Monday, April 21, 2014

Sailing to Hawaii - Day 21

Weather: [Overcast, cooler, windy; we remain well wrapped up at night]

Sailing conditions: [Good speed, we spend most of the time with 2 reefs in both sails - uncomfortable seas and boat speeds between 7-10kt all day - some great distances, but not so great on the comfort level aboard. ]

Food: [Breakfast: Parfait, Lunch: Tortillas with spicy lentil spread, Dinner: Pasta]

General Comments: [Remaining rudder remains fully functional (we are hugely relieved and hopeful it will remain so). Sailing at night (for my watch at least) is now moonless, and it is tough. It is hard to see anything ahead except the dark, we rely on any ships being lit or showing up on the chartplotter somehow, and we rely on the wildlife keeping out of our way (hopefully the whales have that memo too). We haven't seen any ship since the Royal Polaris, nor have we seen a plane. It feels very remote.]

Progress: so far we've made [2620]nm on this passage and have [1708]nm to go. Last 24 hours we made [184]nm through the water and [151]nm from our 6am position yesterday (direct point-to-point).

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Sailing to Hawaii - Day 15 - Grocery delivery at sea

Weather: [Sunny, Humid.. Pretty miserable inside the boat but fine if we are outside in the breeze.]

Sailing conditions: [Great sailing for the last day, seas are still a bit bouncy but much easier, mostly close hauled but still need plenty of sail tending as winds swing about.]

Food: [Breakfast: Parfait, Lunch: Chocolate cake!, Dinner: Thai Curry]

General Comments: [What a day. Since leaving Galapagos, and then losing one of the rudders we've been a bit down (about so many lost plans) and anxious (about how the other rudder will fair/survive the journey ahead). Yesterday we both lightened up - it was a very happy day aboard. We got to sail really close by to Clipperton Island, and the timing was perfect, it was daylight and we were both up as it was around morning/breakfast time. When we initially set off we'd expected to be no where near the island. The island looks like a fairy tail desert island, beautiful beaches, pounding waves of amazing white and turquoise, and smatterings of palm trees. We were also led about by too many dolphins to count. As we approached we saw a 2nd boat (Royal Polaris) already at the island (we saw them on the AIS). We attempted to hail them on the radio but got no reply. As we got closer we were surprised to see it looked like some kind of large motor boat from a distance, we'd expected a cruising sail boat this far out from land (over 600nm). The birds (boobies) also entertained us by diving and flying close by but were impossible to photograph (oh, our 'good' camera has broken too).

We decided to take the time to sail around the island a bit more rather than just sail by - it was just too magical (unfortunately there is no safe way to land). Eventually this other boat hailed us on the radio and we had a nice chat about the dolphins and the island. They were a large sport fishing boat based in San Diego and made regular trips to the island with paying passengers. Just before signing off they asked if we had a Satellite phone aboard; apparently their long range radio and their sat phone were not working, and they asked if we'd notify their office that all was well. We *were* low on minutes but figured this was important so we made the call and confirmed that the message was received. They got on with their fishing and we got on with enjoying the dolphins, the birds and the island. An hour or so later, as we turned to leave, Royal Polaris called us again on the radio... they thanked us again for the sat. phone call and asked if there was anything We needed. Thinking as quickly as I could I suggested if they had any eggs or onions to spare that would be very welcome! Next thing we know we have a giant boat approaching us with passengers and crew to deliver grocery supplies to Begonia. Along with a tray of eggs and a huge bag of onions they also gave us some apples and oranges. Wow, I was so happy I was practically dancing on the boat. Kyle was grinning too, knowing I had been rationing my onions in dishes and was down to just one more for perhaps another 3 weeks at sea. As we left the island, Kyle went to sleep and I baked a cake in celebration of my new supply of provisions. Life is good.]

Progress: so far we've made [1566]nm on this passage and have [2589]nm to go. Last 24 hours we made [140]nm through the water [135]nm direct from start to end point.

Thursday, April 10, 2014

Sailing to Hawaii - day 10 - Lost a Rudder!

Weather: [Sunny, nice]

Sailing conditions: [seas are much bigger (3m waves) and choppier, and the ride is 'fun', walking around the boat definitely requires 2 hands]

Food: [Breakfast: Cereal, Lunch: Cheese and crackers, Dinner: Pasta]
Re: our lack of provisioning in Galapagos. We deliberately did all our provisioning in Panama and have food enough aboard to feed us for much longer than we need to reach Hawaii. All we lost by not shopping in Galapagos was some fresh eggs, bread, and veggies - but we can manage just fine without them - we have plenty of tinned veggies, and I can make bread aboard. Please don't worry about us - there is no need.

General Comments: [Kyle had an amazing sight yesterday where immediately ahead of him a huge school of fish leapt from the water, followed closely by about 40 dolphins attempting to catch them. The dolphins act in a team effort to catch and heard the fish, with the dolphins coordinating a leap out of the water themselves.. very cool.

We finally hit the trade winds proper and started to make some good speeds. All seemed well, and we were both happy to have the boat moving properly again.

The big news from yesterday is however, that at about 6pm last night we lost a rudder. Kyle had noticed the steering was a little stiffer than normal, and suddenly we were requiring more turn of the rudder to hold course. Since we are a catamaran, we have 2 rudders, and the other is (at least for now) steering the boat just fine. It is not ideal that we have over 3000nm remaining, and that 'spare' rudder will be tested to the full. We really don't see an alternative to ploughing on. If we head for anywhere else the sailing will be shorter in distance, but just as long in time and more upwind and work/wear on the remaining rudder so on we go, with fingers and everything else crossed.]

Progress: so far we've made [826]nm on this passage and have [3321]nm to go. Last 24 hours we made [193]nm through the water [168]nm over the ground.

Monday, April 07, 2014

Sailing to Hawaii - Day 7

Weather: [Sunny, with clouds]

Sailing conditions: [Mostly downwind sailing, the Spinnaker has been up for over 24 hours now. The seas are becoming a little more mixed and choppy, but still a fairly gentle ride]

Food: [Breakfast: Parfait, Lunch: (home made) bread and jam, Dinner: Fishcakes and rice. Yes, I made bread yesterday (using the pressure cooker as a dutch oven).. not too bad]

General Comments: [Brown Noddies are regular visitors. No birds so far seen to land on the boat, just to circle us and catch any flying fish we disturb. The other day We had a school of 5 tuna at the bow sitting in the shade of the spinnaker. I got excited and put out a fishing line, when Kyle was on watch he promptly took the line in and hid it away (such a softy!). We *think* we are about 40nm short of the trade winds - when we find it, we'll turn more west for Hawaii. Yesterday was our first *good* day of sailing distance wise, and much appreciated. The sea water temperature is climbing and is currently a balmy 37 celcius (96 Fahrenheit). At night (if it wasn't for the clouds) we should be able to see the (North) pole star again, and for now we still see the Southern cross.]

Progress: so far we've made [455]nm on this passage and have [3658]nm to go. Last 24 hours we made [124]nm through the water [119]nm over the ground.

Tuesday, April 01, 2014

Pacific Tsunami Alert

At around 6:30pm on the 1st April - Kyle and I were dining in a pizza restaurnt when the owner(?) rushed into the store, took in the sign and closed up the sutters.. We were at an outside table and were advised that the islands are under Tsunami warning and the restaurant was closed. We were not asked to clear our check so we knew this was no April fools joke.

We scrambled to return to the boat (an adventure for later, with a hero called Bruce from Australia involved), and by the time we were back at Begonia the Harbor Captain was declaring a forced evacuation of all boats. We were advised to head SOUTH 20nm into deep water.

We are currently South of the island, and in approximately 2000m (plenty safe for any tsunami wave, and continue to head further south to comply.

Regardless of if the Tsunami now hits Galapagos and does any damage, Begonia will now continue on to Hawaii. Luckily we collected our passports today. It makes no sense to return to the Island if they are impacted. Even if they are spared, and life is normal in Galapagos, we will be unable to partake in any of the events we had planned after a forced night at sea.

Nobody yet knows if a Tsunami will hit the Galapagos and we understand many other pacific countries are also under alert. We wish everyone well, and hope you keep safe. We are CONFIDENT that we and begonia are currently in safe water.

Too many adventures!

We hope all the Pacific nations remain safe and this is simply a cautious warning and not anything that will materialize into any damage or destruction.

Please rest assured that Begonia feels safe and we are out at sea in sufficient depth for there to be no concerns for our safety... Maybe we can get pizza in Hawaii!
At 3/28/2014 12:10 PM (utc) our position was 02°04.00'S 089°30.00'W

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Monday, March 31, 2014

Arrived in Galapagos

We are safely anchored in Puerto Villamil on the island of Isabela in the Galapagos Islands.... The passage was frustratingly slow, so we are very much excited to be finally HERE. We have some extensive clearance formalities to complete (which includes a boat inspection) and then we can begin exploring. Yay!

Friday, March 28, 2014

Passage in the Pacific - Day 14

Weather: [Sunny, calm]

Sailing conditions: [very light and variable winds]

Food: [Lunch: Egg fried rice, Dinner: Cottage pie]

General Comments: [We've had NO Wind for the last 15 hours, crushing any thoughts of arriving today. Yesterday was a very distressing day. At around 9:30, with Kyle asleep, and me at the helm, we hit something hard. The boat lurched and rolled over something big and heavy. After the noise and the lurch of the boat I saw a whale in a pool of blood pass by us to our starboard. I was in total shock; as though I'd just driven over a young child with my car. I had the sense to wake up Kyle (he'd been woken anyway), and he had the sense to take over and check over the boat for leaks/holes. I was stood in the cockpit crying; crying from the distress at having obviously hurt an innocent animal, while also being frustrated 'why didn't you move out the way, there was no way I could see you'. Soon after another whale started to follow us, head out of the water as if attempting to make eye contact. My thoughts swapped between sincere apology and Moby Dick style fears; would we now be subject to a whale attack in retaliation?. The boat was fine, Kyle eventually dived on the bottom to be 100% sure and reported a LOT of missing bottom paint and cracks in the paint only (we hope) from two obvious impact points. The other whale stopped following us after a couple of minutes, presumably returning to it's friend/child/mate? For the rest of my watch, I imagined that every white cap was a whale, and I was jumpy and still distraught. I did see plenty more whales, mostly in the distance luckily, but some I was ready to divert for. We hear of other boats historically that have hit a whale and subsequently sunk. All day I was grateful that we were not added to that list, while being concerned at the unknown state of the whale we did hit.

[Kyle]The initial bang woke me. In my half sleep I first assumed it was just an odd wave, but then there were more impacts and lots of violent motion. I didn't feel any sudden deceleration so I was pretty sure we hadn't come to a stop against anything. When Maryanne called out for me with alarm and distress in her voice I thought that the mast had come down and slammed into the boat on the way. She said that we'd hit a whale and I emerged to see a giant eddy to the right of the boat, followed by a large black dorsal fin angling away. Maryanne had initially thought that we hit the whale with the starboard bow since this was the one that reared up most, but upon inspecting it I could not find any damage. In the process I noticed through the trampoline, on the port hull, a square meter of missing bottom paint. A quick check of the bilges and compartments within the boat showed no signs of leaking, but we decided I would dive under the boat to check the extent of the damage and the conditions of the rudders, props and keels. It was pretty apparent where the whale hit, the fiberglass had flexed, shattering the new paint, and causing it to come off, but there was no more substantial damage. Of course after this, it was impossible for me to go back to my off watch and get the sleep I should be having; we were both too wound up by the event.

Later yesterday we had troubles with our traveller car that helps us keep the main sail in the best position for the point of sail. It keeps getting stuck. It seems a screw had dropped down and is jamming in the track holes where screws secure the track to the boat. For now we have is centered (at least) but we'll need to (somehow) get it off and address the problem...

Progress: so far we've made [127] nm on this passage and have [127] nm to go. Last 24 hours we made [64] nm.

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Passage in the Pacific - Day 11

Weather: [We had a little more sunshine yesterday but it is still (sadly) mostly overcast. I'm sure we'll find a tropical paradise sooner or later, but we'd expected to be there by now!]

Sailing conditions: [Seas are surprisingly flat, and wind remains favorable/useful. Currently sailing a beam reach to the SW with the wind from the south]

Food: [Egg Sandwiches for lunch, and Pasta for dinner... We normally eat pasta 3-4 times a week and this is the first time we've had it on this passage. Kyle has been asking WHEN are we going to have pasta? but I've wanted to be sure we use our fresh provisions before they need to be thrown out (due to rot or legislation); there is much we cannot take into Galapagos with us that must be eaten or discarded before we arrive.]

General Comments: [Given the (current) weather forecasts it looks as though a stop in the Galapagos is ON, I'm very excited and trying to make that cautiously excited. Yes, we are now in the Southern Pacific. We crossed the equator just before sunset yesterday (YAY!), a first for us and the boat. I bullied Kyle into a ceremony/toast to Neptune (which he eventually enjoyed)... Twilight only lasted about 20 minutes. The nighttime bio-luminescence is AMAZING with the back of the boat creating rocket trails through the water, it's just magical to watch. Not much to see otherwise, the occasional bird circles us and moves on. Occasionally we see other boats on the AIS that are too far to see clearly by eye.]

Progress: so far we've made [773] nm on this passage and have [388] nm to go. Last 24 hours we made [138] nm.

Friday, March 21, 2014

Passage in the Pacific - Day 7

Position: [01.6234,-081.0284] at 6am EST

Weather: [Cooler - around 24C/75F (but it feels much colder with the wind) and overcast, it really does not feel tropical and we are less than 100 miles from the equator! Yesterday I spent most of the day and night in foul weather gear to keep the wind and the cold at bay. The solar panel has been useless for days now, and the wind is not strong enough to keep up with our power needs.]

Sailing conditions: [Frustrating.... Our good headway yesterday did not last long and we ended up sailing SE/SSE most of the day (slowly) when we really wanted to get SW. We seem currently to be moving (slowly) more westerly for now, but I dare not hope it will last. We are sailing close-hauled in 6kt of wind. Seas are much calmer at least. Yesterdays high seas were enough to start to remove the trampoline, so that needed some daredevil fixing from both of us at various times during the day.]

Food: [Fajitas, and snacks.]

General Comments: [We are way more East than we had hoped or wanted; off the coast of Colombia (Equador?). Overnight Kyle has passed close by to two separate fishing boats... I didn't think about it much until I saw the 2nd one and realized that these were OPEN fishing boats. These poor fishermen are out in the open ocean with no cover from rain/sun/cold/spray... They seem so miserable that I feel less so for myself, and they had what seemed to be an open fire aboard to make their morning coffee - Yikes. They waved happily as we passed.

As for our progress.... grrrrrrr. We are seriously discussing skipping the Galapagos. We will need to continue to sail up wind (zig zag) towards it, and if we continue at our current speed then we'll not be able to spend any time there once we arrive. We haven't decided for sure yet, but will keep an eye on the forecasts. It may just be that we turn and head for Hawaii (where we also know there are frustrating areas of no/light winds to contend with).]

Progress: so far we've made [516] nm on this passage and have [682] nm to go. Last 24 hours we made [65] nm (although not in the right direction unfortunately).

Thursday, March 20, 2014

Passage in the Pacific - Day 6

Position: [02.3444,-080.9236] at 6am GALT

After several days of very light winds of inconvenient direction we finally have wind that can push us to our destination. Which is currently just over 700nm away, and all upwind and into swell and chop. Not ideal. The sun has left us and any venture outside the cockpit is a wet and wild one.

Sigh..... So much for the idyllic tropical passages I was promised!

Sunday, March 16, 2014

Passage to Galapagos - Day 2

Weather: [Sunny, dry, hot, hazzy, cooler at night (need a t-shirt)]

Sailing conditions: [Downwind, making good speed, but we only expect this great wind to last another day before dying out, we managed to fly the big light wind sail (the spinnaker) most of the day yesterday)]

Food: [Chinese noodles in peanut butter sauce, sandwiches]

General Comments: [Lots of dolphins joined us yesterday and we also got a whale sighting. As we left the Perlas Islands we sailed through masses of Pelecans, the fish don't stand a chance! A full(ish) moon makes for fun night sailing too]

Progress: so far we've made [158] nm on this passage and have [922] nm to go. Last 24 hours we made [153] nm.

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Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Finally Back Home

[Kyle]After a long twenty-day stint in which I worked for sixteen, I finally got the next to last seat on the overbooked flight to Panamá City. Even though I was in uniform, The cab driver immediately took me for a sucker and started by quoting me prices with a 50% add-on. Taxis in Panamá are supposed to be a fixed priced by zones, although most drivers keep the legally required zone map in a hard to find place, like the trunk. I knew what I should be paying, so I wasn’t having any of his excuses about how it was too far and there was a lot of traffic. We finally compromised by agreeing on what I was planning on giving after adding on a tip. To express his displeasure, he stopped for an unnecessary 50¢ worth of gas and then tried to take surface roads instead of the highway. When we were turned back onto the highway due to an accident, he drove twice the speed as every other vehicle to make it clear to me that I was wasting his time.

It was midnight when I finally climbed aboard Begonia and peeled of my uniform for the last time in months. Maryanne was having me hit the ground running and had already arranged for us to go to the weekly cruiser’s brunch the next morning at a Chinese restaurant in the city.

There were twelve of us around a big table swapping stories and advice for our upcoming passages. I think I was there mostly so Maryanne could prove to everybody that I really DID exist.

When the bill came, a piece of paper was passed around. Everybody was putting his or her names and passport numbers on it. We were told it was so we could get a discount. Panamá has several favorable laws giving retirees mandatory discounts on pretty much everything. When our server came, she reviewed the list and then looked at me and barked, “You! You are not retired!” I think I cost the whole table a 25% discount. (It was still only $8 each). I guess I must be doing something right if a Chinese woman from twenty feet away thinks I don’t look any older than twenty years above my age. That’s clean livin’ for you. To be honest, looking around the table I would have figured about half of us were too young. Perhaps the glitter on my overstretched “True Belieber, Playgrounds and Chuck-E-Cheese World Tour” t-shirt ruined it for us. (Why is the biggest size available suitable for thirteen year-old girls? C’mon, guys!)

Our clearance paperwork ended up being delayed at Immigration, so we had to wait another day to depart. Without the time pressure to be in bed early for a first light departure, we were free to visit some new friends at a nearby boat for sundowners and stories. Maryanne seems to have a lot of embarrassing stories about me.

We had one last excursion into town to get the really good, high data content forecast from the wifi in town before reverting to the limited type we get over the ham radio. We met Roy along the way and he had the last of our paperwork, so we are now free to leave whenever we like. We will be pulling up anchor at first light in order to take advantage of a full day of winds for the fairly long day trip to our next anchorage in the Perlas.