Get Out of Sail Free

July 1st, 2010

Because I’d suffered from seasickness on the passage to Hawaii, we hatched a plan: I would fly home with Sequoia, and our friend Captain Ron would fly in to help Todd bring the boat back. (And no, this is not the Captain Ron from the movie… but there are some eerie similarities!)

But then I got to thinking, and no good can ever come from that. With a third person on board, it wouldn’t matter so much if I were seasick; I wouldn’t need to do anything, because Ron and Todd could handle everything without me. Besides, it was kind of exciting to think of getting ready for another passage, especially one that would culminate in bringing Sugata back under the Golden Gate.

So I was left with the choice: easy flight back and a month lazing around on solid ground, or four weeks at sea with two under-washed, over-liquored men. Oh, how I agonized over the decision! Logically, it made no sense to subject myself to another passage. But emotionally, well, it was more complicated. Read the rest of this entry »

Surfing Safari!

June 29th, 2010

We have been having so much fun learning how to surf! Sequoia really took to it and hopes to keep it up back home in California. But it’s easy to have romantic notions in the Waikiki sunshine. I told her to try it out in the cold water before she invests in a board!

On her last day surfing at Waikiki (she flew home on June 22), she convinced us to buy a waterproof disposable camera. We shot off half of it, and were going to take more pics the next time we surfed. Unfortunately, Todd had the camera in his pocket, and somehow it got a huge crack and filled with water. We were so disappointed, but decided to see if anyone could get any images off of it.

Long’s Drugs wouldn’t develop the film because the salt water could damage their chemicals; Ritz Camera said the same thing, but pointed us to a local place called Rainbow Photo. Rainbow dried the film with a hair dryer (in the dark), then developed it. Sure, there are a few water spots on it, but we think it gives the shots a whole live-action, funky 70’s look that is pretty groovy!

So the photos survived surfing with Todd, and I guess the same is true for my back… but I’m still sporting some groovy colors of my own. Capn Longboard and I were side by side when a big wave came; I started paddling for it and he tried to bail because he saw me going for it. Unfortunately the wave caught his board and shot it right into my back. He sure felt awful about it, and let me tell you, I’m riding the sympathy wave all the way to the beach! The bruise is starting to fade, but I figure some strategically-placed purple eyeshadow will keep the ride going.

See all our surfing pics here:

20100620Surfing

Yo Ho Ho, The Tourist’s Life for Me!

June 15th, 2010

We had a great sail from Hilo over to Oahu, with plenty of wind. On the way we saw Hawaiian spinner dolphins, and the full arc of a rainbow over the Pacific! We went much faster than we had planned, so we arrived in the middle of the night. Luckily we had no problems coming into the Ala Wai Harbor. We’re currently rafted up at the Hawaii Yacht Club and are thoroughly enjoying the tourist life!

Sequoia flew in with my mom on Weds, June 2. Her sunny disposition brings so much life and happiness to the boat! And she motivates us to get off the boat and do more things, like swinging on banyan trees.

Toro has a Boggle-like game on his iPod. He held the high score of 71 for a while, but in Mexico I scored an 87, and he’s been gunning for me ever since. Well, Koiya waltzed into town and posted a 93! Capn Big Fat Faker adopted a disappointed tone of voice, and shaking his head, asked me, “Did you hear about Sequoia’s Boggle score? Isn’t that a bummer?” But Koiya called him out. “You were all excited when I told you!” she exclaimed. “You said, ‘Your mama is gonna be so mad!'” Oh, busted! Read the rest of this entry »

I Heart My Boat, I H8 The Beach

June 12th, 2010

Yes, it was a rough passage to Hilo, and yes, we were sea sick. But compared to the other boats that came in about the same time, I think we actually had it pretty easy! The autopilot on Shamaness had trouble handling the large seas, and the guys on Jolly Roger didn’t have any kind of self-steering, so they were hand-steering the whole way (God forbid!). Our trusty Cape Horn windvane (whom we call Yves) had a couple of hiccups on one tack, but on the whole did an amazing job of keeping us on track. All we had to do was pop our heads up every now and then to check the horizon for other vessels.

And we had maybe a small bruise or two, but we hardly noticed them. Other folks had horrendous “boat bites”- huge bruises and various wounds from being slammed around in their boats.

We had swells coming from two directions, but every now and then they’d unite into a big wave. We’d look behind and see a 12-foot wave towering above us. But Sugata just rose on up, no big deal, and we’d surf along for a moment before settling back into the sailing groove.

We always felt safe, and never doubted that our boat could handle the wind and seas. She may not be the fastest boat around, but she’s got to be one of the most comfortable! Read the rest of this entry »

Hangin’ in Hilo

June 7th, 2010

We spent just less than a week in Hilo, and while we scheduled our days around eating, we also managed to do a few boat projects and some touristy stuff too.

Radio Bay is kind of an interesting place to tie up, because it is connected to the commercial port of Hilo. There are no finger docks, so you use your dinghy to go the 10 feet or so to the dock. As it’s so little a distance, you don’t need an outboard; you just pull yourself along using the web of docklines. The port is a secure area, so to go in and out we had to call the security people, who came by with a pickup truck to drive us through. The bathroom situation was also unique, as the stalls had no doors! This led Capn Privy to engage in all sorts of strategizing to get private-time on the toilet.

In terms of boat projects, we did a basic clean-up and I put a new zinc on the propeller. Capn Sail Rite pulled out his sewing machine and repaired our spinnaker, which we’d torn on the way over (due to the combination of an early morning squall and our laziness). We put off the more tedious tasks for later…. Read the rest of this entry »

Reflections

May 28th, 2010

It’s hard to believe we’ve been in Hilo for less than a week; it seems like we’ve been here for twice that. After the simple routine of days at sea, sleepy Hilo is a wonderland of diversion, conversation, and culinary delights!

On our long passage, one day ran into the next, and we were often unclear as to whether something had happened yesterday or the day before, or maybe even 3 days ago? Instead of “Monday” or “Thursday”, we’d say, “the day we showered” or “the day you made tuna salad”. And as our lives were dominated by the weather, we now think of the sequence of the passage in these terms:

– The first 3 days, after we cleared Cabo (the sea sick days)
– The remainder of the first week, when it was sunny (the blissful days)
– The first period of strong winds, big seas, and complete cloud cover (the hellish days)
– The few days when things calmed down, and we got sunshine (the respite)
– The second period of rough weather (no longer remarkable enough to be called anything)
– The last day at sea and the morning we tied up in Radio Bay

We lived in this strange zone of altered time. We ate when we were hungry (not often) and slept when we were tired (quite a bit). Indeed, the hour on the clock grew increasingly meaningless as we travelled west, with the sun setting after 10pm. We looked forward to making landfall (or rather, to a lack of motion!), but “arrival” was such an abstract concept. We didn’t know exactly when it would happen or what it would be like, so it seemed unreal. As the miles ticked down, we cognitively understood that there was an island 135, then 70, then 28 miles ahead, but we saw nothing but sea and clouds. Maybe there would be nothing there when the GPS read 0 miles to go?

In Two Years Before the Mast, Richard Henry Dana wrote of homecoming after a long voyage at sea. He said that “home” was something sailors dreamed of and yearned for every day, but then as they neared their home port, they felt oddly unaffected. Though we were only out for a few weeks, we went through this as well. You’d think we’d be ecstatic as we came within a day of landfall, but we just felt numb. Capn Amnesia, who just a couple days before had been nauseous and swearing in frustration at the big seas, actually broke down and cried- real tears!- in sadness that the journey was ending! I think the strange emptiness we felt was the start of forgetting. Our “time without time” was ending, and we were going back to civilization and the complexities of life in port.

Even while we were making the passage, our recollections of it were hazy, and with each day back on land our memories grow foggier. A week from now, I expect we’ll be left with only a vague mood, just like you might pause for a moment in the afternoon and suddenly recall that, that very morning, you’d awoken from a strange, fantastic dream, the details of which have been lost to you. But the dream conjured an emotion that washes over you again, an unnameable mix of joy, melancholy, and nostalgia….

This could explain why sailors cannot be trusted to accurately recall the details of their journeys. Here at Radio Bay, we’re in the company of a handful of other boats that have just made the same crossing. Almost all have ripped sails (one boat shredded 5 sails on the way over!), some lost parts of their rigging, one blew out their engine, and all have a long list of things to fix before the next passage. Before we set out, we’d all been told that this was “the easiest passage in the world”, and then we got out there and were battered and baffled. At first we thought we’d been lied to, but as one man noted, “It’s like childbirth. If you remembered it accurately, you would never do it twice.” Crossing oceans, like bearing children, makes liars of us all.

It’s comforting to compare wounds and trade stories with the other crews. It was particularly rewarding to hear from Harry on Rhiannon, who just completed a circumnavigation, that indeed, it was quite rough out there. And it’s been great to spend time with Dennis and Grover of Shamaness, who were our main radio buddies on the way over. For the first few days, no one asked, “So what do you do for work?” or “Where are you from?”. We could talk of nothing but the passage, sharing our personal editions of the same story.

So what will we remember of the passage? The dolphins and the flying fish. The whales, and the albatross. The sapphire blue water. The freedom of being surrounded by nothing but ocean, suspended in time.

We’ve Made It!

May 25th, 2010

And we’re in Hilo too! Tied up in Radio Bay on Monday morning. A hot shower, sushi lunch, and living on a stable surface… does life get any better?!

Will try to post more details and photos soon, but right now our priority is eating. I think I’m down to just 10 pounds more than my weight as given on my driver’s license. Time to pack some junk back into the trunk!

Total Miles: Over 2800
Sailing Time: Something like 22 days, 13 hours. A 5.1 knot moving average which is super fast for us!
Beer Remaining: I’m not sure, but it’s rapidly disappearing!

Two weeks out (of our minds)

May 15th, 2010

Unfortunately last Sunday we hit a new weather region: totally cloudy and 20-30 knots of wind. The worst part was the 10-12 foot confused seas (NW swell meets NE wind) which has made for a pretty uncomfortable ride that has persisted for the past week. Luckily the winds and seas have started abating but we’ve still yet to see more than 5 minutes of sunshine.

We’ve tried to remain upbeat but have been disappointed by the lack of good beer drinking conditions. One technique we use to stay positive is the “it could be worse” principle. For instance “it could be worse, you could be working”. However, things have deteriorated to the point that our current favorite is, “it could be worse, you could be in the Donner party”. People were always telling us that this is a “milk run” and “the easiest passage in the world”. In retrospect we wish we would have slapped those people instead of letting them inflate our hopes.

FantaSeas: Susan’s been wishing there were a pill she could take that would provide all nutrition and make it so she’s never hungry and never has to eat (she’s been borderline seasick the entire trip). Capn Landyacht has been fantasizing about buying a VW Bus and moving our mode of travel ashore.

The silver lining to all of the clouds is that we’ve been making good time and today we’re celebrating less than 1000 miles to go to Hilo. We also have reports from a boat a couple hundred miles ahead of us that there is indeed some sunshine out there. Capn Ham Radio is running the Hawaii Puddle Jumpers net so every night we get to talk to the other boats on the same route which helps us feel connected.

Miles to go: 999
Beers remaining: 75
Times Susan’s been awoken by saltwater squirting through the hatch as we take a big wave on deck: 2

In the Press

May 11th, 2010

Back in February, a very good looking family graced the pages of Cruising World…click here for a pdf of the article.

One Week Out

May 8th, 2010

We’ve been underway for a week now! Thankfully we’re in much better shape in terms of seasickness. Although we’re not tossing back margaritas, neither are we tossing up lunch, so we can’t complain.

PregnanSea : While we were still in the throes of seasickness, Capn Cookie Tosser asked in horror, “Is this what it’s like being pregnant?” I replied that there are a lot of similarities:

1. You’re nauseated
2. You’re always tired, if not exhausted
3. You have weird food cravings and aversions (personally I can’t get enough of Trader Joe’s Indian fare but can’t stand the thought of cheese)
4. Your mind is dominated by two thoughts: “What have I gotten myself into?” and “I’m gonna kill the man that talked me into this.”

FantaSeas: you’d think we’d be worried about just making it to Hawaii, but really, what’s most concerning is what comes after Hawaii. Will we be up for another twenty-something day passage within 4-6 weeks of arriving? Todd admitted that he’d been fantasizing about how he could fly back to California and get me to bring the boat back without him. “Wow, me too!” I confided, “I’d been thinking maybe I could get Rick and Marcus to help you bring the boat back. Todd snickered, “my plan was to bait you by getting a couple hot young guys to crew with you.” Huh. When I asked what he’d do if I ran off with one of these guys and the boat, he just shrugged and said, “Eh.”

As I said, luckily we’re feeling better now. Capn Iron Stomach had a “break-through” today; not only did he fix himself “pizza” (sandwich bread with tomato sauce and cheese), he ate it with beer while reading a book below decks. He was so pleased with his progress that he celebrated by eating a half pound of whoppers (malted milk balls). Ironically, this resulted in a tummy ache.

Miles to go: 1895
Beers remaining: 85