This blog is about planning and preparation for a circumnavigation of the world in a 39-foot sail boat followed, hopefully, by a diary of the actual circumnavigation. You can track the progress of Pachuca by visiting http://www.pangolin.co.nz/xtras/yotreps/tracker.php?ident=VNW5980
Monday, December 29, 2008
Yesterday, Sunday, I dedicated to cleaning out the anchor well, giving it a preliminary sanding, and washing it out. Cleaning out meant removing various timber supports for the upper level and scraping off Sikaflex that I had applied in copious amounts at various times trying to get rid of the leaks. I then put in a couple of hours of scraping and sanding. This involved having my head and working from the deck with my head and shoulders down in the anchor well. (Ass up and head down, as they say.) John's little dog freaked out and started barking at the sight of this. I suppose that it had not seen that side of me before. Before the night was over I managed to bring some order to the boat by returning the sails to the lockers and clearing the cabin by restoring the V-berth area.
My mission today, Monday, was to make my way to Home Depot and West Marine, wherever that was, to do some shopping. Fortunately I saw Hugh and mentioned my plans and he suggested that I use Wally's bicycle to which he had a key. I got the OK from Wally and at 11 AM I was peddling my way into the wilds of Honolulu. Hugh also told me that Rob had managed to find a cheap air ticket back to his home in San Diego and would leaving tomorrow. Rob is one of those good people that you mean along the way and you hate to see go. We have exchanged contact information and we plan to see him when we sail into San Diego on our way south.
My first stop was the barber shop at the Ala Moana shopping center which turned out to be the biggest and busiest barber shop that I had ever seen. I got a top class haircut with ear and eyebrow trim thrown if for just over $13. I asked for guidance on how much to tip and the barber left it up to me. I gave him $20.
I the got on the bike and manage to overshoot Home Depot, turned back, overshot it again, reversed one more time then found it. The principal item that I needed was as small electric hand-held sander. I got a Black and Decker "mouse" with 80 grit pads. I also got sand paper, paint brushes, a mask, and other things required for the fiberglass job.
I then pushed on to West Marine and was disappointed in not being able to get those non-skid mats to keep our plates from sliding around the table in rough seas. I got a US flag, a replacement for the leaky through-deck fitting over the head that is normally used for the solar-powered solar fan, some sealant, and some other things.
I made it back to the dock at about 5 minutes to 5 PM and had just enough time to get my bag of ice and purchase a gigantic meal of pork and brown rice that I wolfed down in the boat, since I had eaten nothing other than 3 slices of toast all day.
In the evening Rob, Hugh, and I took a few photos and at this point there is a new bottle of Jim Beam beside me and I'll join them soon for a few farewell drinks.
Included is a photo of Pachuca's closest neighbor. Wally told me that it is an Alden, built in the 1930's. A businessman purchased her, did a lot of work on her, then stopped. The yawl now looks abandoned and neglected. Inside she is a shell, though she's still got the magnificent fittings of the era. This is a worthwhile project boat waiting for a young, energetic, and enthusiastic person.
There is another photo of my laptop setup when I need to connect to the internet. During the day I am surrounded by four cages of birds and visiting wild birds. There is a photo of one of the feathered visitors.
There are also photos of Rob and myself in front of Pachuca and Hugh and Rob in front of Princess Taiping. [Note, I saw afterward that these photos appeared too dark as I had feared, because they were taken at night with a flash. Apologies.]
Saturday, December 27, 2008
Two days ago I noticed that my back was hurting. I wondered why since I was no longer working winches, lifting anchors, reefing in heavy seas, etc. It didn't make sense. The pain got worse and that night in bed I figured it out. In Honolulu I had been running around in shorts and T-shirt and got a bit chilly which is fatal for my back. I started wearing warmer clothes yesterday and my back did not get worse but did not get better. Then last night at about 9 PM Oahu lost four generators and most of the island was plunged into darkness. It was going to take 10 or 12 hours to recover the system. On that basis I decided to sleep in.
I woke up at 10.30 this morning feeling tired, listless, and wooley-headed and my back still hurt. It was time to snap out of it. I decided to tackle problem of the leaky anchor well. I first removed all of the chain and rope from the anchor well. The 38 meters of primary chain and the 45-lb plow anchor are now on the port side of the boat. The 15 meters of chain and 60 meters of secondary rode are on the starboard side. I then emptied the sail locker. Out on the deck came two spare jibs - a heavy and a light one - two spinnakers - an asymmetric and an MPS - a storm jib, and a staysail. The storm trysail was small enough to store in the cabin. I then sponged out the sail lockers. Once that was done I plugged up the lower drain holes of the anchor well with blue tack and filled it with water to just below the inspection hatch. I found a leak. There is a constant seepage of water from the starboard side of the bulkhead and the floor level of the anchor well. There is a double bulkhead there so it is possible that the leak is higher up and the water is working its way down between the bulkheads. The point is that there is a leak and it accounts for most if not all of the water being shipped when we sail to windward.
The game plan is simple and uncompromising: Remove the inspection hatch between the V-berth and the anchor well, fill it in with ply, then fiberglass the entire anchor well from the bottom up. To that end I have removed the sheet metal lining the anchor well and am poised to remove the hatch tomorrow. After that I will thoroughly clean out the area then leave it to dry for 5 days to a week.
In the meantime I'll turn my attention to servicing my six winches which have shown signs of stickiness after a few days of non-use. I got advice from Wally and others and it looks like most people use diesel fuel to clean the winches. I was going to use turpentine but diesel fuel it will be. Regarding the amount of winch grease the key work is minimal. Instead of caking on the grease as I did in 2005 I'll apply a light coating and only the slightest hint of grease on the palls.
Late in the afternoon I was able to tell John on his boat that after dragging up the chains, hoisting up the heavy sails to the deck, and twisting and turning my way around the bilge to clean and dry it my back had quit hurting. As I type here with a second beer down my hatch and piano music drifting across the water there is only a distant echo of minor soreness coming from my back. Go figure.
Friday, December 26, 2008
I showed up with 5 cold beers and a bottle of white wine. Unfortunately there was not much interest in the SHR at the club so John, Rob, and I went upstairs and managed to get the TV on after some trial and error. John made at least two passes from the lowest channel up to the last channel which was over 230, but there was simply no coverage of the SHR.
Downstairs we were treated to what I can only describe as a banquet put on my the club members, several whom were working hard at the kitchen. I loaded my plate with a little bit of everything, pacing myself so as not to fill the plate too full. I got to the end of the food and oops! there was another section with four large trays containing the ham and turkey. It was probably the biggest meal that I have eaten in years and it was delicious. Kerry's invitation (a club member) and the hospitality and generosity of the Hawaiian Yacht Club are highlights of this adventure that I will never forget.
This morning I woke up at 6 AM to catch the PBS news then at about 7.30 set up my laptop outside of the shop. I found out yesterday what happened to our internet service. From the boat I was using a wireless service named "Jerome". That service started to degenerate then quit altogether but outside the shop I was able to connect to one named "The Fuel Dock". It turns out that "The Fuel Dock" is the main router and "Jerome" was a secondary router set up by Jerome, who recently departed for a job in the Bahamas, to service his and other boats on my side of the shop. Well, "Jerome" has failed and now I must go to the bench outside of the shop for my internetting. However, this is no hardship since I am surrounded with three cages of exotic-looking birds, not to mention the local visiting birds who seem completely relaxed among humans. There is electric power available and free coffee whenever I want it. First thing in the morning there is even a fresh newspaper on the bench awaiting my attention.
While I was setting myself up for this morning's internet session Wally, Kerry's husband, sat next to me to eat his breakfast. I asked him for advice on our short wave radio problem. He recommended a friend Ron, who has wide communications experience (e.g. ran a Sailmail site) although he did not operate at the electronic component level. Failing that, there is a company called Oceantronics not far from the Home Depot that Arnold and I had visited.
Wally phoned Ron on his cell phone. I introduced myself, thanked him for his time, told him that I had a Kenwood TKM707 with a Kenwood Mat-100 tuner, then gave him the symptoms. He asked me if I had the Squelch on. Huh? I said that I didn't know. He said that having the Squelch on would give those symptoms. I told Ron that I was starting to feel pretty stupid and that I would go and check.
I turned on the radio, got good initial reception as usual, then hit the Squelch button to turn it off. For 10 minutes I heard news commentary from Radio Australia with amazing clarity then I zipped around the various channels to confirm that the reception was holding. I came back and told Wally and later Ron that I was very happy to call myself a complete idiot. Wally had suggested that the problem might be a degenerated coaxial cable and he suggested that I swap out all of the coax cabling - from the backstay to the tuner, and the tuner to the Kenwood. I think that I will do that because I have no idea how old that cabling is.
Ron said that one of the competitors in last year's TransPac race made the same mistake and was not able to figure out the problem, so I should not feel too bad. He said that with Icom radios the trap is that the "speaker" button is next to the "on" button and people will inadvertently turn off the speaker and think that the radio has failed. Ron also said that he knows the Kenwood TKM 707's and says that they are practically indestructible. In fact, he is installing one on a boat this afternoon and had offered to visit Pachuca and swap radios to eliminate that as a problem.
Ron said that I owed him a beer. I replied that I owed him a case of beer. He asked where Pachuca is and will visit soon.
All's Well That Ends Well, even for idiots.
Thursday, December 25, 2008
I am alone on the boat but surrounded by people. I was invited to dinner last night with the crew of the Chinese junk. I contributed four badly-needed onions to the meal and brought along a plastic bucket filled with ice and 5 beers. The venue was the covered area overlooking the jetty where Pachuca lies, with the cooking done on the barbecue. It was a very pleasant evening for me with plenty of food, beer, red wine, and the company of very interesting people.
Nelson the captain told me a bit more about the boat. They carry enough water for 128 days. They cannot capture rain water because the mildew-suppressing dyes in the sails are washed into the rain water. He said that his sails have too many battens that are too stiff so that they are always flat and he cannot get a good airfoil shape for going into the wind. Other junks have more flexible sails that allow them to point about 45 degrees into the wind.
Hugh told me about their great success in fishing on their passage to Hawaii. One crewman caught over 50 squid in a couple of hours. The cooked the squid but also used them to catch all of the fish that they could consume, including Mai Mai and Tuna. They use hand lines and catch the fish even in the deep ocean away from land.
My task for this morning is to investigate the problem with the HF radio. I turned it on last night and got perfect reception with all of the bars of signal strength showing. After about one minute it started to degenerate, went down to a few bars, then I heard a crackle and the signal was up again. My first suspect was the connection between the antenna and the back stay. Sure enough there was corrosion. I carefully cleaned everything up with solvent and sand paper and reestablished the connection. Sadly, that was not the answer. I'll now empty the starboard quarter berth and have a look at the connections to the tuner. Failing that I will open up the compartment to the back of the radio and jiggle some connections there. I now have a powerful tool: the signal comes and goes and I figure that if I jiggle the right spot I'll get some audible action.
Tuesday, December 23, 2008
I saw Arnold off in a taxi cab just after noon today bound for the airport. His plane was scheduled to leave for Seattle at 3 PM and was due to arrive at about 10.30 PM Seattle time, if my memory serves me right. I found out later that Seattle had been slammed by a snow storm that had closed the airport the day before, so I am hoping that Arnold got through OK and that the shuttle bus from Seattle to the west side of Puget Sound is able to run. Time will tell. Arnold promised to send me an email when he got home.
After Arnold left I spent several hours rearranging the boat to free up the V-berth area in the forecastle for use as a sleeping compartment again. I also spent time putting canvas covers on the winches, hatches, outboard motor, and survival raft. I moved the life raft to the foredeck and strapped it to the mast, freeing up the cockpit for use of the fold-out table. I also removed the stern ropes from the cockpit area by coiling them up and hanging them off the rails behind the transom.
Also, I had a win in the afternoon. I tried out the connection of our Australian drinking-quality hose and it fit! Better yet, the hose was just long enough to reach both filler, so I was able to top up Pachuca's tanks with minimum effort.
Enclosed is a photo of the sunset from the cockpit of my boat. You'll see some outriggers in the water. Polynesian-style outrigger competition is a Big Deal here and I see many boats training hard.
Don't forget that you can enlarge this and any other photograph on the blog by pointing to the picture and hitting the left button on the mouse.
The first photo is of John and his wife entertaining their latest Christmas visitors.
The other two photos are of the public "lagoon" between the boat harbor and the hotel. It offers very safe swimming since it is totally enclosed from the ocean, but the water is replaced every day. In one of the photos you can see Diamond Head in the background.
This day's task was to find a bus to take us to Costco and Home Depot about 5 or 6 km away. We got to the main drag and I asked two ladies waiting to cross the street about the bus to Home Depot. They started to tell us to cross the street and take a bus but Arnold pointed out that Home Depot was the other way. Fortunately a man heard us talking and told us that we needed to take the no. 19 or 20 bus which we could catch at that bus stop. He pointed to the bus stop and there was a no. 19 bus ready to pull out. We rushed to it and boarded it. 45 minutes after leaving the boat we were walking into Costco, courtesy of Arnold's membership card. There I was able to purchase 6 pairs of 2.25 reading glasses and 3 pairs of 1.25 distance glasses. These are good quality glasses and a remarkably low price and it appears that I am "glassed up" perhaps all of the way back to Australia. I also picked up a toaster.
Our main mission was to go to Home Depot and get a long extension cord, and power board so that I could supply power to my laptop, the toaster, and an electric kettle on the boat. We got 100 ft of heavy guage lead and a 20-amp connector which Arnold would fit at one end. We did not get a battery charger because Arnold had been told by Jerome that there are serious side currents running between the boats and his anodes have been lasting only 3 months. So we have set it up so that we are getting shore power but keeping it totally separate from the boat's electrical system. We returned to the boat with these and other items then after a refreshing beer I set off for the Ala Moana shopping center, about a 20 minute walk away, to get an electric kettle.
The Ala Moana center is seriously huge: about 5 levels and what must be hundreds of shops. Arnold said that it was the biggest shopping complex in Hawaii when he lived here in the 1970's and has a world-wide reputation. Anyway, I found my way to Sears and got a plastic electric kettle. On the way back I stopped at McDonald's and got a hamburger meal for myself (i.e. burger, chips, cool drink) and a chicken McNugget meal for Arnold. (Confession time: two days previously we visited a Burger King and I wolfed down a triple burger with cheese, plus chips and a drink. Feel guilty? Nope. It was delicious!) By the end of the night we had power on the boat with a toaster and kettle. Having these appliances will save our cylinder gas. We are still running on the same cylinder that we used on the passage from Tahiti and if I have trouble filling up the Australian-standard cylinder it will be good if we are able to set off for Seattle with the second cylinder intact.
Honolulu is a beautiful city: modern, spacious, clean, plenty of open public space, and extremely well landscaped. I know that there are other great cities such as Sydney but Honolulu must rank up there with the best in the world. The bus system is extremely good and well patronized.
Sunday, December 21, 2008
Yesterday afternoon a Chinese Junk pulled up to the fuel jetty. She is the "Princess TaiPing", a replica of ancient Chinese ship craftsmanship built in mainland China . No bolts, screws or synthetic resin were used in her construction. She was officially launched in 2008, has LOA of 54 ft, beam of 15 ft, a molded depth of 5' 2" and has a registered weight of 35 tons. The purpose of the junk and its odyssey is to raise awareness around the world of Chinese boating history. The junk has visited Indonesia, South Africa, Brazil, the Caribbean, the east coast of the US. Presumably it passed through the Panama Canal because it is now on its way back to China. The original crew was composed of mainland Chinese, Taiwanese, and a few Westerners. Today we met some of the crew and I had the privilege of formally meeting the captain, Nelson Liu. Arnold and I were invited on board for a visit but when we arrived we could see that it was lunch time (noodles) and we begged off promising to return later. They expect to be here for about 6 weeks.
Some references to this project are:
Enclosed are photos of the junk and her crew.
Four photos of Pachuca in her new temporary home. Two are of her in the overnight position from which we moved this morning. It shows the spectacular background of the harbor. The other two are of her in her new home for 90 days. It was late in the day so the photos are a bit dark. Note the gang plank. The clothes hanging were clean but emerged from the trip smelling OK but a bit damp. Next to the mast is the Zodiac, drying after a good cleanup.
I woke up later than usual this morning after a really good sleep. Arnold told me that we had been asked to move our boat to make way for a Chinese junk that had arrived the night before.
After a light breakfast we got to work. First we moved the Zodiac from the davits to the foredeck and deflated it. This would give us full access to the stern of the boat, which we would require. Kerry then showed us a choice of two berths. We chose the inner one because it presented a wider gap and just as well we did. We learned from John in the end boat that during a during a blow we will get protection from the breakwater whereas his boat gets pushed over hard by the surge hitting it directly. Kerry advised us to tie nose-in to get privacy from all of the socializing that goes on at the jetty, and we would be able to look from out cockpit to the great sunsets that they have. There were two ropes connected to anchors that nobody would vouch for. However, there was so much junk along that bottom that I was reluctant to drop my own anchor and the locals agreed.
We made the entry into the slot after two go's and help from Mike on the jetty. We were between a small fiberglass boat and an older neglected traditional boat. We then spent several hours putting in lines and adjusting them and the stern lines going to the questionable anchors. We finished up with the boat fairly well centered with the bow a safe distance from the jetty. Arnold and I then set up the boarding plank that had been offered to us.
Then Arnold tried the cable that he had adapted to connect us to US power. We had just enough line to make the connection but the MasterVolt charger would not performed. After consulting the book that came with the unit and checking the model number we concluded that this unit will only handle 220-240 V and is not the model that also handles USA 117 V. This was a big disappointment and it means that I will have to go out and purchase a US extension cord, power board, and charger. I have no doubt that Bruce's consultant brokered the sale of the unit at no profit to himself as "will accept any voltage" in good faith, but it looks like we have a model 12/60 (12 volts, 60 amps) and not a model 12/60-2. We think that the "-2" indicates that it is the dual voltage (i.e. 117V and 220-240V model.
- One photo is of the approach to Ala Wai Harbor on the morning of 20 Dec 2008. Honolulu is in the background, and Diamond Head is at the right. To the right of Diamond Head is Waikiki.
- Two Photos of the decorated boats at the Christmas Parade
- One photo of me with two new friends here at Ala Wai
It was a morning of low cloud, drizzle, and little wind. Arnold downloaded a GRIB file that indicated better winds the following day, so we decided to postpone our departure. The postponement suited me fine because there were a few things that I wanted to do before we lifted our anchor.
The first thing I did was to gain access to the stern gland coupling and squirt 8 shots of grease into the packing via the grease nipple. This had not been done since Tahiti. At about 11 AM Arnold and I went ashore. The plan was for him to get some lunch at the local shop then return to the boat while I caught the bus to the shopping center. Unfortunately the free bus service shuts down for lunch and I had to wait two hours for the next bus to arrive at 1.25 PM. So I had lunch too and spent my time reading a newspaper that Arnold left me. The enforced wait had benefits: I was able to sit on a bench in front of the shop and observe the comings and goings of the locals.
I made it to the shopping center and got a shock at how the phone cards operate. For $5.00 I got a card good for 720 minutes. (WOW!). When I dialed Australia a voice message told me that I had 240 minutes of talk time. That was still good. After my 10-minute call I had about 120 minutes left. (Huh?) I then made another call and was cut off less than 15 minutes into the conversation for lack of funds. I went back into the shop and purchased two more $5.00 720-minute cards to guarantee me two phone conversations that I wanted to have with people in Australia. This activity took time and I was left with only 40 minutes for a quickie trip to the grocery store (onions, olive oil, beer, muesli bars, etc) and managed to get back just in time for the last bus of the day.
Just before nightfall I rowed over to “Sugarcane” to drop some information that I had promised to give to Heather, one of the crew, and when I knocked on the hull Jerry came out. I told him how happy I was to find someone on board, explained about the information, and asked him if he was also going on the extended cruise. Yes, indeed. In fact he was the owner and Heather and the younger very competent fellow were non-paid crew. The next thing I knew I was on board having an ice cold German beer out of an ice bucket. Jerry hails from Atlanta, Georgia and appears to be good, solid, and reliable man. His boat is large and beautifully equipped, with “two of everything”. He said that they have an ice maker that produces of 25 libs of ice every morning if I remember correctly. Anyway, after exchanging some of our experiences and picking up fishing tips from him,l a wildly successful fisherman, I departed for Pachuca promising to return the next morning for some valuable information that he had on boat accommodation and services in Honolulu (e.g. names of rigger and electronics person.). (Their first fish, a Tuna, was so large that they could not get it on board. Eventually they reduced the size of their lures an started catching 30-40 lb Wahoo, Mai Mai, and the like. They caught so many fish that they could not store any more and gave it away wherever they could.)
We then paid an unannounced night visit to Jeff on Allegro to see if it was OK to make that house call that we had promised to give him more help with his laptop-Iridium system. By then he had mellowed out with his evening whiskey and was not in the mood but he invited us on board and we drank out of the half-bottle of Napoleon brandy that we brought and he worked on his whiskey. He shared his stew with us insisting that there was plenty (and there was) and the evening was very pleasant indeed. Jeff's boat is beautiful: 46-footer with a center cockpit and a spacious aft cabin, and has a great fitout of wood.
18 December 2008
This was departure day from Hilo and everything went well.
We topped up our water tanks and filled our two 10 liter containers to join the three 6 gallon containers already in the hold. While we were doing this we saw Time motoring out and exchanged waves. We were not sure where Tim was headed, nor was Tim himself. Our guess is that he will sail back to Chile. Jeff paid us a visit to see our alternator setup and I gave him information on our MasterVolt hard-wired battery charger. It was a bit difficult to say good bye to him and the others but all we can hope is that our paths will cross again somewhere. Arnold and I then went ashore for the final time. Arnold went to the public phone to telephone Sandra his wife. I visited the harbor master for the departure process then visited Jerry at Surgarcane to get the information that he had ready for me.
The day was superb for our exit: sunny day with only a few white puffy clouds, and a moderate and fair wind blowing from the East. I took the 45-lb plow anchor off the roller to make retrieval of the Swarbrick 35-lb fisherman's anchor easier. We then cleaned the Zodiac and hoisted it up on the davits. We thought that it would ride OK to Oahu given that the outboard motor was still clamped to the rail. We unzipped the mainsail cover, loosened a few ropes, then started the engine. I then went forward and started cranking in the anchor chain by hand using a winch handle. The anchor broke very easily then Arnold put the engine in gear and did a tight u-turn to the right and soon we were on our way after waving good bye to Jerry. Three days ago there were four yachts at anchor at Radio Bay. With our departure only Jeff remained. Other yachts, notably Richards and Jerry's were tied to the wharf Mediterranean style.
While Arnold motored us out toward the heads I took the Swarbrick anchor off the roller, unshackled from the chain, then lay it on the foredeck. I then removed the plow anchor from the spare rode of 10 meters of chain and 60 meters of rope and shackled it to the 38 meter rode to be used as our primary anchor while we are in this part of the world. I then stowed the Swarbrick down below. I must admit that it is a relief to manage the plow anchor rather than the fisherman's anchor because the plow anchor is on the roller ready to drop with little preparation.
We then motored through the heads and continued motoring until one hour was up to give our batteries a good charge. In our 7-day stay at Radio Bay we had not had to start the engine to charge the batteries but on this morning they were down to 11.9 volts. We sailed NE against a splendid 15-kt easterly wind with jib only. Then we slowly altered course 10 degrees to the north then west at a time over the next two hours until we were sailing almost downwind will full jib at over 6 kt with 19 kt of wind over the mast and a robust following sea making for Maui which we planned to skirt on its east side. After Maui we would alter course a few degrees to the west to skirt Molokai on its east side then the next island would be Oahu.
The wind picked up during the evening. Arnold copped the worst of it during his watch. We were getting winds consistently at over 30 kt over the mast which meant true wind speeds of over 35 kt because we were moving downwind. The sea built up and it got as rough as I've seen it except in a gale. The waves were huge and the boat was being thrown all over the place like a toy. But we managed have a pretty good spaghetti dinner while Vistarr the auto pilot carried on. Vistarr handled the rough following seas magnificently. Unfortunately he dropped off to standby without notice with no warning, causing Pachuca to round up into the wind, resulting in a mad scramble by the helmsman to reestablish the course. We plan to discuss this problem with Raymarine.
19 December 2008
I took over the watch at midnight after several frustrating hours of trying to get too sleep. The conditions had been too rough and perhaps I was not tired enough after our stay at Hilo. Arnold described the sea as “spooky” and I know what he meant. He gave the good news that the wind had started to moderate. The boat was still moving fast – over 6.5 kt – even though we had reduced the jib to very little. As the night wore on the wind continued to moderate from the mid 20's to the low 20's then to around 20 kt. The sea started to settle down so I let out jib to the no. 2. At 5.15 AM I jibed the boat to lay a course across the northern side of Molokai. At sunrise I was able to see the tall mountain of Maui and later in the morning we saw Molokai. When I got up after a short sleep Arnold told me that there were dolphins around leaping out of the water. Two of them had leaped simultaneously across each other as though they were in a marine park. Unfortunately even though I saw the dolphins I saw no leaping so put my camera away. It was evident to us that at the current pace we would make the entrance to the marina at about midnight and agreed to stooge around outside the entrance until dawn.
I noted that the Zodiac had survived the night on the davits OK. Had I known that we would have to deal with such strong winds I would have stowed it away but fortunately no damage was done.
We sailed throughout the day across the northern side of Molokai, with with a moderate easterly wind and still running with jib only. The island was shrouded in mist and cloud as seems to be typical of tropical islands. At the rate that we were traveling we expected to arrive at the entrance to the Ala Wai Boat Harbor, on Oahu between Honolulu and Waikiki sometime during midnight. To avoid mindless stooging around waiting for dawn I proposed that we slow the boat down. After a simple meal of rice and chilli beans I hit the sack expecting to take over the watch at midnight. At 10 AM Arnold woke me up stating that there was a ship coming down on us from the stern and only 8 minutes away. I spoke with them on VHF 16 and soon they were veering away from our track. It is clear that they were oblivious to our presence until we called and we wondered when they would have seen us. I took over the watch Arnold turned it.
20 December 2008
I deliberately slowed the boat down by cutting down sail. The trick was to do it in such a way as to not get caught short if the wind dropped down. I got a fright in the middle of the night when the wind dropped to 7 kt and the boat speed got down to a dismal 1.4 kt. Somehow Vistarr the auto pilot managed to continue steering until the wind picked up two hours later.
It was a clear and starry night and I could see the southern side of Oahu unfolding before me. Soon I could see Waikiki with Diamond Head clearly silhouetted against the lights of Honolulu further to the wast. It was a wonderful experience given the clear sky, gentle breeze and quiet sea now that we were getting protection from being on the lee side of Molokai. I felt sorry for all of the tourists in the hotels that I could see who had paid serious money for the experience of seeing this part of the world that I was getting it for free! - all I had to do was to put a yacht together and sail it half way around the world. At 5 AM we were 2 nm south of Diamond head and only about 4 nm from the entrance to the boat harbour. I woke Arnold and we hove to and he took the watch while I got some sleep. At 6.30 AM I was up and we made our run into Ala Wai while I produced hot oat meal porridge for our breakfast. We had trouble-free entrance amongst scores of Hawaiian-style canoes being paddled by teams in some sort of competition. The area reminded me of Hong Kong: a large marina surrounded by high-rise apartment and office buildings. At about 8 AM we were tied up at the fuel jetty. We had made the journey from Hilo, Hawaii to Ala Wai, Oahu along a crescent course on the windward side of Oahu, Molokai, with Lanai and Kaoolawe tucked behind them to the west, a distance of approximately 200 sea miles, in less than 2 days under jib only – 1.5 days if one discounts the deliberate slowing down of the boat in order to make a daylight entry.
We were very apprehensive because we had heard stories of boat accommodation being very hard to find. We didn't like our chances of finding a berth withing walking distance of Waikiki and only a few kilometers from Honolulu. Nevertheless we had to try. Soon after we tied up at the fuel jetty Kerry came out of the shop and said that we were at a private marina and that she could offer us accommodation but that it was a bit expensive at $30 per day plus tax. She said that I might want to try my luck with the government marina which would be cheaper. I visited the harbor master about a government pen and was asked to fill in a form and that they would let me know in a few days if they could accommodate me. They said that in the meantime I would have to find my own accommodation for the boat. I returned to Kerry. We liked her and liked some of the people staying there. They offered their little store, a laundry, free Internet wireless, and a free bag of ice every day. Arnold and I liked the place so much that we decided to stay there. We also had further discussions on a change of plan that we had been considering if we could get long-term accommodation and we decided to implement the plan.
We have received strong advice from several people not to venture into the NE Pacific ocean in mid-winter. The latest such advice came that very day from a yachtie from Victoria, BC who said that we would experience one low pressure after another making life miserable for us. To be fair to ouselves the initial play had called for a crossing to Seattle in October, a full two months earlier. Well, we figured that the earliest that we would be able to leave Oahu for Seattle would be mid-January. If we could postpone that departure for two months we would be able to make the crossing in safer and more comfortable conditions. So the following is what we have decided.
We will keep Pachuca in a pen at Ali Wai for 90 days. During that time Arnold will visit Seattle for about six weeks. In fact, he was fortunate enough to get a flight to Seattle on 23 December and we would be able to surprise his family. He, Sandra, and his children Elisa and Andrew will be together for Christmas. He has booked a return flight for 7 February 2009. I will stay with the boat and spend my time tending to repairs and preparation of the boat for the next crossing. I'll have the rigging, wind vane, and HF radio issues dealt with. I would also like to have a crack at fiberglassing the anchor well and try to get rid of that persistent leak when we sail to windward once and for all. I have also identified the staunchion bases as the source of leaks into the shelves in the head and wet weather locker and I will attend to that. I will also do something about the drips coming from the cabin hatch. We would presumably leave for Seattle in late March in a much better prepared boat. Work that I will have done in Hawaii will be work that I would not have do in Seattle freeing up time for some serious sailing in Puget Sound and up in the San Juans on the Canadian side.
It was a jammed-packed day for us. We met Ron, a shipwright and rigger originally from Chicago, Illinois, who visited Pachuca and agreed to (1) check out the rigging (2) replace the damaged inner forestay (3) fix the problem of the loosening grub screws on the Profurl roller furler once and for all. Regarding the Profurl furler, he agrees that it is a design problem and has found a fix: use a different kind of screw. He brought to the boat Robert, a boat broker who lives on his own boat at the other end of the island, and seemed very interested in Pachuca. We met Mike, who sold us a 30-amp plug which we will use to adapt our cable supplying power to Pachuca. The plan is for Pachuca to be supplied with 110V power. Her MasterVolt charger will provide the boat with plenty of 12V power and we will probably use one of the internal GPO plugs to supply power to a 110V toaster and kettle. Mike also loaned us his car to go out looking for bits for Pachuca. We also me Sherri, who had spent 6 months in Opua, NZ with her husband in 2002. They had a lot of work done on their boat, including having the engine refitted. She agreed with us that Opua provided boating services of a quality that is not available anywhere else that we have seen. She remembered Bruce and Christine of Seapower and had the same good feelings about them and their dog as Arnold and I do. Ron, by the way, said that a couple sailed out of Oahu a few years ago for Seattle in December in a Westsail 33. The were fairly experienced, having sailed down to the Sea of Cortez in Mexico, across to the Galapagos and Fr Polynesia then to Hawaii. They were lost at sea. Ron said that the only things found were a life raft and an EPIRB.
In the evening Arnold confirmed that he had his return air tick to Seattle and we watched the annual parade of Christmas-decorated boats pass by. One of the boats Christmas boats pulled in. The skipper went to the shop looking for beer. One of the pubescent elves asked for a flashlight to shine on her decoration. I provided her with Pachuca's spotlight. Arnold didn't think that the light would be returned to me. I told him that elves never lie to me. Sure enough at 7.30 PM the boat returned and we got our light back. The sweet elf assured Arnold and myself that we would not have holes in our stockings this year.
The night view from the Ala Wai harbor is stunning. The milt-colored lights from the surrounding buildings reflecting off the water result in a world-class experience that would stack up with anything that Rio or Monaco would offer.
So that is it. Pachuca has a superb berth for 90 days nestled between Waikiki, Diamond Head, and Honolulu, Arnold is going home for Christmas, and all is well with the world.
Friday, December 19, 2008
Tuesday, December 16, 2008
Allegro is Jeff's boat. Jeff is pictured in the main cabin of Pachuca getting computer/satellite telephone help from Arnold, who is hard at work lifting a Heineken. Jeff has revised his opinion about sailing to the Pacific NW (i.e. Puget Sound) in winter. Rather than go through the hassles of trying to lay his boat up in Hawaii for the winter there is a good chance that he will join us in for a sail in loose company to the Pacific NW. Arnold said "within radio range?" I replied "No, withing rescue range."
The other boat is Tim's. Tim is a minimalist sailor on a budget but that man has walked the walk, including rounding the Horn. He was most of the way to Chile when the wind changed so he came to Hawaii. He has been disappointed with what he has seen here and will probably go back to South America.
Dieter departed this morning. His wife returned to their home in BC a few days ago and it was time to move on. He has permission to visit Palmyra Island 1000 miles to the SW and will go there soon. His is a beautiful cruiser, out of Victoria, BC, Canada.
Today we went out with Jeff in his rented car for a drive along part of the coastal drive of the island.
Tim from “Karili”, a Valiant 37, joined us. When I visited the amenities block for a hot shower to prepare for the outing I met Richard and his diminutive wife Dora who had just arrived from the mainland. Richard, who has been visiting his harbour since at least 1981, said that when the weather gets rough the swell pours over the sea wall turning this bay into a cauldron. Even the large coast guard boat gets out and anchors in the large bay where Arnold and I spent the first night for safety. He also said that he had seem my fisherman's anchor and it would definitely drag along the soft mud bottom in a heavy blow. He said that he used to have a fisherman's anchor and got rid of it. For the Hawaiian islands and the NW of the USA he recommends that I use my 45-lb plow anchor which I thankfully brought along. He also pointed out something that has been a worry at the back of my mind: if you are at anchor for a few days and the wind takes the boat in a circle around the anchor the chain will foul the anchor and possibly dislodge it, whereas a plow anchor will reset itself. He accepted that the fisherman's anchor may be OK for the Australian coast line with its weed, sand and rock bottom but it would not do for this part of the world. I plan to take his advice and intend to make the anchor swap when we are under way to Maui. This will offer the advantage of much, much easier deployment. (No setup: just drop the anchor and raise it.)
Hawaii is known as the “big island” and Tim says that to drive around it completely takes about eight hours. It was good just driving down the road and seeing the terrain and housing and how people live in Hilo. We wound up at a very pleasant cafe where Arnold and I shouted the others (i.e. paid) for lunch.
Tim is a very quiet but very interesting person. He was in Mandurah, Western Australia with this boat at about the time that we left on our trip – I think that he said April, and we left in early May. By then he had rounded the Horn, stopped at the Falklands, then bypassed South Africa and sailed directly for Australia. In April his left W.A. and sailed around the south of Tasmania and wound up in Hobart. From there he went to Opua and stayed on a mooring then left very shortly before we arrived. From Opua we sailed to Tahiti then Hilo. Not Tim. He sailed from Opua eastwards toward Chile, where he wanted to go. (Note: everybody seems to like Chile.) He got east of the Marquesas and the wind changed so he went to the Marquesas and from there headed for Hilo. Tim is a minimalist sailor. He has no EPIRB, life raft, or HF radio. His anchor chain is rusty and his single set of spreaders are sagging. (He doesn't know why. He went up and had a look and the welds and joints are fine.) He seems to sail the old fashioned way: by instinct and the seat of his pants. He is thinking of sailing to the Seattle area of the US but isn't sure. Talk about a free spirit.
Jeff was in the movie business and is semi-retired. He hopes to put his boat into storage somewhere in the Hawaiian islands to attend to his affairs at home but isn't sure if he will find a vacancy. Hawaii does not have adequate facilities for transient boats.
On the way back we stopped in town and visited the market. Arnold and I bought fresh fruit and vegetables then I headed for a grocery store that Tim told me about and purchased a few bags of groceries that we would need for the next legs to Honolulu. This included two large containers of rolled oats which I've been hankering for since Tahiti.
When we returned to the anchorage we saw that another boat had arrived. The had just arrived after an 18.5 day sail from San Diego, California.
14 December 2008
It was a busy and hard morning. I started the festivities by going up the mast to loosen the upper joint of the inner forestay located between the two cross trees above the radar scanner. I managed to do the job without dropping any tools, fittings, or myself off the mast. The inner forestay is now coiled up and ready to present to a rigger for duplication. In the meantime I have dropped the two running backstays because I think that there is enough support for the mast as a sloop rather than a cutter.
Then Arnold took to the Zodiac to circle the boat to paint the area around the waterline with a strong solution of bleach. The idea was to kill the growth before we tackled it with scrapers and abrasives. I then dedicated 30 minutes to tie on the port rail spray dodger that we had been forced to remove during our passage to Hawaii because it was taking too much of a hammering from the constant port heel of the boat. I then faced the task of going into the water to free the prop shaft of the trip line rope wrapped around it. Being an asthmatic from way back I don't have the best lung capacity in the world so I had to make many short dives with at various times a Stanly knife, screw driver, ultra sharp serrated kitchen knife, and hack saw to cut away 95% of the rope. A small fragment of rope remained wrapped tight to the support and I saw no harm in leaving it in place. With time it will drop off. After that I cleaned the rear of the hull where Arnold could not reach from the dinghy. The area around the engine exhaust was particularly bad because it was covered in soot after many hours of engine runs. Arnold did his cleanup circuit of the hull while I cleaned the algae growth along the gunwales and at the end we had an amazingly good looking hull that had not been cleaned since Australia and has been cruising for more than 7 months. The antifouling below the waterline looks amazingly good – probably because of the fast boat speeds we were reaching to get to Hawaii – and I am hopeful that we will arrive in Seattle with the hull surface in reasonable shape.
By then it was afternoon and we went ashore with me wearing nothing but wet underpants (“Ladies, it is the latest in Australian bathing suits, called 'budgie smugglers'.” I had a how shower while Arnold went ahead to the store for lunch. I soon joined him (Chilli beans and rice) and then Arnold went in and bought matches and a cigarette lighters. Our last remaining gas lighter had failed and the matches on board were a bit too soggy to use. Anyway, cheap gas cigarette lighters seem like the way to go for a reliable means to light our gas stove so we plan to sail out with about 10 lighters in our supplies.
I spent the mid afternoon looking at a very useful Hawaiian cruising guide that Dieter had loaned to us. We now will probably bypass Maui and head for Ala Wai harbor (I'm in America, so American English from now on, hence “harbor” instead of “harbour”) west of Waikiki and east of Pearl Harbor and Honolulu Harbor on Oahu. We will attempt to get a berth via reciprocal club privileges at either the Hawaii or Waikiki yacht clubs. Failing that our fallback will be to lay at anchor some distance off Waikiki beach in 6 m of water. Ala Wai harbour is within walking distance of just about every facility that we need, so we are hoping for success. Our fellow yachties have confirmed what the books have stated: Hawaii has extremely poor facilities for transient yachts and pens, moorings, and hard stand storage are extremely difficult to find. Dieter said that some owners are charging $50.00 per night for their moorings.
Dieter came by and we returned his books with our thanks and then Jeff visited with a big tumbler of whiskey and ice. By then I was nursing a neat Napoleon brandy so the timing was perfect. After giving Jeff a tour of the boat I attended to his request of the morning: show him how to bake bread. He had tried several times with various recipes with no success. After verifying that his oven was similar to mine I went through the process step by step. (“It is like mixing cement” I said.) He took that in then I wrote down the procedure step by step. After that Arnold showed him what he had on the GRIB file weather services via satellite telephone. Jeff has an Iridim satellite telephone but has not managed to get good weather information from it. Tomorrow Arnold will help him get set up with the GRIB file weather system. After that it was just three sailors shooting the breeze.
I learned that Tim lived in a cabin in the mountains of – Oregon, I think – for 17 years when he decided to realize his other dream of sailing. He then sold his property and bought his boat and started sailing. We agreed that although he is on a shoe string budget and has cut all sorts of corners on equipment it is he who has done the serious sailing, e.g. round the Horn and the world. Earlier today we saw Tim and I suggested that the only way out of here was to head for the NW of North America. Nope, not Tim. He'd be quite happy to sail from Hawaii to Chile even though it is not the done thing. (But who are we to talk? The official in Papeete was very polite in stating that basically we were highly unusual (i.e. “nuts”) to be sailing from NZ to Tahiti to Hawaii. And how orthodox is crossing the Bight, Bass Strait, and the Tasman Sea in winter?)
Jeff is very interesting. He was in the movie industry doing camera work (e.g. chase scenes) and has worked with Francis Ford Coppola, Spielberg, etc – not to mention commercial work with various well known artists such as Keith Richards. As I escorted Jeff off the boat I asked him to tell me more about Francis Ford Coppola, whom I admire greatly for “Apocalypse Now” and other movies. He said that in the industry he worked with really great people and some real jerks. He had special good words for Sean Connery whom he described as a courteous down-to-earth gentleman.
I love cruising. Yes, it can be cold, wet, dangerous and terrifying. But then you get to see great places, great boats, and most of all meet interesting people from the entire spectrum of human existence.
15 December 2008
It rained pretty heavily all night. It turns out that Hilo has a reputation of being a rainy island and some yachties avoid it for that reason. I had been concerned about Richard's warning about fisherman's anchors not holding well in this mud ground and also the prospect of fouling the anchor if the wind blew me around the anchor, so I had set up the 45-lb Manson “plow” anchor the night before, complete with 10 m of 3/8” (10 mm) chain and about 60 m of rope. The anchor is on the roller and if we drag I will motor forward to position myself then drop the plow anchor.
In the morning the wind was all over the place as the various squalls passed and I elected to stay with the boat while Arnold went ashore to get the laundry done and have a hair cut. I saw him off on the Zodiac then set to work doing a complete cleanup of the head (toilet), food cupboards, and floors. I also sponged out the water in the port side lockers. The cleanups included wiping walls and ceilings with a solution of bleach to get rid of the mold.
Arnold returned at about 2 PM and I decided to go out shopping. The trick was to use the shuttle bus service associated with a cruise liner that was in port to get transport to and from the shopping mall. I managed to get to the departure place minutes before the bus arrived and I was soon on my way; I spent $160.00 at Safeway on groceries then used their trolley to get the heavy supplies back to the departure point. There I transferred the groceries to my two $5.00 carrier bags and was soon on the last shuttle (4.45 PM) returning to the harbor. On the way back I struck up conversations with the various cruise passengers and they seemed mesmerized by my story of our sail so far. I told them that from the liner they would be able to see Pachuca in the middle of the bay with her blue mainsail cover and the name “Pachuca” on the cover. Shortly after I arrived at the boat I cracked a beer and stood tall on the cockpit coaming and hoisted the beer to the ship. A few people waved back. Shortly after nightfall the ship was gone, due in Honolulu on the following night.
Jeff arrived shortly before night fall and he and Arnold had a good session working out the problems with Jeff's access to the Internet. Jeff left the laptop and his other electronic gizmos in the care of Arnold,who persevered with his quest – ultimately successful – to access the internet on Jeff's PC via the satellite telephone.
Jeff presented the Pilot charts for the NE Pacific Ocean and passed on dire warnings from friends of his in the fishing industry to not venture into those waters during the winter. Jeff spoke darkly of passage time of more than 40 days and a cold, wet, and dangerous experience. However, examination of Jeff's own pilot charts for November does not show significantly bad winds; The storm tracks are generally to the north, toward Alaska. “Ocean Passages of the World” gives instructions on the passage from Hawaii the Seattle in November without any reservations about doing the passage at that time of year. It is all about probabilities and risk. If I thought that there were significant enough I would not hesitate to winter over in Hawaii and do the Horn a year later than I had planned. However, at the moment the objective information does not seem to warrant a postponement of out trip. I am fairly confident that our good access to weather information and the equipment on our boat (e.g. parachute drogue as a last resort) will see us through.
16 December 2008
The first thing we did this morning was to spend over one hour packing away the groceries that I had purchased the previous day. We carefully assessed what we already had, packed everything as as sensibly as possible, documented it in the inventory book that Brenda has left us, and did some cleaning of the starboard locker along the way. While we were doing this Jeff came by with his copy of Jimmy Cornell's “World Cruising Routes” so that we can get more information on sailing to Seattle.
We were having a hot drink on deck after our packing effort and saw Dieter cranking in his anchor chain by hand in order to depart. His wife had returned home a few days previously and he was moving on to another bay with plans (and permit) to visit Palmyra Island which is 1000 nm to the SW. He told Arnold that he then plans to beat his way back to Hawaii. (Better him than me!)
The Arnold and I took the courtesy shuttle bus of the day's cruise ship, “Pride of America”, to Wal Mart next to the shopping center. The bus driver dropped me off at “Best” hardware along the way where I purchased a hack saw and two extra blades, turpentine, two gallons of denatured alcohol for the metho cooking stove, two buckets, some electrical tape, and two cartridges of silicone sealant. The walk to Wal Mart was not easy – about two miles lugging the material by hand. I got there just as the shuttle was about to leave for the dock and joined Arnold who was already on board after having done some more shopping.
We were planning to depart the following day, Wed the 17th, if possible. Now that the shopping had been done our tasks were to: have an Internet session to update this blog and check our emails for the first time since Papeete, fill up the port water tank (starboard one was full) and spare water containers, and make a phone call or two. Also, Jeff was returning in the evening to get more help with his computer system. He entrusted Arnold with his laptop and Iridium phone over night and Arnold was able to get on the via the Iridium phone which Jeff had never been able to do. If all went well we would depart the next morning for Oahu, possibly stopping at Maui for the night.
Friday, December 12, 2008
- One of Pachuca hard to the wind with wheel lashed
- One is of washing day on Pachuca during our passage to Hawaii
- One is of Pachuca anchored in the tiny Radio Bay at Hilo on the island of Hawaii. The boat in the foreground represents what happens to people who do not pay their berthing fees.
We have found an internet wireless facility at a bar just outside of the harbour gate. Unfortunately we have had to order a rum and coke each to avail ourselves of the facility. In fact, we've just ordered our second rum and cokes. We didn't want to but we've done it out of duty to the blog :-) Anyway, all is well. We've met several terrific sailors. One of them, Jeff, out of San Francisco on his Kelly-Petersen 46 has rented a car and took us into town with him for a visit to the laundromat. Tomorrow the three of us will do a circuit of the island with Arnold and myself footing the fuel, lunch, and other expenses.
Anyway, below is my summary of our sail from Tahiti to Hawaii (the "big island").
It was an unexpectedly fast passage:
- 2260 nautical miles
- 18.5 days
- Average speed of 5.1 knots
- The winds were generally outstanding from the second day out of Tahiti until the day before we arrived in Hawaii
- The first half of the trip, to just past the equator, was essentially a windward passage. We needed to go east to cross the equator at 147 W but the winds were generally from the NE or E – never from the SE as I would have expected. Consequently we were forced to sail close to the wind, even when it veered to the E because we had to follow it around to get as much “easting” as possible. (My advice to any ketches, catamarans, heavy displacement cruisers or any boats that may have problems beating into the wind is to wait in Tahiti until there is a favourable wind then sail as far east or ENE as you can – half way to the Marquesas if possible – and when the wind changes lay a course for 147 W at the equator.)
- Crossing “doldrums” of the equator posed no problem whatsoever. The winds were no different in the equatorial region than elsewhere.
- From the moment we lay a course directly for Hilo after crossing the equator the sailing conditions were outstanding. Generally we were on a beam reach with 12-18 kt NE winds. Sometimes the wind back to the N a bit putting us on a narrow reach. We were regularly getting noon-noon distances of more than 120 nm with several days over 150 nm and the top day of 171 nm
- The weather was cooler and damper than we expected, with low fast-moving clouds and light rain every day or two. With this weather activity we would get winds of up to 24 kt.
- We finally started to use the autopilot full-time and found that it does a much better job of steering and consumes less than half of the electrical power that the refrigerator does.
- Our supplies held out well
- Fresh pineapple and mangoes for the first few days
- Fresh carrots for the first week
- An onion a day until about the 16th day
- Potatoes lasted the throughout the entire passage
- Baked a loaf of bread every other day after we consumed our bread from Papeete
- Lots of rice, spaghetti, canned fish
- We didn't bring much alcohol so we ran out of cask wine on about the 12th day and beer on about the 16th day. (To my annoyance I was later to discover another cask of wine in the hold.)
- We did not have to switch gas cylinders. That little 3.4 kg cylinder supported us through endless meals, cups of coffee and soup, and gas-consuming bread baking.
- Our port tank ran dry on the 11th day. After a request for help from our sailing friends (see blog) that night we got the only decent rain on the entire passage and took on 55-60 liters of water. We arrived in Hilo with half of our reserve water intact and both tanks functioning.
- Casualties of the passage:
- One wrist watch overboard
- One ruined inner forestay
- The HF radio is getting to signal strength. Both the radio and the tuner seem to be working OK and all the connections seem intact but the radio is just not receiving. We will do a thorough check of every connection and if we cannot find the fault will seek help in Honolulu.
- One anchor trip line wrapped around the propeller shaft
- The electrical supply system worked brilliantly well. During the 444 hour passage we ran the engine a total of 13 hours to charge the batteries. The solar panels and wind charger were of great assistance in minimizing the nett power usage and the fast charging and large battery capacity took care of the shortfalls.
The previous afternoon Arnold had downloaded a GRIB file that showed some high winds (35-40 kt) approaching the Hawaiian Islands to be affecting the northern islands on 11 December. Hawaii, the “Big Island”, our destination, would escape the brunt of the high winds. Nevertheless Arnold and I resolved to enter the safety of Hilo harbour as soon as possible, even if it meant a night entry.
Early in the morning I discovered that our inner forestay had been destroyed by the weather jib sheet which had been shortened by wrapping around the boards that we keep on deck, putting a lot of pressure where the wire is swagged to the tang at the deck. Metal fatigue must have caused most of the individual strands to part from the swage. I disconnected the forestay with its loose and very sharp exposed wires and tied it to the mast. I then brought on the running backstays to give lateral tension to the mast though on reflection I do not think that this was necessary.
However, that evening the magic spell of the steady, reliable NE trade winds was broken and we entered a period of rain squalls and variable winds, no doubt as a consequence of the approaching bad weather. By 8 AM on the morning of the 9th we were running before a weak SE wind, mainsail down, jib down to a no. 2. There was lots of rolling and flogging of the sail. Our boat speed was down to 3.7 kt. Yes, the magic spell was broken. Instead of our previously planned entry on the night of 10 December we were now hoping to get into Hilo Harbour on the morning of 11 December, 24 hours ahead of the expected blow.
There seems to be a time lag between a failed wind and the realization by the crew that it is a hopeless situation and to give up. We put up with several hours of winds that would come then go leaving a floundering boat with thrashing sails and rigging. It got to where when the wind would come up to 10 or 11 kt I would tell Arnold “Here comes another teaser wind.” This would last for about 15 minutes then it would begin to die down until we were down to a 6 kt wind trying to make something out of nothing. In the late afternoon we gave up and dropped all sails. If you can't change reality then change your thinking. We decided to use this laying ahull as an opportunity for some R&R after over two weeks of drivng ourselves and the boat hard. I had one of my beloved ocean baths with a 20-minute swim around the boat. I then shampooed my hair with fresh water in the cockpit and rinsed myself totally with fresh water. Arnold did a similar thing. We then had a quiet evening meal and took to our bunks with me saying rashly that no matter what wind came up I was going to stay in bed until I was really, really sure that the wind was reliable.
10 December 2008
At midnight I woke up to the sound of the wind charger humming. This meant wind. It wasn't much of a wind – maybe ll kt, and maybe a teaser. But I'm too much of a sailor to let an opportunity pass. Even though it was midnight I felt remarkably refreshed and alert (which I realized later was due to the fact that I am now accustomed to waking up at midnight for my watch), so I decided to give sailing a go. We had discussed the possibility of motoring in the last 100 nm to Hawaii which we could have done because I have a range of approximately 400 nm with the engine. However, I wanted to avoid 20 hours of motoring if at all possible. So from midnight until dawn I really worked the system. No longer the luxury of tweaking the sails while the boat hurled along at 6.5 kt. It was a case of rolling out the jib when the wind came and rolling it back a bit when the wind died down. In this way I managed to nurse the boat at an average rate of about 1.5-2.5 kt.
In the early morning Arnold took over the watch and the situation was slightly better. He carried on and as the day progressed conditions improved steadily but very slowly. In the afternoon we were doing a respectable 4 kt with jib only and wind almost from the stern. In the late afternoon I went to the foredeck and set up the anchor for a drop. This meant dangling the anchor just off the roller then putting in the cross piece and (to my later regret) clipping on the trip line with buoy. I then used the trip line to pull the anchor back against the bow of the boat to keep it out of mischief with the waves.
The evening turned out to be brilliant. I was as though all of the sailing spirits had worked together to give us a perfect entry into Hilo. The moon was nearly full, the sky clear, and we were sailing at 4.5 kt with a 12-15 kt wind in a falling sea with the island of Hawaii on our port side. We eventually identified the white flashing light at the end of Blonde Reef and the green flashing light marking the entrance to the harbour. Two hours later we were rounding the green light into the harbour with a gentle and favourable south wind and the moon directly above us. By previous calculation we steered 156 degrees magnetic and soon were in a large splendid anchorage with no boat or mooring in sight. We dropped anchor in 5.5 m of water with 20 m of chain out. It had been a perfect entry. We then celebrated by finishing off a bottle of French red wine, a meal of potatoes and fish, then the last of our Cointreau.
11 December 2008
I woke up after a restful night and saw a tug entering the harbour with a large barge in tow. I switch on the AIS and to my delight saw their details on the chart plotter. This meant that it was the ship that we had failed to see with AIS a few days earlier that had the problem, even though they insisted that their AIS was on. We soon started to try to get instructions via the VHF radio. We got no response from the Hilo harbour master via VHF ch 16. We tried the coast guard and got a response from the Honolulu coast guard to go the “22A” I replied that I was going to “VHF channel 22” and then got nothing. Arnold became irritated and got on the radio as the assertive “bad guy” in contrast to the polite an compliant “good guy” visitor Robert. After trying several working channels it was found that channel 09 was a good working channel for us. The coast guard did some checking and got back to us with the instruction to contact the harbour master on VHF 12. The harbour master instructed us to anchor at Radio Bay, a tiny little bay around the end of the commercial wharf, and close to the authorities.
We weighed anchor at about 10 AM against a wind that was up to 22 kt in strength. As we approached the bay we encountered apparent winds of 24 kt. Nevertheless we persevered and entered the bay with no problem – other than to find another three boats already at anchor, cutting down our options in that tiny bay. We had a couple of go's at positioning ourselves and soon had the anchor bedded down OK, or so we thought. Fortunately we hung about and noticed that we were too close to another boat. I shortened the scope and that is when the problems started. We started to drag the anchor. I asked Arnold to go forward with the engine so that I could retrieve the anchor then noticed the float of the trip line moving toward the stern of the boat. I went down to get the boat hook to retrieve the line but by the time I got back on deck I had lost sight of it. We continued to retrieve the anchor then Arnold heard the thump thump thump of the float hitting the boat. The trip line had fouled the propeller. There was nothing to be done but continue and hope for the best. We redeployed the anchor in a better location in time to see bits of the trip line float drifting away. The line had wrapped around the propeller shaft, broken, and I was able to retrieve part of it and remove it from the anchor. We saw later from the Zodiac inflatable the other part of the line wrapped around the propeller. I don't think that there was any serious damage done because the line was relatively thin and the engine would have stopped had there been a serious load put on the propeller shaft. However, it meant that I had a dive job ahead of me to cut away the line around the propeller. It also meant that I will have to reevaluate my use of trip lines because they do introduce another complication into the anchoring process. The most likely outcome is that I will use a trip line only when in suspect areas.
We inflated the Zodiac and went ashore in the early afternoon. The entry process went very well. To my great relief because I have a US passport I will be able to freely cruise American waters without restrictions (i.e. Notify the authorities every time I enter and depart a port), even though Pachuca has Australian registration. This would make life so much easier for me! We then visited the harbour master's office and paid a princely sum of $8.70 AUD a day for the anchorage and access to hot showers. The security is outstanding: a gate staffed 24 hours per day and photo id required for entry into the dock area. We paid for 5 days. Along the way we met Dieter a lone sailor in his beautiful cruiser from Victora in British Columbia, Jeff another lone sailor out of San Francisco, and Richard with his double ender ketch also from the west coast of the USA. Dieter and Richard are not totally alone. Richard's wife Doris flew in from the mainland a few days ago and Dieter's wife will join him soon. This seems to be a common modus vivendi that we also noted in New Zealand.
After the processing we visited a local shop and got two cans of Brazilian corned beef and a six-pack of Heineken. By then the drizzle had set in so we retire to the boat for the night. We lowered our Q flag and replace it with the Stars 'n Stripes. That evening I quaffed down three Heinekens (hic!) and Arnold cooked the dinner of white rice and corned beef.
The weather was drizzly and was expected to be so for another day. That was too bad because parts of our boat and gear were damp – not soggy damp like the bad old days, but damp enough to be noticed.
The speedy leg has ended with a safe landing. It is most likely that they are both very tired so will rest now that they have the chance to. It will be very interesting to see how Pachuca fared considering she went so fast.
Heres is the daily sms;
ARRIVED HILO, HAWAII 10 PM LAST NIGHT. CHECKED IN WITH CUSTOMS AND PORT OFFICE THIS MORNING. WILL VENTVRE INTO TOWN TOMORROW.
As Robert and Arnold have now safely arrived my "duties" on this blog will cease until the next leg. It seemed to me that my fingers had only just touched the keyboard when they arrived already.
Over and out for now, Robert will resume this blog very soon.
Wednesday, December 10, 2008
Tuesday, December 9, 2008
Pachuca must be very close to Hawaii now. Here is the daily sms;
NOON 9 DEC GMT-10. 18N32, 154W01. 2179 NM FROM TAHITI, 72 NM TO HAWAII. Noon-Noon: 129 NM. NOW RAINY WITH LIGHT, VARIABLE WIND. SLOW SAILING.
Here is the latest email from Pachuca, as received today;
4 December 2008
In the morning the galley pump started sucking air which told us that the starboard water tank was “dry”. I put that word in quotation marks because we realized later that because of the heel of the boat and the distance of the water outlet pipe from the bottom of the tank there would in fact have been some water still in the tank. Nevertheless I worked on the assumption that we had used all 140 liters of water in the tank over a 12-day period implying water usage at 11.7 liters per day. We hove to and plumbed the port tank that services the head and estimated that there were 60 liters remaining, suggesting that we had used 80 liters out of that tank. That is a total consumption of 220 liters total consumption, and 18 liters per day between the two of us.
We did some calculations and concluded that without additional water we would have to reduce our consumption from what I would call “comfortable restraint” to something more stringent. To that end we formulated a plan of drawing our water from the port tank in measured and recorded quantities and aim for a total usage of 10 liters per day.
We were still moving well and our noon-noon distance for the day was 154 nm.
We had not had any serious rain since the passage from NZ to Raivavae when we managed to get 50 liters of water for our tank. The rain that we were now frequently encountering came from low fast-moving clouds and was very light, making water extraction from the sail a real battle.
At this point I said a prayer. I explained the situation to the sailors who had gone before us and asked them to help us get rain water. This came out of an experience I had during my solo sail on my second boat Angie from Fremantle to Esperance about 15 years previously It was night and I was at the tiller exhausted, wet, cold, and a bit despondent. I began to feel the presence of something. Then I began to sense the sky above me filled with the faces of people whom I didn't know. I thought about it for a while and concluded that it must be the faces of the sailors who had gone before me. I felt a connection with them and I took great comfort from this.
Anyway, I asked them for help and we ran into series of clouds in the late afternoon and managed to harvest maybe 8 liters of water. Another drizzle later gave me enough water to cook the spaghetti. I was grateful for that. We had just finished a cheer-us-up Drambuie after dinner when the boat started to speed up very smoothly, like it was on rails. Arnold went into the cockpit to find another squall, and this time the rain was serious. I stripped down to my underpants and went into the cockpit with two buckets, a plastic pot, and the large red funnel. The work in the dark was wet and somewhat risky. Arnold worked the helm. With one hand hooked over the boom and on tippy toes with one foot on the coaming and one foot on the seat I would reach into a deep fold in the sail which had one reef in it with the plastic pot, then transfer that water to the two buckets resting on the seat against the coaming. Soon the buckets were full and the really interesting part began. I had to take each bucket to the filler inlet of the starboard tank which was fortunately on the weather (i.e. high) side of the boat. I would use my fingers to unscrew the filler cap which I had already loosened with a screw driver, put the big funnel in, and the pour the water in as carefully as I could. This was all against the backdrop of the boat pitching, rolling, and yawing as she tore along at over 6 kt with sea water either flying in through the air and running along the deck. I was tethered to a jack line during the entire time but I really didn't want the experience of being dragged through the water at over 6 kt until Arnold could heave the boat to. By repeating this procedure we managed to harvest what I estimate to be between 55 and 60 liters of water, sufficient to see us through to Hawaii.
I didn't forget our friends the sailors and thanked them very much for their help. Yes I know, I am an ex computer man out of the rational world of Cartesian logic. Nevertheless that is the way it was. Maybe that is why I wanted to go to sea.
That night the weather got rough. I described is as “a night to get through”. The winds were erratic as the mini weather systems came and went but we were prudent enough to put in that second reef to ensure a quiet night. Well, the second reef ensured a safe night, though not a quiet one. Arnold dealt with winds of 23 and 24 kt and the boat was heeled over hard on a narrow reach that became a close-hauled beat.
5 December 2008
I took over the watch at 1 AM and found the same conditions that Arnold had been dealing with. The wind had backed during his watch and he had been forced to alter our course 20 degrees to the west. We reduced the headsail by another 50 % and I eased the mainsail a few degrees to reduce weather helm. The rest of the night involved monitoring the boat as the autopilot did a marvelous job of steering the boat through that rough and confused sea. Toward dawn I noticed that the wind had veered a little bit so I adjusted our course 3 degrees to the north. Soon I adjusted another 3 degrees. By the time Arnold took over the watch at 7 AM Pachuca was once again sailing down the rhumb line.
Our noon-noon distance for the day was 134 nm, pretty respectable considering that we had been dealing with variable winds and done hours of close-hauled sailing against a rough sea. At this point we were 665 nm from Hawaii.
The night sail turned out to be good, sort of. We went into the night with a single reef and by midnight Arnold had reduced the jib several times and was still having trouble controlling the boat against the 20+ knot winds. We put in the second reef and came up with a policy that whenever we are going into the night with the wind 15 kt or higher we will put in a reef.
6 December 200
We sailed well all day with a wonderful 17 kt wind on our starboard beam, traveling at about 6.5 kt with one reef in the mainsail and a no. 2 jib. This was sailing at its best and we really enjoyed it, particularly since the autopilot was relieving us of steering duties. During the morning Arnold spotted a ship, the first vessel of any kind since Tahiti. I came well within 10 miles of us, headed roughly East. However, we were not getting any AIS information on this ship on our plotter. I contacted the vessel on VHF 16 and he replied that he had his AIS on. We recycled our chart plotter and AIS transponder but still got nothing from the ship. At this point we had no direct evidence that there was anything wrong with our AIS system, but we would be very glad to see it reporting ships as we approached Hawaii.
Arnold and were are more rested, relaxed, confident, and looking forward to landfall at Hawaii. Our noon-noon distance for the day was a respectable 162 nautical miles. Not long after noon we reached another milestone when our distance to Cape Kumukahi at the “big island” of Hawaii reached 500 nm. I took over the watch just before noon and soon after I decided to spice up the sailing a bit by shaking out the reef. The result was that instead of “dawdling” along at a sedate 6.5 kt we started rocking along at 7.5 kt. Why not? We were on a beam reach sailing along the crests and troughs rather than bashing into the, and the boat was on a nice and steady heel. By the way, a book I have on board indicates that the hull speed of a 39-footer like Pachuca is 8.3 kt. We had seen the boat do more briefly at times, but probably under the influence of a following current.
In the afternoon while Arnold caught up on his sleep I took the time to reduce two sextant sights of the rising moon in the East and setting sun in the West that I had taken the previous day. I plotted the results on graph paper and the fix I got was 13 nm from where I knew that we had been at the time. That isn't perfect but I can't been too hard on myself about it. Taking an accurate sighting off a pitching boat where the horizon is being regularly obscured by intervening swells is not easy for the inexperienced. Also, the two lines of position were not orthogonal but crossed each other at a bit of an angle. This resulted in a fix 13 nm off even though one line of position was only 3 nm off and the other 7 nm off. I plan to keep taking these sights regularly to get faster with the reductions and minimize the too-many dumb errors that I make. I'll try some star shots soon but I'll wait until we get a completely cloudless morning. I've got enough problems without having to deal with the target stars regularly disappearing behind the clouds. With the star shots I'll be able to get 3 or more lines of position which should yield a better fix by helping to negate any systematic over or under reading of the sextant altitudes that I may have.
Arnold rightfully can't see the point in all of this celestial navigation work when a boat can carry many GPS's. He is totally correct in my opinion. Even a bad lightning strike is unlikely to knock out every hand-held GPS stashed around the boat. However, celestial navigation is something that I had to learn in the 1980's before the widespread use of GPS's and it is a skill that I want to maintain for its own sake. ... The other reason is that I am a hopeless romantic.
We went into the night with a double reef which was the correct decision for the first part of the evening. However as the night wore on the wind died down and Arnold relied on the jib to keep up our boat speed.
7 December 2008
This was Pearl Harbor day as we approached Hawaii.
Soon after taking over the watch at midnight I shook out the 2nd reef when I saw our boat speed dropping to 5.0 kt. The evening went well, though the sea was very lumpy. In the morning we were still moving well at about 6 kt on a close reach but the sea was rough and we were getting a lot of water on the deck. I baked another loaf of bread in the morning and we discussed running the engine for the first time in 4 days with continual use of the auto pilot to charge the batteries.
Our noon-noon distance for the day was 157 nm. We were 1910 nm from Tahiti and 350 nm from Hawaii.
We started the engine at 4.10 PM and ran it for exactly one hour. This brought up the house bank to 12.7 V which should be sufficient to get us to Hawaii, given the daily contributions of the solar panels and wind charger.
We went into the night with a double reef and short jib doing 6.0-6.5 kt.
8 December 2008
By the time I relieved Arnold at midnight the wind had died down and Arnold had rolled out more jib. We had a half-moon up and the sea was calming down. I rolled out more jib and as dawn approached the wind picked up again and we were once again hiking along at about 6.5 kt. At about 7 AM Arnold took over the watch. I soon produced the customary hot buttered toast and soon I was in the bunk sleeping. It woke up at 11.30 AM very refreshed. Soon we were shaking out both reefs and rolled out the jib to speed up the boat against a dying wind that had backed somewhat to the north. It was one of those splendid sailing days: clear sunny sky, calm blue sea, gentle breeze.
Our noon-noon distance for the day was 152 nm. We were only 200 nm from Hawaii. We discussed the timing our our entry. It looked like we would arrive at night, at least too late in the day to make an entry; so we expected to stooge around for a few hours waiting for dawn and the start if the working day so that we could go into the harbour in full daylight under good instructions from the local authority. We decided not to heave to lest the current and prevailing wind push us too far to the SW, forcing us to do some expensive tacking the next morning.
By this point I had decided on the new name for our autopilot. Let's call him “Vistarr”. I know that is an unusual name but it is a simple two-syllable name that should roll off the tongue easily. I could offer justifications such as the “vis” and “vista” evocative of “face” or “vision”, maybe “st” suggesting “steering”, or the obvious “star”. The genesis is more personal (and important to me): VIctorSTephenAndRoland&Reg.
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- Work, Shopping, and Farewell
- Serious Work Has Begun
- Hawaii - Christmas Dinner and Radio Fixed
- Honolulu - Christmas Day
- Arnold Away
- Honolulu Photos
- Ala Wai Boat Harbor Photos
- Honolulu, 22 December
- Photos of Ali Wai
- Chinese Junk
- Ala Wai Photos
- Ala Wai Dec 21
- Photos From Oahu
- OA-HU Excuse me ! I'm looking for Honolulu.......
- At sea again...........
- Photo - Richard's Boat
- Photos, Jeff and Tim's boats
- Photos - Dieter Departing
- Photos of Hilo
- Hawaii Passage Photos
- Tahiti-Hawaii Summary
- Tahiti-Hawaii 4 and final
- Hello from Hilo......
- Little wind......................
- Pachuca close to land, new email received......
- Thoughts after - burner...........
- Pedal to the Metal...
- Speeding Fine Issued to Pachuca........
- A late sms....
- Voice from the Deep Blue...............
- Pachuca Shifts into Overdrive............
- Halfway to Aloha............
- Pachuca's progress comes to naught
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