Archive for March, 2015
Safely back in the barn yard

30 Mar 15

The last 24 hours have been predictable. Our professional weather service contact told us the closer you get to Majuro, the bigger the wind. And the survey says, “Correct”!

Yesterday we had torrential rains which did a great job washing the salt off the boat. Then overnight we had 40 knot gusting wind blowing salt water back onto the boat. In one case….in the boat came a few bucket loads as a rogue wave washed across the aft deck, catching us by surprise during a lull…if you can call it that. Not to worry, it landed dead center in our bed, Gina’s face catching the brunt. She says that is the fastest she has ever woken up in her entire life! While mopping up the mess, there was even a little fish that had come aboard – lucky to find it now rather than in a few days!

All said it was a quick 16 days; however, at times felt like two months. The crew was well fed; all are safe – save a few minor scratches and little cuts. Overall tired, but none less the wear and EVERYONE is excited to be in a calm, non-moving boat for awhile.

So the horse is back in the barn yard – we made it safely in Majuro. Here Capt. Jim is pulling out the bridle which gets hitched up to the floating buoy in the water. Matty….did you notice the duffle bag? Yes, your gift is going to make it to Papua New Guinea, serving an important purpose of stowing our anchoring gear. Not bad for a 20 year old bag.

Thank you for all your prayers.

Watch for future info regarding Leg 2!

Whoa….Hold your horses!

29 Mar 15

Coming into the home stretch, sailors sometimes get what is called ‘channel fever’, becoming fixated on the destination, where focus may fall away from the task at hand and/or what lies between. Working hard to keep this from happening, and also battling back-to-back rain squalls, the crew has been on their toes; wet though they may be!

In the meantime Bella the dog has learned about soggy paws and we discovered she does not like the rain. Who does?

The on-watch crew at this moment is struggling to keep this sailing vessel moving forward at a convenient rate of speed. Convenient in this case means to arrive at the outer channel marker of the Majuro atoll at daybreak. No wise sailor wants to arrive the first time to a port in the “DARKEL-NESS”….as Niki used to say.

Yesterday the forecasts were showing 25+ knot winds through Monday evening across the area with “possible” squalls. The reality – last night on Colton’s pre-midnight watch, the first squall (with lighting) rolled in; ever since we have been in the zone, so to speak. Gina is starting to call it Squall Valley. Each squall sucks more energy out of the atmosphere and provides heavy rain, which shows up amazingly well on the radar. After the first one passed the screen looked somewhat sparse. Then over the following 45 minutes the whole screen just filled in all around. Yes, we are in the squally zone for sure, well beyond possible.

The good news is we have filled the starboard fresh water tank using its deck scupper. The bad news is the wind is veering us south and drops off with each passing rain “event”. Yesterday we were worried about going too fast and arriving too early, in the dark on Monday morning. Some plans were being made to slow us down to make arrival Monday at sunrise. Bruce, the natural born seaman, warned the crew about the fever….’channel fever’. He was right!

Today has brought rain squall after rain squall, with below average winds at 10-15 knots. The large 3+ meter swells are still harassing us from the NE and SE. As a result the sails throw a fit, losing shape and ultimately their happy-full state due to the boat rolling side to side. Solid cloud cover prevails with obvious imbedded squall lines (see the attached photo). Anytime a few breaks are seen back east, where it is all coming from, the sky fills in within an hour’s time. Boat speed is struggling to keep 5.5 knots in the light winds following each squall. Multiple sail changes produce just sweaty men, some young, with no improvement to speed over ground (SOG). Change course?? Jibe Ho!

Oh well, time for some popcorn!

Merry Go Round – Are we there yet?

28 Mar 15

One of the most challenging things about this journey is…..wait for it….. Nonstop motion! Every moment of every day the vessel is moving one way or another, many times more than one way at the same time. How’s that possible?

With the constant downwind travel, approaching 2000 miles, the crew is wondering – how many times around this “merry-go-round” have we gone? Losing count is not surprising. It’s fair to say that it can be monotonous. However, that is a good thing. Anything else could be, well, overly exciting, extremely exhilarating, outright extreme….you get the picture.

Gina claims to sleep like a star fish spread out across the bunk as to not roll over involuntarily. Other bunks have a “lee cloth” which keeps the sailor in the bunk, not rolling out, should a bigger wave roll the vessel more than “normal”. Here in this photo Niki and her pal Bella demonstrating the deployed lee cloth.

Other techniques to keep in the bunk include stuffing your feet into a corner so you only pivot, wedging pillows or sail bags under the mattress to prop it up effectively countering the heel, finally, turn to sleep sideways in the bed, only this leaves you a bit cramped.

In the olden days sailors slept in hammocks “slung up tween the decks”. Talk about motion, oh my! In many cases there were only 18 inches between you and the next fellow. On many ships that meant several hundred fellow sailors crammed into a space you’d recognize as a crawl space under your house…..with rodents and all. Oh my!

Our downwind run here is much more favorable than if we were “beating to weather”; this is also known as going up wind. Such would be the case right now if our course was to Hawaii. Wind and waves on the bow would exhaust our crew in no time. If Hawaii were our destination it may be better to loop northward about the Pacific High pressure, come around to Canada, and sail back down the west coast of the US then veering out to Hawaii. It would likely be faster anyway.

Today has been mostly cloudy with light rain squalls. 230 nautical miles to go makes for about 38 hours left on this merry-go-round. We have been blessed with predictable weather with fairly steady trade winds continuing at 20+ knots. Now if we could just straighten out the seas a bit that would be great! Cross swell from aft quarters continues to nag our auto helm steering system, Jack, and he does not like it one bit….being the old salty dog he is. Another ration of grog should hold his temper at bay.

Such is the life on a sailing vessel.

Others went out on the sea in ships; they were merchants on the mighty waters. They saw the works of the Lord, his wonderful deeds in the deep. Psalm 107:23-24

A record day!

27 Mar 15

If you are looking for the update from March 26th, look no further because we went through the Date Line, effectively advancing beyond that day. Weird to think about that, but it happened just the same.

And if that was not mind boggling enough, we set a new 24-hour mileage record, advancing 171 nautical miles! Our previous record of 151 nms, obtained last June, was literally blown out of the water, thanks to the yesterday’s squalls and heighten winds.

Today finds us with 15 – 20 knots of wind with plenty of sunshine. Just for fun, we deployed the main sail after dousing the orange tri-sail. It’s a beautiful configuration sailing downwind “wing-on-wing”! Our speed is hanging around 6.5 knots with a smoother ride as waves roll up and pass directly under the keel, instead of from the aft quarter. At this pace we believe we will reach Majuro Atoll, Marshall Islands, Monday morning. This transit time factors out to 16 actual travel days, but 17 calendar days. Don’t think about this too long! We are one day ahead of schedule but actually lost a day. Ouch, my head hurts.

To celebrate this milestone chocolate brownies were baked. Once some school work is complete we will enjoy the mid-afternoon celebration with hopes of another day over 150 nms.
He has made everything beautiful in its time. He has also set eternity in the hearts of all; yet they cannot fathom what God has done from beginning to end. I know that there is nothing better for people than to be happy and to do good while they live. That everyone may eat and drink, and find satisfaction in all their toil – this is the gift from God. I know that everything God does will endure forever nothing can be added to it and nothing taken from it. God does it so that all will revere him. Ecc 3: 11-14

Breakfast for today – coffee with a squall

25 Mar 15

The predawn darkness had star filled skies with a few clouds here and there. The overnight crew had a few sprinkles of rain along with some over cast skies. Jim began his shift at 6am. We are still on Honolulu time, waiting patiently to arrive at the international dateline to change all the clocks over. This is 180 degrees, where tomorrow begins today…or today changes over to tomorrow….or, you must reset your clocks 22 hours ahead to a new date…or….well you get it, right?

This delay in changing the clocks has moved back the sunrise by almost 10 minutes each day as we head west. The first few days out of Honolulu found the sun rising and shining near 6:50am. Today the sun broke over the horizon around 8:30 am. There was no way to see that event this morning!

In the early twilight, the eastern skies showed something entirely different. A bank, no, a wall of clouds across the whole horizon stood in sharp contrast to the fading starlit skies. At first it looked like, hoped like, it was simply a line of clouds. You know the white fluffy ones. In time the truth always reveals itself. Keep your eyes open! The sky darkened and darkened as the night sky above brightened. Action was required.

All the hatches were secured, the head sail reefed in and the captain threw on his rain coat. Waiting was the only thing left to do except to grab that first satisfying cup of joe…..with a teaspoon of Nutella mixed in with cream. Yes, the waiting was good.

Thirty minutes passed as the darkest clouds, clearly with rain pouring down, broke south with the other impressive bank passing north. As the mid line approached our position the winds whipped up with the first few sprinkles. Then it was off to the races, so to speak. The steady NE 20 knot winds increased to the nearly 30. Gusts followed pushing the wind nanometer to 36 knots apparent more than once. As Niki likes to say, “Giddy up horsey!” The vessel plowed forward at 9-10 knots making for true wind speeds closer to 40+ knots.

And Giddy Up she did. There were moments all that energy,
wind-waves-momentum, combined to push our SOG (Speed Over
Ground-indicated by GPS) to 13.5 knots. Jack, our autopilot, could not handle it so the captain was ready and took over the helm, keeping us pointed in the right direction. Exhilarating in one word to describe it! That is NOT the word Gina would use, though. With the fin heavy keel down deep and large rudder, the boat made hay, handling the conditions well.

It is usually the initial squall which presents the most energy. That was the case this morning. A few following squalls chased us down and the eastern sky began break up with in an hour, reveling the glorious sunlight. That’s when the rainbows came out to play.

We are now within only 6 miles of the International Date Line where we will pass into tomorrow while you remain in today. Sunny skies are prevailing while we progress under reefed headsail at 8 knots! This could be the day we break 150 nautical miles. Richard and Colton were both grinning from ear to ear as we reached these new speeds. Richard whooped for joy when as he took over the helm from Capt. Jim for his shift. Soon thereafter a big swell rolled in and hit the boat accelerated to13 knots! His face is likely permanently stuck in that smiling position: the son of a sailor that one is.

Gina yelled up from down below ‘Hey, not everybody has a need for speed!’

Send forth your light and your truth, let them guide me. Psalm 43:3

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