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Monday, January 31, 2011

HI to MX Day 18

Nothing new to report. Still motoring along hoping any minute now for some wind. John got the drifter out this morning and we spent some time barely making headway with that. It was nice to take a break from the noise while John changed the engine oil and got some water out of the fuel. Yesterday he transferred the fuel from the jerry jugs on deck to the tank and noticed a considerable amount of water in them. I've also noticed a fair amount of condensation in various cupboards below.

The big news of the day is that Ziggy actually slept with me this morning. He has never slept with us on our bed. When he was a kitten he was too little to jump up to the Pullman and we didn't encourage it. As an adult he has a very strict sense of personal space (we get lots of "don't touch me" nips), and he won't sit in our laps or even climb over us to get by. So imagine my surprise when he slipped into the quarter berth after I had settled in for my morning off watch. I was so pleased by this new behavior that I didn't want to move for fear of disturbing the moment. I didn't sleep very well, but it was extremely satisfying to break this barrier at last. He will be the happiest of we three when the engine finally gets shut down, though I don't know what we'll do then for heat!

{GMST}31|25.090|N|130|43.170|W|Hawaii to Mexico Day 18|Day 18{GEND}

Sunday, January 30, 2011

Sunday, 1/30

Today is windless with the winter sun barely warming us in a breeze of our own creation. A storm petrel flits across our bow. Looking down over the side of the boat I see streaks of bleached indigo where the sun's rays dive into the deep of a glassy calm. A heavy looking white-bodied albatross glides over the contours of the swells like an ultra-light. Is it the rare short-tailed albatross or a more common Laysan? If I get another chance, I'll have to look more closely to see if the white extends over the back of the body making it the former. Later in the afternoon I surprise a pair of black-footed albatross as I come out into the cockpit. They are close enough for me to make out the white patch at the base of their beaks on an otherwise wholly black body. It seems as if the albatross only come in close to the boat when there's no one on deck, making it difficult to get a good identification.

We are drinking tea and hot chocolate on a regular basis now. Enjoying the restful calm, but anxious to turn off the deafening engine and begin sailing to warmer latitudes!


HI to MX Day 17

Not much to report today. We've been motoring almost all the time with very short periods of sailing. We've gone through about 40 gallons of fuel, we have another 70 in the tank and 12 in jugs as emergency fuel. Hopefully we'll get some wind tomorrow and can start sailing again.

One good thing about all this calm weather, yesterday we were able to take showers for the first time in the trip.

The weather continues to cool, as is the water temperature. Last night we saw 61 degrees, the low of the trip so far.

{GMST}31|23|N|132|57|W|Hawaii to Mexico Day 17|Day 17{GEND}

Saturday, January 29, 2011

HI to MX Day 16

We've been motoring off and on, in between some nice light air sailing off the wind. I hate to jinx it, but this is really nice! Yesterday morning we got enough of a light but steady rain to wash most of the salt off the boat. It cleared before Noon and I got out there with a rag to wipe the rest of it off before it dried. This makes life much more pleasant for John when he has to go forward for sail handling duties. Some days are still mostly cloudy or have that hazy winter sunshine, but today has been very nice with lots of warm sun. In fact it was so nice and calm (motoring) that John decided we should take showers! He got the Honda generator out to run the water heater, and emptied the shower stall of all the junk we had stored there (including two jerry jugs of water which he put in the tank). Normally our head, which is up in the bow of the boat, is probably the roughest place to be. It's the place where I'm most likely to crash into things because it's difficult to brace myself anywhere. But today it was perfect and we are very happy to be really clean again.

Ziggy is happy whenever we shut the motor off to sail. He's also enjoying the freedom to roam the decks outside since it's calm enough for him to go forward during the daytime. He'd like to do it at night as well, but we don't let him out after dark.

John got the regulator working at 100% again! He took it out of the engine compartment and carefully washed it with fresh water and let it dry all day. Then checking it over found a couple of broken wires which he soldered back in place. He says this would have been impossible had it not been calm as the wires are very small and soldering them would be hard enough without having the boat roll back and forth. He re-installed it and now it charges fully just like it used to. It's a good thing, because while he was removing it for cleaning he dropped the light bulbs he was using to get the thing working and one of them broke. That's 2 out of 3 broken, we're down to our last one. Hopefully we won't have to resort to the light bulbs again for a while.

We're counting the miles until we can make that right hand turn!

{GMST}31|17|N|134|36|W|Hawaii to Mexico Day 16|Day 16{GEND}

Friday, January 28, 2011

Provisioning Tip - Baby Wipes

NOTE: The information which follows may be too personal for those with delicate sensibilities. Read at your own risk of embarrassment.

And now a word about personal hygiene on a long ocean voyage - particularly for those boats: still without water makers; which aren't particularly sea kindly; or which are traveling in cold waters. There are many times when it simply isn't practical to take a full shower. You may be conserving water by taking occasional salt water baths out in the cockpit. If you're fortunate enough to have plenty of fresh water and a below deck shower, you might be sailing hard on the wind for days at a time, which would make taking a slippery shower a risky proposition. And even if you are lucky enough to be sailing downwind in the tropics, with the sweat rolling off your palms as you update blog entries on your lap top, you'll most likely want a refreshing pick-me-up in between showers.

We recently met a man from South Korea (with the improbable, but highly pronounceable name of "Doug") who completed a 30-plus day passage from Los Angeles to Hawaii on a small sailboat fraught with breakdowns of every sort. After making landfall he was given a ride in a car to Customs to clear in. During this brief trip he was very embarrassed by and profusely apologized in broken English for his 30-plus day ripening odor. This got me to ruminating about baby wipes.

Not actually baby wipes, but "adult" wipes. Because what you really want to avoid are the sickly sweet, highly perfumed wipes that leave a weird slippery film on your skin. This is what you'll be stuck buying in some place like the Galapagos if you haven't thought it out ahead of time. These are better than nothing at all, but you'll never be able to appreciate the scent of a clean baby's bottom again in your life.

Wipes are a great way to get relief from that sticky, sweaty feeling before climbing into a berth left hot and damp by the crew member coming on watch (preferably your spouse and not some backpacker you picked up in Panama City). (By the way, I think this is why it's called "hot bunking.") Even sailing in cold climates you'll appreciate being able to hit the three hot spot areas - pits, crotch, and dogs - with a quick and easy spit bath. (Don't forget to add a generous swipe of Tom's of Maine deodorant to your pits to keep those pesky bacteria at bay!)

Which brings me to my personal recommendations based on six Equator crossings in the past three years. Forget anything clearly marked for babies if at all possible. Our most recent best buy has been the Walmart house brand (Equate) "Naturally Gentle Wipes" which are hypo-allergenic and alcohol free. The wipes themselves are on the small side, but that makes it easier to dedicate each one to a particular "hot spot." (I don't know about you but there isn't a hot spot I'd want to wipe after either of the other two.) When you get to Papeete (you are going to French Polynesia, aren't you?) be on the lookout for the Carrefour brand wipe called "Absodys" (which must be French for something, but I couldn't find it in my pocket dictionary), which is specifically marketed for athletic adults. These are alcohol-free and are a large size which tears easily into - you guessed it - three convenient pieces.

So when you finally step on shore after a long passage at sea I hope these thoughts about baby wipes will make your first encounter with a clean person a pleasant one!

HI to MX Day 15

Well I got the alternator working, if not charging then at least not draining the batteries while we're motoring. Which is a good thin considering we've been motoring 15 of the last 24 hours. The regulators are still out of commission, but I managed to get the alternator to trickle charge by wiring two 15 watt 12 VDC incandescent light bulbs in series. 12 V is attached on one side and the alternator field terminal on the other. The lights light dimly and the alternator charges at about 5 amps. It's no three stage charger but it's better then nothing and now the engine room has a nice cozy night-light.

The wind is forecast to be light the next couple days and then we may finally reach the eastern edge of the pacific high where we'll get some North-ish winds to be able to head South.

The water temperature continues to drop, 65 degrees today, but because the humidity has returned it doesn't seem so cold.

We ate the last of the oranges from Robert and Kelita on Freedom yesterday. We have a few store bought oranges but I'm not holding out that they will be as sweet or juicy as the ones from R&K.

{GMST}30|40|N|137|00|W|Hawaii to Mexico Day 15|Day 15{GEND}

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Thursday, 1/27

If passage making could only be this pleasant all the time! Since Tuesday the wind and seas have calmed and we're no longer making slow progress pounding into every wave. Instead we're now actually sailing wing and wing (downwind), making speeds up to 6.5 knots. It's so comfortable that we're well rested and fed and it's a pleasure to do things like write blogs. At the moment the wind is in the process of dying but we had it with us for longer than forecasted so we're happy.

In addition to the plastics passing with regularity (another water bottle, another fishing float, and a kitchen step stool are among the identifiable objects) we overtook a fleet of sailor-by-the-wind jelly fish. I'm not sure that's their official name but it's apt. They are made up of a vivid blue oval-shaped "body" (or foot) that floats on the surface of the water. Sticking up above the water from the body is a translucent oval-shaped "sail." The sail slants diagonally across the body from upper right to lower left, giving the jelly the ability to sail. The sail is only about the size of a walnut and looks like a bubble on the water when the sun hits it. When the wind is calm enough that there are no white-caps you can clearly see their little wakes as they sail across the breeze. We used to see these on trips out to the San Francisco Farallon islands.

Ziggy had a bit of a rough morning on Wednesday. After the almost all-nighter we pulled Tuesday night with the engine snafu I was cat-napping pretty hard on my pre-dawn watch. I caught him eating a rubber band he'd found tucked away in a supposedly cat proof corner. I confiscated what remained of the first rubber band and found one more he hadn't gotten to yet. I figured it would pass through as they have before. But in my groggy state I ignored or didn't hear the rest of his forays into the world of plastics and discovered later that he had torn quite a raged hole in our bag of plastic bags. I fed him his usual breakfast and went off to bed when John came on watch. I got up a few hours later and John had been stuck cleaning up the resulting mess, most of which landed in Ziggy's "binky" - a handkerchief that serves as his security blanket. We're probably lucky that it all came out the front end instead of getting twisted up in his gut. I don't know what makes him want to chew through bags that don't even have food in them, but I'd guess it's boredom. Why don't they make something like a rawhide chew for cats? Could you give a cat one of those little chew sticks they make for miniature dogs?

We made a time change on 1/25 as we crossed 142.5 degrees of longitude into a new time zone. We set our clocks forward one hour and now the sun rises at 0700. We're hoping to be able to check in to the Amigo net soon, and we actually heard Net Control calling Robert on Harmony (a long time fixture in Mexico) the other morning.

The water temperature has dropped below 70 degrees since Tuesday morning and the low so far has been 66.4. I still haven't worn any fleece yet! I'm determined to hold out for as long as I can. Interestingly, I think Ziggy is holding onto his fur coat since he doesn't seem to be shedding as much as usual. Which means we'll have a mess when things do finally start warming up and he drops several week's worth of hair everywhere. He hates to be brushed which makes it a real headache to keep the hair off of everything.

John says he thins I'm losing weight, which was nice to hear until I asked him how he could tell. "Because you're getting a chicken neck," he replied. Oh well, I'll take the bad with the good...

HI to MX Day 14

We had a really nice day yesterday with a 15 knot breeze just aft of the beam and flat seas. I left all sail up well into the afternoon and by the time we pulled down the first reef we were going an average of 6.8 kts. Early this morning the wind backed off a bit and shifted more aft, so I had to put out the whisker pole and drop the staysail. We slowed a little but are still moving along very well.

We crossed the half way point yesterday, not half way between Hawaii and Mexico, but half way between Hawaii and California. I knew this part of the trip was going to be hard, we're a short 10 days sail away from any number of wonderful places to stop (San Francisco, Halfmoon Bay, Morro Bay, Santa Barbara, Longbeach, San Diago ...) so the urge to stop and rest is pretty strong. But our plan is to keep sailing another 3 or more weeks all the way down to the Mexican mainland. The thing that will keep us going is the realization that if we stop we still have to make all those miles to get to Mexico anyway. So we might as well stay at sea and get to our destination, especially now that we have the wind at our backs!

{GMST}29|57|N|139|00|W|Hawaii to Mexico Day 14|Day 14{GEND}

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

HI to MX Day 13

Well we had our first major failure of the passage last night.

About 10pm I started the motor because the wind had died (we've finally got close enough to the Pacific High to get light winds) and shortly after I put the engine in gear the depth sounder started beeping madly. On the screen it said the battery voltage was too high and I should turn off the sounder. I checked the battery monitor and sure enough, the alternator was putting 55 amps into the batteries at 16.5 volts! (The maximum should be 14.4 volts).

I quickly shut off the motor and removed the cover to find a sea water hose had blown in such a way that salt water was spraying all the way across the engine compartment and onto the alternator regulator! We have a primary regulator and a backup mounted next to each other and both were soaked.

I quickly turned off all electrical to the motor and rinsed down both regulators with fresh water. Then I put a fan on them to dry. In the mean time Linda got under the pullman birth to get out a spare hose.

With the hose replaced and the regulators dried out I started the motor to see if we could still charge the batteries, no luck. One regulator is completely shot and the second will only charge until the batteries are 85% full.

On top of it all, the battery charger which we run on the our Honda generator, also got sprayed. So this morning I took it out and check to see if it had gotten water inside. It looked clean so after re-installing it I ran the generator and thank god, the battery charger works.

I'm a little leery of using the malfunctioning regulator, but I hate the idea of running the engine without any charge going into the batteries. I have a few 1/2 watt resistors on board so I'm going to look through some of my electrical books to see if I can hard wire a circuit that will keep us charging without frying the batteries.

The good news is we seem to have (nearly) turned the corner. If we can make another 400 miles in 3-4 days we can get to the eastern edge of a new High pressure system that's building in and then it's downhill all the way to Mexico!

{GMST}21|32.420|N|152|34.228|W|Hawaii to Mexico Day 13|Day 13{GEND}

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Tuesday, 1/25

Well, if you'd told me back January 25, 1991 that we'd be spending our 20th wedding anniversary out in the middle of the Pacific ocean, I'd have said you were nuts. But here we are, celebrating romance on the high sea, with icy toes and fingers, drippy noses, greasy hair, and smelly arm pits. I know there's a silver lining in there somewhere! Considering the fact that we will also be marking our 20th year of living full time aboard Nakia this coming October, I'd say John and I make a pretty good team.

In other news:

The most important item is, with help from Philip on Carina, we've learned a new way to distribute the blog reports directly to our loyal readers. So if you're tired of pulling up the blog daily only to find there's been no new updates in a week, send us an email (trusted friends and family will have our Sailmail address already) and let us know if you want to receive everything that's posted, or only the particularly interesting reports (author's choice). We blog our passage reports daily (these are usually short) and our cruising reports are written a few times a week depending on what we're doing. We can always start you out with everything and if you get tired of too much email from us, you can request the more infrequent reports or be removed entirely. But we won't add you to the distribution list until we hear from you first!

We're seeing a surprising amount of garbage on this passage, although according to Ralph on Our Country Home, Google Earth indicates that we're passing through the area of the floating plastics raft (which by the way, is a bit of an urban legend - it's not actually a raft you can see on the surface, and it's definitely not the size of Texas). Considering we rarely, if ever, saw plastic on the runs between French Polynesia and Hawaii, it's a bit of a shock to see bits and pieces on a fairly regular basis. Especially when you take into account how little time we spend up on deck. This morning while John did email over the HF radio I hand steered for about 20 minutes and saw a water-logged plastic pearl farm type buoy, a bottle, misc. plastic pieces, and we actually crossed a thin current line of small plastics and natural debris running off either side of the boat.

John is letting his beard grow and probably won't shave until we get somewhere warm! He hasn't been getting in much time on his uke. It's been too bouncy to do any serious practicing.

This morning we're motoring under cold and cloudy skies. The sea surface temperature has occasionally dipped below 70 degrees these past few days!

{GMST}27|54|N|142|33|W|Hawaii to Mexico Day 12|Day 12{GEND}

Monday, January 24, 2011

HI to MX Day 11

Another squally day and night aboard NAKIA. The weather has been pretty difficult the last couple of days. First the wind backs off to almost nothing (10 kts). It stays that way for anywhere between 10 minutes and half an hour, and we bob around with very little sail up waiting for the inevitable 25-30 kts squall that lasts about the same amount of time. So half the time we're barely moving and the other half the time it feels like we're going to fly apart. This makes it very hard to make progress.

Later today the wind is supposed to shift into the south again, in advance of a front which we hope will push us close to our turning point (now estimated at 32.5 N 135 W). That is 550 mile away and normally I would figure we'd be there in 5 days, but at this rate I think it will take 7-8 days. We'll see.

If anyone is interested, we've sailed about 1050 miles so far, and are a mere 775 miles from Hilo. That's an average speed of just over 3 knots. Not great, in fact not even good...

{GMST}26|39|N|143|6|W|Hawaii to Mexico Day 11|Day 11{GEND}

Sunday, January 23, 2011

HI to MX day 10

We had a very mellow night last night wind wise, the only problem being that it was very shifty, so we were on deck several times adjusting sails and starting/stopping the motor.

Very overcast today and still pretty old.

Not much else to report. All is well.

{GMST}26|11|N|143|46|W|Hawaii to Mexico Day 10|Day 10{GEND}

Saturday, January 22, 2011

Saturday, 1/22

Yesterday's excitement was seeing two ships in one day. I spotted the first one on the AIS when it was 12 miles away and hadn't set off the eight mile perimeter alarm yet. It was headed back from Hawaii and passed astern of us when it was six miles away. We were wondering when all the ships we saw headed to Hawaii during the first days of our passage were going to go back to the mainland! The second ship passed us at 1.9 miles away in the afternoon so we got a good look at it. It was quite a third world type ship with big cranes for un/loading cargo. It was on a weird heading of 281 degrees, while the other Hawaii bound ships were on headings of around 265. So we're not sure where this guy was headed. As primitive (i.e., cheap) a model as our AIS is, it has sure been useful for spotting and tracking ships when we can't actually see them in the distance. It's also reassuring to have the MMSI number (a sort of ID) and the name of the ship appear on the display, along with the heading, course over ground, and speed of approach. That way if we're unsure of the ship's intentions we have an easy way to call them on the VHF.

Yesterday wasn't the greatest, but last night and today have been okay. I still think port tack is the worst. I like the handholds and places to brace myself much better when we're on starboard. Not sure why John always insists that port is better... We have a little more sun today to warm the cabin. Yesterday was mostly cloudy and cold. John plans to run the generator this afternoon to charge the house batteries. This will be the second time we've run it. With the wind vane in use we can't tilt the panel up on the sissy bar to maximize its output or it will throw the vane off.

Today John made a nice tomato beef pasta one pan dish for our mid-day meal. We're out of bread so we've been having cold cereal for breakfast. Instead of dinner we just snack on fruit or crackers. At this rate I'm afraid we're going to run out of crackers before we get anywhere, but John can always make some pita or bread.

Ziggy is not allowed up on deck much, and not at all after dark. It's just too rough. But one evening before sunset he got out without John noticing and went to his favorite hideaway up forward under the dinghy. But it was relatively calm and he came back in on his own after a little while. He's gotten to be a little wild child in his play and it's just as well for me that I'm almost fully dressed now (so his "attacks" don't do much damage!).

John makes noises about bearing off down to the Marquesas when he gets fed up with this beating to weather, but I do my best to keep him on track for Mexico!

{GMST}26|46|N|144|36|W|Hawaii to Mexico Day 9|Day 9{GEND}

Friday, January 21, 2011

Friday, 1/21

The big news today (besides the change to port tack which John has covered) is how cold it is. The sea surface temperature dropped to a low of 70 degrees the other day and has come back up to 71-ish. But for some reason this is the first day that I got up at Noon from my morning off watch and really felt the cold. I actually had to give up my daytime outfit of a wife beater undershirt with underpants (apologies for that visual), and put on a T-shirt with a pair of ancient, baggy, cotton pajama bottoms. What could possibly be next - socks?! Ugh, I didn't go cruising to wear shoes and socks. (Although I have to admit, it's kind of nice not to be dripping sweat on a passage for a change...)

Ziggy's bed got moved to the opposite settee when we changed tacks. He's curled up in a ball with his front paws tucked under his chin and his nose is buried in the tip of his tail. He's very frisky, wanting to play at night, but Teresa, I doubt he'll ever get cold enough to try sleeping with us!

I squeezed the last of our gorgeous Hilo lemons yesterday for lemonade. I hate to see them gone, but it's getting to be time for tea and hot chocolate instead. I also decided to try freezing some of the macadamia nuts to save them for baking some day after we make landfall. We still have a few of the oranges left, but I ate the last gigantic (Haas?) avocado yesterday. Thanks so much again, Robert and Kelita!

We had a very nice sail yesterday afternoon and last night, and today isn't too bad even though it's not exactly the direction we want to be headed.

HI to MX Day 8

We've had it pretty good the last 24 hours, the wind has been down and aside from the fact that it's pretty cool and there are some big waves rolling through from a far away storm we're doing quite nicely. (Big waves from a far away source are not a real problem for us, they just make the boat bounce around in strange ways).

I've been keeping a close eye on the high pressure system that's off the coast of CA. This is what's protecting us from the storms that are generating these big seas. The last couple days the long range weather models have been showing that the High is going to dissipate and/or weaken in about 5 days, so in anticipation of this I've decided to drop over to Port tack for 24 hours or so. This will get us further South and a little more East, where if the High does completely die and storms start heading directly for the CA coast, we will get a diminished version of the storm. We'll see. Weather models are notoriously inaccurate, especially more than 48 hours in advance, so this may all be for nothing and is just a waste of time. But 'sail safe' as they say...

That's all for now...
{GMST}28|2|N|145|54|W|Hawaii to Mexico Day 8|Day 8{GEND}

Thursday, January 20, 2011

HI to MX Day 7

The wind abated a little last night so things are a little better rested here on NAKIA. Of course since it was nice this morning I had to get the generator out and run it for a couple of hours as well as take care of a couple small maintenance issues. There's also getting our daily weather files and digesting them and write a blog, drink my tea... Before you know it a 5 hour watch is just gone and you have no idea what it was that you did that took so long.

Things should be calming even more down over the next two or three days so hopefully the crew will get better rested.

Otherwise all is well.

{GMST}26|44|N|146|31|W|Hawaii to Mexico Day 7|Day 7{GEND}

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Wednesday, 1/19

I know John is doing a good job of sending daily updates with our position report, but I thought I'd try and send a note every other day or so to let everyone know that I'm also doing well. What started out as a pleasant sail has turned into an on the wind beat, but nothing we haven't done before. Unfortunately the waves have started splashing over the boat every once in awhile. Just often enough so that you don't want to stand out there for too long and end up getting used for target practice!

We had one period of off the wind sailing which was enough to get Ziggy out of bed and wanting to play. It's been too bouncy and wet to let him out into the cockpit, so I imagine he's going a little stir crazy already. He lies awake all night listening for flying fish (we've seen very few), and has taken to wanting to play when all we want to do is sleep or cat-nap (depending on who's off/on watch). He's back to eating his canned food well, and I water down a small amount of kibble to get some liquids in him since he's not drinking out of his bowl yet (I think he knows he'll probably do a face plant in the water).

I think the biggest difference in this passage has been the wind. Instead of something fairly predictable and constant, these winds are variable and shifty. Thank goodness for the wind vane which is able to keep up with all the changes - the auto pilot would be next to useless in these conditions.

I finished Eric Clapton's boring auto-biography which was a dry account of his life in which he acknowledges everyone he's ever known (as if to get their name in print is some kind of honor; it probably is, but it makes for uninteresting reading). Then I whizzed through A Thousand Splendid Suns by the author of The Kite Runner. Had to skip through most of a book that I chose for it's Oregon setting after I discovered that I'd inadvertently picked up a story about a guy who spends the weekend with the holy trinity! I guess I should have known better when none of the recommendations on the covers were from the normal print media. Finally I was rewarded by On Green Dolphin Street by Sebastian Faulks. This was a gorgeous, but heart breaking story about a love affair and so much more. Highly recommend it for a good, though devastating, read.

And so the days and nights pass, and we slog on as best we can.

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HI to MX, day 6

Just a quick note to let you know we're still out here.

It was pretty rough last night so we're taking it easy today.

{GMST}25|8|N|147|27|W|Hawaii to Mexico Day 6|Day 6{GEND}

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

HI to MX, Day 5

Well the front that was supposed die and give us S-SE winds around 15 kts didn't die, so when it arrived yesterday afternoon we got 25 from the SSE with rain and some lightening off in the distance. It made for tough sleeping but this morning the clouds are all gone and the wind has slackened to 18 out of the SE. It is supposed to increase to 20 and back into the E tonight, once again making it hard for us to go east.

All's well on board, though Ziggy's a little pissed because he hasn't been aloud outside to look for flying fish in a couple days.

{GMST}23|46|N|148|13|W|Hawaii to Mexico Day 5|Day 5{GEND}

Monday, January 17, 2011

Monday, 1/17

I'm so glad John has been keeping up with the blog since I don't seem to find the time or opportunity to sit down on the computer much. It's much easier to pick up a book and read!

We had a very nice night last night after the wind chop went away and left a smooth slow swell upon which we were able to make better speed (in the mid four knot range). We're pretty much stuck in the low three knots when we're headed into both swell and wind chop coming from the east. Over the weekend we had a pair of red-footed booby birds following us. At first I thought they were masked because they were large white birds with black edges on their wings. But with blue bills and no black eye masks I confirmed it in our Seabirds book. One of them dropped off our trail yesterday but the other one persisted. The evening before last John had to go up to the bow pulpit and throw one of them off the boat. And last night being so calm the remaining bird was determined to make another landing. He made a few touch and gos on the windward side of the dodger, but I think my flailing arms finally deterred him.

Today we put a second reef in the main as it's a little windier. It's also the first day we've taken any significant spray into the cockpit. But it's still pretty safe to stand outside as long as you watch the oncoming waves for anything that might break enough to splash the boat. The sea surface temperature is down to 75 degrees and with mostly cloudy days I can't imagine taking our usual salt water bath. I'm sticking to baby wipes for the time being! Otherwise we're eating and sleeping well, and are back into our usual passage routines.

HI to MX, Day 4

The wind veered into the SE just as predicted late last night and we began sailing East in earnest. According to the routing software Sherry from Soggy Paws gave us, this is not exactly what we should be doing but it makes me feel better anyway.

The routing software says we should sail west of our intermediate waypoint and come in from there, but I'm hoping having more Easting under out belt will make any East wind we encounter easier to sail (the prediction for tomorrow is East wind at 20 kts).

Speaking of the "Intermediate Waypoint"... this is a spot out in the Pacific close to the Southern edge of the Pacific High. Two weeks ago when we were at Molokai, this was at 30 N 130 W. Now it's more like 35 N 145 W. That's both good and bad. Good because to get to 35-145 it is further off the wind, but bad because 35 N is a little more risky place to be in the middle of winter. The Pacific High will protect us from any storms that come in from the West, as long as it doesn't collapse. If we get up to 35-145 and the High dissipates we will no doubt be in for a spanking from the South West. If not, we're safe from all the crazy winds and the only thing we have to do is motor across to the Eastern edge of the High where we will find the North winds that will take us to Mexico.

Today NAKIA exited the tropics for the first time since fall of 2008. Time to get out the long johns.

{GMST}23|3|N|150|2|W|Hawaii to Mexico Day 4|Day 4{GEND}

Sunday, January 16, 2011

HI to MX, Day 3

Yesterday the wind fluky. One minute we'd be sailing along at 5 knots and the next becalmed. Along with scattered rain showers it made for slow progress. Last night was the first time I wanted long pants on (and we're only at 22N!) I guess it's a good thing we're going slow as it will give us a chance to thicken our blood. Had to kick a red-footed booby off the bow pulpit this morning, lest he become a victim of the great white death (Ziggy). Though I'm not sure who would have won the fight, the booby or Z.

The wind is supposed to veer into the SE today. Let's hope!

{GMST}22|27|N|151|41|W|Hawaii to Mexico Day 3|Day 3{GEND}

Saturday, January 15, 2011

Saturday, 1/15

I know John's written a couple of blogs already but I thought I'd chime in with a short one to say how much I'm enjoying this passage so far. If we can keep up this slow but steady progress, I'll be happy. Most of the time we can stand out in the cockpit without getting sprayed which is the best part.

We're eating well thanks in part to Robert and Kelita on Freedom. They gave us a generous supply of lemons and oranges so we won't be getting scurvy anytime soon. They also gave us a couple of huge avocados and a bag of hand shelled and slightly toasted macadamia nuts straight from the tree. They have a friend with a farm in Hilo, so it's all good local stuff - not imported. We also picked up some delicious apple bananas and a few papayas from the local farmer's market. None of this will last the whole way, but we're enjoying it while we can. Thanks again you guys!

Ziggy is pretty much parked in the corner of the port settee since we're on starboard tack. Last night he took advantage of John cat-napping on watch and went out on deck to get a flying fish. Of course he brought it down below to the galley to eat. By the time John realized what had happened, all that was left were two big wings! Needless to say Ziggy didn't touch the breakfast I offered him this morning.

We're sticking with a conservative sail plan: reefed main, reefed jib, and staysail. This way we don't go much over five knots in the blustery bits, and are mostly in the four knot area. Slow but John doesn't have to reef and unreef. The Cape Horn wind vane is doing all the steering so far which has been nice. Yesterday was clear and sunny, but today has been mostly cloudy with some misting rain. We saw another ship today on the AIS, but never had a visual from seven miles away in the clouds.

Thanks again to Ed and Nila on Quixotic for hauling us all around Hilo!

Day Two, Happy Birthday to me!

Well I didn't get everything I wanted for my birthday but when it comes to gifts at sea I'll take what I can get. The wind has turned on our nose (as expected) but remains light so even though we're beating hard into the wind the seas are down and it's not too bad a ride. This is supposed to keep up for another 24 hours and then lighten and turn more South. Both of which help us. We're making ok progress and are happy for our AIS unit which showed us three ships last night, long before we could see their lights.

John, Linda and Ziggy.

{GMST}21|08|N|152|43|W|Hawaii to Mexico Day 2|Day 2{GEND}

Friday, January 14, 2011

Underway for Mexico

We hauled anchor in Radio Bay at 1615 yesterday, a little late in the day to be starting a passage but we just couldn't wait any longer.

Hilo gave a final send of, pelting us with a biblical downpour for 10 minutes as we exited the harbor. Also, the Big Island put on a Big Show for us with lightening and thunder to our south and about a dozen Humpback whales to give us a send off.

In the end we couldn't have asked for a better first night at sea with light winds shifting from South to South East and a beautiful starry sky after the clouds cleared away.

{GMST}19|55|N|153|54|W|Sailing hard on the wind starboard tack|Day 1{GEND}

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Molokai pictures

I've posted some of our Molokai pictures and you can view them at:


We are finishing things up in Hilo with a diagnosis of prostatitis for John (no more Mexican hot sauces or those big ballena cervesas!). Since it's nothing serious he's ready to get going again, and (weather permitting) we'll probably head out of here tomorrow (Thursday).

Sunday, January 09, 2011

Diverting to Hilo

We spent a few days in Lahaina taking care of final business like provisioning, and topping off fuel and water. After a wonderful send off by family friends, we departed for Mexico in the wee hours of Saturday morning (to avoid leaving on a Friday which is bad luck for a sailor). We spent most of the day getting around the north end of Maui, when John realized some pain he's been experiencing had returned. Rather than continue on, hoping that it would go away, we decided to divert to Hilo so he can see a specialist this time.

It's a bummer to have to waste this good weather window on pesky things like minor medical issues. But we've decided John needs to get whatever's going on with him resolved once and for all before we can set out on any major passage. Not sure how long we'll be delayed in Hilo or where we'll go from there, so stayed tuned.

Sunday, January 02, 2011

Molokai Touring

We have had the very good fortune to be given the use of a car, and we spent the last day of 2010 and the first of 2011 touring the island. Friday started off with the disappointment of finding the library closed until Monday. But the rest of the town was bustling after the arrival of a full to capacity Molokai Princess, the small ferry boat which runs between Kaunakakai and Lahaina on Maui. Along with the day or weekend trippers, locals were out in force doing their shopping before everything closed for the weekend. We found The Friendly Market to be better stocked than the smaller grocery store we saw on our first visit to town with Chuck. The doors were open at Kanemitsu's Bakery and Cafe where we bought bread and apple fritters (no malasadas). A limited amount of local produce was being sold from a few small sidewalk vendors. Loaded down with our purchases we bought coffee and sat at one of the outdoor tables in the covered business area across the street from the library. We had both computers with us and I used a Hele stick (Mobi service) borrowed from Infini, while John picked up a free Wi-Fi signal from a nearby video store.

We got a call from Jamie, a Pacific Seafarers Net HAM operator, who let us use his Molokai mailing address to receive some boat parts we've been waiting for. To our great surprise he and his wife, Kim, offered us their old beater car which they've replaced with a new one for their use. As soon as John picked up the car we drove back to the Port to take all of our stuff out to the boat so we could go touring unencumbered. But when we jumped into the car again to begin our adventure, it wouldn't start! We were parked in a 30 minute waiting zone so John pushed us to the main parking lot and raised the hood. After fiddling with it for some time he got through to Jamie who gave him the magic instructions to get it running again.

With great trepidation (I thought we'd be sure to get stuck out in some remote area where the car would refuse to start for good!) we headed off down Hwy 450 East. We passed condos, parks, hotels, and houses and drove 20 miles before the road really narrowed and we decided to turn around (this was after we'd already passed two signs indicating "Road Narrows"). We stopped at a couple of old fish ponds where rock walls had been built to trap and catch fish. At one public beach access road we snooped on a perfect, human-enhanced cove, clearly marked "Private Lagoon" at the entrance from the ocean. Throughout the drive we were both reminded of Huahine or Moorea by the lush tropical woods, fragrant flowers, the same type of hedge fences, and very similar architecture of the houses. The major difference is that in French Polynesia you rarely see homes surrounded by collections of junk like the ones we saw everywhere. Not to mention the For Sale signs which abound here.

We made a last stop at the Kamoi Snack-n-Go for some Dave's Hawaiian Ice Cream which was ono (delicious). We parked the car for the night and took cold showers in the public restrooms next to the harbor master's office. It costs .10/foot for the boat plus $2/person per day to anchor out here so we wanted to get our money's worth out of it, cold water or not! I can't think of another state which charges money for boats anchored in public waterways, but maybe it helps the State prevent permanent liveaboards from choking Hawaiian waters.

Today we drove 17 miles out Hwy 460 West to Maunaloa (but not the additional five miles down the dirt road to Lono Harbor). We circled through and drove a few of the residential streets, and it was a bit reminiscent of Waimea/Kamuela on the Big Island. Only instead of the booming Parker Ranch, here the Molokai Ranch has closed and so has most of the town along with it (the Lodge, restaurants, and the movie theater). In fact this entire end of the island was completely different from the east side, with grassy rolling hills and mostly cleared land. The paved roads are red from the deep red soil. It's a beautiful bright green now, but there's a real problem with drought during the rest of the year.

On the way back we stopped to see Papohaku which is a big, white sand beach with huge winter surf breaking on a reef at the edge of the water. Down the same road we found the Ke Nani Kai which is a top end condo resort, the Kepuhi Beach Resort which looked like it had been turned into apartments for locals (by the looks of the cars in both the long and short term parking areas), and the Kaluakoi Golf Club and Resort which was boarded up. Driving back out to the highway we scared up a flock of half a dozen wild turkeys crossing the road. By this time we were pretty hungry and had the good fortune to stumble upon the Kualapu'u Cookhouse on a side road back to town. We ordered chicken katsu (John's fave) and the roast pork special, and both reminded us of the plate lunches we enjoyed at the Big Island Grill in Kona. Portions were large and we took a lot of both entrees home with us.

The weather has been predictably calm in the mornings until about 9 AM. The wind picks up and it can be very breezy in the afternoons, but then it usually calms down again by 5 PM and remains so during the night. Some afternoons are windier than others, but it's been very pleasant to have a little of both types of conditions each day.

Oh, and we spent a very quiet NY's Eve on Nakia. The fireworks and firecrackers were sporadic beginning after sunset with peaks at the top of each hour (to celebrate different time zones?). We went to bed at 10 PM and heard them going off until 12:30 AM. Fortunately a local law prohibited anything from being fired off after 1 AM, but there was a small party on the causeway which managed to keep the music playing until sunrise. Ziggy did very well, and I think it helped that they were intermittent rather than a concentrated crescendo of noise.

We've had fun playing tourist and it's made our stay here much more memorable than it otherwise would have been. We can't thank Jamie and Kim enough for their generosity. Sunday we'll probably take a break from all the fun and get back to business by taking a drive to the laundromat...

In a bit of local news, Maui County is going to be the first in the State to stop using plastic grocery bags beginning January 11!

Happy New Year to all our friends and family!