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Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Days 16&17 Tuamotus to Hawaii

A whole lot of motorin' goin' on! At least it seemed that way. Looking back at the stats I guess there was more light air sailing in the mix, including one brief attempt at using the spinnaker to keep us moving. The good news is that in the dark hours of this morning John turned off the engine and we started romping in the bigger seas and white caps of a stiff breeze. We still have a hot sun, warm sea temps, and big clouds with lots of overcast (which somehow don't do a thing to help dampen the intense heat), but hopefully we are finished with any lingering effects of the ITCZ and are in the home stretch now.

We are definitely there in terms of time. There's something reassuring about being able to say, "We'll be arriving in Hilo one week from today." And after that to be counting down days that make up less than a week! Actually it's the night countdown which is most significant because those are the hardest to get through when you're tired. Although at least there's some relief in the cooler temps of the night.

We've seen lots of birds most days. Shearwaters, a petrel here and there, terns, and even a dedraggled looking Masked Booby yesterday. But the coolest thing so far happened last night at 11:35. I was out in the cockpit doing my horizon scan and looking forward. A flash of light made me turn my head to the West where I'd watched the sun set earlier. I didn't even think "shooting star" initially because the thing was like a yellow ball of fire, at least twice the size of a planet, and diving left to right just above the clouds on the horizon before it burned out. I don't recall seeing a tail so I wouldn't call it a comet. Let me know if you hear of any satellite flame outs in the news...


Day 16 Stats
Course: 321 degrees True
Trip Mileage: 97 nm
Water Temp: 83.5 to 81.3 F (trending down)
Engine Hours: 7.8

Day 17 Stats
Course: 319 degrees True
Trip Mileage: 118 nm
Water Temp: 84.9 to 81.5 F (trending up then down)
Engine Hours: 13.6

{GMST}11|35.1|N|144|34.4|W|Tuamotus to Hawaii Day 17|Day 17{GEND}

Monday, October 28, 2013

Days 14&15 Tuamotus to Hawaii

By the end of week two of our passage we were still firmly in the grasp of the ITCZ (Inter Tropical Convergence Zone) and an East setting current. We began motoring after sunset on Saturday and didn't shut the engine down until dawn on Monday. During that time we had hours of rain, some of it a light drizzle and some of it a good soaking, though none of it was enough to wash the encrusted salt off of the life lines, as hard as that is to believe.

We typically have sea birds following the boat at night, and we assume they are fishing in the glow of our running lights. We can't see them but we can hear their hideous squawking which at times sounds exactly like a cat screaming. Near midnight on Saturday the clamor of a few birds was especially loud but I ignored it until John woke up to say it sounded like the loudest cries were coming from the side deck above where he was in the quarter berth. As I collected my wits and a flashlight, Ziggy shot past me out the companionway. I followed him on to the side deck where I caught him in the beam of the light with a large bird in his mouth. I scruffed him by the neck to make him release the bird, which then fell to the deck on its back, wings spread open, unmoving. Moving quickly so that Ziggy wouldn't have a chance to regain control of his trophy, I gingerly grasped a wing between my thumb and forefinger and flung it over the side, and, I'm sorry to say, most likely to a watery grave. Usually Ziggy's prey flies up and away the second he releases his grip. But because this one didn't make a move when it was freed, or again when I picked it up, I suspect it was already seriously injured before Ziggy got to it. Perhaps it misjudged the motion of the boat and accidentally flew into the rigging, falling to the side deck, and doing more injury trying to get out of the maze of life lines. Or Ziggy might have been the last straw to finish it off. I looked for it in our Seabirds book and, based on the brief look I had of it, it appears to have been a juvenile Sooty Tern. It deeply saddens me that our mere presence in a speck of vast ocean is enough to inadvertently threaten the lives of wild creatures.

Day 14 Stats
Course: 006 degrees True
Trip Mileage: 123 nm
Water Temp: 81.5 to 82.9 F
Engine Hours: 14.2

Day 15 Stats
Course: 356 degrees True
Trip Mileage: 104 nm
Water Temp: 82.6 to 83.5 F
Engine Hours: 18.0

{GMST}08|49.7|N|142|17|W|Tuamotus to Hawaii Day 15|Day 15{GEND}

Sunday, October 27, 2013

Days 12&13 Tuamotus to Hawaii

Wow, talk about feast or famine. Our 10 AM Wednesday to 10 AM Thursday run was crystal clear with a fair wind for fast sailing. This may have been a 24-hour distance record for Nakia. But by 9 PM Thursday night we had lost the wind and had to motor the rest of the night.

I saw dolphins off in the distance both days. They must have been concentrating on feeding as they didn't approach the boat. Although it looked like some of them were goofing off by jumping clear out of the water. Thursday's sunset was on a very clear horizon and I got a good look at a green flash while John was talking to Pura Vida on the HF radio. Friday afternoon the seas were so calm that I noticed we were sailing through a large patch of what John calls Sailor by the Wind jellies. These look like solid, small, opaque bubbles floating on the surface with some dangly bit of animal underneath; though not with tentacles like the blue Agua Males in Mexico. I was amazed at how many appeared, seemingly all of a sudden, and at how they were gone after about 10-15 minutes.

These were two very good days in spite of the motoring!

And I owe an apology to all you hard working, 9-5 people reading our blog. After getting an email from a good friend in which she described all the personal projects they are juggling on top of their careers I realized that I'm the one with too much time on my hands! Maybe it's time to get a real life...


Day 12 Stats
Course: 000 degrees True
Trip Mileage: 149 nm
Water Temp: 76.3 to 78.6 F (up and down)
Engine Hours: 0

Day 13 Stats
Course: 003 degrees True
Trip Mileage: 129 nm
Water Temp: 77.9 to 79.0 F (up and down)
Engine Hours: 10.2

{GMST}05|03|N|142|25|W|Tuamotus to Hawaii Day 13|Day 13{GEND}

Thursday, October 24, 2013

Days 10&11 Tuamotus to Hawaii

Neptune sent dolphins to escort us up out of the Southern Hemisphere! No sooner had we signed off with Pura Vida after our 0700 radio sked with them yesterday than we were surrounded by a nice big pod of dolphins. We weren't sailing particularly fast but they swam with us for quite awhile, showing off their babies as they zig-zagged across our bow. Last night they joined us again on both our night watches. We can always hear them squeaking and whistling through the hull down below before we actually see them outside in the dark. I think Ziggy hears them but since he doesn't look over the cap rail to see them, he isn't very interested. We were hoping they might escort us right over the Equator but they must have decided to return to the warmer waters behind us.

We took our second salt water bath of the passage while it was fairly calm at Noon yesterday. John turned the boat downwind for a smoother ride and ran a short length of hose from the cockpit wash down "faucet" out on to the leeward side deck. We turned on the salt water pump and lathered up with our trusty Head & Shoulders shampoo. The cold water was a bit of a shock at first but soon turned refreshing as we scrubbed off a few days of salt and sweat. Then we took turns getting a fresh water rinse from the sun shower which John sets up to hang from the dodger back in the safety of the cockpit.

In between baths we rely on pre-moistened wipes to take the edge off. Unfortunately, as I try different brands, I'm never certain how effective these are going to be until we actually use them. After one of our first passages using a wipe with a sickening "baby powder" aroma, I've tried to find unscented brands. The best ones were an adult sport wipe by, I believe, Nivea, which we found in Tahiti in 2010 and haven't seen since. Second best were the citrus scented Big Ones by Wet Ones, but at only 35 to a pack (and opened earlier in the season), we've already managed to finish them on this passage. So now we are left with 80 unscented Huggies Natural Care wipes which are baby-sized, roll under your hand as you use them, and tear to pieces after only a few brisk strokes. What a provisioning miscalculation that was.

Speaking of provisioning, we just finished off a roll of foil wrap that we opened in August, 2010 (we track things like this). I guess I thought it would last forever at the rate it was going because we don't have another roll on hand. It's a good thing we don't use it often!

Day 10 Stats
Course: 020 degrees True
Trip Mileage: 116 nm
Water Temp: 80.8 down to 78.6 F as we sailed North
Engine Hours: 0

Day 11 Stats
Course: 012 degrees True
Trip Mileage: 129 nm
Water Temp: 79.0 down to 77.0 F as we sailed North
Engine Hours: 0

{GMST}00|29.1|N|142|34.2|W|Tuamotus to Hawaii Day 11|Day 11{GEND}

8th Equator crossing!

On October 24, 2013
At 1519 GMT or 0519 Local (Tahiti time zone)
At 00 degrees, 00.0 minutes latitude
At 142 degrees, 39.279 minutes longitude

S/V NAKIA sailed from the Southern Hemisphere across the Equator into the Northern Hemisphere! John poured a tot of whiskey over the side for Neptune, and then had one out of the bottle for himself. We thanked Neptune for seeing us safely across the Equator once again, and then we wished Holly in San Diego a very Happy Birthday today!

This makes our eighth crossing of the Equator:

05/12/2008 Mexico to Ecuador
11/07/2008 Ecuador to Panama
05/24/2009 Panama to Ecuador
11/20/2009 Marquesas (French Polynesia) to Hawaii
04/19/2010 Hawaii to Marquesas
10/15/2010 Society Islands (FP) to Hawaii
05/08/2013 Mexico to Marquesas
10/24/2013 Tuamotus (FP) to Hawaii

Ziggy hopes we find him a permanent land home in Hawaii so that he can retire his Neptune costume!

{GMST}000|00.000|N|142|39.279|W|Tuamotus to Hawaii|Equator Crossing{GEND}

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Days 8&9 Tuamotus to Hawaii

Tuesday afternoon

We finally seem to have reached some wind we can think of as not completely on the nose! This is very comforting, even though it sounds kind of like, "Now that I've hit my thumb with a hammer, I barely notice my toothache." But it is truly a relief to be sailing slightly off the wind. We don't pound so much and we can make much better speed. The strategy now is to just head north. Theoretically we want to arrive in the NE trade winds around 142 West Longitude, but if it's 142.25 or even 142.5 that will have to be good enough. We are looking for that to happen in about nine days.

As an example of how nasty sailing hard on the wind is, I (John) would like to relate an even that occurred night before last. First some background. Since we are sailing on Starboard Tack the boat heels with the port side down. This is not so good because our natural place to sit while on watch, the Starboard Settee is constantly on a downhill slope. Every once in a while a wave comes along that increases the slope drastically. Not only in angle but in position. Basically the waves try to throw you out of your seat. To counter this, we sit with one (or both) legs braced against the saloon table. That's fine, except it's kind of like a long boring workout. Like doing one half of a deep knee bend for 15 minutes at a time, 12 hours a day. In an attempt to make the Port Settee a place where you can sit or lie down without having to brace yourself, I came up with the patented 'Bean Bag Lee Bolster.' I took a beach towel, folded it in half, placed our tubular bean bag pillow in the fold and then wrapped the towel around the settee cushion. The pressure of your body prevents the towel from slipping and the bean bag prevents you from rolling off the settee. (Note, normal sailors use something called a lee cloth which is basically a canvas wall holding you on the cushion). The patented 'Bean Bag Lee Bolster' was working pretty good. Over time the towel would slip a little but it was easy enough to put back in position and we both felt very secure laying down on the Port Settee.

Then it got rough. I have trouble sleeping in the Quarter Berth when it's rough so Linda suggested I lie down on the Port Settee. I stayed secure behind the Bolster for about 45 minutes until a big wave came by. As NAKIA leapt off the wave, my body weight was no longer sufficient to hold the towel in place. The bean bag rolled off the cushion and I landed on the floor. Thankfully it's only a 20-inch drop and my head was well padded with pillows. Now the Bolster is secured with a bed sheet that wraps all the way around the cushion instead of down only one side. The re-design has yet to fail.

Last night I (now Linda) was absentmindedly staring at the GPS and AIS displays watching the longitude hundredths tick down as we slowly regain our Easting. It was almost time to log the 0100 position report when an unfamiliar icon popped up on the AIS. Although I know it defeats the whole purpose of alerting you to ships before you can see them, I was glad the alarm wasn't activated because it can be quite alarming! John came on watch and pulled up the icon list to learn that it was a vessel "Engaged in Fishing." When I "saw" it on the AIS the boat was 12-14 miles off our bow and not yet visible on the horizon. Sure enough John saw its lights later on in his watch when we passed it.

John was dozing a bit later and missed the tell tale flopping sound of a flying fish hitting the side deck. Instead, the first thing he heard was the familiar sound of crunching and a very rank fishy smell coming from the galley. Ziggy had managed to eat the head before John threw the rest out. Later on John had to clean up another round of upset tummy from Ziggy (at least John saw what was happening and got Ziggy off the carpet in time). I guess instead of catch and release Ziggy is on a regimen of gorge and toss! That may have been the cause (albeit far more delayed) of his last round of bulimia. (Why, oh why, do the pet food companies insist on putting so much dye in their kibble? Do we humans really care what color the food is, because the cats certainly don't, and it just leaves an orange stain in the carpet when it happens to come back up.) Not an hour later, after eating his breakfast, I heard a flying fish and found Ziggy on the side deck just watching it. Either it was still flopping around too much for him to grab it, or he finally realized he'd had enough. I didn't find out which was the case before tossing it (back into the ocean) myself.

Day 8 Stats
Course: 353 degrees True
Trip Mileage: 95 nm
Water Temp: 80.8 to 81.5 F
Engine Hours: 0

Day 9 Stats
Course: 011 degrees True
Trip Mileage: 107 nm
Water Temp: 80.4 to 81.3 F
Engine Hours: 0

{GMST}03|27|S|143|42|W|Tuamotus to Hawaii Day 9|Day 9{GEND}

Sunday, October 20, 2013

Days 6&7 Tuamotus to Hawaii

Sunday afternoon

Well for a day there it looked like we were headed to the Marquesas for a stop to catch up on our sleep and load up on fresh pamplemousse! I'll let John explain the technical reasons behind that:

It's been a tough couple of days for sailorizing. The wind, never what you would call 'fair,' has turned to NE, pretty much the exact direction we want to travel (i.e., a headwind). So we were faced with a choice. Head West (or North West) and give up all the Easting we'd already fought so hard for, or go South East and conserve our Easting but make absolutely no progress towards Hawaii.

Our initial choice was to head NW, but then the wind shifted even more and NW became more like W. So we tacked onto Port Tack and sailed slowly to the ESE, basically just waiting for the wind to shift back into the E.

Last night it finally did, and we set as much sail as we can handle to go North - as fast as possible. It looks like the trough that caused the NE winds is going to spawn another low pressure system to our South, which will bring more NE winds to the area we are in now. Hopefully by then we will be 300 miles North of here and it won't have as bad an effect on us.

Got all that?! I know...

We've seen mostly Tropic Birds and Booby Birds, Shearwaters, and one Frigate Bird this first week. The adult Masked Boobies are easiest to identify with their distinct black and white markings. I think a Red-footed Booby was checking us out one morning. They have several color "morphs" and this one was all dark grey-brown with a dark grey beak (which makes it a Juvenile according to our Seabirds book). Unfortunately they all keep their legs tucked up tight when they're flying and I can never see what color the feet are. I also caught a brief glimpse of a lone dolphin surfing down a couple of wave faces before it disappeared. And John says he had dolphins swimming on our bow last night.

It was getting a bit discouraging to think of having to start our trip all over again from the Marquesas, but now we're romping towards our real destination (Hawaii!) and spirits are up again.

Linda and John

Day 6 Stats
Course: 339 degrees True
Trip Mileage: 37 nm
Water Temp: 81.3 to 81.7 F
Engine Hours: 1.7

Day 7 Stats
Course: 008 degrees True
Trip Mileage: 57 nm
Water Temp: 81.7 to 82.4 F
Engine Hours: 0

{GMST}06|42|S|143|53|W|Tuamotus to Hawaii Day 7|Day 7{GEND}

Friday, October 18, 2013

Days 4&5 Tuamotus to Hawaii

0400 Watch on Friday

It's been very slow going the past two days. Not only have we had the usual small rain squalls at night but there were also a few during the day on Thursday. John is kept busy putting out a scrap of jib in the light periods in between squalls and then cranking it all back in when one of those heavy, wind filled clouds goes over us.

On top of this we've been "headed" and the wind is taking us back to the west eating up all that nice Port cross track error we so carefully built up over the first few days. John is appalled at how quickly those miles are eaten up after taking so long to build them.

Ziggy chose one of the calmest periods yesterday afternoon to throw up his mostly digested breakfast. Give me mostly UNdigested please because it's much easier to clean up. For the first time in his life he's been showing signs of needing to cough up a hairball so I had already fed him some petroleum jelly (per instructions in our cat medical book) to induce it to pass out the other end (as has been his normal history up to now). The bad news is I did not find signs of a hairball in yesterday's mess. Stay tuned for further updates...

At 1 PM Wednesday I saw a small white ship crossing Nakia's bow from west to east. At first I assumed it was a supply ship headed for the Marquesas. It was moving so slowly that I figured it must be hanging back to get a closer look at us. But after it was well clear of us it slowly turned a bit south and then appeared to heave to into the wind. Pura Vida reported having seen the same thing when they passed through the area. I suspect it was some kind of fishing vessel "resting" until their work began at nightfall. And this is the second ship without an AIS transponder signal to give us advance notice of its presence. Keeps us on our toes.

We were excited to hear Carrie on S/V Dazzler checking in to the Pacific Seafarers Net last night. They just left Raiatea bound for Honolulu. We last sailed that route with them in 2010. As I recall they were residents of the Hawaii Yacht Club at that time and Carrie was kind enough to take us to Costco with her for - what else - cat litter! Dazzler is a big fast boat and will no doubt be passing us shortly.

Day 4 Stats
Course: 020 degrees True
Trip Mileage: 100 nm
Water Temp: 82.6 to 83.1 F
Engine Hours: 0

Day 5 Stats
Course: 342 degrees True
Trip Mileage: 75 nm
Water Temp: 81.3 to 82.9 F
Engine Hours: 0

{GMST}08|18|S|143|48|W|Tuamotus to Hawaii Day 5|Day 5{GEND}

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Days 2&3 Tuamotus to Hawaii

0400 Watch on Wednesday, 10/16

We are back in the groove of our usual watch schedule. For those who don't remember/know how we work it:

0700-1200 John
1200-1700 Linda
1700-2100 John
2100-0100 Linda
0100-0400 John
0400-0700 Linda

This way John gets the sunset watch and I get the sunrise watch, which is how we both prefer it. The long five hour watches during the day give us a chance to catch up on any sleep we missed during the night, and to do chores.

We are deliberately sailing more slowly than we could be. Although Nakia is built to take a pounding neither of us likes crashing and bashing. So we've been running under a reefed main, with the staysail, and occasionally a scrap of jib out. The jib usually gets rolled up or at least shortened at night when we are most likely to have rain squalls pass over us. With the good moon light we have now we can see these clouds coming far in the distance. They usually bring us increased winds and hopefully a boat wash, and only last for about 15-30 minutes at a time. We can definitely use a nightly wash with all the salt spray we are taking over the foredeck.

John here: Early Wednesday morning (about 0300) we were hit by yet another squall. It has been very unsettled the last 36 hours. This squall lasted a lot longer and seemed a bit stronger then the ones before. After about 15 minutes of very high wind I heard (and felt) a loud BANG! I quickly turned on all the deck lights to see what had broken but didn't find anything out of the ordinary. All the sails were still set and pulling and the boat was still on course. I waited another half hour before it calmed down enough to brave a trip on deck when I found that three out of four of the 5/16" bolts that hold the staysail had broken. The last was bent at an extreme angle and looked like it could go at any time. I quickly dropped the staysail and decided to wait for daylight to take a closer look. 0500 found me on deck with a length of 1/4" Spectra rope which I used to build an emergency attachment point for the staysail stay and the sail itself. It took over two hours, but seems to be holding for now. We should only need the staysail for another 10 days or so, hopefully by then the wind will come aft and the jib can take over. In the meantime, I'll be checking the Spectra rope for signs of failure four times a day.

We also had a couple of visiting squid last night. These are particularly annoying because even though we can neither see them when they land or smell them after they've sat around and dried on deck, Ziggy can smell them as soon as they stop wriggling. Of course any fresh seafood is Mana for Z, so he immediately wants to go for a walk on deck to slurp them up. Not such a good idea when it's blowing 20 kts and water is constantly flying over the deck. We do our best, but he eventually gets out on deck, and comes back when he gets tired of being splashed by waves.

Day 2 Stats
Course: 23 degrees True
Trip Mileage: 110 nm
Water Temp: 81.7 to 82.6 F
Engine Hours: 0

Day 3 Stats
Course: 17 degrees True
Trip Mileage: 92 nm
Water Temp: 82.4 to 82.9 F
Engine Hours: 0

{GMST}11|06|S|144|02|W|Tuamotus to Hawaii Day 3|Day 3{GEND}

Monday, October 14, 2013

Day 1, Tuamotus to Hawaii

Afternoon of Monday, October 14

Here we go again!

We departed Anse Amyot, Toau atoll in the Tuamotus at 0915 on Sunday, October 13. Tearful goodbyes were exchanged with Valentine and Gaston that morning, and "Hawaii or Bust" and "Meet you at Dairy Queen" were shouted to the crew of Pura Vida as they prepared for their departure a few hours later (and who left us in the dust sometime last night!). Conditions were not perfect for our first day out of the box after being at anchor for almost a month, but neither could they be called bad. We've had a good sailing breeze and, while the seas are steep and choppy, they are also very short. So for us on Nakia it's a bouncy ride with the occasional (and highly irregular) salt water spray splashing across the windward side of the boat into the cockpit.

Other than our regular horizon checks for traffic, squalls, course, etc. every 15 minutes we mostly stay dry below. Although "dry" is a relative term when all hatches and portholes are closed up against the elements. Things get rather steamy during the day, even when it's mostly cloudy out. But with the tow generator working 24/7 we're able to run fans to keep us cool, and the refrigerator cranks out cold drinks to keep us hydrated.

We were both feeling a little queasy to start out with but we have our sea legs now. I might not be reporting on our passage diet in too much detail because I know some people who will be alarmed by the apparent disregard we have for our health. On the other hand maybe it will be entertaining to those of you who enjoy rolling your eyes and thinking OMG.

Finally, my apologies for not tending to the blog for our third cruising season in French Polynesia. After the first time around exploring a new cruising ground there doesn't seem to be anything new and exciting to report. Frankly another reason is that for the (albeit minor in comparison to other things) amount of work involved in writing a blog there wasn't much in the way of a payoff. We know several people were following the blog, but for the most part we only ever received news from my family on a regular basis. So I switched back to keeping a record of our activities through private email. If you want to hear from us, let us hear from you!

Day 1 Stats
Course: 30 degrees True
Trip Mileage: 104 nm
Water Temp: 80.6 to 81.7 F
Engine Hours: 0.9

I'll be posting 24-hour position reports based on our 0900 departure time. You can also refer to the YOTREPS/Pangolin web site for Nakia's 0300 Zulu nightly position reports to the Pacific Seafarers Net. Search for John's HAM call sign: KE6HUA.


{GMST}14|16|S|145|17|W|Tuamotus to Hawaii Day 1|Day 1{GEND}