Archive for July, 2010

Land ho

Saturday, July 31st, 2010

We’re currently 89 nautical miles west of the Golden Gate and if all goes well (knock on wood) by tomorrow evening (Sunday) we’ll be land ho’s tied up in slip B-30 at Emery Cove!

730 Miles to Go

Sunday, July 25th, 2010

In case you’ve been following our position, and have noticed that it hasn’t been updated in the last couple days, fret not! The winlink database is just down right now.

What started out as a fun game of leap-frog with the Pacific High has turned into a frustrating game of tag! Just when we think we might be far enough from the high to get some more favorable winds, the darn thing moves closer to us. What’s a crew to do? We’ve been sailing as close to the wind as possible, which means we’re beating into the wind. But luckily it isn’t too uncomfortable.

We have just about 730 miles to go to the Golden Gate! If all goes well, that means just about another week at sea. While we’ve had a great passage so far, I think we’re all feeling ready for hot showers and a little more variety in our diets (rather than just a different flavor of ramen). Not to mention that we can’t wait to see our friends and family back home.

Luckily we still have plenty of margarita makings on board, and our nightly conversations with our buddies on other boats remain a highlight of our days. For tonight’s net, Capn Fairwinds has prepared a fake weather report. Imagine a computerized voice saying something along the lines of “the sailing is great everywhere, except where you are, where it will suck”. (I guess it’s funnier if you’ve heard to the forecasts on the VHF. To us, it’s hilarious!)

Miles down: 2262
Miles to go: About 730
Beer remaining: 50? (we lost track a while ago)

Fish On!

Saturday, July 17th, 2010

The last few days of this passage have been just about perfect! We’ve had calm seas and nice wind during the day. At night, the wind dies off, so we just drop our sails and sleep. It was frustrating at first not to be moving, but then we started to look at it as being just like anchoring for the night. I’m thrilled to report that not only have I stopped taking pills for sea sickness, but I’ve even been able to read without feeling queasy!

We think these next couple days will be the “crux move” of this journey. We are flirting with the edges of the Pacific High, and it’s anyone’s guess whether we’ll manage to scoot around or get caught for a while with no wind. Thanks to all of you psychics out there who helped push the High south- it worked! We’re optimistic that even if we do get stuck, it will be for just a day or two; and it’s more fun to hang out here than to sail north, only to have to sail south again near the Pacific Coast, where we’re likely to have gale conditions.

Today was a shower day- I’ve declared that we will bathe every 3 days whether we need to or not! With the sun and light winds, it is quite a pleasure.

Other excitement lately: we’ve seen a couple of tankers pass about 5 miles away from us. We also had a small bird (a storm petrel, I think) fly into the cabin and land in the sink! Ron scooped it up and set it free. These petrels love to hang around our boat at night; they seem to be attracted to the light. In fact, Capn Ornithology went out on deck with a headlamp on, and a bird flew right at his forehead. Todd managed to get his hand up and fend the bird off, sparing the poor creature from certain death on the rocky precipice that is Todd’s brow.

But our biggest news is that Ron caught an albacore tuna yesterday! I had been debating about what to make for lunch: pasta or rice to go with the (as yet uncaught) fish. Ron said not to count on fish for menu planning. After an hour or so I decided to go ahead with the pasta, and just after I’d dug out the pot, I heard the handline knock. “Fish on!” I yelled. Ron let the fish run just a bit, then brought it in steadily. We all crowded around the cockpit to catch a glimpse of it as he reeled it in, and were so excited when we saw that it was a tuna! Ron landed it and killed it quickly. “Pasta’s off, rice is on!” I yelled. The fish was maybe a ten pounder so it fed us all for two days. Ron’s already declared that tomorrow is another fishing day, and I’ve been thinking of how I might scrape together a fish curry. I love yelling “Fish on!” in a high, quavering voice, so I kinda hope he gets a lot of strikes before ultimately getting one to the boat. We’ll just have to be careful about eating too much tuna because of the mercury levels. After we hit Hilo, Todd and I joked that we had eaten so much sushi, that when it got hot outside, we grew taller! But seriously, I’ve been told the symptoms of mercury overload are irritability, forgetfulness, and… damn it! I can’t remember what else!

Miles sailed: 1524
Miles to go: 1343+
Beer remaining: 90 or so

Homeward Bound

Monday, July 12th, 2010

After all of our sightseeing and surfing, we were ready to set sail for San Francisco on Saturday, July 3. But then Todd scrutinized the weather and decided it would be better to wait a day, to let a low pressure system pass through the North Pacific ahead of us. And since our spot on the Aloha Dock of the Hawaii Yacht Club gave us front row seats for the fireworks on the 4th, well, we decided we might as well stay til the 5th.

So last Monday morning we hit the Wailana Coffee House for all-you-can-eat pancakes (including Capn Sugar High’s favorite coconut syrup!) with our buddies on Isis. I was a little embarrassed to order a third plate of pancakes when Ron and Todd had stopped at two, but I’d spent the last month on Oahu porking up for the return trip and wasn’t about to hold back on our last morning in port!

After showering and cooking up 3 DiGiorno frozen pizzas (dinner and lunch for a couple days), we hit the fuel dock for a little bit of diesel and then were on our way! We had great sailing out of the Ala Wai and around the west side of Oahu. Things got a little rough that night in the channel between Oahu and Kauai, but since then it has been pretty much ideal conditions, with plenty of sunshine. And today has been the best day yet: the wind on the beam and the small, well-organized swell have made for a smooth ride. Hooray! The guys even managed to reduce our beer stock by upwards of a dozen.

To get back to SF, we have to sail north, up around the North Pacific high. Our friend Rick has been sending us weather updates, letting us know the high’s position. Unfortunately right now it is pretty far north, so we invite those of you with psychic abilities to envision it moving south. (Those of you without such abilities, well, how about you start saving your pocket change so you can buy us burritos?)

Rick has also been giving us important news updates. A couple days ago Todd came up into the cockpit and announced, “Rick told us who is in the World Cup finals.” Excited to know, I asked “Oh, who?!” Capn Total Recall scratched his large forehead and mumbled, “Uh, I don’t remember.” Hoping to give his thought process a helpful push, I offered, “Well it is either Spain or Germany and either Uruguay or the Netherlands.” Todd shook his head. “Nah, none of those. It was something like Peru or Chile or one of those countries.” I was left wondering which was more appalling- his short term memory, or his failure to understand the concept of “semi-finals”.

I will give him this though: he learned from our provisioning mistakes of the last passage. This time, we’ve got plenty of easily-prepared (but somewhat disgusting) foods like Chef Boyardee ravioli and Hormel chili. Our mainstay is ramen; we even did taste-tests of the many brands available in the Japanese stores of Honolulu. Sequoia made up a ramen chart with star-ratings and comments about each brand, and she ruled out one of them based on the amount of sodium it contained (astronomical as opposed to sky-high!).

Todd also bought a ridiculous amount of Pringles, much to Ron’s both joy and misery. When he signed on, Ron thought this would be a great opportunity to lose weight. But a tube of Pringles is never far from reach, and they tempt Ron with their siren call. We’ll hear Ron yell, “Oh, damn!” and the next thing you know, he’s elbow-deep in sour cream and onion.

Miles sailed: 987
Miles to go: Depends on where the high is (think SOUTH!)
Beers remaining: About 105 (yes, he bought more this time)

Get Out of Sail Free

Thursday, 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. (more…)