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
Sunday, May 31, 2009
I've been on a roll for the last 24 hours. Early yesterday afternoon I found my self on a beam reach off of a 10-15 kt SE wind and so it has remained until today so far. At dusk the boat was headed directly for Seattle at about 6 kt. After my 9 PM session with Chris I decided to stick to my plan and reef for the night, which I did with no problem under the light of the moon. Just as well I did. I awoke 15 minutes before the 12.30 AM alarm went off because the boat was lurching more than usual. The wind had strengthened and Pachuca was doing over 7 kt. Jeff the wind vane had the wheel over, struggling with the weather helm trying to keep the boat on course. I watched her doing 7.4 kt for a period of about a minute. I didn't want to go on the foredeck to put in a second reef so I had a go at rolling in the jib from a no. 2 to about a no. 4. That worked splendidly. After tweaking the Monitor the boat was on a course of 030 doing about 6 kt. At dawn this morning Pachuca was doing 5.4 kt on a course of Ketchikan, well to the north of Vancouver Island. I want to cross Lat 40 farther east than Richard did: at about Long 140. At 8.15 AM I was at Lat 28.54, Long 153.47, 500 nm NNE of Oahu and 1760 nm from Juan de Fuca.
Yesterday afternoon I took the two sets of underclothes from the washing machine, rinsed them out using 2 liters of fresh water, and hung them up in the cockpit away from the salt water spray. The clothes looked clean and smelled nice. I poured the remainder of the rinse water back into the washing machine and will keep using the same water as long as I can get away with it.
In the late afternoon I hooked my second fish. I got him to the side of the boat, determined to lift him up with one clear jerk. That's easier said than done with a hand line. The fish took his opportunity and spit the hook when he was out of the water and half-way to the gunwale. I let out a shout of frustration, He was about 2 ft long, slender, and had a yellow color all over him (and some dark). Yum. Perfect for an evening meal. ... Fried in olive oil with onions, served with rice, soya sauce on the rice, lemon on the fish. Yum ... I ate spaghetti instead. I need a net for scooping up the fish. This morning I tried to find a fishing book to identify the fish but I couldn't find one. The books I had in Australia were about Australian fish so I probably left them ashore. But we have two good bird books on board, thanks to Brenda. The two birds who spent the night on my pulpit were probably booby's, either red-footed or brown,
I had a good radio session with Richard and Jeff at 7.30 PM, Richard was running off a 35 kt wind heading 025. He didn't want to pound east against the huge seas that had built up and I don't blame him. He wants to get further north anyway,
I then had a long and productive session with Chris where we talked a lot about the weather and tools for prediction. He suggested that I let the weather fax run continuously for a spell to the a more complete set of weather faxes including the wind/wave report and the 500 chart. As I write this I am doing precisely that. As soon as the transmission of a chart is completed it is automatically stored in my fax folder and the system waits for the signals heralding the next chart. At the beginning of the new fax the previous chart is cleared from the screen and the new one begins to form, line by line. Later I will study and interrelate these charts at my leisure. Why didn't I think of that? I still have a tendency to put boundaries on my thinking, probably as a result of a lifetime of frugality (until I retired and started spending money like a sailor) and maybe even further back to my 1950's style Roman Catholic education which was brilliant at teaching the fundamentals of English, science and mathematics, ethics, etc; but fostered a hierarchical view of life where discipline and obedience were paramount, and did little to foster the free thinking to prepare one to, say, invent the PC in his garage.
I went to the chart plotter and looked at the track and numbers. I was 350 nm NE of Oahu, 27.07N, 155.28W. My track was still NNW, apparent wind 11 kt, speed just under 4 kt. This boat sometimes amazes me. It was doing almost 4 kt into a moderate breeze with two reefs in the mainsail and less than a no. 2 jib. I had thought of Pachuca as a dog in light airs ever since a Van Der Stat left me for dead on a beam reach of maybe a 5 kt Easterly off the Western Australia coast. (The Van Der Stat was a much lighter boat and he must have been just over his threshold while I was just under mine.) Anyway, Pachuca is lighter than a pure cruiser of similar length and has an extremely slippery hull design.
After breakfast I rolled out the full jib, gave the boat time to settle down, then went to the chart plotter to see that I had gained 0.5 kt. I then spent some time pumping out the bilge (about 20 strokes of the Whale Gusher every 3 hours) then shook out the second reef. That gained another .04 kt. There seem to be diminishing marginal returns from increasing sail area - at least when I am going to weather.
The BEP meter reports that I am down to 779 A/H on the House batteries, representing 84% of the 920 A/H capacity (for whatever that estimate is worth). The House batteries are at 12.9 V. This drop is due to the cloudy weather during the last two days, though I must say that the wind charger gave a significant contribution, putting out about 1 amp day and night. Last night after I bedded the boat down, running only the chart plotter and the mast head light the net usage was a loss of 0.5 A. Anyway, I expect these numbers to improve dramatically today because those panels will put out about 8 A from 10 AM until 3 PM on a sunny day. (At 8.45 AM they were putting out 5 A.)
Yesterday I received from Chris via Sailmail the WFAX transmission schedules out of Kodiak Alaska and Pt Reyes California. It was a bad day for reception from Alaska and California but for the first time in over a week I received extremely clear faxes out of Hawaii. I could see that I was the beneficiary of a "squash zone" between a Low NE of me and a High further to the east. Right place at the right time. These winds were happening while Honolulu was pretty dead wind-wise.
Yesterday's GRIB file showed very favorable SE winds over 10 kt going to SSE over the next 3 days. These GRIB reports are pretty slick. The 24, 48, and 72 hour projections show the track and position of the boat based on the information from the GPS receiver connected to the laptop at the time of my request.
Unfortunately I could see that Richard would still be smack in the middle of a High, which would mean no wind. He confirmed this during our radio session last night. He asked me to drop off some food as I sailed by him. That's a gross exaggeration. He is almost half way to his destination and well positioned to take advantages of Westerlies. He has prospects of good winds from a gigantic Low approaching from the east - a Low that will happily pass north of him. He should get a lot of mileage out of that, doing his best to keep pace with the Low. Richard said that it was his birthday. Jeff wished him a happy 60th and I seconded that. Richard replied along the lines of "I Wish" but I agree with Jeff that he appears to be about 60, whatevert his true age. Having a trim build helps. So does his sharp and lively mind.
At 9.30 PM I had a session with Chris on Orisha. Reception was good and we tried different frequencies to get a feel of the best prospects. Among other things we discussed my radio grounding issue. I think that we all agree that the loose linkage to the Monitor water vane made it a poor choice for a ground. Richard suggested a 2" copper strap to a keel bolt. However, someone said that this was not a good idea because it will lead to deterioration of the keel bolt. I'll have to look into this. Chris described his ground plate. It measures about 6" by 18", is indeed gold plated (to minimize marine growth I suspect), and is fixed to the hull with a conventional thru-hull fitting with a big nut and sealant. I am leaning to this solution. The trick will be to find a location that will always be immersed no matter what the angle of heel but also be accessible to me, who does not have a very long dive time due no doubt to a lifetime of low grade asthma and bronchitis.
At 11 AM I noticed that I had hooked my first fish since Australia. I had tried trolling a large hard lure for two days with no luck. Chris and I had discussed fishing the night before and I told him that I didn't want to bring in a magnificent huge fish if most of him would go to waste. Chris also questioned the practicality of lifting a 200-lb sail fish on board. Because the lure that I had been using was designed to be dragged at higher speeds and would attract larger fish I tried a smaller "feahery" lure. In less than two hours I hooked the fish. I got him within 20 ft of the boat and then he was gone. I thought that he had bitten through the trace line but no, my rig was intact. He managed to get unhooked and I salute him. I put the lure back in the water.
Saturday, May 30, 2009
I had a refreshing nap then decided to investigate a problem with my port spinnaker winch. When I bring it on hard to hoist the main (because the jib winch is occupied with the jib sheet) once it a while it seems to jump a gear with a clank. I wasn't too happy about taking a winch apart while under sail but it was a pleasant day and the boat was heeled such that loose bits would tend to fall inboard. I lifted out the drum then dismantled the inner frame to where all of the gears, clutches, bearings, and springs were exposed. Everything was in order: no broken gears, clutches intact, all springs present, bearings intact, etc. I was pleased to see that everything was still clean and lubricated. I managed to put the winch back together without losing anything and used the special tool that Lenny had made to screw the top cap down extra tight. Then I stayed in the cockpit, my back against the Zodiac and the binnacle, one leg propped against the crossover to the companion way, enjoying the scene: bright sunny day with perfect temperature, steady 15 kt wind raising white caps here and there, Pachuca comfortably slicing through the short sea that had been built up by the wind. When sailing is good it's really good. (And when it's bad try to remember when it's really good.)
At about sunset I noticed that the Monitor control lines were loose. The knot at the lower end of one of the lines had unraveled. I would have to feed the line around a block at the top of the vertical tube, down the tube, around another block, then through a hole at the pendulum just above the water line, then tie a knot. This was not a job for nightfall while sailing through rough seas. I switched on the auto pilot and would deal with it the next day,
The 7.30 PM session with Richard and Jeff was a good one. Richard had little wind and figured that he was in the middle of a high pressure area. He had decided to heave to and let the weather come to him. I told him that I agreed completely because our boats are too slow for chasing after wind and weather. I mentioned to Jeff the Monitor line problem. Richard overheard and warned me to lash the water paddle to one side because someone he knew had almost lost a finger then the pendulum swung violently while he was working down there. I thanked him for his advice and told him that he may have saved me from a serious injury. I told Richard that I was trailing a grounding wire through the water and how was he receiving me? He said that reception was very good and much better than the previous night.
At 10.30 PM I had a radio session with Christopher Boscole. Reception was pretty good other than other modem communication occasionally cutting in on the same frequency. We experimented with various other frequencies. Chris agreed to provide me with the time at which I can download the fax schedule from San Francisco which will be very useful to me.
After the session with Chris I tacked the boat. The wind had been veering and I had been heading SE. I was now on a starboard tack heading NNW, with a single reef in the mainsail the jib at a no. 2.
At 3 AM I went for a check and saw that Pachuca was doing over 6 kt against a 21 kt wind. Much as I hated to go on the foredeck at night I put in the second reef mercifully with no dramas. The boat was still over stressed so I rolled the jib right in to about a no. 4 for a quiet night. I remembered Jeff's advice and moved the sheet car to the forward end of the track. The autopilot worked flawlessly all night and thankfully there were no serious wind shifts to affect the sail trim. (The autohelm steers to an absolute course. It should also be able to steer to the wind but when I try that I get the response "No Data", meaning that it is not getting information from the ST60 wind system. I'll check the Seatalk connections first chance I get.)
This high wind took me by surprise. It's ferocity must come from a Low. I looked at the weather faxes and have concluded, rightly or wrongly, that I am getting the effects of a storm with an enormous span far to the north and somewhat to the east of me. The fact that the wind is veering (clockwise) would be consistent with this.
In the morning Pachuca was still plodding along NNW at about 4 kt. After breakfast I faced the task of reconnecting the Monitor line. I looked at the job and it did not look very appealing. The big problem would be to reach down to near the water line thread the line and tie the knot while the stern of the boat was pitching in the high seas. I hove the boat to which was easy to do because I was under short sail. That cut the boat speed to under 2 it, slower than a terrified man can swim. I stripped down to my underclothes, put on my harness, and clipped the other end of the tether to the rear starboard saddle which was strong and would give me more reach. I managed to feed the line down with amazing ease. The slowly, step by step, climbed outside the pushpit, and stood on the lower supports of the Monitor facing aft. From there I managed to crouch down, feed the line through the hole, and tie a simple knot with one hand. I climbed back into the cockpit and soon had the Monitor steering the boat.
Because of the heavy sea and in spite of the reduced boat speed Pachuca was taking sheets of water along the deck back to the cabin. And the leaks came back. The dripping over the stove was as bad as ever, in spite of my having sealed the vent with fiberglass. The pesky drip from the starboard cabin vent was back. And to complete the disappointment the boat was still shipping a lot of water when beating hard to windward. The bad news having been dispensed with I'll now describe the good news.
There is no leak over navigation table - so far, at least. This is the leak that Arnold and I treated with epoxy during Arnold's last week on Pachuca. The aft top shelf in the head is bone dry. This is the leak that Arnold and I treated by re bedding the stanchion above the shelf. Likewise the stanchion re bedding over the shelf in the wet weather closet seems to have stopped that leak. I then inspected the sail lockers. The port one was bone dry. The starboard one had traces of moisture - not enough to flow - along the stringer and the bottom of the locker. The moisture seemed to originate from the area where the cables of the electric winch pass from the winch (no leak there) to the battery. This one I consider minor and will deal with it in Fremantle where I'll be able to remove the sails from the boat and strip out that horrible stick-on fabric whose main function seems to be to grow mold.
But Wait! There is more good news on the leaks. Even though the remedies for the leaks over the stove and into the bilge have failed at least I have made progress by elimination. The stove and vent leaks are not acceptable. I'll probably strip that part of the ceiling during this passage so that I can see what is going on. Removing ceiling panels really clutters up the boat but at least being solo I don't have to make anybody else's life miserable.
The leak into the bilge is definitely from the rear. I have eliminated the water intake hose as the cause because I shut its thru-hull valve days ago. I noticed today a little water sloshing in the lazarette. Any water in there will work its way into the bilge via openings for hoses. But would it account for so much water? Another possibility is water working its way through hoses as the stern bobs in and out of the water. I plan to fit thru-hull valves on all of these hoses. Other possibilities are more exotic (and difficult to fix): (1) Water entering around the rudder post? (Then why does it leak only when beating to weather?) (2) Water coming going up the cooling exhaust hose into the water muffler that may be leaking? I don't know. But I'll try to solve it in Port Townsend even if I have to engage professional help.
I spent an hour in the afternoon to dig up whatever electrical wire that I could find so that today I could have a go at setting up extra grounding for the radio. Also, I put hung a rigging knife in the fold of my life vest. I'll put the other one in the cockpit ready for quick access.
I heard Jeff's father Charlie in Arizona hailing Jeff at their session time. Jeff was a bit late responding so I told Charlie that this was Robert from Pachuca. He heard me and asked if it was Richard. My signal was obviously weak, and I could barely hear him. Soon I think that I heard Charlie say something to Jeff about going to another frequency due to the noise.
The 7.30 PM session with Richard and Jeff was OK. Surprisingly I could hear Richard over 1000 miles away better than Jeff who was only 200 miles away. Both Richard and I are both unhappy about various aspects of our radio rigs. Richard has a lot more practical experience than me and I am sure that he will solve his problems. I told told him that I was getting no recognizable weather fax signals out of Honolulu and was resorting to San Francisco for my weather faxes which were not exactly crystal clear but readable. Richard said that I am too close to Honolulu. I asked him if there was some sort of skip issue and he said Yes. In Honolulu there was no skip issue because I was getting the ground wave.
Richard gave me his position (39.20N, 153.28W) and said that he was heading west at between 3 and 4 knots. I thought that I had heard wrong but he confirmed that he was heading west, expecting to find good wind. Richard is the man on the spot and he has much experience but it nevertheless disturbed me that he seemed to be darting in one direction then another.
I made first contact with Chris Boscole who I think is on Maui. The reception was terrible. We will try again tonight and have agreed on two alternate frequencies if we have trouble making contact. Chris says that he has a "gold" ground plate on the hull of his boat and in fact he had dived that day to clean it and cut his hand pretty bad in the process.
After my 7.30 radio session I noticed that the wind generator was humming. I went out, unrolled the jib, and I was soon moving west at about 3 kt. This wind held, backed, and I went to bed with the boat heading NNE. The alarm went off at 2 AM and I was delighted to see that Pachuca was on a NE course. It looked like a win-win-win situation for me: heading East to try to catch the effects of the Pacific High, heading North where the Westerlies were, far far away, and heading almost directly for Juan de Fuca. I woke just before the alarm went off at 6 AM to find the boat still headed NE at about 3.3 kt. Jeff the Monitor wind vane steering had performed above and beyond the call of duty. Being on a port tack just off the wind meant that the wind vane had the outboard motor hanging off the rail on its mounting board right in its face. That was not a problem for Jeff. He steered the boat flawlessly all night.
I had breakfast then went to the foredeck to tighten the port lazy jack, loosen the starboard one, and inspect the deck, rigging, and lines. I then hoisted the full mainsail and was soon doing over 4.5 kt.
At 7.30 AM I was at 25.09N, 157.16W (ie Lat 25 degrees 9 minutes North, Long 157 degrees 16 minutes West), about 200 nm from the north shore of Oahu, headed ENE at 5.3 kt on a port tack. I sailed more or less east until noon, the time of this report.
After a second cup of coffee I rigged up a thick piece of wire to act as a ground from the tuner to the ocean. It will be interesting to see if this has a discernible affect with my voice communications tonight.
At 11.30 AM we got a small shower which gave me an excuse for a cockpit bath. It's easy. All you need is a bucket, a sponge, dish detergent, and a measuring jug. You scoop 3/4 bucket of salt water, add detergent, then wash yourself out of the bucket using the sponge. The hard part is pouring the cool soapy water over your back. Then draw 750 ml of fresh water and rinse down to the legs. It probably won't be this easy in the colder climates.
Wednesday, May 27, 2009
I inspected both sail lockers at the bow of the boat and found them to be bone dry. I cannot recall ever before having dry sail lockers, whether I had been sailing the boat or not. They had to be dry because I know that the sail locker is now stronger and better sealed than when the boat was new.
This morning I checked the bilge and found that the water level was up about the equivalent of one of the keel bolt nuts. I gave the electric bilge pump a burst and in 4 seconds it was sucking air. Whatever water ingress problems I have must be in the back of the boat. I am confident the days of taking on serious water when we are beating hard to windward are over.
I then did some work on man overboard issues. If I were to fall overboard clipped to a jack line I would not fall hard in the water then wind up at the stern of the boat because my clip has slid along the jack line. I would wind up roughly chest-high in the water with my line coming down hard on the top wire rail. It would be up to me to grab the gunwale and climb on board. On the starboard side I would have help: the red line for the parachute drogue runs from the bow roller to the cockpit, clipped on with plastic ties. I could grab that, pull it down, and maybe get a foothold.
I could see that a more productive approach is to reduce the risk of falling overboard to a minimum. I tried a suggestion of Dieter. I ran a rope from the stern cockpit platform at chest height to the D1 (inner) shroud then to the inner forestay then back along the other side of the boat to the cap shroud and the cockpit platform. The result is a ring of rope that I can hook in my armpit as I move back and forth on the top deck. I would definitely not rely on it and will still use the halyards running along the cabin top as hand holds, particularly in rough seas. However, it seems to me that if the unexpected happens (e.g. unexpected lurch, rogue wave) I've got a pretty good chance of being restrained by the perimeter rope. I've yet to test the arrangement in sailing conditions but the rope is low enough to clear the boom as it moves forward so I am confident.
Last night I watched a movie, "The Untouchables" which I enjoyed more than when I first saw it years ago, possibly because I was very focused on it and took in the extremely well done scenery of Chicago in 1930. After the movie I still had a 1.5 hour wait for a weather fax that I wanted so watched the first half of "Apocalypse Now". I like that movie more every time that I see it.
It was actually a very enjoyable day for me. The sea was like a large placid lake. The serenity allowed me to relax and not worry about dangers. I was able to visit the deck without my life vest. I would get lost in a book or a movie and totally forget that I was on a boat. I would then occasionally take a break, walk the steps look about, and feel that I was stepping into a dream. There I was, in a tiny boat, alone and totally surrounded by calm blue water. Once there was a stunning sunset. Later it was the sliver of the new moon low on the western horizon. It all had an air of unreality to it. It reminded me of the movie "The Truman Show" and I wondered if I would drift into a curtain representing a make-believe horizon.
For dinner I had one of those pre-packaged meals that Ron got for me. This was a Hormel roast beef dinner. I placed the unopened plastic container into 25 mm of simmering water for 7 minutes, took it out, opened it, enjoyed a real hot roast beef dinner with carrots and potatoes. I didn't even have to clean the pot.
I had the 7.30 PM session with Richard and Jeff and was delighted to hear from Richard that he was on the move, heading NE, partially reefed against a 20 kt wind, and doing 4.5 kt. He said that after one week he had wound up farther west and only 250 nm north of where he had started. In his fourth week he is still 1200 nm from his destination, Vancouver Island. Richard asked me how I was doing and I replied that with the current course and speed I would reach the north shore of Oahu in about 180 days.
The weather fax out of Honolulu was unreadable due to noise, which is metered by the system that I am using. I experimented and found that I could get a decent weather fax out of San Francisco. So in future I will look around for the best reception as a prelude to downloading a weather fax.
I had a good night of uninterrupted sleep and woke up at 7 AM. I went on deck to see that it was an overcast day with a gentle breeze that I might be able to work with. I had my usual breakfast of coffee and toast then checked the chart plotter. I had lost 13 nm to the S/SW in the 29 hours of drifting. My track looked like a pretzel. The breeze appeared to be from the NW. I rolled out a bit of sail for a starboard broad reach heading south to get some steerage, then gybed and rolled out the entire jib on a port tack. Yes, I could work with this wind. At 0830 I was steering NNW (025 T) at 2.6 kt against an apparent wind averaging 7 kt. Soon I switched over to Jeff the Monitor which handled the steering very well even at low water speeds. Shortly before noon the wind started to back, then there were rain clouds in the distance, and at 1 PM there was an abrupt change in wind speed (10 kt) and direction (NW) and Pachuca was hiking along at 5.1 on jib only.
Tuesday, May 26, 2009
Then I got a Sailmail from Brenda saying that she and Stephen had not received the "Day 4" report. I checked the Sailmail log file and sure enough there was an error where the base station had lost contact with my modem. I managed to send it out after several attempts.
I spoke with Richard and Jeff OK but when I tried to download a large grib file there were so many retries that the transmission was terminated.
There was another problem. Most of my outgoing messages were being rejected with the reply that the message had already been received. Every message that I send out has a message number one higher than the previous one.
I went to bed troubled by all of this.
This morning I managed to raise Don on "Summer Passage”. Don provides excellent weather and routing services. He could hear me but said that I was having radio problems. A boat that sounded like “Nellie One” is in my vicinity and he could hear them loud and clear whereas I sounded like I was transmitting with 5 watts of power instead of 50. He asked what equipment I had and he said that it is excellent gear and that I should check all of the connections to the tuner and the antenna.
This turned out to be very helpful because I turned my attention away from Sailmail and the Pactor modem to the radio. I exposed the back of the radio, checked all of the connections, and re-seated the antenna cable. This gave no improvement. I partially emptied the lazarette and checked the connections to the tuner and the grounding straps on the theory that shifting equipment may have dislodged something. No fault found.
I was stumped. All the connections looked good and the manual’s “troubleshooting” had yielded nothing.
Then I looked up at where the antenna cable is clamped to the backstay. It was well clamped but clamped to the crimp-on swage rather than the cable itself. This is how it had been with the Kenwood radio when I purchased the boat but then again its reception had been pretty marginal. I also remembered that Ron Dubois had commented that he usually clamps the antenna wire directly to the backstay wire and not the swage.
I moved the connection and my index of performance, the quality of incoming fax signals, was dramatically better. I then sent out a message and received several incoming ones - including the large grip file - with little problem.
The “I've already received this message” problem is still there but I think that I may know what the problem is. I'll need to speak with Jeff about it.
Richard was still becalmed last night and is in a terrible situation. Don of Summer Passage told him to expect a gale of 40-50 kt winds. Richard sounded extremely frustrated and I can understand why. He is heeding Don’s message to head east and not north ASAP.
And I got sobering news from Jeff. There are good SW winds several hundred miles east of Hawaii but nothing north. GO EAST was his advice. I also took his advice and got a large-scale grib file which showed a low at about 18 N and 55 W with good SW winds east of that.
Because it was dark after my session with Richard and Jeff I decided to continue sailing at 330 and tack in the morning. The boat was smoothly sailing at 4 kt with one reef in the mainsail and I saw no advantage in changing this. At about midnight I heard the boom bang. The wind was dying so I dropped the mainsail and switched to the autopilot. At about 2 AM I was awaken by the beep beep beep warning from the autopilot that it had given up. No wonder. Our boat speed was down to 1.3 kt. I tidied the sails and lay ahull.
This morning's first session from Don confirmed that there are now winds north or west of Hawaii and I can expect nothing useful for at least 18 hours.
OK, I should have gone east. But in my defense the doctrine is to make for the north to catch the westerlies. However, the weather this spring has been seriously out of wack and I can throw away the guide books and had better start relying on what is really happening weather wise.
The boat is still taking on water, which is a disappointment. Not huge amounts - maybe 10 or 15 liters a day. That's certainly much better than when Arnold and I were pumping every hour or two. I plan to investigate this very systematically during this passage. My first experiment has been to shut the engine water cooling inlet valve. I cannot see how any water can be entering via the chain locker and I will confirm this by emptying each sail locker and seeing if there is any moisture. If as I expect the problem does not lie in the front I'll start looking at the rear, e.g. stern gland and water outlet hoses.
I am getting plenty of sleep and am eating well. I have started reading Barack Obama’s book “Dreams of My Father” and I am amazed that providence has made a man of such intellect, insight, empathy, and sensitivity President of the USA.
The weather is dry, warm, and sunny. Honolulu reports a sea temperature of 77 F. If I had access to the boarding ladder I would be tempted to go for a swim (Why not? With this wind I can swim rings around the boat.) But it is just as well because with my luck I would dive into the jaws of the only tiger shark for miles.
I think I'll watch a movie tonight.
The winds were fickle around that cloud but once I was past it the sky cleared and the wind steadied to NE at over 10 kt. The wind gradually strengthened and from the consistency of the water to the horizon it looked like the first serious wind since my departure from Ala Wai. Soon Pachuca was beating to windward against an apparent wind of 13-16 kt on a relatively calm sea. It felt familiar and it felt good.
For the rest of the afternoon Pachuca sailed at over 5 kt on a stbd tack, first NW then steadily veering to N then 010. In the late afternoon I rolled the jib down to a no. 2. At 6.30 PM I decided to put in a reef for the night. The boat was running at about 4.5 kt and I didn't want to lose any more speed but I had promised myself and others that I would sail conservatively. I looked at the SOG (speed over the ground) and it was 4.1 kt. I put in the reef, marveled at its shape and told myself that it set better than the full mainsail. I then went below and saw that the SOG was 5.2 kt. Ten minutes later the SOG was still over 5 kt. Go figure.
Shortly before dusk two sea birds started to take an interest in the boat. After several abortive attempts one of then landed on the pulpit. I took a photo for the blog. At dawn I saw that both birds were on the pulpit. Maybe they're headed for Alaska.
I had my 7.30 PM radio session with Richard. He was still becalmed and was going to lay ahull all night. He sounded frustrated. It was his sixteenth passage from Hawaii to the NW coast and I suspect this is one of his worst. He said that the boat's bottom needs cleaning and anti fouling which must be hurting its performance.
After speaking with Richard I saw that Pachuca was comfortably doing over 5 kt due north, still being steered by the Monitor. I could see no point in waking up every 30 minutes, given that I was away from the shipping lanes. I figure that if I am fresh I am more likely to awake in response to any change in the boat, and less likely to miss an alarm. I turned on the AIS alarm (which will go off if a ship is less than 24 minutes away or within a perimeter of 6 nm) and set the alarm clock to midnight. At midnight and at 2 AM all was well.
At 3.30 AM I was woken by a bang of the boom, signifying slack wind. I got dressed and went on deck to find that the wind had slacked to under 10 kt and had backed to where Pachuca's heading was 330. The party was over but I must have sailed over 75 nm in the past 14 hours. At first light Pachuca was on autohelm, course 338 T (true), SOG 2.9 kt with an apparent wind of less than 7 kt. I could only hope that this was a pre-dawn lull and that the wind would pick up after sunup. I wanted to shake out the reef but didn't want to disturb my passengers until the sun was up. It seemed like the ... human thing to do. At sunup the birds started to stretch their wings and soon they took flight, circled the boat as if to say good bye, then went off no doubt looking for breakfast. During my morning deck inspection I saw as I had expected that they had left small deposits as mementos of their stay.
The wind strengthened and by 9 AM I was making 4.2-4.8 kt COG 325 with an apparent wind of 12-15 kt.
I noticed that the ice box and refrigerator compartments had a lot of water in them, the result of the melting of the two ice blocks and one bag of crushed ice with which I had sailed out of Ala Wai. The water looked reasonably clean so I put it in the plastic washing machine with some detergent and threw in yesterday's set of under clothes. I'll let the boat agitate the wash for a few days during which I will add successive sets of under clothes. When I have a reasonable load I'll rinse the clothes with a few liters of fresh water.
For lunch I had four eggs and cooked the remaining packet of bacon lest it spoil. In these conditions I have plenty of power to spare, particularly since the Monitor is doing most of the steering. I plan to replace the broken Danfoss with a new one, probably in Port Townsend.
Sunday, May 24, 2009
Yesterday afternoon I noticed that the wind indicator was spinning around complete circles as the boat bobbed around. There might be just enough 360 degree spins of the indicator to complete a calibration. I set the wind indicator to factory default and waited. No response. I got onto other tasks then heard four beeps from the ST60 indicating successful calibration. I don't recall ever hearing this before. And to my amazement the wind direction indicator is finally starting to tell the truth. I'll watch it closely for the next few days before I make a final declaration.
We had a good radio session last night. I told Richard that he was an exquisite position, sandwiched between Highs 600 nm to the west and east, and Lows 500 nm to the north and south. If I extended lines between the centers of the Highs and between the centers of the Lows Richard would have been right on the cross hairs. He is in a dead zone where the winds could spring up from any direction. I told him that the grib file showed westerly winds of 10 kt at 41 N, 15 kt at 42 N, and 20 kt at 43 N. His instincts had already told him to head north instead of east but from his position of 38.11 N he has to make about 180 nm. For now he had no wind and was planning to lay ahull all night and get some serious sleep.
I woke up at 6 AM today and took my time about having coffee and toast and tidying up the boat. I came up on deck to see a cloudy day and a 6 kt breeze from the east. Soon I had the jib rolled out and was headed north at close to 4 kt.
With the boat sailing and on autopilot I put on my glasses and made my morning inspection of the deck, sails, and rigging. This is something new that I've learned from hard experience and advice from my friends at Ala Wai. I look for loose screws, broken wires, tangled ropes, frayed sails, bits lying on the deck - anything that might mean trouble.
After that the wind had picked up a bit so I hoisted the mainsail while underway. I am finally getting the knack of this, loosening the leeward lazy jack, letting out the boom, raising the mainsail by hand, timing the jerks on the halyard with the flapping of the mainsail to ensure that the battens do not get snagged on the lazy jack. Once the battens are clear I finish the hoist using the jib winch.
Then I decided to engage "Jeff", the Monitor wind steering. I've named the Monitor after Jeff Compton of Kaulia, who gave me so much help in setting up the Monitor and showing me how to use it. Thanks to the lessons from Jeff, the ex-school teacher, I was able to engage the Monitor with no drama.
At 9 AM the wind started to drop and I feared that it would die mid-day and stay dead for the rest of the day. The wind speed dropped to just over 5 kt. I re engaged the autopilot that does such an amazing job of steering the boat in light airs when steerage is minimal. The wind continued to sag so I dropped the mainsail and hand steered, willing the boat to keep moving. I noticed a rain cloud on the horizon that may have caused the problem. Then the wind veered to the east, steadied at about 6 kt, and I continued sailing on a beam reach, jib only, at 3.5 kt. My project for the morning was to store 5 Radio Australia frequencies, 1 Radio NZ, and 4 BBC in channels B1-B10 of the HF radio. Then it was then bacon and egg time (One thing that the USA produces is great bacon!), washing of dishes, and 30 minutes to prepare the noon reports.
It is 11.30 AM now and Pachuca scooting along at 4.3 kt steered north by Jeff.
Saturday, May 23, 2009
It's Stephen at the helm of this blog. However, as Bob has had a communications upgrade he can send information to me directly. So this blog will be pretty much "self steering", with me posting daily reports as Bob sends them in. If you would like to pass a message to Bob, please send it to
pwazzxQ@gmail.com Please remove the Q from the email address, what remains is my email address. Shortish messages have a very good chance of getting through to Bob, no photos please.
So without further ado;
DAY ONE ------------------------------------
I motored out of Ala Wai harbor at 1 PM today.
I started the morning by doing some last-minute preparation of the boat followed by a visit the The Fuel Dock to wash a load of clothes, do some Internet work, and say good by to various friends.
It was a bright and sunny day and by mid-morning a gentle SW breeze set in. Some people suggested that I sail around the leeward (west) side of the island but the consensus was that going around Diamond Head, Koko head, then up the windward side of the island would be more appropriate. In the end I decided to head east.
Jeff helped me take the boat from her slip to The Fuel Dock to take on diesel (7.4 gal), ice (2 blocks), and a large chili beef and rice meal to go. I said goodbye to Carey, said said good by to Jeff and Ron Beach then I motored out with the USA and Hawaii courtesy flags flying on the starboard side and the Fremantle Sailing Club burgie flying on the port side.
Once I cleared the channel I headed Pachuca into the wind, put on the autopilot, and had no problem raising the full mainsail, using the larger jib winch rather than the smaller winch on the cabin top. I then switched off the engine, bore away to fill the sail, then let out the full jib. Pachuca has been ambling along on course 100 true toward Molokai, at just over 3 kt. I can't complain about this. At least I am moving in a reasonably good direction. Before dark when I am closer to Molokai I will do a jibe and head NW and try to clear the coast of Oahu, which also falls to the NW.
.. Wow! I've just had an abrupt wind shift and am heading 024 T on a beam reach doing 3.8 kt with a 9 kt wind. If this holds up I'll clear Oahu. I can't complain about that.
DAY TWO NOON REPORT----------------------------------
At 7.30 PM HST last night Richard, Jeff, and I had the regular radio session. Jeff was at Ala Wai harbor and Richard was 1100 nm north. Getting away from the many masts at Ala Wai harbor seems to have improved my radio reception because I had the best reception from Richard yet.
Richard has had a tough time. He left Molokai three weeks ago and has been plagued by weak and adverse winds. He found himself north of a nasty low pressure area and for a while had gale force winds pushing him toward Japan. Fortunately last night he was sailing east with a northerly wind and was making reasonable progress toward the Pacific High that is the key to this passage.
Jeff has passed the role of providing Richard with weather reports to me. I'll download a grib file of his area before our session at 7.30 PM tonight.
Incidentally the boat that fueled up before me yesterday was Canadian and headed for Alaska. They elected to pass on leeward (west) side of Oahu while to sailed the windward side. I'd love to know how they did.
I got a good wind shift early in the evening and made progress north at a modest 2.5 kt. At around 11 PM the wind started to back and weaken. Somehow the autopilot managed to keep me on course at a boat speed of 2 kt from a 5 kt breeze. I took three 1-hour naps throughout the night and the alarm clock woke me up each time. Sometime after midnight I dropped the mainsail and motored for one hour, making 4.7 kt on 1000 rpm. I resumed sailing and when the speed through the water got down to 1.3 kt I knew that it was time to give up and get some sleep. I rolled in the jib and was pleased to see that the weak wind was pushing Pachuca north at about 0.5 kt. I had been afraid that the well-known south-set current would drag me back south.
I woke up at 6 AM and took my time to make a pot of brewed coffee with three pieces of toast for breakfast. After that I raised the mainsail and rolled out the jib against a weak NE wind but I am pleased to report that Pachuca is now at 9 AM doing 4.6 kt on course 045 T with a wind of about 9 kt.
At 7.45 AM I tried phoning Klaus and got through. I told him that I was 17 nm east of Makahoa Pt. He was very pleased to hear from me and was going up to the 17th floor of his condo where he had a good chance of seeing Pachuca's sail on the horizon.
Last night I looked up and was surprised to see the Southern Cross. Its orientation looked different but it was due south, pointer stars and all. I've just seen that the declination of Acrux is 63 S and it seems to me that from 21.4 N I should be able to see the constellation. Then I looked north and am pretty sure that I saw the Big Dipper, which seemed larger than I recall. I'll have to confirm this.
At 10 AM I cooked a meal of four eggs and bacon. They were delicious. For me bacon and eggs always taste better at sea. After that I downloaded two weather faxes covering the N Pacific from Seattle to Japan and prepared a grib file request for Richard's position.
Friday, May 22, 2009
We've been getting gentle S and SE winds since yesterday and they are expected to hold up for another few days. It's not much but it provides me with a small window for departure. The first task is to get clear of the channel between Oahu and Molokai place myself well away from the dangers of shipping and lee shores. I plan to head E and NE as the wind allows to get between that weak stationary low that has squatted north if these islands and the Pacific High far away to the NE. Once I am under the influence of the Pacific High I will head north to approximately 40N to get north of the clock-wise circulating high. That's the plan, anyway, subject to weather fax and GRIB reports.
I must say that it is a stunning day on which to depart: sunny blue sky with a small sheen of cloud, gentle and cool southerly breeze coming from the tranquil ocean. It won't be easy leaving this tropical paradise and the wonderful people that I've come to know, many whom will be life long friends whether or not I ever see them again.
But that's the cruiser's lot so I'd better deal with it and get used to it.
Attached is a photo of Carey, the manager of The Fuel Dock. Carey, her husband Wally, Audrey, Sherri, and Curtis are what makes The Fuel Dock the special place that it is.
Tuesday, May 19, 2009
Sailing departures can be awkward if you don't leave when you said that you would.
Last Friday night I had a few drinks with several friends. In the photo are Gordon and his wife Alysha, who own the cabin cruiser next to Pachuca. In the background is Mike Rush who would be a perfect cast for the next swashbuckling movie (Pirates of the Pacific?)
Gordon and Alysha were extremely generous and gave me two bottles of Chevas Regal. Two days later I told Alysha that I was still here and did they want their Chevas back. She said No, but maybe I should have another farewell party to get more goodies.
Bill, bless his heart, gave me a Hawaiian lei and a stack of Time magazines. I think that the tradition is to cast the lei into the sea as I sail from the island.
The plan now is to tell people that I'm leaving soon and I'll leave with minimal fanfare.
At the moment it looks like I will depart on Saturday morning. The stationary low north of Hawaii was supposed to give us light winds for the next week. I have seen today a steady 15-kt SW breeze that would have catapulted my well beyond the islands with no problem. I told Carey today that before GRIB files I would have motored and started sailing oblivious of what the meteorologists think might happen. If I hang around and wait for "the perfect norm" I could be here until August.
Anyway, unless there is some unexpected situation I will motor out on Saturday and start sailing.
Today at 10 AM there was a news conference with four of the crew rescued after the Princess TaiPing was run down by a chemical tanker a day out from the completion of their voyage to the USA and back. The following is an account of what I remember from the conference. I am confident that they reported things as they saw them and I think I can explain some of the baffling inconsistencies that I was reading in the press.
The top photograph is of the four survivors. I know John on the left, Lars third from the left, and Jason on the right.
The TaiPing was making about 2 kt course 240 in a gale in a busy shipping lane about 40 nm from home. She had navigation lights at her port, starboard, and stern – none at the mast. They had “passive” AIS which means that they could see the shipping with AIS but the shipping could not see them. They had a radar reflector which earlier experiments indicated was effective at about 8 nm out.
The ship was spotted over an hour before the collision. She was off the TaiPing's port bow and her lighting and AIS indicated that she would pass about 1.5 nm to the stern of the TaiPing. The ship must have made a subtle turn because the crew on watch became concerned enough to wake Capt. Nelson who communicated with the ship via VHF radio. Nelson told them that they were on a collision course. Lars said that the ship did not seem to believe them and in a confusing reply instructed the TaiPing to say on their starboard side – except that the TaiPing was on their port side. The crew had a spotlight on the sails and someone at the bow was shining a spotlight on the tanker. A few minutes later the tanker struck the TaiPing.
Everybody was at the stern except the one crewman who was at the bow. This is credible because in rough weather everybody tended to crowd at the stern where the shelter, warmth, and food was. Jason told me afterward that he was down below sleeping just before the impact. He got out of his bunk, stood up to go out of the hatch, and the ship struck. I told him that he represented the real miracle of the affair. I've seen that cramped crew area and it was a natural trap. (Hugh got actually locked in there once and somebody had to lift the hatch for him.)
One crewman was hurled against the side of the tanker, wound up in the water, and somehow survived the suction of the tanker's screws. (His life jacket probably saved him.) He is the one who was seriously hurt: concussion and a cracked vertebra in his neck. The crew remained with the remnants of the stern which had lost its cabin and was steadily falling apart. Only the crew on watch were wearing life jackets. John, the oldest member of the crew, spotted the person who had been slammed against the hull brought him to what was left of the TaiPing, and held him for over 1.5 hours. He is also credited with having the presence of mind of finding a rope and tying it around the hulk, which from photographs looks like a wooden life raft with no bottom. This rope was to be of great assistance in helping the crew to cling to the wreckage.
As the wreckage broke up things started to float up. Enough life jackets popped up out of the water to accommodate the remaining crew. The crew mate in the bow had been separated and everyone feared the worst for him. Then they got lucky: the EPIRB floated up. That is what saved their lives. The signal was picked up in Hawaii who immediately notified Taiwan.
They saw the chopper coming after dawn and of course went wild with joy. John got as high as he could wearing something bright and waved something colorful. Just then part of the clothing of the sea god that had sailed with the ship floated up and he put that on his head. This is considered a good omen and this afternoon all with go to the Chinese temple to give their thanks. But the chopper stopped moving toward them and started to hover. Then they saw a body being winched up and they could only hope that their mate was alive. (He was. He actually tried to hoist what remained of the sail to sail the bow into port!) It took a while but they were eventually winched up by two choppers while a Taiwanese coast guard boat stood by.
The company and crew of the tanker have given contradictory stories which will be easily refuted by hard evidence (e.g. recordings of communications and radar). One of the TaiPing crew says that he made eye contact with someone on the tanker as they were being sliced in half. There will be some litigation. Lars says that they are interested in accountability and enough of a penalty to send a message to other shipping companies that abandoning survivors at sea is to be avoided at all costs. I told him that I didn't like their chances because this sort of thing has happened before and the offenders always seem to escape through the nooks and crannies of legal jurisdiction and high-priced lawyers. I told him that it sounded to me like the people on the bridge were real turkeys – perhaps the 3rd-string trainees too timid to wake up the officers. I told him that I've been more fortunate with my encounters: good and clear communication and negotiated course adjustments. I told him about the ship in the Gulf of St Vincent to executed a 360 degree turn just as we were about to tack to avoid a collision. (We were more than one mile apart.)
The fellow with the broken neck vertebra is not out of the woods. From what I can make out there is a jagged piece threatening one of the two aortas running up his neck. They need to operate but it will be an extremely delicate operation.
The other photograph includes the member of the Coast Guard who picked up the TaiPing's EPIRB signal and immediately with no delay whatsoever notified Taiwan. They were grateful for this because 15 or 30 minutes of dithering could have cost lives. (Lars said that the injured crew mate was purple when they got rescued and would not have lasted one more hour in the water.)
From what I heard today I believe that the tanker really was confused and really did think that the TaiPing was at their starboard. It would be logical that they would then swung to port to give the TaiPing a wider berth and came down on top of them.
The EPIRB, by the way, was on board only because John, who joined the TaiPing here in Honolulu, borrowed one from a friend just before they set off. The junk was equipped with adequate life jackets because of the work that Hugh Morrow did in the background here in Honolulu to have Nelson persuaded to get the new life jackets. The TaiPing had sailed from China to the US mainland and back to Hawaii with no EPIRB and some pretty crappy Chinese-made life jackets. There was a life raft of sorts but it was so far down in one of the holds that it was useless in a fast-developing emergency.
Monday, May 18, 2009
Yesterday I visited Klaus at Punaluu near the North Shore for lunch. We spent several hours of good conversation over a great dish of lentil and pork that he presented and some Steinlager beers that I brought.
While I was there the front passed as expected and brought some good northerly winds. The wind charger hummed a bit during the night indicating a wind speed of over 10 kt, but by dawn it had eased to less than 3 kt.
Today we have had variable winds and the word is that there will be no improvement all week. I'm not too concerned because being trapped in paradise has its advantages. I am paid up for the slip until Friday and by my calculation I can stay another two weeks after that before I have reached the 140-day limit of my stay as a transient.
The photo is of Klaus at his beach side condo.
Saturday, May 16, 2009
The prediction is for 10 kt winds from the north starting Sunday night and lasting about a day. If this comes to pass I will set sail on Monday morning and head east. Once I am well clear of the islands I'll be prepared to cop whatever light winds eventuate. I'll try to keep the boat moving and be prepared to take immediate advantage of favorable winds.
Richard on Fire Water left a full two weeks ago. Jeff told me today that he has made a total of 600 nm in those two weeks. Worse, he is north of that low pressure area above the islands and he will cop some strong winds from the east.
You will see that the Monitor wind vane steering was by far the biggest single item. The rigging work and communications upgrade were two other large items. Most of the items represent capital works for upgrades that should have been part of the boat when I departed Fremantle, so I consider it sort of a deferred payment for Pachuca.
The stay at The Fuel Dock was relatively expensive at $700 USD per month. Fortunately we were forced to move to the public marina after six weeks and the slip cost dropped by about half. The amount varied according to the number of people living on Pachuca. With me alone on the boat the charge for 15 days, including electricity, was $158.45 USD, which represents $10.56 USD per day or about $15 Australian dollars a day. This represents by far the cheapest marina fees I have encountered on this trip. (I was paying about $35 Aussie dollars per day in Adelaide.)
Capital expenditure aside, Pachuca must represent some of the cheapest accommodation in Waikiki.
Date Item Cost
30 Dec 08 West Marine $256.00
10 Jan 09 Lenny, for anchor well & windlass s/s work $185.00
17 Feb 09 Ron Uryga, for Inner Forestay $539.00
19 Feb 09 Ron Uryga, for Headstay wire $615.00
21 Feb 09 Ron Uryga, for Headstay Labour $615.00
21 Feb 09 Ron Uryga, for spare turnbuckle $154.00
25 Feb 09 Lenny, stainless steel work $370.00
26 Feb 09 Lenny, stainless steel work $123.00
27 Feb 09 Art Nelson Sailmaker, Honolulu, repair spray dodger $113.00
5 Mar 09 West Marine $615.00
5 Mar 09 Marine Agencies Australia $1,345.00
12 Mar 09 Ron Uryga, for D2 shrouds and Profurl parts $808.00
19 Mar 09 Ron Uryga, Labor & Parts $1,154.00
20 Mar 09 West Marine $303.00
1 Apr 09 West Marine $2,360.00
3 Apr 09 Scanmar Intl, Monitor Windvane $6,880.00
4 Apr 09 Pactor PTCIIUSB modem $2,074.00
28 Apr 09 Ron DuBois for his communications services $357.00
28 Apr 09 West Marine for VHF radio $110.00
2 May 09 Hand Held VHF Radio $186.00
2 May 09 Personal EPIRB $407.00
17 May 09 Slip Fees The Fuel Dock Ala Wai $1,370.00
17 May 09 Slip Fees Public Marina Ala Wai $1,600.00
17 May 09 Sundries $400.00
Wednesday, May 13, 2009
I spent two hours this morning organizing the provisions that Ron had helped me to get the previous day. At the end of the exercise I could see that Pachuca is very well provisioned for at least two months of solo sailing. I already had plenty of rice, flour, pasta, pasta sauce, cans of fish, etc. Thanks to Ron I now had plenty of cupa soups, dried fruit (e.g. apple, apricot, prunes, raisins), fresh fruit (e.g. 20 large luscious large oranges, lemons, apples, a few bananas), onions, butter, milk both UHT and powdered, paper towels, tissues, sponges, and many other things that I can't remember. The top photo shows yesterday's grocery haul.
This afternoon Ron showed up with three more bags full of complete meals that you heat up by piercing the top and putting them in an inch of hot water for 10 minutes, almonds, and cashews.
In the afternoon Carey filled up my new LPG tank (5.3 lbs) and I fit it into the lazarette and connected it up. I checked the connections with soapy water and they were both leak-free first try. I left the empty out-of-date Aussie one for at the Fuel Dock for Wally to dispose of. I still have one nearly-full Aussie one that is still in date which I will keep as my reserve. You can see from the bottom photo that the new tank has probably more than twice the capacity of the smaller one.
The other photos are of Ron Beach, the retired US Navy Chief who has been so helpful to me. One of the photos shows Jeff talking with Ron about charts of the SW Pacific.
Tuesday, May 12, 2009
Today Ron did me the great favor of taking me shopping. Along the way back we stopped at Home Depot and I purchased a 16.5 lb LPG gas cylinder of less than $40. It was 50-50 whether it would fit in my lazarette but it did fit quite comfortably. I'll fill it up tomorrow and discard one of my Australian ones which is empty and past its certification time.
Yesterday I met Klaus at the Royal Hawaiian hotel just before noon. We found a pretty elegant place that he had heard about and I bought us lunch. We discussed all sorts of things and enjoyed each other's company. At 3 PM it was time to say good bye. I told him that he is a good man. He knows that he can keep track of me via his friend who can access my blog. If I make it to Ecuador I will get him that Montecristi Panama hat that he has wanted for so long.
I then got on the bicycle and pushed on to to Diamond Head for a visit. The road passed through a tunnel through the side of the crater and led to the entry booth where I paid the $1.00 fee. The height of the crater varies: lower on the windward side, higher on the leeward side. The walk to the highest part of the crater took 20 minutes of brisk and strenuous walking, and included a walk through a pedestrian tunnel. The effort was worth the prize: 360 degree views. I could see past Pearl Harbor.
Diamond Head has history. It got its name from the early mistaken belief that some of the rocks were diamonds. It was once a military base with concrete observation posts whose remnants can be seen today. I saw no evidence of heavy gun emplacements.
The third photo from the top has the Ala Wai Boat Harbor in its center. Pachuca is 2/3 up the outermost set of slips, near the break water.
The fifth photo looks over the crater to Koko head.
The lower photos are of the elegant Royal Hawaiian Hotel.
Sunday, May 10, 2009
Yesterday Jeff, Klaus and I took Pachuca out for a sail.
Jeff was the right man sent by the gods at the right time to help me install the Monitor self steering. He has a beautiful Passport 40 five slips up. He and his wife Molly have sailed Mexico, Central America, French Polynesia, New Zealand, and the East side of Australia where they lived for several years and built a house.
Arnold and I met Klaus when we paid a nostalgic visit to the condominium in Punaluu, I think, on the NE side of Oahu where Arnold had lived in the early 1970's. We struck up a conversation with Klaus, a resident on the ground floor. He became very interested in our cruise, both past and future. A few weeks later he visited me here on Pachuca and I showed him the boat and we talked about sailing. Not long after that I met him at the Aloha Tower for a chat. Then about two weeks ago I visited his condo for lunch and afternoon of swapping yarns over cold beers. Klaus had expressed an interest in going for a sail and today was the day.
Jeff and I handled the boat. We backed dropped the lines and backed the boat between the rear mooring float and Paul's Kayak almost perfectly, if I say so myself. We motored out and when we had plenty of sea room Jeff executed two 2-minute 360 degree turns to starboard while I worked the ST60 wind instrument . This was a response to Raymarine's insistence that the solution to my ST60 problems was to calibrate the unit. The latest instruction was to set the ST60 to “factory default” just before the turns (which is not in the instruction manual and nobody had mentioned before), execute two turns in either direction and whatever rate I wanted (contrary to other instructions that the turns should be slow), and don't even look for a flashing display which would indicate a successful calibration (contrary to what the manual states). After the calibration turns we soon concluded that the calibration had been a failure. (Literally the Raymarine Runaround.)
We then spent about three hours sailing in a good breeze that must have averaged about 15 knots. It was a splendid afternoon of clear blue skies and panoramic views of Honolulu, Waikiki, and Diamond Head. We put the Monitor through its paces at various points of sail and Jeff made some good observations and suggestions about how the boat is set up and managed. He said that he can tell that Pachuca is faster and more agile than his boat which weighs 4.5 tons more.
On the way back we went to manual steering and Klaus took the helm.
We got Pachuca back into her slip with no dramas, though I would not have called it a perfect entry. Having said that, our handling of Pachuca was much smoother than in our first time out the previous week.
Attached are photos of Klaus at the helm and Jeff.
“Blog” means “web log” and in this entry I will stretch it to mean “web real-time diary”. This entry was made on the night of Friday 8 May..
The cruising ethos is about helping and contributing wherever you can. I have received all sorts of help from all sorts of fellow sailors whom I knew that I could not repay directly. But repaying directly is not the point: you take here, you give there, and it should all even out at the end. However, what could I contribute? Sure, I have some skills at the jack-of-all-trades level, but believe me, the cruising community has serious experts in just about any field that you can name. (Want an example? Sure. Charlie, Gordon's mate from the boat next to Pachuca was a nuclear reactor man in the US navy and he reckons that he could run any kind of nuclear reactor in the USA.)
Fortunately I seem to have stumbled onto a way of making a modest contribution to the welfare of fellow yachties here at Ala Wai Harbor. The process began when Arnold helped Mike get his ancient and neglected laptop up and running. Then he installed the C-Map chart plotting system on Mike's and Jimmy's machines. This is nothing less than every navigational chart of the world in fine detail.
Then I installed C-Map on Wally's and Jeff's machines. Then, inspired by my new Acer “Aspire” mini laptop, Mike got one too and asked me to install C-Map on his new machine. Then out of the blue this morning Ron, the US Navy veteran who tells the polite Japanese tourists that they can find the battleship Arizona “Just where you f*****g left it!”) visited me with his brand new Dell “Inspiron” mini laptop, unopened, and asked me to set it up and install C-Map on it. I was touched that he would entrust me with his new machine. Believe me folks, I tell people that I don't know much about PC's (which I don't). However, at Ala Wai I seem to be a big fish in a small pond. Fortunately Ron's new Dell had the XP operating system, which is familiar to me. The other good fortune is my new external CD/DVD unit which has enabled me to download the C-Map systems to these mini laptops that have no on board CD drives. Tonight at 9.45 PM Mike came and got his laptop and went away a happy little vegemite. At present it is 11 PM and I am waiting on the completion of the C-Map download to Ron's machine.
Ron and I had a good chat in the cockpit this morning. He offered to take me to lunch but I declined mentioning that he had given me plenty of help my lending me his Dremmel tool just when I needed one and taking me to Hawaii Nuts & Bolts that day. Ron is a thoughtful man. A few minutes later he asked where I was going to do my shopping for provisioning the boat. Costco? I told him that I didn't have a Costco card and that I would do a few bicycle runs to the local grocery stores. He then offered to take me to the U.S. Navy commissary. Wow! Forget the lower prices. It means that I can get really good stuff all at once with transport! ... Like I say, it all evens out.
My 5-month stay in Honolulu has been a mini-lifetime. I've become part of a circle of friends whom I've come like and value very much. I don't think that I've come across a dud amongst them. It will be difficult to say goodbye but that is the sailor's way and everyone accepts it. One door closes, another opens.
Yesterday I was on Joel's boat with him and Mike. Next week we will all be on the move. Mike will head for California to get ready for the bi-annual Transpac race and Joel will leave for a pretty extensive sailing adventure stretching from the NW Pacific to Central America. I expect to leave for Seattle within a week. I made the observation that we were like balls scattering across the pool table of life. Mike reflected on this and agreed. I replied “Yes, and watch out for that Eight Ball!”
To reinforce my observation, Sherry from the Fuel Dock and her husband Jerry sailed out this morning for a month of cruising around the Hawaiian islands. I said goodbye to them and thanked Sherry for everything that she had done for me (including loading up my $4.45 meals with extra heaps of meat and rice). Fortunately Audry had just returned to the shop after a two-week cruise with her husband Jerry that began in Florida, visited parts of the Caribbean, transited the Panama Canal, then visited ports in Central America before finishing in California.
Today I borrowed Wally's Dremmel tool and sorted out the problem of the mis-aligned storm trysail tracks. I took his advise and used the cutting disc to do the gross cutting then went to an abrasive head to finish off the join. It worked very well.
On the HF radio side, my confidence has been restored. A few days ago I managed to get Sailmail out via Friday Harbor, over 2000 miles away (with lots of retries), but I wasn't convinced. Then I was able to speak with Richard on Fire Water about 200 nm north of Honolulu. Last night I spoke with Jeff's father Charlie in Arizona on the 13 Mhz band and he said that because of my voice characteristics he could hear me better than his son Jeff who was speaking from his boat. OK, I'm convinced: I have a reliable industrial-strength HF transceiver. Tonight I spoke with Richard who is still inching his way forward in light winds.
I am ready to go. Dieter left two weeks ago, Richard is a week ahead of me in calm airs, and I am anxious to join them.
As far as I can see Pachuca is in the best shape she has ever been in. Her leaks have been reduced by rebedding of the stanchions, repairs in her ceiling, and major work way back in January on her chain locker bulkhead. She's better equipped with the Monitor self steering and Pactor-based Sailmail system. Her winches are in order. Her faulty rigging has been replaced. The radar failed then got fixed. Her spray dodger has been patched and reinforced. There may be weaknesses lurking (e.g. chain plates, D3 shrouds to the masthead which look a bit rusty at their swages even though they are less than 3 years old) but I am confident that everything will hold up until I get to Seattle.
I must confessed that I had been getting a bit apprehensive about all of the dangers posed by this impending leg to Seattle (e.g. falling overboard, failing chain plate or shroud, floating logs and “deadheads” as I close in on the NW USA coast). Maybe I've been spoiled by the comfort and security of Ala Wai Boat Harbor. Fortunately my friend Roland Collings braced me up with his report that a sailor had recently circumnavigated the globe – including rounding the Horn the “wrong way” - in a 25-ft “Top Hat” boat (See http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Top_Hat_25). It took him ten years but he did it It made me realize that if you reflect too much on the dangers and risks you'll never do it. You must reflect more on what you can do, and less on what might happen.
Wednesday, May 6, 2009
Today I unpacked the hand held VHF radio, charged its lithium battery, and revisited Pachuca's grab bag. The photo shows the contents so far.
From the left you can see the purple torch next to the square plastic container with an LED head torch inside. The thin and flat white item below them is a signaling mirror. Next to that is the red genuine Swiss Army knife. The black items are the VHF radio, its screw-on antenna, and the AAA battery case below them. One thing that I like about the radio is that if the lithium battery fails you can resort to AAA batteries as long as the supplies last. Then there is the orange 406 MHz EPIRB. Hopefully I would have my vest on with the PLB (Personal Locator Beacon) inside of it, giving me two EPIRB's. The blue and white case below that is a marine first aid kit. Then there are two flares: an ordinary hand-held red one and an up-in-the air type. I couldn't find the two parachute flares and I'm hoping that we had them put in the emergency raft.
I'll probably include a liter of water in the bag and I am open to suggestions.
Tuesday, May 5, 2009
Today I realized an unexpected benefit from the new machine. The larger Toshiba laptop could not see my Samsung MP3 player, a known problem that could not be overcome. Arnold had used his Vista machine to load the MP3 player. Last night I installed the Samsung MP3 software on the Acer and today had a go with the MP3 player. To my delight the Acer could see the MP3 player and I was able to purge the files from it and load a new set of music from the big external hard drive. I could not resist taking some time to listen to some tracks from the Beatles' White Album. (The Walrus was Paul!)
While I was waiting on a big file transfer I unpacked the new personal EPIRB and read the instructions. It is a 406 MHz beacon with a built-in GPS so that it can broadcast its location. The lithium batteries are good until 2015 and will give 12 hours of broadcast. I have put it inside the fold of my life vest.
Tomorrow I will unpack the new hand-held VHF transceiver which will go into my emergency grab bag. It comes with a AA battery case so that AA batteries can be used if the rechargeable batteries fail. This means a set of AA batteries in the grab bag.
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- Day 10 - On a Roll
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