Friday, June 29, 2012

Mr Toad's Wild Ride

After a boisterous 100 mile  ride from Big Island to Honolulu, Jarana is tied to the Aloha Dock at Hawaii Yacht Club.  They seemed to have just enough fuel and water to make it.  Then Bill, Mark and Nancy took much needed showers, beers and rest after 17 days at sea. 

Mark and Nancy just didn't get enough sea time though, and tried their best  (without success) to find rides on tonight's harbor race.  There's just no accountin' for taste.

Thursday, June 28, 2012

Rangiroa to Hawaii - Day 16 - The Last Full Day

Thursday 28 June 2012    Lat: 19°43.16'N   Long: 156°33.05'W  120 NM from Honolulu
Motoring in lee of Hawaii, heading 320T at 5 kts
Cabin Temperature: 86 deg F  Humidity:  71%

During the night we could see the glow of light from the Kona Coast, but in spite of being only about 25 miles away, the Big Island has remained completely hidden in a shroud of clouds and haze.

Since about 0100 this morning, there has been too little wind to sail and we have been motoring.  We're starting to see a little wind coming from the other side now, but it's still too light.

On the plus side the seas have moderated considerably, making life aboard more comfortable.

We will be in Honolulu tomorrow morning.

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Rangiroa to Honolulu - Day 16

Wednesday 27 June 2012   Lat: 18°10.58'N   Long: 155°25.49'W  230 NM from Honolulu
Stbd tack reach, 2 reefs, heading 310T at 7.2 kts
Cabin Temperature: 83 deg F  Humidity:  70%

Early this morning, we were welcomed to Hawaiian waters by a pod of dolphins.  They only stuck around for a couple minutes before disappearing like they came.

Yesterday afternoon was spent negotiating a series of squalls, reefing and un-reefing several times.  The squalls continued into the night but both reefs stayed in after dark.

Mark has stayed busy in the galley, creating pizza lunches for both yesterday and today in spite of the motion.

And there is a lot of motion.  The wind has shifted a bit more to the north, which means we are sailing closer to the wind, bashing into head seas.  I can only imagine how horrible this passage would have been if we had left from somewhere further west like Bora Bora.

The Big Island looms in front of us.  With two peaks at over 13,000 feet, it should show like Mt Rainier shows from Seattle, but the island is almost completely hidden by clouds.  We will pass by the Southernmost point some time this evening.

Rangiroa to Hawaii - Day 15 - The end is in sight

Tuesday 26 June 2012,   Lat: 15°37.32'N   Long: 153°41.73'W  420 NM from Honolulu
Stbd tack reach, 2 reefs, heading 310T at 7.2 kts
Cabin Temperature: 86 deg F  Humidity:  76%

The big island of Hawaii is 240 nm away, so we should see it some time tomorrow.  By tomorrow night, we should be in the lee of it, experiencing flatter seas, but also, much less wind.

We had a couple fast days in the NE trades, making 194 nm in one 24 hour period, but our speed has dropped a bit, making only 174 miles in the last 24 hours.

Flying fish keep landing of the boat and I have thrown seven back in the water this morning, though none of them were still moving.

Our ETA in Honolulu remains midday Friday.  I can see nothing in the weather models that would change that significantly.

Yesterday, we had a boobie land on the bimini after circling the boat for hours trying to figure out how to land.  He made an awkward departure after only about 15 minutes, landing in the water next to the boat.  Perhaps he didn't like the motion either.

Things have gotten cooler at night and we have resorted to wearing partial raingear to keep warm.  The last two days have been cooler on board under an overcast sky, but the sun is out again today, so its pretty warm in the cabin again.

We're all dreaming of long showers and ice cold tropical drinks.  Under other circumstances we'd all look forward to bumming rides for the Friday night racing at Hawaii Yacht Club, but after 17 days at sea, maybe a few hours ashore would be nice.

And I really look forward to spending some time with Kathi.  We still have an anniversary to celebrate.

Sunday, June 24, 2012

Rangiroa to Hawaii - Day 13- People pay money for this??

Sunday 24 June 2012
Lat: 10°32.79'N  Long: 149°13.42'W   815 NM from Honolulu
Stbd tack reach, 1 reef, heading 320T at 8.0 kts
Cabin Temperature: 83 deg F   Humidity:  74%

There's not much interesting to report today.  It's a little cooler this morning, but the motion is as violent as anything we experienced on the way to the Marquesas.

We have completed 191 miles in the past 24 hours and are still on track to arrive in Honolulu on Friday.  If we average 6.8 kts, we'll arrive about 0900 Friday morning.  Right now were averaging about 8 kts.

The constant motion makes it hard to do much aboard, so we sit around planning what we will do when we get to dry land.  For a ride like this at Disneyland, they'd charge you $10 for a two minute ride and make you wear a seatbelt.  We are free to move about the cabin and bang our heads, shoulders, shins, etc. on anything that moves (and everything moves).

Fortunately, it has been a little overcast, so temperatures are much more comfortable aboard.

Friday, June 22, 2012

Rangiroa to Hawaii - Day 10 - Out of the Doldrums

Friday 22 June 2012
Lat: 05°36.98'N  Long: 145°39.75'W    1200 NM from Honolulu
Stbd tack reach, heading 330T at 7.1 kts
Cabin Temperature: 87 deg F  Humidity:  76%

Life is good again.  We finally escaped the clutches of the Doldrums and are rocketing on our way to Hawaii. 

Yesterday found us deep in the ITCZ and we experienced several rain squall as we crossed.  Wind around the squalls came up enough to sail about an hour, but we had to motor between the squalls.  We managed to collect a few gallons of water that will be used for dishes and such, but it's not clean enough to drink, except in an emergency.  About 2100, the wind was up enough to sail again, and it steadily built overnight.  There was some distant lightning around the boat in the night, but by morning the sky had cleared and we are now solidly in the trade winds.

This morning, we also passed the halfway point to Hawaii.  The first half took ten days, but the second half will go much quicker and we should be in Hawaii in seven days.  At our current speed, we should be there some time next Friday.  The weather forecast is almost the same every day at 14 -18 knots from the NE, but gets lighter as we approach Hawaii.

I know I said I was done talking about fishing, but we actually caught a small tuna yesterday afternoon.  We celebrated the occasion by eating him for dinner.

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Passage to Honolulu, continued - Day 9

Wednesday 20 June 2012
Lat: 01°33.23'N  Long: 144°17.29'W  200 - 250 NM south of measurable wind
1430 NM from Honolulu
Motoring, heading 350T at 5.0 kts   Cabin Temperature: 92 deg F  Humidity:  62%

Yesterday afternoon we finally crossed the equator (under power of course) and celebrated with a bottle of sparkling cider (as Veuve Cliquot was in short supply).

With any luck, we should be at the halfway point and into the NE trade winds the day after tomorrow.  The second half of the trip will go a lot faster than the first half and we can go back to using the windvane for steering.  It would be an understatement to say we are all tired of hand steering.

We've been closely monitoring fuel consumption and now estimate that we will be ok.  We seem to be doing a lot better than I thought we would.

Water remains a concern.  We started out with less than we should have, and the passage is going slower than planned, so we're trying our best to conserve.  A little rain would really help.

Anyone following my postings closely may have observed that, in spite of my statement to the contrary, the cabin temperature has been steadily climbing.  And this is true.  Fortunately, nighttime temperatures are bucking this trend and I actually felt a bit cold during the midnight watch.

Days and nights have been very clear and we've yet to even see a rain squall.

In the fishing department, we tried to fool the fish by disguising the lure with a piece of garbage bag, but the fish were on to our ways and continued to avoid the lure like a teenager avoiding their parents.

Passage to Honolulu, continued

Sunday 17 June 2012
Lat:  04d 14m South  Long: 145d 16m West  254 NM south of the equator
Motoring, heading 000T at 5.2 kts
Cabin Temperature: 90 deg F  Humidity:  62%

By every account, this passage is supposed to be one of the quickest and more enjoyable.  So far, our experience doesn't seem to fit that mold.

Yesterday afternoon we reached a milestone of 2/3 of the distance to the equator and 1/4 the distance to Hawaii.  It was a fairly quick first leg, but the next 1/4 looks to be brutally slow.

The wind continued to die down yesterday afternoon and was down to 4 or 5 knots at sunset.  As we need to stretch 350 miles worth of fuel across a 600 mile wide convergence zone, we're trying to conserve fuel.  Conditions got lighter as the night progressed and on my midnight to 4:00 AM watch, we only made 8 miles under sail!  The wind was too light for the windvane, so we had to hand steer all night.

The wind outlook continues to be dismal for the next week, so we may have a few more 30 mile nights. At 0730 this morning, we finally gave up and started the engine.  The autopilot is broken again (4th time since leaving Seattle) so we also have to hand steer under power.  We may motor in the daytime just to have a little airflow through the boat and try to sail at night to save fuel.  We shall see.

We've go most of the ports open now, so things feel a bit cooler below deck even though the engine is putting off a lot of heat that we didn't have before.

We continue to drag a fishing line, but we were in danger of being passed by it in the night.  No self respecting tuna is going to strike a lure bobbing on the surface.

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Passage to Honolulu

Thursday 14 June 2012, Lat:  09d 59m South, Long: 146d 32m West, 606 NM sourth of the equator
Starboard tack,  beam reach with 1 reef, heading 005T at 8.0 kts, en route to Honolulu
Cabin Temperature: 87 deg F, Humidity:  75%

It's hot and humid and the boat is all closed up to keep the saltwater out.  We all sleep with fans pointed at us.  Temperatures on deck are much more comfortable, but salt spray is included at no extra charge.

Miraculously, there have been no leaks.  I gooped up the leaky chainplate and Mark applied Gorilla tape around the mast, and so far the pointy end of the boat has stayed dry.

The wind came up above 20 knots in the night and I put in a reef.  The wind is expected to continue about the same for another day and a half, then go light.  It will be slow going across the ITCZ, which will be 600 NM across at the time we arrive there.  We don't carry enough fuel to motor that far, so we'll have a speed threshold for starting the engine.

We're sailing towards Jimmy Cornell's recommended waypoint for this passage at 00N, 145W, and so far have had no difficulty staying pointed in the right direction, sailing just a little high to offset the west setting current.

So far, the hand fishing line we've been trailing for the past two days has yet to catch a fish.  In spite of the serious fish shortage, Mark has stayed busy in the galley and kept us all well fed.

Leaving Rangiroa

Wednesday, June 13th.  Bill's first passage blog post:
We finally got underway about 1400 after a drift snorkel in the pass in the morning.  Nancy & Mark liked it, but I thought the south pass at Fakarava was much better.

Most of yesterday was pretty flat with great sailing conditions, reaching along at 7 knots in 10-15 knots of breeze.  I was actually able to read a few chapters of my book, but today things have gotten pretty bouncy and I'm struggling to sit at the computer.

It was a clear, starry night, without any squalls.  I saw quite a few shooting stars before the crescent moon came up about 0200. l stood the entire watch in shorts and a t-shirt. This morning continues with great sailing conditions.  It looks like we will have good wind for a couple more days before things go light.

But below decks, things are hot and uncomfortable.  I'd sleep on deck if there was a good place sleep.


Rangiroa was a relatively busy little place.  There are a few resorts, pensions, restaurants, several grocery stores and other businesses.  So we were able to have a few meals out.  It was easy to hitchhike and people were very friendly.  The grocery stores were adequate and we were able to stock up on most things we wanted.

Bill and I took a terrific dive just outside the reef.  It was one of our deeper dives so far, around 100ft.  But the descent is down the slope of the reef and there is so much light, you don't have much impression of the depth.  It was one of the best dives we've had so far.

There is a fuel jetty there, so we had hopes of taking on fuel there.  However, the jetty is located next to the turbulent sandbar and that was a sign to us that it might not work out.

At one point, Nancy said "Let's go get fuel Saturday morning."  I'm not sure why she thought we should do that, but I was pretty alarmed by the idea..  Getting fuel meant moving the boat a couple miles to questionable location with rough waters and lots of current, trying to take on fuel, possibly in jugs by dinghy and then most likely returning to the old anchorage, dinghying ashore with my luggage and hitchhiking to the airport in time for a 1pm flight.  Uh, no thank you! 

As it was, 10am Saturday morning Bill and I got ashore with no drama, hitchhiked to the airport, had a pleasant lunch, said our goodbyes and I got on the plane.


Tikehau turned out to be just beautiful.  It's got a small village and a few small resorts.  We spent a couple nights there.  Normally, travelling in the atolls' lagoons is nerve wracking because coral heads are scattered around.  However, Tikehau has a marked channel most of the way we wanted to go.

We spent our second night at the south end near the Tikehau Pearl Resort.  We were the only boat there, and it was just like the postcards, calm, colorful fish, and swaying palm trees. The next morning we reversed our path to exit the lagoon.  There was really strong current in the pass.  It was so strong that there was a depression in the center of a large whirlpool just outside. It was a pleasant day's trip of about 52 miles to our next anchorage in Rangiroa. 

There was a fair amount of current in the Avorutu Pass into Rangiroa.  But most dramatic was the extreme turbulence just inside.  The outgoing water flows over a sandbank and really piles up.  But it smoothed out as we approached the anchorage in front of the big resort near Tiputu Pass.

We circled around some moored boats and prepared to drop anchor.  Just as the anchor went down, the throttle jammed and the engine died.  We were pretty close to another boat, a reef and the over-the-water hotel, but the anchor grabbed and we stuck tight.

Bill spent all the next day fashioning another solution to fix the throttle.

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Au Large vers Tikehau

Monday 4 June 2012 Lat 15deg 13S Long 148deg 24 W. 160 nmiles NE Tahiti, Motoring Course 5deg, Wind calm, Seas glassy, Warm, Humid and Showery
We're at sea en route from the island of Taihiti to Tikehau atoll.

Marina Taina turned out to be a great spot, although the weather seemed very hot. We were med-tied with the big boys on the outside seawall, next to a 80ft yacht from Cannes. The guys aboard we're really friendly and good company. The staff at the marina were so accommodating and helpful. Bill went diving with the Fluid Plongee guides there. Rage (ex-Portland was also there). They made an interesting jury-rigged rack for a steering windvane.

There was a huge Carrefour hypermarche 5 minutes walk to the east. To the west, was a McDonalds and a pretty good regular supermarket. Also, a pretty decent, though expensive laundromat. The water on the jetty was fresh and potable. And there was small corals and colorful fish just under the waterline on the jetty as we balanced our way ashore on the 12ft plank/passerelle.

After a few days touring around Tahiti and Moorea, staying small pensions, Nancy and Mark joined us for a few days prep. We made several trips to Carrefour and amply provisioned from their huge selection.

Saturday afternoon, Kathi carelessly let one of the dodger windows fall overboard in the 50ft waters under the boat. Doh!!!! However, the marina master was on hand to dive our anchor and retrieved it to our huge relief. Our anchor was set 80ft ahead of the boat with the chain laying atop one of the fixed bow lines of our neighbor. The diver attaches a balloon and fills it with air to raise the anchor, while we take in the chain on our bow. Their whaler acts as a tug to hold our bow off from drifting down on the next boat. Then we let go their standing lines, and Bill guns the engine and we're away.

We made a U-turn to the fuel jetty 100 ft away, to full for the passage. Provided we have the right customs documents, can get duty free fuel. But because of the paperwork, the marina doesn't usually sell duty-free on weekends., because they are usually very busy with their local customers. But by prior arrangement, the marina did it for us. They were just so accommodating.

We anchored out near the reef and took a short snorkel to cool off. We left early Sunday morning for Tikehau and Rangiroa. We've had to motor almost all the way. That's especially inconvenient because the autopilot is kaput, for now. We will repair or replace it in Hawaii.

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