The following pages chronicle the journey of the sailing vessel Pelagic and her crew. We are a family of 5; Michael, Amy, Zander, Porter and Anakena, taking our 42' Hallberg Rassy as far as we can comfortably go in three years. We left Oregon in September 2014, participated in the 2014 Baja Haha, continued on through the Panama Canal, into the Caribbean, up the coast of the US to Maritime Canada and from there crossed the Atlantic. After an arrival in Ireland we toured Scotland, then sailed down to France, Portugal and on to Morocco. In January of 2016 we slowed down considerably and enrolled the kids in a local Spanish school in Sanlucar de Guadiana for a few months. In the spring of 2016 we crossed the Atlantic towards the Caribbean. We are now in the Pacific, officially on our way home, albeit via a very circuitous path. We are currently in French Polynesia and looking at weather windows to Hawaii before finally making landfall back in the Pacific Northwest.

Currently our exact location is not available. Our spot coverage will pick us back up in Hawaii towards the end of May, 2017.

Our favorite sailing quote:

"If anythings gonna happen, it's gonna happen out there boss!" Captain Ron






Sunday, June 25, 2017

Miscellaneous Photos, scheduled post

 Random throwbacks........just because.
River in the San Blas


San Blas
Having friends visit.

San Blas, bridge to the mainland.
Monkey Selfie.
Never tire of the beach.

Friday, June 23, 2017

Half way there, June 24

We've covered just over half of the 2400 miles we think we need to sail to get to Oregon. I say think, because we aren't going directly towards Portland, but maneuvering around a very frustrating high out here. Anyway, we will get there eventually, but at least in theory we've reached a milestone. It is very calm at the moment and the seas are almost nothing. We are ghosting NE at 5 knots on only 8 knots of wind. It's hard to believe the weather is predicted to change dramatically tomorrow night and we may have to take a hiatus from the easy life and actually do some harder core sailing; meaning to weather and in bigger wind and seas. I kind of like the ghosting.

Zander and I are getting some studying done in the light conditions; pondering the mysteries of mitosis and meiosis. We've had so many weeks at seas these last few months that we can't quite afford to go on summer break yet. Without Porter and Ana using the computer to watch movies Mike and I have actually been filling the down time with episodes of Breaking Bad and Mad Men. Yeah, we are a few years behind the times.

The skies are gray, the oily seas have gone from the most beautiful cobalt blue to cold metallic steel. The water is about 20 degrees cooler than it was in Hawaii and we are not longer in the tropics.

N 38 52
W 146 45

Thursday, June 22, 2017

Solstice at sea, June 21

Growing up in Alaska the summer and winter solstice were big deals. In the winter we celebrated the solstice as the darkest day because every day afterward we would gain 4-5 minutes of sun daily. In the bleak of winter, living about 100 miles south of the Arctic circle, that is something to celebrate with joy. In the summer, well it meant midnight sun. Technically the sun went down for an hour or so, but it never got dark, the sun just beneath the horizon kept those hours suspended in a midnight twilight with beautiful pink and purple lighting. The summer solstice was a time for playing. Baseball games played at midnight without lights, 5 thousand participant runs starting at 10pm, concerts, festivals, waterskiing in the middle of the night. Everything revolved around those precious long days. Once August or September rolled around, we were exhausted with sleep deprivation. We almost craved those long winter nights. Well, almost.

At sea the light is also precious. When we were sailing due north we were gaining 6-7 minutes a day. At latitude 35 we have about 14 hours of sunlight a day. Normally at that latitude, after June 21st we'd be losing a minute every few days. Since we continue to move north, we are still gaining daily. We are chasing the long summer night, extending our summer, and although we've been in a perpetual state of summer for almost three years, it isn't the heat or the sand that make me think of summer, it's all about the light.

Tuesday, June 20, 2017

Microplastic Sampling, June 20


We've been taking samples for a global micro plastic initiative sampling program through Adventure Scientists Worldwide. Sample size limits us (1 liter each) from taking samples everywhere, but we've taken them when samples have not been taken in that particular region previously by a different group. For example they had very little coverage in the norther part of the North Atlantic. If you click the link and run your mouse over the dots that span Newfoundland to Ireland (on the embedded link, not the photo below) you will see five of the samples we took two years ago. Shipping the liter bottles back is also expensive from foreign ports, so we've been picky with where we have sampled.  We sampled from the Marquesas to Hawaii and will send those samples in soon and we hope to sample between Hawaii and Oregon which surprisingly has little coverage.  When the weather is rough, it is a little scary hanging off the swim ladder to collect samples, but we are hopeful we can get some good data on this next leg.

It has been a fun and educational experience to sample for this group.  The kids get a fantastic chance to partake in real science and practice their skills at following a protocol and taking good data and notes. Zander has already found flaws in their protocols, so he has the makings of a good scientist.


Sunday, June 18, 2017

Day 5, June 18

The wind died today and we find ourselves motoring on oily seas. They North Pacific is certainly showing its softer side this trip, and we are not complaining. The high continues to dance around north of us and we are trying to anticipate its movement as we chose our routing. We are still heading due north, but we hope to make some easting sooner than later. At a worst case scenario, we would have to sail north all the way to 45N and then head directly east. It adds some miles, but as long as the seas don't pipe up or a low doesn't descend down upon us, a few more days won't kill us. It is pleasant out here.

We really don't mind motoring on occasion. We get hot water, all the power we need and generally when we are motoring the seas are flat. We get a chance to catch up with boat chores, do a little more homework and simply get a reprieve from the rocking and rolling we usually have to endure.

It's Fathers Day today. I miss my Dad, Mike misses Ana and Porter. We are looking forward to a happy reunion and not being quite so far away from the people we love.

Saturday, June 17, 2017

A few more photos from Hawaii, June 17, scheduled post



Lava Vent in Volcano National Park

Volcano National Park

Mauna Kea summit

Mauna Loa summit.

Green Sea Turtles.

Petroglyph of Captain Cook's ship.
Galactic Friends.

Sea Turtles coming ashore.

Friday, June 16, 2017

The magical third day, June 16

Just like clockwork on the third day all three of us feel like we've got our sea legs back and life takes on some normalcy. If you call floating around in the North Pacific normal. Prior to the third day our sleep patterns aren't set, food doesn't taste as good and we move around in a quiet stupor. Today that changed and all is well aboard!

We are hoping the spot will staring recording our position soon. Until that time our position is:
N 26 43
W 155 32

Thursday, June 15, 2017

Trial by fire, Day 2, June 15

Deja Vu, weren't we just out here?

OK, here we go again, our third major crossing in the last 5 months. This time with a smaller crew. Porter and Ana are now in SF with the grandparents.

Leaving Kona was tough. To get around the big island we had to cross the channel between Maui and the Big Island and the trades funnel through there with an added venturi effect. Fortunately we could sail, it just beat us up a little. Fast forward 36 hours and life is infinitely better. The seas have died back some and the winds have dropped. You'd think we'd still have our sea legs, but nestled snuggly in a very protected marina for two weeks and our remaining crew all seemed to have lost them. It is just Mike, Zander and I out here and although I already miss Porter and Ana, I'm happy they are being spared this last passage. They will have more fun hanging out with family and enjoying the midnight sun in Alaska.

Our game plan is simply to head north until we can sail over the North Pacific High. Unfortunately that sucker moves around and we won't know until we get a little further north when we can head east. As the crow flies we are only 2100 miles from Oregon, if only we were crows. Flying back from SF I couldn't help but think that at 400 miles an hour it sure looked like a lot of ocean, what was it going to feel like at 6 miles an hour? It feels slow!

On an optimistic note, we are excited to be going home, comforted by the fact that we don't have Ana to entertain, and looking forward to, hopefully, seeing some cool stuff out here. We don't expect to see whales this time of year, but a new bird species, some fish on the line, a meteor show....who knows. We'll try to enjoy our solitude, read some good books and reminisce about the last three years and how truly lucky we have been.

Wednesday, June 14, 2017

Tuesday, June 13, 2017

Culture Shock, Hawaii Arrival, June 4



Lava lake hike.

Lava Lake hike

Land fall, lava flow into the ocean.

We've now been in the United States for a few days now and we are very much appreciating being home, the ease at which we can now accomplish things and the availability of everything.  We are also suffering from a little culture shock entering mainstream America again.

Everything is so easy here!  Some of it is simply there is no longer a language barrier.  We've spent so much of our time in foreign ports and just getting directions or asking simple questions is often tedious.  I can now ask anything I want, in as much detail as I want and I can actually understand the responses. It seems magical!

We are also getting used to being back on the grid.  While we frequently log on to local wifi and get internet, we haven't had a phone or any way for anyone to communicate with us in three years. Mike initiated service on his iPhone and it was like the world was at our fingertips again.  We could get directions while driving, receive texts in the middle of a hike, and have full access to the internet anytime we wanted.  It is an amazing thing and we feel something equivalent to cavemen having been dropped into the 21st century.  We are used to having to make lists of things we need to look up, people we need to contact and online chores we need to do and then wait, often weeks, until we can get internet access.  Then at that future time, we try to get through the list with whatever glacially slow internet service available.  A podcast in Polynesia would take about 30 minutes, a picture took at least 10 minutes to download and we totally gave up on downloading movies or new apps. The banking, corresponding, checking of weather and uploading of pictures to the blog used to be a chore that took easily half a day,  now I can do the same thing sitting in the passenger seat of the car on the way to dinner.  It is hard to convey what it feels like to be plugged back into the world.  It won't always be a good thing, but it is certainly a new sensation for now!

We were also overwhelmed with the diversity and availability of products the first time we went into a supermarket......and everything was so incredible clean, almost sterile. There were no cockroaches hiding behind a box of cereal, we didn't have to check expirations to see if a box of cookies had been sitting on the shelf for several years. The aisles of choice were staggering and we've already gained a few pounds...well, just because we can! Most people probably don't come to Hawaii and rave about the prices, but coming from French Polynesia, Hawaii feels like a bargain.

Another difference we notice is how clean public facilities are.  The first time we went into a restroom in a restaurant Ana was amazed "Look mom, toilet paper and a toilet seat." There were decrative plants, soap in the dispenser,  a hot water option and paper towels.  The place was spotless and we didn't even have to, either pay for 2 squares of  TP, or bring our own.  Little miracles. In morocco we didn't even get a toilet, in most of Latin America there was rarely a toilet seat and in Mexico we often rode on buses for hours that had no facilities.  If you had to go, you waved at the driver, dropped your pants within a few feet of the bus and quickly did your business because the driver wouldn't wait long.

On the flip side of all these wonderful things that are now available to us, we now have to follow rules. In much of the world rules are mere guidelines for officials to follow and depending on the mood of the official you were dealing with, things could go smoothly or they could be difficult.  Sometimes we blew off regulations and claimed ignorance. For example we crossed the Panama Canal without ever checking into the country.  In Venezuela we were able to talk our way into a visit without a visa and in French Polynesia they don't care what you do or where you did it.  Officially I think we are still in Polynesia, because now that I think about it, we never checked out!

We've also enjoyed liberties we can no longer enjoy.  Porter, who has been driving the dingy for years, can no longer legally drive without an adult.  Trivial things like fishing licences now have to be acquired. Ignorance is no longer an excuse, we actually need to know the laws and regulations.  Our MO will definitely need to be adjusted now that we are back in the states.

Entering back into the US and seeing the flag flying was surprisingly emotional for me as well.  We've been mere observers, watching from afar as the political situation in the United States seemed so far removed from us.  I'm not particularly happy with the direction my country has moved in my absence, but I'm looking forward to playing my part in making change.  We've been outsiders for a long time and I'm sure in a few months I will wish I could escape and go back to my isolated little spot on the ocean, but for now I want to partake.  It is a screwed up country, but its my country and I'm happy to be home!




Wednesday, June 7, 2017

Photos from the Crossing, Marquesas to Hawaii, June 5

Filling up with passionfruit, guava and starfruit.

More fruit. 
One last stop in Daniels Bay to load up on fruit.

Saying goodbye to our friend Tieki. 

Last visit with some boat kids before heading out.


Eiao, Marquesas, last stop

Summit hike to the top of Eiao

Top of Eiao



Zander taking water samples mid passage. We are sending the samples to a lab that determines micro plastic levels.

Hanging off the swim platform during a swim call.

This is how we chum.





Thursday, June 1, 2017

June 1st, Landfall.....sort of.

We are making our Hawaiian landfall in Kona, but before we get there we decided to make a small detour to see a lava flow that terminates in the sea on the east side of the island (Kona is on the west). Unfortunately, because of the strong winds we weren't able to hang around until the sunset and possibly and see the burning rock. We settled for seeing huge billowing clouds of steam, tracing a river of lava as it met the sea. The whole side of the island seemed to be a recent lava flow. It was a pretty awesome sight after so many days at sea.

We then sailed all night around the southern cape of Hawaii and we are currently motoring with blissfully glass like seas and absolutely no wind up the leeward side, 25 miles from Kona. It is lovely. We can move around the cabin freely and do many things we haven't done easily in several weeks. Of course that also means we have no excuse not to do some homework and some boat cleaning!

We expect to be in Kona in a few hours and we are HAPPY about that.

Fast and Furious, May 31, almost there...

A world of frothy white waves, gray skies and green water greets us when we go above deck these days, but down below, all is snug and dry. Every time we descend down into the trough of one of these huge waves out here I wonder why that mountain of water doesn't just crush us. Looking up and seeing green water towering over us is certainly far from my happy place. We rise above these monsters, slide down the back side and never get more than a little splash in the cockpit. The physics baffles me and I marvel at how well designed a sail boat is. Pelagic is amazing, and although I've complained about here size, I am totally humbled by her performance in big seas. Our seas have steadily increased over the last few days. Our wind strength stays around 25 knots, which seems like it should be manageable, but the wave periods are short and we continue to get tossed around. We've been watching lots of movies lately just because the task of trying to stay upright, even sitting, is a stress on the body. Everything is a chore. Getting through meal prep is like running a 10K race. Unless you are on the low side, sleep is impossible. Cleaning, ha ha, I haven't even thought of doing that. Homework consists of watching a period movie and discussing what life would have been like at that time. Seriously, mental calculating is at an all time low. We are in survival mode. Fortunately there is always the escape plan of stalling the boat, lashing the wheel down and heaving to. It is surprisingly comfortable even in big seas and we haven't done that yet, so no need to worry about us, we are apparently more anxious to make land fall than we are exhausted.

I'm complaining, but not really. We are safe and we can find comfort here and there. We are eating well and the boat does not seem stressed in the least. We aren't beating into the wind like we did on our passage to the Marquesas, so it isn't as bad as that, we are simply hitting exhaustion levels. On the positive side, we have averaged over 7 knots for the last 5 days and the last 24 hours have been close to an 8 knot average. It definitely has been fast and furious the last few days and yet I look around and my kids are coping so well. Ana has no desire to get to land, she is perfectly content. Porter and Zander are dreaming about land, but they are learning that some things are even sweeter when you have to be patient and wait for them. Little things they've always taken for granted are now thought of as luxuries; smelling the soil, running, throwing a ball or talking to someone other than an immediate family member.
Mike and I, we are surviving, not thriving, but surviving is enough at this point. We will make it, we are almost there.

What we are tired of most:
Ana - "Nothing, I love it out here"
Porter - Big seas, no contact with friends, minutes that pass like hours.
Zander - Getting tossed around the cabin, sandwiches without bread, my Mom doesn't bake bread much. Amy here - to my defense, my pizza dough, naan and cinnamon rolls get eaten up the moment they come out of the oven without a crumb left, but I have not mastered making flour, yeast, sugar and water come together in a very exciting combo. Friends bring over beautiful loaves of bread, and I ask them their secrets, but my bread still sucks. Fortunately we have a surplus of butter, and anything slathered with butter taste good.
Amy - Every meal juggling boiling water, sharp knives and other dangerous instruments on what feels like a mechanical bull ride.
Mike - Playing Barbies (passage rule, everyone has to play with Ana for 30 minutes a day doing whatever she wants), wedging my head between pillows to keep it from rolling around, and watching crappy movies.

What are we looking forward to most:
Ana - 7-11 slurpies and American candy.
Porter - Seeing my friends and getting off the boat.
Zander - Hearing English and buying snack foods.
Amy - Seeing the American flag, eating a salad, getting a little alone time.
Mike - All of the above.

Monday, May 29, 2017

Gaining daylight, May 29th

We are definitely in the trades now. The wind is strong, consistently over 20 knots and the seas are big. We are cruising along at over a 7 knot average, which is pretty fast for us considering we don't have a current assist. The boat is holding up well, it will be the humans on board that will tire out and require a slow down if this continues. The winds and seas are on the beam, which makes it fast, but also very bumpy. We have a little less than 600 miles to go and the GPS reports we will be there in 3 days. We want to get there, but we also want to be able to sleep at some point in those three days.

Otherwise, life is much the same as it has been for the last 12 days. We haven't pulled in any fish since we left Nuka Hiva. Something took our last cedar plug lures a few days out of the Marquesas, which were our lucky lures, and we are hoping the fishing is good enough near Hawaii that the fish will try our "lesser" lures. The mid ocean fish aren't liking them. The excitement of line fishing has lost its appeal for Zander since he mastered spear fishing. He's a teenager though, he sleeps all the time and amazingly can sleep through the motion of the ocean as it currently is. Porter is in the midst of a good book series and only comes up for air when he needs to sit and tell us every detail about the book. Ana is very content and extremely creative aboard. She builds (paper radios, cardboard cars, anything and everything) all she needs for a particular imaginative play set up. She's our little McGiver. She's constantly singing and fluttering around the cabin as if she is completely oblivious to the fact that we live in a washing machine. She is definitely the best sailor aboard and while we love that she loves the boat, we often feel guilty that we can't match her enthusiam for whatever project she is working on. Yesterday the TV died. We don't use it a lot, but it is a nice break for the kids to watch a disc movie together or an episode of one of the many series we purchased before the trip. After three years of use, we can't complain about the convenience of when it decided to kick the bucket. Maybe it was the wave it took on the Marquesan crossing, or simply the life span of electronics in a very humid, marine environment.

We are gaining a tremendous amount of daylight each day. My best guess is about 7 minutes a day. Daylight doesn't change much at low latitudes with the change of the seasons, but the little bit it does change combined with the latitude gain we make daily makes a noticeable difference in our daylight hours. Since we have very little moon, the extra daylight is appreciated.

position at 9am
N 12 30
W 147 58

Sunday, May 28, 2017

Day 10, May 28

Well our dreams of a May arrival have been scrapped, but we are close enough to the big island of Hawaii to start estimating when we will be there. We should be there by the second of June. The wind is consistent and it is only predicted to strengthen in the next few days.

There is absolutely nothing of interest to report today. Every morning is like Groundhog Day and nothing different really happens. We watch the antics of the several sea birds we see throughout the day, we follow flying fish with our eyes as they detour away from the boat and we star gaze in the late evenings. It is interesting to watch the constellations change course as we move further north. The big dipper is higher above the horizon, we still can't see the north star, but every night the southern cross dips a little further south. Once we reach the northern latitudes we won't see the friends we've come to count on for company during our night watches; the Scorpion and it's lovely mars like Antares, the Ship and its brightest star Canopus (second only to Sirius in brightness), The small separate galaxies from our own that we see as Magellanic Clouds, and the centaur and its two 1st order stars that are beacons in the night sky much like Orion is in the north. We've followed their movements across the southern skies for almost 6 months and it will be hard to say goodbye.

Position at 10am

N 10 37
W 146 05

Saturday, May 27, 2017

Half way there, May 26

We are officially half way to Hawaii and actually pointing in the direction of the islands. Finally, after taking a northerly heading for so long. We've just gotten into the trades and we can now start making westward progress towards Kona. We are hoping with the consistent trades we can make up a little ground and this will be a faster half than the first half of the trip.

As a celebration of our progress we slowed the boat down, hove to for a few hours, and had a lovely swim call. The kids dove under the keel and swam all around the boat while I didn't get more than about 5 feet away, all the while holding on with a death grip to the rope we trailed behind. Yeah, I'm not brave in the open ocean, 1000 miles from the nearest land. Pretty sad when your 7 year old is prodding you along saying "Mom, there is nothing to be afraid of out here."

Anyway, things are good, we expect a few more comfortable days and then a few lumpy ones at the end. Winds build on the 29th, but all in the right direction. No complains on board.

975 miles to Kona

position:
N 07 37
W 143 12

Thursday, May 25, 2017

Day 7, May 25, radio nets

This passage is different from our other passages in that we are checking into two radio nets while we sail north. On previous passages we'd occasionally check into one of the ham nets, but not regularly and they certainly weren't keeping tabs on us, it was simply a diversion for us from the normal tedium of sea. This time we check into the Polynesian Magellan net in the morning. This is an informal net including anyone traveling within Polynesia. We've met several of the boats and have been talking to others on and off for the past three months, so we feel like we know them as well. They ask us about our fishing, the kids and we hear news of their travels and it makes us feel a little closer to civilization. The second net is an official Ham net, Pacific Seafarers net, and only ham licenses can participate. This one keeps tabs on us, posts our position daily on their website and if we fail to check in, they would do some investigating into whether we were actually in trouble or not. On several occasions, while we were in the islands, we heard boats on the poly mag net asking about a particular boat that may have neglected to check in and the Seafarers net wanted to make sure they made land fall. Often another boat has seen the particular boat in a bay and they simply forgot to check in. In an extreme case, say if you turned on your EPIRB, they would work with the coast guard in trying to help you. They have your course, your wind and sea state conditions and know if you were having any prior problems at all. In any case its kind of nice to know someone is looking out for us.

Otherwise we are all well. We may have just poked our nose into the doldrums as the wind seems to be dying. We are at almost 6 degrees north, so we thought we may have been lucky enough to miss it, but alas I think those infamously calm conditions have just found us. It isn't so bad. We will motor a little, get our batteries nice and charged up and then hopefully the winds will fill in soon.

N 05 37
W 142 20

Last bonfire, departing the Tuamotus, May 25 scheduled post





Wednesday, May 24, 2017

Fruit frenzy aboard Pelagic, Day 6, May 24

We are really happy with our progress thus far. The winds have been consistently from the East and Southeast between 10-15 knots. That kind of wind doesn't kick the seas up much and we've have fairly smooth sailing. I hesitate to even write that, but so far so good. We sped over the equator at 7 knots, quite different from out last passing of the equator where the weather was so calm the kids swam over the line separating the hemispheres. We still have over 1200 miles to go, but we are clicking the miles off nicely and everyone is content on board.

Our only complaint is all of the beautiful fruit we traded for in the Marquesas is starting to ripen all at the same time, so it is fruit every meal of the day. Canning aboard a rocking boat is not ideal, but we are managing to make a dent in our seemingly endless supply of bananas, passion fruit and pomplemousse and mangoes.

Current position:
N 02 34
W 142 01

Monday, May 22, 2017

Day 4, May 22

Position:

S 01 39
W 141 37

Our spot will not start working until we get to Hawaii, so completely useless on this leg of the trip. That said, we are checking in with the Pacific Seafarers Net at 5pm every day (Hawaii time). Apparently they post our position on their website. I can't attach the link, but if you are interested, our daily position should be there if you search their site.

Wind continues to be steady from the east. Seas are relatively flat and while we aren't flying, we are making a good consistent 5 plus knots. We expect to move a little faster when we hit the trades in the Northern Hemisphere.

We've made the transition to passage life finally and life aboard is simple, a bit boring, but manageable enough. We've been baking, reading and dreaming of what we want to do when we get home first.

Last night, while on watch, I went through 8 AIS signals, all transmitting from a few miles away, surrounding us, and yet I only saw one light on one small ship. Possibly a Chinese fishing vessel with smaller boats? The mother ship was the only one that showed up on the radar and the info on the AIS screen was minimal for the other 7 and they weren't moving fast, but they weren't just drifting either. Not sure what we went through, but that was my excitement for the night.

1550 miles to go.

Sunday, May 21, 2017

Day 3, 325 miles in, 1625 to go

We are on Day 3 of our trip to Hawaii. Usually 3 is the magic number when we finally get accustomed to life at sea again. The sleep deprivation isn't a factor because we figure out how to doze a little on watch, but also take a short naps during the day to compensate for any loss of sleep. Meals get a little more elaborate, the kids pull out some of their crafts rather than relying on electronic entertainment.

The wind still has just a little northerly to it (mostly it is from the east), but we are still expecting that to change and when it does it will be that much easier. In fact, looking at the weather forecast we should have some really consistent winds for most of the trip. The equator could have some loss of winds, but we can motor through that if necessary. All in all, we are really hopeful for a good trip.

Just before we arrived into Nuka Hiva we caught a huge Dorado, so we haven't been fishing since. One more meal of fish and we can get the lines back in the water hoping to catch a yellow fin. Life is pretty simple out here and we are trying to make the most of it. When we return home we may one day yearn for these simple days of life afloat.

S 04 17
W 141 25

Saturday, May 20, 2017

May 20, scheduled post

Frigate Bird Chick
This is the view I often see when Mike and the boys are snorkeling. They always have their heads in a hole checking something out.
Wonder if I'm still looking this happy after a week at sea. 
This was taken right under the boat while we were on a buoy. It isn't surprising that they don't want anchors to go down in the coral beds. 

Shark Dive
Diver in training

May 20, Day 2, Eiao Island, Marquesas





Day 2, I am on watch, it is 2am and the winds are light. We aren't moving that fast, but we aren't bashing into big seas, hard on the wind, so I am very content. The wind still has a little more northern component than I would prefer, but it is supposed to come around sometime today.
Yesterday we stopped at the northern most island of the Marquesas, Eiao. It is uninhabited, has incredibly steep walls, and only one place to anchor. We anchored after just one night at sea, lowered the dingy and planned to stop briefly on the steep beach for an hour or so. There was a small makeshift tent/hut on some rocks that looked like it might be used by fisherman from time to time, but no one had been there for awhile. The walls of the valley looked so steep we didn't think we'd get very far following the small creek, but we managed to find a trail, or at least a string of cairns to lead us up the side. In the distance you could hear feral goats calling and the occasional cry of a rooster. Surprisingly we broke out of the small trees and brush after about an hour of climbing and bouldering to find a summit of red clay and sand. It looked like we had landed on Mars. The top was windswept and devoid of many trees. The spine of the island was right in front of us. Unfortunately we didn't bring enough water to explore the whole top of the island, which would have been easy walking and a great hike, but we did stay on top for an hour and we had fun walking barefoot on the cool, silky clay. We descended down the from the 500 meter summit, eating ripe custard fruit as we passed them and eventually ran back into the muddy creek. Because of the outflow, the bay wasn't clear, but just beyond the breakers we could see a dozen fins in the water and caudal tails clearly identifying the visitors as sharks. No distinguishing tips on their fins, so they didn't necessarily look like reef sharks. We watched them for a while and then remembered we had to swim to the anchored dingy. Fortunately the wind had blown the dingy close to some rocks and Mike only had to swim about 15 meters to the boat. From there he nosed up to the rocks and we could pile in without touching the murky water.
After lunch we pulled up the anchor and resumed our passage to Hawaii. We were escorted away from the island by a huge pod of dolphins, jumping totally out of the water and swimming along side the boat for about an hour. They were nice final moments in Polynesia.

We are now about 1900 miles from Hawaii.

Wednesday, May 17, 2017

Sailing with the Southern Cross on our stern, May 17

Well, we are finally off and for the first time since January we will be seeing the Southern Cross on our stern instead of the bow. It is a bit sad to be leaving Polynesia behind, but we've had a fantastic experience here and at the moment we have no regrets about sailing so far out of our way to get here. Ask me in a week when I am mid way to Hawaii, or better yet, midway to Oregon and we will see if I am singing the same tune.

The sail back to Nuka Hiva, in the Marquesas was brutal, but we are happy we made the slog (especially now that it is behind us). To date it was the worst passage of our trip, and hopefully I don't need to pen those words ever again. We went through about 40-50 gallons of fuel in the first 2 days powering into the northern winds and waves (had we gone straight to Hawaii we would have used up the same fuel) and then we sailed hard on the wind for three full days and nights. In fact we were heeling over so much the last three days and had so much of our hull exposed that our refrigerator didn't work (the compressor is water cooled and the intake, which is usually in the water was high and dry on the high side of the boat). We were all pretty bruised and battered from trying to keep our balance on a home perpetually at a 25 degree angle and getting tossed around like a cork in the big seas. It was a tough sail, but the kids did really well and I think they secretly liked the schedule; no homework and watch as many movies and use electronics as much as you want. We also got to test the boat out in ways that we haven't done in quite some time. We were plowing into big waves, the top side was often awash with water and the ports were continuously under water and yet the boat was dry as a bone. We were certainly uncomfortable with the wind angle, but the boat pointed high and sailed beautifully at about 45 degrees to the wind, and it was nice to know we could do it. We would have liked to have had the forecasted easterlies (and even a little southerly component which was also forecasted), but we mostly had wind from the Northeast and it never really came around to the east. It was an uphill ride and fortunately we haven't had many of those and we expect it to be our last. It should be downhill sailing from here on out. Yipee!

In Nuka Hiva we quickly provisioned and topped off with fuel and it was almost worth battling the heavy seas just for the fresh fruit we loaded up with. We have hammocks of fresh star fruit; passion fruit, limes and burlap bags of pommplemousse. We ate a last steak and frite and gorged ourselves on ice cream. The best news about traveling so far east and out of our way is that it gives us a better angle to Hawaii. We got beat up for three days to ensure our next two weeks are more enjoyable (at least we sure hope so). We were also able to check a few other weather sites with access to the internet while we were on land. I've mentioned we do get grib files, weather forecasts, but we don't have the ability to check multiple sites and more importantly check hurricane forecasting sites. Hurricane season officially starts in the northern hemisphere June 1st. We originally wanted to be arriving in Hawaii just before that, but the pesky winds did not cooperate and we will be at least a week into the season. That said, we were able to look at the hurricane predictions and there are no predictions for an early hurricane forming. Yahoo! The June date is pretty conservative, historically there are very few hurricanes that have formed in June (many insurance companies even use a July 1st date for the start of the season), but we've learned, on this trip, the hurricanes are not paying as much attention to historic trends lately and we are anxious to get north as soon as possible.