Tuesday, May 31, 2016

Pacific Crossing Day 12

Sail changes. It's what we do. We also read, sleep, try to sleep, and eat relatively small portions of food on occasion. On watch, I lay in the cockpit staring up into the night sky watching the windex on the top of the mast. It points left a little. It points right a little and occasionally pauses for a second to point straight backwards, east. The boat is rolling side to side. Down below Connie's foot is rolling side to side with the roll as she sleeps with pillows on either side or her. On the settee, Scott Tobiason gently snores on. He's wedged in also.

Sail changes. Yesterday we went to hoist the geniker.(sp?) It's kinda like a spinnaker sail but has a tack fitting at the bow of the boat and only one active sheet. When we deployed it the sock rose about 1/3 of the way then stuck. After three quarters of an hour of futzing about we gave up and stowed the big old sausage below in the cabin. Then we dropped down the spinnaker pole and pulled it out to its extreme length. We clipped the starboard side genoa sheet on the end, rigged its topping lift and preventer then slowly rolled out the enormous genoa. Once we had her polled out to the side, the rocking of the boat filled then failed, over and over, the sail coming to with a big slap.
Wing on Wing

Next we pulled up the main, double reefed, got her sheeted in properly with preventer also, the whole shebang out to the port side. Now we're talking.. a proper wing-on-wing. With a sail out on either side the violent roll was dampened. As it rolled to the starboard the main would dampen it. Roll to the port and the genoa did the dampening. All this worked great until night came upon us and with it a lessening of wind force and increasing of sea height.

Come midnight the boat was creaking and jumping and complaining. Nobody could sleep for all the noise.

So we (all hands on deck) took apart this wing-on-wing contraption with all its preventers and lines and halyards and sailcloth. That took us almost an hour to get everything stowed. We left up a scrap of main, sheeted and prevented out to one side. Engine on, we motored the rest of the night and all the next morning. The two Scotts spent hours in the cabin pulling the geniker out of the sock and re-running the control lines inside the sock. Then we hauled it on deck, carefully laying it out. Re-lead a line or two, take a twist out, shorten a painter, then hoist it we did. Suddenly a dull grey day was brightened by the loud yellow and green nylon monstrosity, blossoming out in front of the boat.. Connie killed the engine. "Thank you, Beta. Job well done."

And so our night time speed of 5.1 is balanced by our day time speed of 3.2, giving us what we need for miles run in one day: 111 nautical miles. It's slow, no doubt, but the upside is that it's more comfortable.

Later, at nightfall, we'll snuff the geniker and pole out the jib again. Even though it won't give us the same performance in light airs, we'd rather have it to bring in later than the finicky geniker.

Look out! Connie's getting out the accordion. Now that will put some air into the sails.

Scott, Connie, and Scott

at 21 degrees 20 minutes North, 137 degrees 18 minutes West

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Monday, May 30, 2016

Pacific Crossing Day 11

Not much to report today. We are pretty used now to surviving on five hours or less sleep a night plus sometimes a little nap during the day. And we are getting better at making meals, simple meals but things with a little variety.

The wind has come around directly from the east now, coming right up our stern. While this "trade wind" sailing is supposed to be the bee's knees it's not. Our average speed for the first half of the crossing was 5.4 knots. Running downwind without the benefit of getting lift out of the sails is slower than we want. Right now we are at 4.3 knots and that's with the afternoon push. Of course with the afternoon push comes the afternoon buffalo and topsy turvy following sea roll. And roll we do.

Traveler gets a cadence going, port - starboard - port - starboard. Once she gets into this groove the only way to break her out is to turn down or turn up or pull in a sail or do something to get some speed on her. With speed comes stability.

To make our planned arrival date we need to keep our speed up. At 3.7 knots we arrive on the 12th. At 4 knots we arrive on the 11th. 4.3 knots = 10th. So we'll try to keep her going at least 4 knots and we'll be ok getting Scott Tobiason on the plane.

After measuring the two diesel tanks yesterday it seems like we've got an abundance of fuel. Now, when she starts a bucking and speed drops below 4 knots, we'll pull the sail tight and fire up the engine. Then by moving through the water the rolling will calm and we can all get some sleep. That's the plan at this time.

Scott is taking a bath in the cockpit. I can hear him whooping because it is a cold breeze coming over the transom. Connie is playing the uke and singing one of her new songs. I just shaved and bathed so now everyone is clean and fat and happy. Well no, not fat. We've all lost weight. BOUNUS!

Going slower.... but happier.

Scott, Connie, and Scott

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Sunday, May 29, 2016

Pacific Crossing Day 10

Hurray! We have sailed halfway around the planet... er, hmm, make that halfway across the Pacific... well that is, the Pacific ocean between Cabo San Lucas Mexico and Hilo Hawaii.

Shellbacks no more, we are seasoned mariners. Ha! To celebrate Connie is making pancakes, no small feat considering that King Neptune turned up the fun house level this morning.

We motored for 8 hours last night, caught up in the approaching high pressure to the north. It is moving south into our territory, bringing with it light winds. If you are following us on the Delorme In Reach you can see that we've turned south somewhat to get away from the high.

If you want to see the location of the high pressure on your PC, just go to this web address: http://weather.noaa.gov/pub/fax/PYBA90.TIF
See how the pacific high is just north of Hawaii?  This shot I added later once we got to Hawaii.

Our approximate location, if you want to find it on that NOAA map is 21.5N 133W.

We are trying to skirt the bottom of the high pressure so as to keep wind in the sails. We are also measuring our diesel fuel so we know just how much motoring we'll have to do. At night when the wind drops we'll not want to fly the lightweight gennaker (too risky dousing it if the wind pipes up) so when the wind drops, we'll crank up the diesel and let her run at about 1400 RPM so she sips fuel at about 1/2 gal per hour. Then we'll take our shifts and be able to sleep.

So there you go. Halfway there. Can't turn back now. Our fate is in your hands. Send us good thoughts. Drink a beer for me. Have a couple.

Scott, Connie, and Scott

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Saturday, May 28, 2016

Pacific Crossing Day 8 and 9

All is well aboard. We are coming up to the halfway mark late this evening, and are looking forward to that accomplishment. Otherwise, the days and nights seem to blend together. A pattern has developed with the wind and waves that we've come to expect each day. By noon the wind is steady and the seas are high. By later afternoon the wind is the same and the seas are even heavier and confused. After sundown the wind slowly drops but not the sea. Sometime around midnight it is Hell Hour when we have trouble keeping the sails full while the seas slam us from side to side.

There are a couple of things we do to fill the head sail.
1. Turn upwind to bring what little wind there is up to a beam reach.
2. Flatten the main and bring it more to center so the wind can get to the genoa.
3. Roll in the genoa until it lives forward of the shrouds, catching the wind coming across the side of the boat. If it collapses, at least it does not foul in the shrouds.
4. Drop the main entirely. Downside is that we loose some stability.
5. Turn on the engine. When our speed picks up we create our own wind which can fill the genoa.
6. Pole out the jib.

Or, when it is Hell hour we can roll up the genoa, turn on the motor and power through it all until the wind picks back up. This charges the batteries and steadies the boat as well.

After Hell Hour we get into the bulk of the night hours where we try to keep everything quiet so that the crew below can sleep.

Pre dawn it is usually a little less lumpy and we are sailing just fine. Dawn and before noon is the best time of the day when we relax (sometimes catch up on the sleep we missed during a particularly rough night), enjoy the warmth, make a meal.

Rinse, wash, repeat.

Gotta go now. The wind has dropped. The sails are flapping. We are going to drop the mainsail and try poling out the genoa.
We are finding flying fish on deck each night

Now don't you wish you were here with us? We could send you forward to flake down the main.

Scott, Connie, and Scott

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Thursday, May 26, 2016

The Midnight Shift

I'm dreaming that I'm on a bus. The driver is alternating between smashing down on the accelerator, stomping on the brakes, and veering left or right. We are getting slammed all over the bus, out of control. The bus lurches upward and I wake up, Scott Tobiason is shaking me on the shoulder. It is midnight, time for my 12:00 to 03:00 shift. I'm wedged into the bed with pillows all around me and Traveler is lurching violently up, down, left, right.

We've got pitch, roll, heave, yaw, and twist going on. Sounds like a dance. Pitch is the nose and stern of the boat going up and down. Roll is the tilting from side to side. Heave is when the entire vessel jumps upward. Yaw is turning left then turning right. Twist is a combination of these.

I drag myself uphill and get my feet on the floor. I paw around on the floor, find and put on socks, fleece bibs, a nylon shirt, a cotton pullover. Wrap my pony tail in a hair tie and pull on a fleece hat. Standing up, I slip on some nylon pants and reach around the corner for the yogurt cup. I pee in the cup, put on the lid and set it on the companionway stairs. Lurching to the galley, I fill the teapot and set it on the gimbal stove to boil water. At the nav station I check the AIS and see there are no targets visible. Check speed and heading on the GPS.

Finding my light nylon coat, I pull it on and layer a fleece vest on top. Then I put on my insulated water resistant jacket and strap a harness around my shoulders. I know this seems like a lot of clothing but it's cold and windy in the cockpit with the occasional splat of spray coming aboard or the flying fish jumping onto the deck. Scott Tobiason got hit with a flying fish in the shoulder last night while sitting behind the wheel!

I clip into the tether and climb into the cockpit. After dumping my pee I talk to Scott about sail changes, sea state, ships in the night, and the weather. He goes below and crashes. I get my bearings, look at the sails and sheets, look at the windex, check the autopilot, and check the horizon 360 degrees.

I go below, rinse out the pee cup, make tea, grab some cookies, my book, glasses, and the I-Pod. Back up in the cockpit I sit for a while drinking my tea and watching the stars if they are out. I'm centered on the rear seat, a foot braced on either side so I don't slide sideways. As the boat lurches around, I bend at the waist to keep my head level. Soon my muscles are warmed up, at least the once in my middle. I click on the headlamp and read for an hour, checking the horizon and heading once in a while. Getting cold, I pull a blanket over my legs. Later, I'll arrange cushions on the side cockpit seat so I can stretch out. I'll cover up with blankets and get the I-Pod going. By the third hour I'm getting sleepy so I find some screaming guitar music (Pink Floyd, Allman Bros, Robben Ford etc..) that will keep me awake. I set the I-Pod alarm to go off every 15 minutes. So every 15 minutes I pull off the blankets, stand up in the cockpit and check the horizon on all four points of the compass. Check the sails, the windex, compass heading, and GPS speed.

Every hour I go below to check the instruments there and also just to move my muscles a little bit. When Connie does her shift, she has a workout routine she does in the cockpit, stretching and flexing but holding on all the time.

If the wind shifts or dies or builds I might have to adjust the sheets. If we need to put in or shake out a reef we try to do it during a shift change. If all hell is breaking loose, other crew are summoned and we go on deck, always clipped in, while we make the sail changes. But tonight, everything is good and I'm on my own with nothing to worry about except how Horatio Hornblower is going to get out of the fix he's in.

When my shift is up, I tidy up the cockpit, go below and put on the kettle, then wake up Connie for her shift. I go into the master cabin, sit on the bed, and put my hand on her arm. She stirs, stretches, and says, "Hi honey bunny." I go back into the cockpit and wait for her to appear, tea in hand, bundled up from head to foot. We have the short discussion about the boat and I head off below to strip off all those layers. I'm back in the bunk, braced into the corner with pillows all around me and I start thinking about that bus driver.

Scott Connie and Scott

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Wednesday, May 25, 2016

Pacific Crossing Day 6 and 7

As I write I'm sitting on the aft lazerette behind the wheel trying to maintain our course of 255 degrees. Hermione, the Hydrovane steering mechanism, is struggling to keep Traveler's head down wind. We're on a beam reach with the wind coming over the starboard side and the swell just forward of the beam. We've been in a heavy cloud cover most of this trip and today is no exception. Off to the west I see the golden rays of the building sunset. Will we see the green flash tonight?
Do we look a little stressed?

Last night the wind dropped again, leaving us crashing about, the sails flopping awkwardly against the rigging. We hate to see this, especially with the new sails we spent a fortune on (No disrespect Jim Kitchen, you did a wonderful job and we love our new canvas.) The wind died, sail changes were made to no good effect, We bounced, we jostled, the crew had disagreements, a testy atmosphere ensued. Bad moods, ill feelings. Damn this choppy sea. Why can't we get old Traveler rigged so that she sails quietly and smooth?

Finally the solution, the last resort, was taken. Turn on the engine and just power through this muck. The upside, of course, is charged batteries and the ability to make another 30 gallons of water.

By morning, we all grumped around. Connie recommended that we fly the genniker, a lightweight nylon foresail, kinda like a spinnaker. While dousing the main the outhaul line parted, another victim of chafe. Finally getting the myriad of lines figured out for the sail and the sock, we hoisted the yellow and green monstrosity. She filled and looked elegant. All crew assembled, everyone talked, made nice, forgave transgressions and we entered a new day happy in the building light.

Scott Tobiason enjoyed refitting the outhaul. We all hauled down the two jib halyards and inspected them for chafe. Looks good! Our plan is to pull down the genoa every other day to inspect the halyard for chafe, and to change the place on the line where it goes around the sheeve by adding length to the hoist. Did you understand that concept? Don't worry if you didn't.

It's now day 7 and we covered 125 miles noon to noon. Our best run was Day 6 when we ran 149 miles in 24 hours.

It is a wonderful sunset. Scott Tobiason is below cooking up fresh Dorado fish tacos with mango sauce. Connie is playing the accordion, balancing herself on the settee as the waves bash us back and forth. The stove is swinging madly and Scott stands, spatula in hand, with legs spread apart to keep his balance. And the best part is that he served us all a glass of red wine which I'm partaking of here at the helm. Oops, I've let her creep up to 275 degrees and Traveler is getting all excited trying to point for Alaska. Whoa there girl! Get on down to your heading.

Scott and Connie and Scott

Note: You can send me text only email here at wdg9526@sailmail.com.
Eric, got your text and will be in communication.

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Tuesday, May 24, 2016

Pacific Crossing Day Five

Connie cooks a chicken
Chafe protection, that's our job now. We brought the genoa back down to inspect the new halyard. It was somewhat scrunched where it enters the mast up top. Looking through binoculars and using the digital camera we could get a look at the exit holes in the mast head. There looks like some irregular surfaces on the port side. We chose to use the starboard side extra halyard when we brought her back up. I'm glad we have all those spare halyards now.

If it squeeks, lube it. If it rubs, put some chafing gear there. If a line bounces across a shroud then rig it so it runs free. Yes we are on chafe protection patrol.

Last night the wind dropped again but somebody forgot to tell the seas so we had another bumpy night of it. You know how you feel when you've been to massage therapy and you got a more intense work out than you expected. That's how I feel now. This ocean has been working on my back and shoulders and arms while I lie in bed. How handy! I get rolled this way and rolled that.

We are all feeling better now, getting used to the sleeping shifts and realizing that there are just some things you do not do when it gets rough. I'm sure that all three of us are losing weight - we rarely eat a big meal, just grabbing something quick. Thank goodness we are well stocked with cookies and peanuts. Fresh veggies are just about gone but we have root vegetables that require more cooking.

Just to feel better, I cleaned myself up and shaved on day five. Scott Tobiason did laundry. Connie played music. So we are slowly getting life back as we know it. But it's a weird schedule to live.

The wind is slowly moving aft. Beam reach most of the day. Mornings are calmer, afternoons not so much. Night time is bumpy til late. Last night the sails were flapping so bad that our only recourse was to fire up the engine and power through the waves. When the boat is moving forward at 6 knots the keel keeps her steady. We had the added plus of getting a good charge on the batteries.

We've had some communications from some of you and that's really nice to read. Feel free to use the tracking service to send a quick text. Or you can use this account. Just don't send any pictures and strip all unnecessary stuff out, such as my email text here.

Oh yes, we are looking for crew for the return portion of the trip. Leave HI end of June, arrive in the pacific NW 20 something days later.

Feeling groovy.

Scott Connie and Scott

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Monday, May 23, 2016

Pacific Crossing Day Four

Bumpy Bump we charge through the seas all afternoon and into the evening. I had the midnight shift coming up when I heard a yell from the cockpit, "Holy Cow" (or some similar words)"We got a problem here." Scott Tobiason was on watch and yelled for crew to come up. Connie woke from a deep sleep and stumbled out of the quarter berth. I tried in vain to put on my harness and shoes.

In my head I'm thinking that I should grab the life raft like we discussed. Connie would grab the ditch bag and the EPIRB. But then again, we didn't know what the nature of the emergency was.

Finally Connie and I arrived on deck to find we were not sinking. The emergency was that the big genoa sail was lying alongside the boat, streaming in the water. S.T. was at the bow greatly relieved that the sail was still attached by head, tack, and clew. The foresail halyard had parted!

Hand over hand we pulled the big sail onto the side deck, like the sailors of old, feet on the bulwarks, braced against the cabin top. Hand over hand she came in like a big wet fishing net until we got the whole wad secured. At the furler hung a two foot section of half inch line, its end shredded.

We rigged one of the two extra halyards to the head of the sail. I winched her up as S.T. fed the sheet feeder and Connie managed the flapping port side sheet. Soon we had the sail hoisted and sheeted tight. My comment to S.T.: "The next time you want to get creative calling me up for my shift, try something a little less serious."

Thankfully the seas had gone down so we didn't get tossed overboard during our sail retrieval process. I settled down in the cockpit for my shift while Scott and Connie hit the sack.

I slept solidly from 03:00 til 09:00 and woke slowly realizing that my body was crammed into the corner between the mattress and the wall and that all my muscles on my left side were sore. Tea helped, as did the sunny disposition of the other crew.

Three big things today: We are out of Mexico waters, so down came the Mexico flag in all its tattered glory. We are at the longitude of Los Angeles, so I reset the clocks to Pacific Standard Time. We had our fastest 24 hour run thus far at 144 nautical miles. It's good to get miles under the keel but to do so quickly you have to move fast. To move fast you have to have a stiff breeze. If there is a stiff breeze then there are big seas and you are uncomfortable. I started wishing for low mileage days.

I'm told that sometime this evening we will be a fifth of the way to Hawaii. That, at least, is comforting.

With overcast skies the solar production has been down. Last night we measured 12.3 volts on the battery bank. So just now I hoisted out the little Honda 2000 generator and got her cranked up so that we could punch a good charge into the bank. Then we ran around the plunging cabin finding everything we could to plug into the 120 volt sockets for charging. Get it while you can cause electricity ain't free! Quick, where's my electric toothbrush.

Scott, Connie, and Scott

Absolutely no AIS targets visible for the last 40 hours. We are alone in a big ocean.

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Sunday, May 22, 2016

Pacific Crossing Day Three

After the noon sighting on day three the fisherman changed the lure on the big rod. A bird arrived and soared around the boat. Hmmm, something's up. Scott Tobiason looked out behind the boat and saw a Mahi Mahi jump once, jump twice. He yelled, "That Dorado is going to take the lure!" and zing, the line started stripping out. And so we had fresh fish for our afternoon treat. As the seas were somewhat down, we all felt a little refreshed, but life was still a little difficult, especially down below in the fun house. We are still doing our three hours on, six hours off shifts and are starting to get into a rhythm. But still we feel a little dumb as we stagger around. There is a point when the movement lessens where you can read but if the seas escalate you gotta just put the book down.
Scott Tobiason at the nav station

We've discovered water coming into the boat where is shouldn't. Leak number one is forward in a cabinet above the vee berth. It's the place where the bow light wiring comes through the bow pulpit. We stuffed a towel into the cabinet. Leak number two is on the port side in a cabinet above the settee, probably the main chain plate is the culprit. Leak number three is very slight but annoying. It's in the deck prism above the quarter berth. Connie taped a diaper over it and it's absorbing just fine. Someday when the decks dry I'll climb out there and caulk the hell out of those three places. In Hawaii, I'll re-bed those areas.

So not much new on this side. Still uncomfortable. Hungry. Sleepy.

We watch the AIS gizmo and see the big ships passing us by. Last night I called one of the ships to see if our new AIS signal was visible and the radio operator said he could see us just fine. That's nice to know.

This morning on my 6:00 to 9:00 shift the wind started building. By the time Connie came on at 9:00 we needed to reef the main. We did. I went below. Two hours later Connie yells down to me to come help. The wind and waves had increased and the Hydrovane self steering couldn't handle the weather helm so she was hand steering. I came up and helped get the boat under control by turning downwind, letting out the main, and rolling in the genoa. The seas built to 6 feet with the wind at about 15 knots. Scott Tobiason came up and we put in a second reef in the main and that seemed to calm things down. But here we are again, in big seas, too rough to cook anything. I'm holding down the laptop as I type.

Wish you were here.

Scott, Connie, and Scott.

Oh, I almost forgot. Nautical miles run on day three = 127.

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Saturday, May 21, 2016

Pacific Crossing Day Two

Bleary eyed we settled down into our daylight portion of the day, spending the time napping and snacking. The motion of the boat eased during the day but still, to go down below was to risk entering "the fun house." Here in the fun house, up is sometimes down and gravity varies from moment to moment. I watched Scott T. doing a good job standing down below in the cabin, his body at 20 degrees to the floor, his arms pin-wheeling around to keep balance. We stagger and we leap going from one end of the cabin to the other.

I'm wondering if Stan Huntingford, the designer of this boat, designed Traveler for passage making to Hawaii. Her galley is on the port side, as is her master berth. With a northwest, north, or northeast wind she will lean to the port all the way to Hawaii. Being on the low side, the galley is much easier to work in than if it was on the starboard side. As it is, you just fall into the galley instead of having to climb uphill to get there. Same thing for the master berth. Just fall into the stateroom and you are suddenly in bed! And thank you Stan, for giving us all those wonderful hand holds, nice fat solid things. I find myself being projected through the air and as I flail out with my arms inevitably I come in contact with one of those beefy marvels and it saves my noggin from crashing into the bulkhead.

Down below, the farther you go forward, the more fun-house effect you get. In the back stateroom or companionway, you get a heave and sometimes a twist. In the galley, you are more over the center of gravity of the boat so the motion is less. On the settee if you lay head to the stern you can feel your feet launching themselves into the air more than your brain. Scott Tobiason sleeps in the settee and so far he has not fallen up into the air and off the bunk. Forward in the fun house is the little tiny room where you poop against gravity. You might be able to hold yourself parallel to the earth's core by using your thigh and calf muscles but that porcelain bowl is gyrating madly. Make sure your aim is good, get-er-done, as they say, and get out of that hell house as soon as you can. As for the Vee berth... don't go there. It is wild in there. Up, down, sideways, twist, triple sal chow, toe loop, camel spin.

We are settling in, all proud of ourselves, when we hear the zinggggggg. Fish on! S.T. pulls in a wonderful looking yellow fin tuna. So beautiful. So elegant. She's about 4 pounds and provides us with a nice meal. Connie makes sushi rice to go with the tuna and it is a feast. What did we do? Was that an actual meal? Thus far we'd just grabbed whatever was handy to stuff in our mouths. Now we have a plate with two things on it. Now that's living!

I'm going on 2.5 hours sleep at this point and the crew notices that I'm not thinking too clearly so they hijack my shift and order me to bed. The wind and waves have abated somewhat so that when I fall downhill into the master cabin berth I cover myself in pillows and drop heavily off to sleep - my first deep sleep is wonderful. That night the stars are out, the planets align and we all (on our various 3 hour shifts) enjoy the IPOD and music as Traveler grinds through the night.

We decided to use noon as the start and end of each day's reckoning. We call it taking the noon sight, kinda like they do in Master and Commander. But we have not yet hauled out the sextant. Still, at noon, we take a reckoning, have a mini-meeting, and declare how far we have come and how far we have to go.

We mark the miles run, S.T. puts out the fishing lines, and we watch the four foot wind waves crash over the bow. We are not getting much done outside of clicking off the miles but that's ok. I'm just happy that my mind is starting to function and that the boat is holding together.

Scott and Connie and Scott, somewhere in the Pacific Ocean.

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Pacific Crossing Day One

One year delay with busted fuel tanks, ten days delay with an autopilot replacement part, and many provisioning trips later the crew of S/V Traveler is actually out to sea on the way to Hawaii. 129 miles WSW of Cabo San Lucas, we've been traveling 27 hours, and still, nothing is broken. Can it be true?

I'll catch you up in a moment but first I want to explain what I hope to do with this log. I've read countless logs from boaters crossing the Pacific. It seems that the overshadowing interest is always miles traveled and miles to go. Many logs also start with current position (latitude and longitude) From salty sailors, we hear about sea state, weather, and sail changes.... ad nauseum. Others talk about books being read, movies being watched, food consumed. Boring.

Here in this blog we might mention some of the above items but mostly I'd like to describe what it is actually like to imprison yourself in a small floating vessel for three or four weeks. What is the toll on your body and how does life change as you struggle to get your rhythm? I've rarely enjoyed overnight or multiple night passages as my sleep cycle gets disrupted and I become stupid and irritable. Everyone says, though, that on a long trip you get used to keeping strange hours. Well, we shall see now, won't we, cause I have no other options at this point other than doping myself up and making my crew do all the watch shifts.
Leaving Cabo San Lucas - Land's End

To catch you up: On the eighth of May we left San Jose del Cabo and headed to Hawaii. All provisioned up and ready to go, we scooted towards Land's End. I engaged the autopilot, the same autopilot that handily drove us across the Sea of Cortez a week before. Within minutes the boat took a hard right. The autopilot driving arm had retracted and refused to steer the boat. Three or four circles later we disengaged, put our tails between our legs, and hand steered back to the marina at San Jose del Cabo.

After a long distance phone call to Chris at Alpha Marine on Mercer Island and some measuring with an ohm meter, and we concluded that a new drive unit was required. Karen Tobiason wired the money to Alpha and Fed Ex (I always think of Tom Hanks) started the wheels and jet engines in play to deliver the part here to the tip of Baja Mexico. Countless annoying delays and huge sums of money later we had the new drive unit in hand. After Scott Tobiason and I tried to install the power backwards, Chris got us straightened out and a mere ten days later we were back in business, all the fresh fruits and veggies spoiled necessitating more provisioning trips to the grocery store.

Wednesday afternoon after battening everything down we headed out and around Land's End. We had one reef in the main and a partial jib rolled out. In the distance we could see a definite line between normal white capping wind waves and a full herd of raging buffalo. Across the distance these buffalo roared south, a never ending field of white frothy boulders. A mile out we felt the full brunt of that northerly rushing down the outside of the Baja peninsula. Seas to 8 feet, spaced seconds apart! Wind gusting to 20 knots! Wow, we should have double reefed and had the smaller staysail deployed. Should we do this amidst this frothing, leaping, crazy herd of buffalo or just tuck back in behind Land's End where the seas are calm and the tourists are zooming around on jet skis and lounging on party boats? We chose to head back and once there in the calm of the late afternoon our thoughts turned to cold drinks, a nice dinner, and the wisdom of waiting for the calmer seas and lighter winds of tomorrow for a more civilized departure. A few hours later we were in a cantina in Cabo San Lucas with a Mexican band serenading us and Scott and Connie dancing like Latin lovers.

Thursday, we were even more prepared. This time MORE than everything was ready, if that's possible. We double reefed the main and pulled up the little staysail. Out ahead we saw the buffalo, baby buffalo. The 8 foot seas had shrunk to 4 foot seas and the wind was steady at 15 knots. Now this is much better!

The wind and waves were coming straight out of the west so we had to crack off a little to the south to make any headway. Traveling close hauled like this, we bashed into the seas as they steadily grew in height. By late afternoon we felt like we were in a washing machine, holding on for dear life and being careful not to hurt ourselves. Going down below, even just for a few minutes, made us turn green. Soon, Connie and I were huddled together in the cockpit staring at the horizon, trying not to hurl our breakfast. Scott Tobiason busied himself with fishing gear and tiding up lines, acting as if this was like a stroll in the park. Later, he admitted that he also struggled to keep it together.

Connie was hot, Connie felt dizzy, Connie felt weak, Connie went below to lie down to see if that would help. Nope. A minute later she was rushing up the companionway. "Out of my way, I'm going to be sick!" After puking up her breakfast she gave us the briefest of smiles, said she felt better, then retired below, bracing herself against the violent motion of the boat by carefully placing all the pillows around her on the lee side of the master bunk.

I sat and stared at the horizon and tried to make small talk with S.T. hoping I could keep my breakfast down. Eventually, after hours of dry mouth, swallowing saliva, and a vagueness in my head, I was able to forget for a few moments at a time that my body was miserable. S.T. took the first 3 hour shift while I laid down, sleepless on the settee. I took the next 3 hour shift in the dark, hanging on for dear life while bracing myself in the cockpit. The boat was leaping about, crashing into waves, and shuddering with the effort. We did have wind, though, and that enabled us to push through most of the waves, the sails giving us a steadying effect. Through this time we had to adjust sails, letting them out, bringing them in, moving the traveler, moving the jib sheet turning block, adjusting the autopilot. Never a dull moment.

I ate a cookie. At midnight, Connie reappeared and volunteered to take a shift. She ate a cracker. While Connie did her shift, I laid in bed, wedged into the lee side, not sleeping. The wind dropped and the sails clattered but the rough leftover seas remained. S.T. got up for his 03:00 shift, looked around and immediately put more sail on Traveler, shaking the last reef out of the main and rolling the Genoa out completely. Suddenly the wind came back up and we took off like a race horse, creaming through the bumpy seas. With the steading effect of the sails she marched into the night her motion eased somewhat.

By noon the following day we'd covered 127 nautical miles, eaten next to nothing, and felt the fatigue that comes with rough passage making. The wind held steady and yes, Yes! the seas seemed to be going down. I knew everything was going to be alright when I heard Connie down below singing and playing the ukulele.

You can follow our progress by using the link mentioned in the header of this blog.

Peace out. Scott, Connie, and Scott

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Thursday, May 12, 2016

Out and Back

You might have figured out that we are not at sea right now.  We went out.  Then we came back. Halfway to Cabo San Lucas I turned on the heavy duty Alpha 4404 autopilot, the same one we used for 24 hours straight a week ago when we crossed the Sea of Cortez.  It performed well for about 15 minutes then it suddenly turned the boat hard to starboard.  No amount of fussing with it could convince it to steer straight.  We went around in circles for an hour while dismantling the cockpit lockers and diving down under to inspect everything.  Eventually we bit the bullet and headed back to the marina at San Jose del Cabo.

Chris, at Alpha on Mercer Island, walked us through some troubleshooting steps and it was determined that we needed to replace the drive unit which is 27 years old.  And so we wait at the dock for Federal Express to deliver the new drive.  Shouldn't be long now, a couple of days perhaps.  I swear on a stack of chocolate chip cookies (very dear to me) that we WILL escape this coast and we WILL sail our dear Traveler across an ocean. 

Don't be disappointed in us.  Don't lose faith.  Join us in spirit tonight as we grill fresh Marlin on the back deck and watch the orange sunset reflecting on the huge powerboats here in the marina.

Sunday, May 8, 2016

Follow us across the Pacific

We are cleared by customs, cleared by the port captain, and only have to get clearance from Connie who will decide if we have enough provisions to make our 22 to 30 day transit.

Our friend Scott Tobiason is aboard and has brought a tracking device.  Once we have departed, on Sunday, you can track us here: https://share.delorme.com/ScottTobiason

The checkout here in San Jose del Cabo actually went pretty well.  When we reserved our slip here at Puerto Los Cabos they said we could clear the country from here and that they would help us.  The detail they didn't mention is that it would cost us $250 USD.  "Can't we just do it ourselves?"  "Sure, but you won't save much money."  Not true.

Urbano Bus from marina to San Jose del Cabo:  12 pesos each
Subur Bus from SJdC to Cabo San Lucas:  30 pesos each
Walk two blocks to Immigration.
Wait for the man, talk to the man, joke with the man, get our clearance paper stamped.  No charge.
Walk across the street.
Catch the Subur Bus from CSL to CJdC.
Walk to the Port Captain.
Walk two block to the bank to pay 350 pesos fee.
Return to Port Captain.  Stamp, Stamp, Copy, Stamp, shake hands.
We have our Zarpe!
Celebrate at local cantina with fish tacos and beer.
Urbano bus from Port Captain back to marina.

Total cost   476 pesos  or $26 USD
Or $42 USD if you count the tacos and beer.

Thursday, May 5, 2016

Crossing the Sea of Cortez May 2016

I'm sending this blog entry via email to test our ability to submit entries via the single sideband radio. Once we start our Pacific crossing, I'll be sending blog entries, text only, on occasion while we are at sea.

Note the yellow flag, was red the day before.  This picture added later when we had internet access.

Monday morning I paid for our extra night at the dock and we said our farewells. We eased Traveler out of the slip and slowly motored through the narrow canal towards the harbor entrance. Passing El Cid, we saw the yellow flag on its staff. The Port Captain had the breakwater entrance open. The dredge had moved into the center of the channel so we squeezed by it slowly and carefully. Connie was on the bow for a better perspective. The operator on the dredge motioned to her that we should veer to starboard as it is quite shallow on the port side of the dog-leg channel. We turned sharply across the channel to position ourselves to run the entrance. I could now see the rollers coming in, still quite high.

We got her lined up and increased the throttle just as one of the rollers broke just 50 feet ahead of us. We've got breaking seas again.!
Doesn't look like much here but it was quite rough getting out past the breakwater entrance.

Traveler punched her way through a four foot swell. The next swell was a breaking wave that broke over her foredeck, cascading water down both side decks. Connie hung on to the shrouds and got her feet soaked as Traveler muscled her way out through the entrance. Depth gage down to 12 ft then up to 15 and 20 and we were in the big blue. I peeled my hands off the wheel and set the autopilot to head us north.

Wind from the west.

After looking at the various wind prediction models on the internet I decided we needed to get some "northing" as the wind was coming directly from the west. A few hours later we raised both sails and took off on a starboard tack heading roughly southwest, beating as high as we could get. Soon we crossed the rhumb line course I'd set from Mazatlan to San Jose del Cabo. The seas were quite choppy with multiple wave trains coming from northwest and south. Four hours later we tacked north again and held that close hauled course for another four hours, crossing our rhumb line once again. I sure hoped the wind would veer. Tacking our way all the way to Cabo would cost us an extra day.

The next time we tacked we made better westing as the wind was starting to clock around more to the northwest, but still we were loosing latitude. We continued on into the night through lumpy seas. Sleep was difficult, illusive. At 04:00 AM the wind dropped completely but not the seas so we motored northwest to try to get back on our rhumb line. Later that morning the anticipated northwest wind came up and now halfway across the Sea of Cortez we finally were able to sail in the direction we wanted. The further west we got, the easier the seas became until we were able to get some uninterrupted sleep. When the seas are rough you might catch a few minutes of sleep but when the boat crashes into a wave or falls off a wave it wakes you up. By this second day we were both pretty sleep deprived. Swapping naps, we sailed west, sighting land just before sunset. Off to our northwest we could just make out Cabo Los Frailes in the setting sun.
You can see how the wind finally veered to the northwest.

We sailed through the night, taking shifts: Connie, sundown to 21:00; Scott, 21:00 to 24:00; Connie, midnight to 04:00; Scott 04:00 to landfall at 09:00. On Connie's first shift we had to roll in the genoa and hot-foot it out of the way of a big cruise ship bearing down on us.

Morning found us approaching the breakwater off the marina entrance in San Jose del Cabo. The crossing took us just about 48 hours. Long naps ensued.

This is the wind prediction off the cape for Saturday when we plan on making our exit.

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Monday, May 2, 2016

Red flag, yellow flag

Stuck:  Not with any kind of gear problems, or mental issues.  The port captain has closed the entry to navigation because of big swells coming in.  If you google Marina Mazatlan you can see the dog leg entrance to the lagoon here.  They dredge the channel on a regular basis to keep the depth.  However in periods of big swell there can be breaking waves at the entrance.  Hence the red flag is flying. The port is closed.  But we came in anyway.
Saturday as we sailed by old Mazatlan we could see and feel large period swells coming into the beach.  Wow! That's a big one.  Yahoo...
Nearing the breakwater I tried hailing Fonatur marina.  No answer.  Marina Maz, no answer.  Fuel dock, no answer.  I then got out the cell phone and called Marina El Cid which is right there at the entrance.  I got a gal on the phone and asked her if it was safe to come in.  She said, "Wait a minute"........(asked someone) then said, " Come on in.  The dredge is not in the way."  So I took that for meaning that the port was open. 
We approached and occasionally it appeared that waves were breaking but maybe it was a side eddy or something so I kept on coming in.  I tried to space my entry in a lull then went to full power on the back of a swell.  I then saw the entire entrance break!  I came in just after it with sphincter tight.  She roared through the gap, settled into a trough and the boat went bump.  Just a little bump.  Connie and I looked at each other mouthing "oh shit".  And we were in.  Safe.  Then passing the marina fuel dock I could see where the port captain had his red flag flying.
We chose a slip and had a nice evening.  The dock manager said we might be able to leave Sunday at 11:00.  At 11:00 the red flag was still flying and the dock manager said we could not leave.  We could be fined.  That's OK.  I don't want my boat flung into the rocks by breaking seas.  So we were here another day.

It is a glorious Monday morning and the flag is now Yellow!  What a nice color.  We leave here in 20 minutes headed for San Jose del Cabo to pick up Scott Tobiason and to do some last minute provisioning and to check out of the country.   Hawaii bound, let's hope.