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  • Sailblogs
    16 June 2014 | 21 55'N:110 11'W

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    17 June 2014 | 20 21'N:111

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    18 June 2014 | 20 07'N:114 04'W

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    19 June 2014 | 19 35'N:116 01'W

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    20 June 2014 | 19 38'N:118 30'W

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    21 June 2014 | 19 45'N:120 26'W

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    22 June 2014 | 19 48'N:122 27'W

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    23 June 2014 | 20 13'N:124 43'W

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    24 June 2014 | 20 31'N:127 16'W

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    25 June 2014 | 20 51'N:129 48'W

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    26 June 2014 | 21 02'N:132 30'W, 1451

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    27 June 2014 | 21 10'N:135 18'W

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    28 June 2014 | 21 16'N:137 57'W

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    30 June 2014 | 21 28'N:140 12'W

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    30 June 2014 | 21 24'N:143 16'W

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    01 July 2014 | 21 25'N:145 46'W

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    02 July 2014 | 21 15'N:148 12'W

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    03 July 2014 | 21 08'N:150 39'W

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    05 July 2014 | 20 48'N:153 28'W

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  • Sailblogs
    07 July 2014 | 19 40'N:156 01'W

Day 21 Log Entry

    07 July 2014 | 19 40’N:156 01’W, Honokohau Harbor, Kona

We made it safely to our slip on the big island of Hawaii at 3:00pm HST.

Thank you to Pastor Geordie Ziegler for the prayer below. It was read before our congregation at our commissioning ceremony and then again today as soon as we were officially checked in and tied to the dock.

Sir Francis Drake Prayer

Disturb us, Lord, when We are too pleased with ourselves, When our dreams have come true Because we dreamed too little, When we arrived safely Because we sailed to close to the shore.

Disturb us, Lord, when With the abundance of things we possess We have lost our thirst For the waters of life; Having fallen in love with life, We have ceased to dream of eternity And in our efforts to build a new earth, We have allowed our vision Of the new Heaven to dim.

Disturb us, Lord, to dare more boldly, To venture on wilder seas Where storms will show Your mastery; Where losing sight of land, We shall find the stars.

We ask you to push back The horizons of our hopes; And to push back the future In strength, courage, hope, and love. This we ask in the name of our Captain, Who is Jesus Christ.

Day 20 Log Entry

    06 July 2014 | 20 11’N:153 28’W, We are anchored off the northwest side of the big island of Hawaii

Next to the call of “Land Ho”, nothing gets a sea-going crew more excited about making land fall. Well, maybe the sound of the Captain calling out “anchor aweigh” quickly followed by the drum roll of anchor chain pouring out of the house-pipe wins the first place prizes. It truly singles the end of the journey…..this leg anyway….and the crew breathes a sigh of relief-excitement-satisfaction-exuberance-wonderment-thanks-praise-sereinity!

Today’s blog picture shows a beautiful view of the NE end of Hawaii (the big island). We had to round this point and enter the 30-mile wide channel, over to Maui, to then head south toward our port of entry Kona. Due to very light winds the past few days we could not make port until near midnight. As a result we have made a short diversion to a small bay tucked into the NW banks of the island…Nishimura Bay…just 5 miles around this NE point. Here the anchor has tumbled overboard and signaled the trip coming near to closure. Praise to Him who gives us strength to do all things we could not do our own.

After a quick breakfast in the morning we will make the 5-6 hour jaunt down the coast to Kona harbor for our appointment with Customs, Agriculture and the Kona Harbor Master to be officially cleared in.

Today’s weather was light and variable winds from the east. We had no wind after 12am last night with rolling seas so we once again had the pull out the iron gene (motor) to make sure we made the channel by sunset. It’s been partly cloudy with blue skies, blue seas, and green meadows onshore. Truly amazing!

In the next couple of days we will begin to plan part 2 of the journey. We will publish the details once we have them all collected and mapped out.

Thanks for being with us and stay tuned for another chapter coming soon!

Day 19 Log Entry

    05 July 2014 | 20 48’N:153 28’W, 2645 nm offshore and we can now SEE Hawaii!

About 15 years ago now, when Colton was a tiny baby, Jim and I realized how quickly our children grow up. We made a vow to do something special with our children before they left home to go to college. As new parents, Jim and I were struggling with our faith and realized we needed to figure out the ‘God thing’, if not for ourselves, then for our kids. And now, here I am spending a remarkable moment with Colton – it happens to be the mundane chore of hand-washing clothes in our ‘laundry room!” And, all these years later, I am amazed at how God brought our desire to do something special with our children into his plan for our family. Today, we as we finish our long journey across the Pacific Ocean on our way to Papua New Guinea to serve God thru Wycliffe Bible Translators, we Praise God from whom all blessings flow!

We have traveled 2645 nautical miles with only 172 mile left to go. We expect to arrive in our reserved slip at the marina sometime tomorrow evening (7/5/14). And…Niki just spotted land and was the first to shout “Land-Ho!”

Day 18 Log Entry

    03 July 2014 | 21 08’N:150 39’W, 2486 nm offshore and almost to Hawaii

As we get within 330 nautical miles of land, we are starting to take steps for arrival consisting of making calls to the Harbor Master, Kona Marina, Customs office, and Agricultural office. As a US documented vessel coming into a US port it is usually no big deal, but it is more complicated since we are inbound from Mexico. There will be a fairly formal check-in process requiring us to provide documentation about our vessel, last port of call (San Carlos, Mexico), along with the people and supplies (stores) on board. Likely Customs will want to do a physical inspection to check for forbidden fruits, vegetables, and meats. No problem there because everything has been eaten by our hungry (teenage and pre-teen) crew. Additionally, the US Coast Guard might want to come aboard for a vessel inspection.

The kids are scanning the horizon for the first view of land, each wanting to be the first to shout ‘Land-Ho!’ Dog-opoly has been a favorite pastime game interspersed with watching old episodes of the Tv-series Psych and school work. The adults are enjoying catching up on some reading. Jim has the C.S. Forester Hornblower series and is on (book 4). Gina is reading a novel called ‘The Choice’ and Jen is reading Lee Strobel’s ‘The Case for Faith.’ Mistakenly, we had the impression we would have tons of free time to read during the 20-21 day crossing, but this just has not been the case. The “dog watches” and rougher than expected seas have taken their toll.

Many of you are asking how long we plan to stay in Hawaii. At this point, we do not know. There is one major repair to our main sail track which must be fixed. The Kona port has good marine service facilities. This problem may need some professional help. The upper track which the mainsail runs up has come loose, shaking out 12-15 track screws. On about our 9th day out, we were having trouble raising and lowering our main sail. The cars were getting stuck in the track up high. This is not good because we need to be able to get the main down quickly. The first few screws popped out of the sail track and sprinkled the deck. After an inspection with binoculars, Jim discovered that the sail track was coming away from the mast, caused by the loosening screws. Apparently the heat in Mexico may have melted away the lock tight on the screw threads. From that point on using the mainsail was not an option. We instead have rigged our beautifully colorful (fluorescent orang e) storm tri-sail. It goes up a separate track on the mast and has worked well, as intended, to stabilize the boat while running downwind under head sails. Once at port, Jim and Colton will see if they can solve the problem. It may be tough to fix with mast in its vertical position. We do NOT want to remove the mast! Our jib sail also is in need of a few repairs due to having flown continually now for over 2000 miles. Then there is the regular housekeeping and maintenance list-of-things-to-do such as cleaning all floors and linens, changing the oil in the main engine, etc. Before we tackle the list of things to do, Captain Jim has promised us some REST, and we plan to hold him to this promise! 2 days shore leave? I think SO!

Today’s winds have been fairly consistent along with some very large swells coming up on our aft. We find ourselves looking UP at them which makes Gina very nervous. Some pass under the boat without you even knowing they were there while others jostle us from side to side. It’s all a timing thing. We have gotten better at stowing all loose items, having fewer spills and flying objects.

With the cloud bank on the western horizon there is no “Land-Ho” call. Reasonably, the tall mountains on Hawaii are likely visible from our current range. The past days of light rain squalls have subsided to partly cloudy skies. Wind remains from the ENE and have a variable component from 10-18 knots, making for hourly adjustments to sail trim. We are still experiencing confused seas with swell coming from the NE, E and SE. This also brings a challenge to keeping the sails full and bye.

As we approach the main Island Hawaii we are heading in at 254 degrees magnetic, pointing toward the north end – then through the channel with Maui on the other side. Phone calls today to the Kona port authority confirmed that prevailing winds from the NE have been stronger than usual making for some rough water through the channel. We may slow it down to traverse that point into the channel in the wee hours of Sunday morning. If we do not slow down a bit our timing could put us there late Saturday afternoon, during the height of winds….not good.

Day 17 Log Entry

    02 July 2014 | 21 15’N:148 12’W, 2320 nm offshore and heading toward Hawaii

We can’t believe we are now less than 500 miles from land! At around 3:00pm today (and for the 4th time during this crossing) 2 dorados hit our 2 lures at the exact same time. Truly an amazing phenomenon, as the squid lures are spaced apart on purpose by 20-30 feet. How do they decide to bite at the exact same time? Again there was one male and one female (24 inch range). Today when it happened, Colton coached Carmen and Niki how to reel them in. Carmen was able to land and release the female just in time for Niki to land and release the male. Neither were harmed. Hopefully this couple reunited (as they mate for life) somewhere aft of our wake. If they were a little larger we likely would have kept one. Smiles were all around.

Today’s weather was the same as yesterday…winds come and go with passing light rain squalls. Over night the wind stayed up resulting in larger waves for the breakfast watch. This required keeping the meal simple – oatmeal with diced apples, cinnamon and brown sugar. As a result of sustained wave action and wind coming directly from the east we needed to veer off course today, zig zaging down wind to keep the sails and boat steady. The sailing term for this is jibbing down.

Day 16 Log Entry

    01 July 2014 | 21 25’N:145 46’W, 2186 nm offshore and heading toward Hawaii

Things that go bump in the night keep me awake, especially new sounds. Several days back there began an odd thump coming from under the aft floor boards. Being the captain it brings to the forefront the responsibilities to know my ship and its personality. When there is a change, like the mood of a good friend, wife, or child, it requires you to pause to contemplate the question “what’s up?” A sailboat underway speaks her own language and hums as she goes along, changing her mood like the weather.

During our years of prep and study, we have learned of boats parting way with their rudder. No rudder, no way to steer the boat! Reasons for losing a rudder are not necessarily related to running aground as the keel provides protection. Information and tactics relating to makeshift steerage and how to deal with this type of situation have been reviewed. Steps were taken on board Sweet Dreams to address such a possibility. However, while sleeping between shifts the other night this new sound began at 4 am, working its way through my pillow. A dull thump persisted followed by another with no particular rhythm. At times it was louder than other times. You need to know that under the aft cabin is the rudder. A friend of mine (Captain Fred) mentioned to me several years back…really it was more like strong advice… “check your steering system often.”

Well, my mind began to race through the possible scenarios of loosen bolts, cracked rudder shaft, delaminated fiberglass – among others. I tried to reassure myself that I had I thoroughly examined all these only 4 weeks ago. Memories of JAWS (the movie) came to me when the shark began thumping the hull. No…couldn’t be that. Then my mind shifted forward of the rudder to the propeller, cutlass bearing and drive shaft. I went to the floorboards in the galley (kitchen), opened them up to evaluate the drive shaft and connection to the transmission. With my hand firmly grasped around the shaft right before it exits out of the hull going toward the propeller I felt for the thumps. There it was, only a very dull vibration. What it this thing that is happening? It’s too dark and seas too rough to go overboard in scuba gear for a direct visual review. Further inspection of the steering system and under the aft floor confirmed all looks good. Coming off shift I was tired a nd decided to send the GoPro camera overboard in the morning to take a look. Sleep on it….literally.

Morning came and after fresh cup of coffee while sitting in the cockpit I heard it….the slap of a wave. The realization came; the ocean waves and prevailing wind had shifted almost directly aft the day before. Wind waves and ocean swells are catching us under the stern and were producing the audible slap from outside. Back inside, I confirmed the swells were hitting underneath and causing the dreaded thump! Problem solved. It is amazing how some rest followed by a cup of coffee can bring you out of the fog.

Today’s weather has shifted to East by Northeast, rolling small rain squalls by all day long – moving from east to west. This makes the 15 knot winds fall off dramatically as they pass, leaving the sails flapping for more before it builds back in after 10 minutes or so. It reminds me of those slow oscillating fans – they cool you down for a short time, then leaving you hot, wanting more breeze sooner than the fan returns. In between showers is nice sunshine and fair downwind sailing. Waves coming at nearly under our stern make for difficulty to keep the boat from yawing side to side. Not perfect but nearly so!

The crew was well feed today with a fresh catch of Mahi Mahi, following by homemade ice cream and peach crumble. Thank God for ice. Blessings to you!

p.s. 2,186 nautical miles from Mexico, about 642 more to Hawaii.

Day 15 Log Entry

    30 June 2014 | 21 24’N:143 16’W, 2055 nm offshore and heading toward Hawaii

In our modern world, we assume that wherever we go, there will be wifi. We sync our devices at airports, coffee shops, shopping malls, and even while driving down the highway. That is until we set off across the deep blue sea. There are no cell towers out here to dispatch our signal to the next relay tower, no hot spots, no 3 or 4g, no wifi, and even more unfortunate for us, no coffee shop with expensive lattes.

The method currently utilized to communicate with you requires a handful of devices, as you can see in the photo. The white box is an optimizer that highly compresses all the outbound emails and photos. It requires power and connects via a USB cable connects to the satellite phone. The satellite phone gets plugged into a special antenna which is mounted on top of our dodger. It is constantly searching for passing satellites. To work well it needs at least 4 different satellite connects simultaneously (Satellites not shown in picture ?). Once it picks up the signals the phone display indicates the strength of the connections and ability to transmit….if it holds the satellites’ signals – as they are traveling 16,000 mph more or less. The laptop has unique software installed designed to help with composing emails in a way which allows for quick data streaming to the blog site.

After the emails are in the outbox and the sailblog page is created – ready to send (with photo attached), all the devices are linked up and voila, everything happens like magic. Well, most of the time! If the boat is heeling over, the satellite may have trouble maintaining a constant signal, terminating the transmission. Half a dozen times this past two weeks we needed to restart the link up. Generally speaking, the send/receive connection to the satellite takes from 8-10 minutes. This can seem like an eternity compared to what we are used to! Other than these communication updates we do not have access to the internet. The amount of time to load a single internet page is simply cost prohibitive, let alone browsing. This is why you do not see us responding to Facebook and the like. However, please keep sharing your comments as we very much look forward reviewing those when we get to port. Even with a few issues, we are happy to have this technology available. It helps us feel connected when we are so far away from our home and friends.

Today’s weather was moderate wind 12-15 from the NNE, finally having waves mostly directly following us. It makes the boat feel like a sled ride while the waves catch up and roll under the boat. It’s been sunny with puffy (Niki says) clouds amongst blue skies right at 80 degrees. Rain squalls….not yet. The forecast indicates a downwind run for the next 6 days with steady winds. We like that because it means less sail changes. Overnight we expect to see stars galore…and the milkyway!

Blessings to you and prayers of thanks.

Day 14 Log Entry

    30 June 2014 | 21 28’N:140 12’W, 1913 nm offshore and heading toward Hawaii

A night with 15-20 knots of wind (YEA!) and occasional rain showers (we prefer that term to squalls) led to a clean deck on a beautiful sunshiny day with a steadier breeze and smaller swells. So we settled into another day of sailing, hopeful that it would be an easy steady day with no surprises, a following breeze and gentle seas.

People often ask what we do on a sailboat all day long, they wonder how we can stand to go so slow. They imagine that our feet are up, we are reading and taking naps. Well this perception is far from the truth. Another phrase that I find laughable is “steady as the wind.” Ha! This wind is anything but steady. It gusts, it shifts, it is squirrely and demands that we be constantly on our toes.

Sailing is an endeavor that must only be indulged in by those who relish a challenge. The challenge – to harness the wind. Today we started with two sails up, the jib and trisail. A little while later we doused the jib and flew the Genoa. Next we took down the trisail. A few hours later we doused the genoa and flew the asymmetrical spinnaker. After an hour of that, we doused the geniker and raised the jib and trisail again. Then after dinner we doused the trysail again.

Each of these sail changes took about 30-60 minutes to complete and at least three people working together. It included bonked heads, tweaked backs, torn sail gloves and weary crew who forgot to stop and eat lunch.

Why do we do it then? Because God has called us to this mission. And, because sailing with no engine feels a little bit like flying. Through the water, 7 knots feel fast! Because to be out here in the middle of the sea affords us remarkable experiences of teamwork, strength, and camaraderie. Because we feel closer to God.

As we were in the cockpit this evening, enjoying our Sunday sermon by Pastor Fitz Neal, a rainbow begins to form at our stern from a squall chasing us. As it approached closer and closer it became more and more vivid. A beautiful, full rainbow came right upon us and touched down on the water almost putting us right in the middle. A slight double appears and then it passed us going toward the sunset….then within minutes another one comes along behind it. And another.

Our children were filled with joy, laughing and dancing in the rainy – sunshiny deck. A full glorious rainbow engulfing them and carrying forth into their future with their whole lives in front of them. Then, we praise God from whom all blessings flow!

1,913 nautical miles off shore, 904 more to go, about 7 days.

Day 13 Log Entry

    28 June 2014 | 21 16’N:137 57’W, 1764 nm offshore and heading toward Hawaii

Day 13 We are definitely off the sidewalk out here. Tomorrow is Sunday which brings to mind getting up and going to church. Last week while underway, we had the opportunity to listen to Pastor Matt from our home church (Columbia Presbyterian Church – CPC) give a sermon of this subject and title “Go to Where the Sidewalk Ends”. Many of you have asked how to we recharge our spiritual batteries while out on mission, away from our church and routines. Fortunately Wycliffe also has concerns about this and we have had specific training on how to keep God in our daily lives, as well as Sunday. Before we departed from Mexico we downloaded a good number of sermons from CPC in addition to others we like. Matt’s was really good and you can check it out at our church website.

In the picture on this blog we are gathered around the cockpit (Colton, Gina, Carmen in the front window, Niki and Jim) for our daily devotional time. Our afternoon activities and chores are put aside for a reading from Jesus Today by Sarah Young. We are on #106 which begins Take hold of the hope that I offer to you – and be greatly encouraged. Of course it goes on and includes reference scripture. It was a very good message indeed! Our daily routine begins with some Christian praise music, then Niki opens us in a family prayer (provided by CPC), followed by the devotional, discussion about what we heard, and then closing prayer with another song or two. Today’s music was by Francesca Battistelli.

This devotional time together has become so meaningful and fulfilling. When we skip it for a day or two we all start to remind each other to get back on that sidewalk. As for this day our batteries are now recharged.

Just in time…it’s coming up on 6pm local Pacific Ocean time. Squalls are passing in front and behind us with sunshine trying to show us the path between. One coming over the horizon to our NW looks like it might reach us. So we gotta go reef the headsail (make it smaller to slow us down and get ready….no worries as these are pretty small, isolated showers. Winds remain out of the NNE at 15 gusting to 20. We are running under double reefed JIB sail and Storm trysail in place of the main. Today the winds came up well after lunch as we have been moving easy at 6.5 knots on a course of 270…..west. Winds just now are picking up to the 20 knots with mild gusts as the squall approaches. Looks like we will get a light wash down.

Colton just came on deck shirtless with some shampoo. Always the jokester.

Day 12 Log Entry

    27 June 2014 | 21 10’N:135 18’W, 1587 nm offshore and heading toward Hawai

Day 12 Sweet Dreams has progressed to 1578 nautical miles off shore as of lunch time today. The dawning day brought us to find another flying fish on deck. The most overnight catch has been 3. It’s a good thing we are keeping the port windows closed. Schools of these fish, or it may be more appropriate to say “flocks”, are seen many times a day as they launch up out of the water, skimming wave tops as we make our way by. As many as several hundred can be seen scattering in flight to a new location, diving back down into the ocean upon running out of speed, going at times nearly 100 feet. They have a similar appearance to dragon flies while in flight.

Apparently in the dim of the night, they accidentally ride the wind up a wave and onto our deck. Poor little guys (& gals). Other sailors who have made crossings told us to use them as bait and reported catching a marlin. Since we really do not want to catch a marlin, I doubt the bait will be useful here. Many of you have asked to see a flying fish, so here is a photo. Captain Jim’s holding it to give the idea of the typical size.

Today was a chore day. The girls swept the floors. Colton and I did laundry, followed by cleaning the head (wash/shower room) which could be better described as a small closet…Note that we call this our sea head as it is used while underway and currently being used by all 6 crew members. The chore list included “fixing” a few things like clamps that hold the pans on the stove top when the boat is rocking and light fixtures that had become loose.

The wind is brisk from the northeast, fairly steady at 15-18 knots while skies where mostly cloudy but came to full sun this afternoon. Patchy clouds on the horizon will make for another magnificent sunset, the sun rays coming down like God’s fingers pointing the way to heaven, with golden fleece around the cloud edges. Seas are running 4-5 feet with a few 8 footers thrown in for fun. We are being chased down wind by white capped waves, one of which just boiled over with perfect timing to splash the port side hull, sending some droplets to my forearm as I type this message in the cockpit.

Each night around 1 am the wind drops to under 5 leaving a rolly sea state – making it hard for the crew to sleep and keeps the sails slapping around, making a ruckus. As a result, we have been running the main engine the past few nights though the early morning hours to keep up a speed of 5 knots and good steerage. By 8 am the wind comes back and we shut down the “iron genny” to save fuel for another day.

Many thanks for your warm wishes and prayers. We are all well and catching some shut-eye as needed.

Day 11 Log Entry

    26 June 2014 | 21 02’N:132 30’W, 1451 nm offshore and heading toward Hawaii

Day 11 Sail Ho! We are a little late getting this blog out this afternoon as we crossed paths with a sail boat out of Vancouver BC….Hanna Rocks….at 5pm (1200 UTC). Captain Ian and his wife (Hanna) have been at sea for 26 days heading south to the Marquesas Islands. They likely have 12-14 days to go. Their boat looks like a cutter in the 40 foot range. We spoke with the skipper for a short time. Their batteries are running low so they will start the generator and we will reconnect on the VHF at 7pm local. Our closest range was about 2 miles as they head SSW at 240 degrees. Sweet Dreams continues sailing due west right into the setting sun. As their mast and sails came over the horizon they were right in the sparkling waters between us. Being due east of them we were easy to spot, lit up by the sun like a light bulb against the eastern blue sky. Our big genoa is out front flying us west at 8 knots. The Skipper made first contact and confirmed we are the first vessel they have seen since their own departure. We jumped when we heard a clear voice on channel 16 speaking to the sailing vessel at our exact lat and long. There was great enthusiasm for all aboard each boat to share the seas and pleasantries.

Just prior to having been spotted by Hanna Rocks were finishing dinner…beef stew from the pressure cooker pot. Very tasty gravy Gina made. Very satisfying too! During dinner we had another hit by a marlin….all I can say is the score….Sweet Dreams 0…the Marlins 2. We heard it hit the line, saw it jump, and then took our Cedar Plug lure with 70 feet of high test line. Colton was not happy. Two lures gone. On a positive note…we caught a beautiful dorado last evening around the same time with the same lure. It was a young female around 24 inches. Knowing that these fish mate for life the crew unanimously decided to toss her back to find her mate. So far, dorados are the most beautiful fish we have seen!

The hardest thing about a transit of this length is the constant motion. With fluky winds and wave direction the boat had trouble finding a groove. Changing tack and sail configuration becomes a constant consideration. The reason is for comfort as much as it is to stop breaking things. Yesterday the Storm Jib Halyard…stowed away tight to the top rigging…came a little lose in the night and whipped off our mid-mast mounted horn/hailing speaker. Another item added to the fix it list.

We keep busy with little of this and a little of that….the kids just call it all chores….mixed in with a little schooling. Colton, Niki and Carmen are getting into their books, reading a lot, and playing games in their free time. Here for this blog photo we caught Colton, who appears to be not in motion, reading the 3rd book of the Hornblower seires by C.S. Forester. This is a very well written story about the Napoleonic times in the late 1700s concerning the British navy and countering the little man trying to take over the world. A gift from Matt, the youth pastor of our church, that has been enjoyed by all!

This day we have had strong winds from the NNE at 15-20 knots. This is building up some 6-8 foots swells when the wind waves combine with the sea swell. Sweet Dreams and her crew have been running before the wind all afternoon at around 8 knots, getting side goggled by a batch of sneaker waves from the North several times per hour. The boat yawls around as the wave breaks into a foaming mess under the keel, then comes back to course just as the hull was designed to do. We are in good shape and putting extra miles toward Hawaii today.

Jen’s husband Bruce challenged us to go over 150 nautical miles in a 24-hour period. Today may be the day we meet the challenge. Ok, please don’t remind me about how I can get in my car and drive 150 miles in 3 hours!

Day 10 Log Entry

    25 June 2014 | 20 51’N:129 48’W, 1283 nm offshore and heading toward Hawaii

We are approaching halfway now. Our total route is 2,817 nautical miles and we have just passed the 1283 mile marker on our chart plot. Today we marveled at how vast the ocean is. Amazing! At this point the boat is further from land than it has been or will ever be. We are also reveling in the beautiful blue color of the water. The ‘deep blue sea’ truly takes on a whole new meaning. Kinda the way astronauts look back at earth, the blue sphere of life, and see how unique it really is! The picture here is an attempt to show you and a view of the sea over which we are traveling.

We also have started to see the Southern Cross constellation right after sunset – low on the horizon. The first time we spotted several nights back we grabbed the IPAD and played the song by the same name (by Cosby, Stills & Nash). The kids loved it and sang along. Share the moment with us by finding it on Youtube and listen how it was a perfect fit for the moment!

We had a few birds visit us today and wondered how they rest their wings with land being so far away. They circled the boat but did not try to land. We had a blue-footed boobie roost on the top of the mast on day 2 and it just about drove Jim nearly crazy knowing the bird was leisurely sitting atop our mast where our wind gauge and other instruments reside. At times when the bird leaves the equipment no longer works. We tried everything we could think of, even tacking the sail to the other side making lots of racket in the process, but the bird remained unflappable! He eventually departed the next day around 9am after taking numerous “warm up” flights.

We made our family favorite chocolate chip pancakes and bacon for breakfast this morning making for a very happy crew. Jim took my night watch so I could catch up on some much needed sleep and today, I feel like a new person.

Today the wind has shifted back from the North at 12 knots average…a beam reach. After several cloudy, breezing transitions along with some squirrely wave patterns, it is mostly sunny coming into the late afternoon. Our speed has ranged from 5.5 to nearly 8 during the cloudy sessions and has settled mostly ’round 6.5 knots. The boat is standing on her feet and making good headway under Jib and storm staysail….a new sail configuration we are trying out. Still fishing, but no bites.

Blessings to you and your friends and families.

Day 9 Log Entry

    24 June 2014 | 20 31’N:127 16’W, 1177 nm offshore and heading toward Hawaii

As sailors, we have heard over and over about that fabulous feeling of sailing in the “trades”. “Trades” means the steady winds that blow around the ocean – in our case the NE trade winds that blow us westward across the Pacific Ocean. I have heard stories of sailors being able to set their course at 270 degrees, set the sails for a broad reach and not change the heading or sails for the 2,500+ miles it takes to get to Hawaii. Well, I think that story is a little like a fisherman’s big fish story – with each re-telling of the story, the Big Fish gets a little bit bigger. Perhaps in the retelling of the sailor’s trade winds story, the dozen or so course and sail changes that were done are forgotten because the pleasure of sailing in the trades is so awesome it overpowers the reality of sail changing. Plus it makes for a better and more dramatic story.

Yesterday we awoke from a night of totally becalmed seas to a NNE breeze that steadily built to about 12-15 knots. Proof that we got into the trades? We were able to rig our Asymmetrical Spinnaker, a light-air sail made of parachute material that can only be used in these perfect not-too-strong winds that are on the back quarter of the boat. The boat is literally lifted up out of the water (at least it feels that way) as this more billowy sail catches the wind and pulls us forward. The flip-flopping of boom and sails over the past few days has become a distant memory. We were able to sail this way for five hours with only a few minor adjustments. The colorful sail and smooth fast sailing result in happy people and a happy boat!

If you would like to ask us a question or send us some love, just send a text-only email to us. We will get your message while at sea using our satellite phone email system. I’ll write a blog soon about how it works. Just remember to keep the text short and remove any logos or extra characters that might be in your automatic signature.

Day 8 Log Entry

    23 June 2014 | 20 13’N:124 43’W, 987 nm offshore and heading toward Hawaii

Day 8 Capt. Jim here…Today began with an amazing sunrise. I was on the Sat phone with my brother John checking in live when that event occurred. Early morning is my watch, 5am-8am. I promised to share today’s sunrise…. enjoy the picture.

So glad you are all following this expedition. There are moments like the start to this day where you just have to pause and thank God for living. In fact, He wants to hear from us like that throughout the day, through thick and thin, like during a malfunctioning engine. On that note I must admit it was operator error. In all the operational aspects of living aboard I had missed the “close the seacock” for the main engine cooling water supply, before you set sail. Like a pre-flight item in an aircraft you gotta check ’em off.

One of the most important items on any daily check list is recharging your faith. A wise man told me many times “you gotta keep the faith”. That man was my father! It took me a long time to really understand the depth of the meaning of that statement. Donald Nie was a man of faith. Laying in a hospital bed recovering from losing my left eye at the age of 13, I heard that statement again and again from he and my mother. I was really upset at God and the whole idea of letting the dream go of becoming an air force pilot. You can ask me more about those details if you wish….send a text only email.

Over the past 10 years, Gina and I committed to pause more and listen for God. Little by little we heard more and more. Like when Jesus asked Peter to step out of the boat and walk over to Him on the water. Wow! You could write a whole thesis on that one aspect of Faith. So here we go, into the unknown to work for God and with His disciples in PNG. We have little knowledge of how it will go…even just getting there is an unknown. But with the willingness to step out combined with faith – we will go as far we can, making a difference in the ‘tween times (a nautical phrase for you).

Please find this song on YouTube (Oceans: Where Feet May Fail by Hillsong United 8:57 minute version) and listen to it…more than once….with your eyes closed. It is an inspiration on Faith and has more or less become our family’s theme song.

We are 987 miles offshore today, making westward with light winds 10-12kts, clocking around to North by Northeast. With more than 1/3 the distance under our keel, maybe we are in the trade winds we have been looking for. Our crew agreed to test out the use of a whisker pole with our asymmetrical spinnaker sail. These items are for light wind conditions. This is the kind of sailing we read about!

Until next time…..Have a God Day!

Day 7 Log Entry

    22 June 2014 | 19 48’N:122 27’W, 843nm offshore and heading toward Hawaii

Carmen, otherwise known as Charlie-Alpha-Romeo-Mike-Echo-November (we’ve been practicing our NATO official letter names) decided last night that she was going to make cinnamon rolls for the crew today. She went about finding a recipe and preparing to bake the next morning. We cooked the potatoes needed for the recipe last night and set out all of the ingredients. Carmen set her alarm to 8:00 so she could get up and get the breakfast rolling and visits with Jim, who is on watch from 5-8am. And so this morning we were awoken with the aroma of cooking cinnamon rolls – YUMMMMIE.

Have ever noticed how regular foods taste so exceptionally yummy when eating them outdoors? And cinnamon rolls in the middle of the sea one week into a 3-week voyage, well that is fabulous in my book. Carmen is a natural in the kitchen and really gets into the food. When done, she has it on her face and in her hair and is happy as can be!

Other than our fabulous breakfast, the day has been somewhat uneventful, especially compared to yesterday’s marathon 20-hour engine repair and the previous fitful nights of sleep. The engine is purring along, hurrah! This gave most of us better quality sleep because the metal beast has a way of being smoother smoother in a low-wind sea with swells on our beam. And today we have covered Jim’s shifts so he can nap. The kids have been laughing around the table, playing a dice game and scrabble. And now it is time for dinner. I do NOT know how the day passes so quickly.

843 nautical miles completed; 1,930 to go. We are STILL waiting for those famous consistent NNE trade winds to push us there, hoping they fill in over the next few days.

Day 6 Log Entry

    21 June 2014 | 19 45’N:120 26’W, 760 nm offshore and heading toward Hawaii

A slow day to be sure. The wind died down late in night and we were barely moving along. When that happens, the sails flop around making all kinds of noise. Just as we were nearing a decision to turn on the engine in order to keep the boat under control from swell, a nice gust would come and we would be off again. This happened many, many times. In the process most of the crew got very little, if any, sleep. Around 4:00 AM we decided enough during a prolonged lull to turn on the engine. It would not turn over. There is no worse sound than an engine that will not purr to life as it has so many times in the past. Jim went quickly into problem solving mode first hypothesizing was that the batteries were low from not running the generator during the day. We fired up the gen set, charged the batteries and tried again to start the engine, no luck. He moved next to other electrical possibilities. The starter felt very hot to touch meaning it may have seized. He installed the backup. No change. We started brainstorming and located the diesel engine handbook for research.

Thanks to Nigel Calder, in a short amount of time, Jim determined that the engine had water in it from back siphoning. The seas had a pretty good wind swell and we were flying along the previous day….heeling over enough to may have contributed to the issue. Colton and Jim tag-teamed the effort to solve the mystery and by midday were well into the process of finding & removing the seawater from the engine. The engine oil was contaminated so a premature oil/filter change will be the final step. It’s up and running now. Whew….that is a relief! If you look closely at the photo, you can see one of Jim’s favorite tools – a butter knife. He used a total of 8 of them to keep the valves open just enough to let the water out of the engine. At our house, we never underestimate the value of a butter knife!

During this dilemma, we kept reassuring ourselves that we are a sail boat, therefore, we can sail all the way to Hawaii and don’t need an engine anyway. We have read of many people who have done it but at the end of the day, we really did not want to be one of them. We want to be one of the people who sighs and feels a sense of relief and thankfulness when their engine purrs back to life.

Please continue to pray for our safety and well being….and that our engine comes back to life with GUSTO!

Day 5 Log Entry

    20 June 2014 | 19 38’N:118 30’W, 650 nm offshore and heading toward Hawaii

At 5:00 PST, we are approximately 650 miles offshore. We finally picked up some great progress last night. Even with both mainsail and headsail fully we were making over 7 knots on a westerly course. The boat navigation system recorded a top hull speed of 8.3 knots. Today has been somewhat overcast with a building breeze clocking to the north. We may have finally gotten into the trade winds and averaging around 6.5 knots throughout the day. The kids are doing school, helping with chores, and finished off the brownies.

Here is a photo of some of the instruments we are using for safety and navigation.

The one at the bottom is called an AIS (Automated Information System). It helps us by tracking what vessels are approaching within a range of 250nm. This is required worldwide for commercial operation and optional for private vessels like us. It target tracks and has alarms when a 24 mile radius of our location has been penetrated – including vessel speed, direction, and name with specifics (i.e. cargo, freighter, cruise ship). Our system also reports to the targets who we are and our data. This is a system similar to what aircraft use. It is based on GPS and VHF radio signals.

The upper left instrument shows depth, water temp and boat speed through the water. Fortunately for us, we are running with a current toward Hawaii. Our true boat speed is at 7 knots. The unit shows 5.6 knots indicating a positive current of 1.4 kts. The upper right instrument is our flukey wind indicator. It is brand new. Sometimes it works and sometime it does not. It shows wind speed and direction including gusts from a sending unit at the top of the mast.

The night watch crew members generally take a short naps during the day to compensate for the interrupted sleep. No fish caught today other than the 2 flying fish that ended up on deck sometime during the night. We did lose a nice squid lure to a very big fish of unknown origin early in the morning.

Somehow the days pass quickly. We are not yet sure how this happens.

We are all doing well. Keep the prayers and short text emails coming! We love hearing from you and what you might want to know about.

Day 4 Log Entry

    19 June 2014 | 19 35’N:116 01’W, 435nm offshore and heading toward Hawaii

Day 4 We are about 435 miles out now. Today was the day of rain squalls – nothing too serious but it gave us a chance to practice reefing the mainsail. We decided that when anyone asks if we should reef, then we do! The wind is on our forward starboard quarter and has been light and variable averaging 7 -8 knots. Still no engine, hurrah! We run the generator to top off the batteries but that usually for less than an hour. We are making our own water and it is sweet and delicious.

Jen made cheeseburgers on the grill and Carmen made chocolate chip chocolate brownies – both were BIG hits! As I write this we are about 2 hours away from sunset, we have a single reef in the main and we see a small cloud formation up ahead. It does not look serious but may have some rain in it and to my surprise, both Colton and Niki WANT rain. I guess they are starting to miss the PNW rain.

All crew members are happy and healthy. We appreciate your prayers and please keep them coming.

We are currently checking in on the long range radio at 3:00 PST/2200 UST on frequency 21412 on the Maritime Mobile Service Net. It is amazing that we are talking to people back in Iowa and Nebraska. They will keep tabs on us each day at the same time.

Blessings to all!

Day 3 Log Entry

    18 June 2014 | 20 07’N:114 04’W, Heading toward Hawaii

Day 3 and we are starting to get into a groove. The continual sailing is so much more relaxing than motoring. This is the most consecutive sailing we have ever done with no engine!

Today, we tested our single side band (long range radio) to talk to a ham radio operator in Ohio. There are nets that broadcast every day at a certain time. This is something we had been meaning to do for a long time but were too busy. It was really cool that the Pacific Marine net operator now knows our destination, position, and speed over ground. We will check in with the same network each day as another safety feature. If needed, we could even use the radio to make emergency calls and even patch through to the telephone.

During the brief radio chat, we heard the familiar “fish on” call. We ran to the stern and saw a marlin jumping and splashing around. We stood there in amazement. I was thinking, how are we going to land this fish and how am I going to process it? We did not really need to worry too much because within 5 minutes, it managed to sever the line and went on its way. It was a very exciting moment to say the least.

We also did laundry today and tried out our storm tri-sail. It is a bright orange sail that runs up where the mainsail usually stays.

In the afternoon, we were moving along in peaceful waters at about 3.5 knots and Jim lowered the swim platform and the girls dangled their feet in the beautiful blue moving water.

It is after dinner now, and we are lounging around reading our favorite books as the sun sets.

All is well aboard S/V Sweet Dreams. Please continue to pray for our health and safety!

Day 2 Log Entry

    17 June 2014 | 20 21’N:111 57’W, 203 nm SW of Cabo San Lucas

As of 7:00 PST, we are sailing along at 6.6 knots. All systems are functioning properly and we started the water maker today for the first time since storing the boat. Everyone is feeling healthy and happy and we are trying to get into a routine now.

Our watch schedule is: 8-11 am & pm: Colton 11-2 am & pm: Jennifer 2-5 am & pm: Gina 5 – 8 am & pm: Jim

With our sleep scheduled being interrupted, we have to make sure that we catch naps during the day ensure we don’t get too tired.

During the day we are a little more relaxed with the watch schedule and Niki and Carmen join in and are learning the ropes. The kids are currently swapping the galley cleanup duty with each meal and Gina and Jen are sharing the meal prep duties. With 3 meals a day for estimated 21 days, we only have 57 more meals to go…

We are still focused on safety and as you can see Jim and Niki both have their personal locator devices attached to their life vests along with harness gear that keeps us tied to the boat.

Please keep your prayers coming for safe seas and good health – so far they are working!

Day 1 Log Entry

    16 June 2014 | 21 55’N:110 11’W, 68.34 nm (nautical miles) from Cabo San Lucas

For as long as we have been talking about and preparing for this trip, today seemed like any other day. But it isn’t – we have left land and will not see it again for 19-23 days…depending on the wind.

We pulled up anchor in the darkness, around 5:15am. We motor sailed away from Cabo and within 90 minutes we turned off the engine and were under full sail. As I write this at 530pm MST or 23:50 UST, we have covered almost 70 nm under sail. The wind is out of the west and we are heading south. We are heading south to catch some of the wind from storm Christine. Within the next 24 hours, we plan to head west toward Hawaii. Jim and Jen had researched the best route and our professional service confirmed we should head south first.

No one is feeling sea sick and to celebrate our first meal of the crossing will be beef strogonoff and cholocate chip cheese cake. Spent most of my day in the galley!

Praise God from whom all blessings flow!

  1. Hey Jim how are things going?

  2. Hey Gina! Enjoy reading these 🙂 i don’t see anything more recent than Dec 30 on your blog. Would like to see where you are on the map. Take care!

  3. So proud of you guys!! Sounds like a lot of hard honest work getting ready to leave Mexico. Praying for your safe travels across the big blue enroute to POC in August where I hope to have a lot of wonderful fellowship with you and meet the kids (at last).

    God’s very best to all four of you wonderful brave souls!!

  4. Hi NIe’s great news WE will keep you in our prayers. Love the pictures. God bless all of you. Happy safe sailing.Helen and Jim

  5. All y’all continue to inspire. Hallelujah! You are always in our prayers. I thought of you tonight as we talked (Lori, Erin, Lisa and me) about what evangelism and going forth look like. So many forms; each to his gifts. Praise God that we all have something to offer. Blessings to you all! Frank

  6. We look forward to all your updates. We love to seeing how you are using sailing and boat know how to serve the Lord. We pray for you daily. We have also had the same situation on our boat you describe with water in the engine. We loved the butter knives! We use what we have! God bless and keep you all. We hope to do the Baja ha ha this year. Your journey is inspiring.
    Tom and Claire

  7. I just looked at your log for day six. I can imagine the feeling as the engine did not even turn over. Praise the Lord that it is running again. I can understand the engine issue clearly. Before I read your log I looked at the picture and thought i saw butter knives but could not believe it. You sound like a missionary, using whatever comes to hand to get the job done. Where Ruth and I were in Africa, if we needed something that we could not buy locally we had approximately a six-month wait to get it shipped in.

    All is well here. But last night we had a very heavy rain at the church which caused flooding in the basement area on the east end of the building. One of the neighbors said he had not seen such rain in the 40 years he had lived in the area. they were pumping it out last night and little permanent damage was done. It will probably affect some of the VBS activities today. The rain started just after pastor Fitz had begun a session discussing the actions of our General Assembly which affect the church. All 70 of us were asked to leave the building while they began working on cleaning it up.

    I have been asked what your route will be after Hawaii. Do you know at this time?

    In His service,

    Jim ,

  8. Jim and family and crew. Thanks for the great June 27 update. If you are not going to fish with the flying fish….have you tried eating them yet? we are pleased your voyage appears to be going well. Bill and Sandy. Wishing you well

  9. We are delighted to read all of your news. We finally got on your wesite. It sounds like all is going well God Bless you. We will try to keep up and write again. Our prayers are with you.

  10. Hey Jim, Gina, Colton and Niki,
    Becky and I, keep checking in on your progress. So happy that landfall has been made and you are keeping Jim to his word about some R&R. You all need it.. Keep the Faith and the water out of the engine.

  11. SO glad to hear the wonderful news that you’ve safely arrived at Hawaii. Thanking God for answering our daily prayer! Give a holler if there’s something I can do for you.

  12. Hi Jim & Gina,

    I read in SITAG weekly news that you’ll soon be visiting Honiara. Great that you’re getting to see a bit of Solomons. Your boat is beautiful! Wouldn’t mind a sail on her!!! Trust you time there will be informative, productive, and enjoyable.

    Woody and I staffed POC (kichen managers) Jan – April and will return for Sept course. Tis not Wood’s cup of tea (would much rather be training nationals!), but hoping working with this course’s 6 secondary (high school) students will make it more palatable for him. I’m having a blast in this role!

    We’re wintering in Brisbane doing church relations for Wyc Oz. Really enjoying Brisbane, getting around to partnering churches to encourage them in their ministries and getting to know churches’ members and pastors.

    God’s blessings on your travels,

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