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
Saturday, June 20, 2009
DAY 30 - Pachuca surrounded, BUT ARRIVES OK..!
Unfortunately my strategy of slowing the boat down in order to avoid heaving to before dawn was a mistake. Coast Guard weather indicated a slowing of the wind to 10-15 kt. This is not what the grib file had indicated. I soon rolled out my full jib trying to cover as much ground as possible. Shortly after dark I found myself 30 nm from Cape Flattery, fighting to keep the boat moving with a West wind of less than 10 kt. I was doing less than 2 kt at times with a reduced sail to minimize thrashing of the rigging. I could have kicked myself. I told Jeff that night that I should have taken his advice and made speed then heave to. I'll try to remember that lesson: Always take the wind while it is there.
Chris and I had a good session and he gave me the telephone number of the marina at Neah Bay.
At 1.30 AM I went to sleep for one hour. There was no AIS target coming close to me for at least 90 minutes and I figured that it was better to snatch sleep when I could rather then driving myself to a dangerous situation where I might miss an alarm or use poor judgment.
At 2.30 AM I woke up to see Pachuca surrounded by six ships. Had none of them posed any danger I would have returned to the bunk. However, there was a ship, the Triton Bulker headed for Vancouver that would pass very close to me - within 1000 ft at times - in about 40 minutes. Fortunately the visibility was good and I could see it clearly at 6 miles away. I hailed it on the VHF radio and got an immediate response. I explained that I was a sail boat 6 nm ahead of him, speed 2.4 kt, course 045 T, and I was sailing in light winds and had little control; and could he see me. In a calm and professional manner he replied that he could see me and had been aware of me for a while. I thanked him, wished him a good evening, and signed off. Soon the chart plotter alarm went off because the ship was within 24 minutes of reaching my 2-mile radius safety zone. I acknowledged the alarm (which will not stop until it is acknowledged) and noticed that the symbol for that ship on the chart plotter now had a red border and was flashing. I had a look when the ship was 3 nm away and her lights were clear and unequivocal: lead white light low, rear white light high, red light on the side. She was going to pass me on her port side about 1.2 nm away. I also noticed dawn's first light.
Thirty minutes later the C120 put out a second alarm. It was the Mega Donor passing at 1.6 nm in 24 minutes. No Problemo. I was feeling pretty good. Dawn was breaking and the wind had picked up ever so slightly. At 4.30 AM the Mega Donor was abeam of me and posed no danger, and three other ships had passed me and were ahead. The only other AIS target was a ship coming my way out of Juan de Fuca, but it was 53 nm and two hours away. For good measure I turned on the 24-mile radar and saw some sea clutter but no other hard targets. I decided to finish my cup of tea and have another hour of sleep. I was 23 nm from Cape Flattery. Neah Bay was 7 miles beyond the cape.
When I arose I made the decision to motor to Neah Bay. The wind had dropped to almost nothing - perhaps 5 kt - and I faced the prospect of flogging the jib all day go mayge 2 kt. Stronger winds were promised for that night but what good would that do me? The whole idea was to make my entry in daylight. At 6 A, 28 nm from Neah Bay, I started the engine. When I finished starting the engine and setting the autopilot I looked up there they were: the northwest corner of the continental USA to the right and Canada to the left. The cleft in the middle was the Strait of Juan de Fuca. The approach to the Strait was disappointingly slow - 4 kt or less. But once I was in the Strait I was amazed to see 8.4 kt at one point. I knew that I was coming in during flood tide so that may have helped me. The weather cleared as the morning wore on and I enjoyed the scenery as Pachuca made her way to Neah. I had spent a lot of time up top looking for floating logs and "dead heads", those lethal logs that hang vertically just below surface level. I didn't see any but the Coast Guard issued a Pan Pan Pan alert on the VHF radio about a dead head, giving its geographical location and GPS coordinates. However, I motored through a lot of floating tree debris. I'm not accustomed motoring through floating vegetation. At first I would cut down the engine revolutions, go into neutral gear, and drift through the material, but later I got more relaxed about it. The shipping was no problem. At one point AIS was displaying 13 ships. Most were no threat to me. I contacted one that seemed to be coming too close. He said that he had seen me so I didn't worry about it.
I dropped anchor an Neah Bay at 11.50 AM Pacific Summer Time. I thus had motored almost 5 hours. I was in 8.5 meters of water, riding on 30 meters of 3/8" chain with my Manson 45-lb plow anchor. The boat was sitting solid as a rock with no rolling for the first time in 30 days. I set the anchor alarm and recorded the GPS position of the boat and the direction in which she was hanging from the anchor.
It had been first solo sail on Pachuca and I was pleased with how the 2200 nautical mile passage went. The Monitor wind vane and the new communications system transformed the sailing into a style of cruising that I didn't event think possible when I first got the sailing bug in the 1980's and expected nothing more than to hand steer a small simple boat around the world in near-total anonymity. I think that I chose my route well, with good advice from friends like Jeff and Chris. I had expected the trip to take 25-30 days and I must say that 30 days is pretty good given that I sailed out of Ala Wai Harbor knowing that the winds were all wrong and that I would take a big hit in the early days of my passage. (But it paid off: I was sailing two full days before Honolulu got any reasonable winds.) The closing on Juan de Fuca was much easier than I had expected, which had been an expectation of one or two sleepless days while I negotiated my way through the crowded shipping lanes and arrival exhausted and partially deranged. There was only one "crunch" night and even then I managed to get enough sleep and finished the entry the next day in a remarkably good state. I attribute this to (1) being fit and ready after 30 days of pampering myself with good food and plenty of rest, (2) the marvelous equipment on Pachuca, in particular the Monitor wind vane steering which performed beyond my wildest expectations and took most of the worries of steering the boat off my hands, and the AIS which acted as both Town Crier and Watch Dog on behalf of Pachuca.
It didn't take me long to pour myself the first alcohol in 30 days. I had made the decision to make this a dry passage for safety reasons. Well, strictly speaking that is not true. Just before Jeff and I backed Pachuca out of her slip at Ala Wai to fuel her up before my departure I went looking for Paul with the last ice cold beer in my ice box to say good bye and to be the true Aussie mate and give him my last beer. Unfortunately he was not around so I had the beer after I cleared the reefs outside of Ala Wai and had hoisted the mainsail. Anyway, Gordon and his wife Alysha (not sure of the spelling) who had their boat in the slip next to mine very generously gave me two bottles of Chivas Regal. So here, safely at anchor in the officially dry Indian reservation of Neah Bay, I opened the first bottle and toasted the successful trip with the first drink and toasted happiness and good health to Gordon and Alysha with the second drink. I hope that they finish doing up their Grand Banks without too many problems and spend many years enjoying it. Next I'll toast Jeff the Monitor self-steering. I wish that I could offer him a drink. But you see, Jeff does not eat or drink and never complains.
And after that ... well ... there are so many things in my life to toast ....
- ► 2012 (344)
- ► 2011 (288)
- ► 2010 (355)
- HF Radio Grounded to Keel
- Getting Started With The Work
- Boats from Hawaii
- Photos from Port Angeles
- Port Townsend Day 2
- Trip to Hard Stand
- On The Hard Stand
- Day 1 at Port Townsend
- At Anchor in Port Townsend
- Departing Port Angeles Tomorrow
- Port Townsend Boat Haven
- Direct Blog Updates
- Port Angeles
- Departing Neah Bay. The top photo is of the entra...
- Neah Bay
- Makah Marina
- Hawaii Departure Day
- Goodbye Hawaii
- Visitors From Space
- Fouled Propeller
- Getfax Program Crashes
- Hmm. Fresh Bread.
- Running Downwind
- Cape Flattery
- Photos of Neah Bay
- A Plotted Course........
- DAY 30 - Pachuca surrounded, BUT ARRIVES OK..!
- DAY 29 - Close to Flattery....
- DAY 28 - Closer........
- DAY 27 - Charging the Batteries
- Pachuca Information Overload...........
- Boys and Ships..........
- DAY 26 - Gybing the jib...........
- DAY 25 - Oils aint oils........
- DAY 24 - Fax Battle...
- Updated Position..............
- DAY 23 - The Bird Flies..........
- DAY 22 - The Visitor...
- DAY 21
- DAY 20 - A Tacky Day
- DAY 19 - Modern Tech.............
- Updated Position..............
- DAY 18 - Log Data
- DAY 17 - Knowing the fax...
- DAY 16 - Over the hump
- DAY 15 - Bad Coffee Day
- A Yellow Dot..................
- DAY 14 - Fresh Water Stock
- DAY 13 - Fouled Propeller
- DAY 12 - the POst U LAt-R (Post-you-later)
- DAY 11 - Good Progress
- ▼ June (52)
- ► 2008 (269)
- ► 2007 (43)