbor entrance.
As easy a day as I had hoped; but two waves still got me, though only with spray. I was able to put my pillow and sleeping bag on deck to air and dry somewhat. Also had my fresh water wash. I have enough water to do that more often; but most days would only have been salt water soaked again within hours if not minutes.
I just furled the jib a bit more to decrease our speed, but may have to heave to eventually. It is still dark here at 0500 with sunrise not until about 0615. I don’t want to enter until at least 0800.
July 20/21, Sunday/Monday
Pacific Ocean. Apia, Samoa
0530 Still dark. Making 3 knots. 13 miles off Apia. I’ve been able to see the loom of the town’s lights since midnight.
An easy night. Light steady wind. No squalls. No drama. I woke every hour or so and checked our position on the iPad mini, but didn’t get up for good until a half hour ago. Will increase sail at first light which should be in another half hour.
0730 Just over 7 miles out. I can see buildings on shore. Tried a few minutes ago to call Apia Port Captain on handheld VHF. No response. I’m sure it is Monday ashore, but not the hour.
Smooth enough so I’ve managed to get the Torqeedo on the transom. The only difficult part is getting the shaft on the outboard bracket while moving. I tie a line around it before the attempt.
Also have fenders and very wet dock lines in cockpit.
Rain moved east to west over the island, Upolu, at dawn. Clear now.
Making 3 knots under full jib.
1000 Tied to marina dock Apia
Day’s run 87 Passage 2266