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

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.