Hawaii to Fanning – Day 3

Night passages are difficult. The wind patterns are inconsistent, squalls are formed, and the seas look exceptionally larger because you don’t see them until they are at your stern rail(and very often are larger because of aforementioned squalls). Last night was no exception. Squall after squall hit us, with winds reaching 32kts and driving rain making cockpit solitude unattainable. The waves increased so we were going more downwind than our course called for, but that’s easy to make up when seas subside or we make it up when we’re motoring through the ITCZ on a B-line for our destination. One wave came over the entire dodger, filling the cockpit halfway with water. In less than 30 seconds, our scuppers drained the flood, but we mistakenly forgot to put our generator (which is fairly weatherproof) into a garbage bag in case the cockpit flooded. It has been rinsed with fresh water and is drying in the sunlight this morning, but I hope that there is no real consequence to our obvious lapse in preparedness.
Just before the squalls started, I was relaxing in my little corner under the dodger and noticed what looked like a dark wet spot on the oversized pillow I was resting on. I touched it and thought it was just a shadow, but a second later, I turned my hand over and the spot was in my palm and about to crawl up my sleeve!!! It was a cockroach!!! Contrary to popular belief, these suckers actually FLY. That’s right, there’s NO DEFENSE in keeping them off your boat in Hawaii. I quickly whip-lashed the nasty roach off me and onto the cockpit floor. I think the wet conditions slowed him down, and my delayed (freaking out) reflexes were able to smash him before he got away. I forgot to mention that yesterday night a large one flew at me from the settee when Lewis was asleep and landed right on the nav table when I was writing in the log! I FREAKED and jumped up, trying to look for something to hit it. Long story short, it’s somewhere in the bilge or our liquor storage area. So far, Lewis has killed one on deck which was hiding under our jacklines which keep us tethered to the boat in heavy weather. Who uses their bare hand to smash a cockroach?! Oh yeah, Lewis. We put poison feeders everywhere inside the boat, but I’m not convinced that it will work. I’m hoping these are just tag-alongs and not newborns. They didn’t seem that small, so wish us luck and we’ll take any home remedy advice as we near Fanning! (Sorry, no boric acid aboard. Another DOH!)

With all of the wind, we made 141nm in the last 24hrs and have 545nm to go. The wind has calmed a bit to a manageable 22kts and we are flying down waves at 6.8kts. It’s much more comfortable than our last two nights have been and thankfully more dry this morning. I’m feeling refreshed like I always do when met with beautiful conditions on a gorgeous morning under full jib sailing 110* off the wind. If only it were always like this…
But as Lewis always quotes, “The sweet would not be so sweet, without the bitter.”

For those of you who have been wondering what out meals have been out here so far, here’s a rundown. The first two days worth of food was mostly pre-made. We always expect to feel too sick to stay below decks the first couple days after a long stay in port.
Premade Broccoli/Bacon/Cheese Quiche
Premade Fried Rice with Orange Chicken
Premade Curried Chicken Salad with craisins and apples
French Toast and Eggs
Chicken Alfredo Pasta with Eggplant Parmesan
Fajita style Chicken Burritos
Pasta Salad with cucumber and tomatoes
Tuna Salad with celery
Deviled Eggs/Egg Salad
Salmon Cakes with Garlic Green Beans and spiced aioli over wild rice
Snacks: Tzasiki, popcorn, hummus, chips/crackers, sunflower seeds, cashew clusters, celery w/peanut butter

Hopefully we catch a fish today for some sushi. Would love to stop opening our precious cans of Costco chicken.

Alyssa

Hawaii to Fanning – Day 2 – Part 2

The Mermaid’s post this morning was awesome. I just wanted to add a couple happenings…

I had a very rude awakening this morning. I woke up to Ellie running down huge tradewind seas and lurching violently side to side when she gets thrown down wave faces. I was not anticipating the more extreme motion when I made my way to the head. Once in the doorway of the head she lurched and rocked violently to starboard.  The movement threw me head-first into the head and I smacked my head against the hand rail, hard. Not the most enjoyable morning I’ve ever had.

The seas are big, the wind is whipping up spray, and we are running like hell for the fire swamp (the ITCZ). The fire swamp, as we’ll call it on this passage, it where we will find solace amongst different dangers such as strong squalls and thunderstorms, but at least it will kill these strong trades and accompanying seas. We are about 327 miles away and at this pace should be there on Thursday night or Friday morning.

At least we’re making good time. Like Alyssa said, we’re making haste for the fire swamp and potentially calm seas beyond. In the meantime, tell the trades to “simmer.”

Aloha,
Lewis

April 28, 2015

21:30z
14 37 N
157 01 W
200T
6.8 knots SOG
24 Kts from 65 degrees
7-13 Ft Barftastic Seas

Hawaii to Fanning Atoll – Day 2

It is Day 2 of our passage and we have sailed another 128nm in the past 24 hours with 680nm to go.

The wind and seas have increased (20-28kts, 8-12′ seas) and moved more ENE, allowing us to sail slightly downwind for a more comfortable ride.

Lewis put out one of our last Skabenga lures since we were sailing 6.5kts and within 2 hours we had hooked a monster Mahi! This thing was much bigger than all of the fish we have caught so far, somewhere in the 5-6′ range. Unfortunately, just as Lewis was pulling the fish near the boat, the beast dove down sideways and our metal crimp on the line chafed through the 300lb monofilament, releasing the fish with hook in mouth as he thrashed away. It was probably for the better. As of right now, we don’t have nearly that much space in our freezer for that much fish. Not only was it a monster, but it was gorgeous with bright flashes of yellow, blue and green. We’ll throw a wire leadered cedar plug in the water today in hopes of catching a small tuna for some sushi. I had our GoPro rolling the whole time, so we’ll see how the footage came out! I also took a long GoPro of my morning sunrise shift in the rough seas, for those of you wondering what it’s like. Yes, it’s a little rough, but it’s very peaceful and the beautiful sunrise makes it completely worth every night at sea. Can you tell it’s my favorite shift?

I’m a third of the way through a new-to-me book, Under the Tuscan Sun. A term I learned I thought appropriate for our passage: Festina Tarde, to make haste slowly, used in the Renaissance. It was often depicted by a dolphin entwined with an anchor, a snake with its tail in its mouth, or by the figure of a woman sitting with wings in one hand and a tortoise in the other. Is sailing not making haste slowly? Sure we can push the boat near hull speed every day, but a sail boat going 6.5kts is still very, VERY slow. Taking time to see the ocean, mother nature, and remote islands at our own pace, taking time to watch every sunrise and read a book, is very different than taking a 747 to Australia. A plane will get to our destination months before us, but misses everything in between. I think I like this term.

It’s going to be another relaxing, mellow (but rolly) day at sea for us. A large wave just slapped against our hull and sent a wall of water into the cockpit. I have a perfect spot behind the dodger that almost never gets wet. It’s fascinating to watch the water splash up with the sun behind it, revealing the same bright blue/teal water you dream of in shallow lagoon anchorages. We’re really looking forward to setting up our “fort” in Fanning and camping out for a couple of weeks. All of our toys will be coming out of deep storage, sailing pedal kayak, our new paddleboard, both hammocks for the cockpit, shade for the boat, the dingy, spear fishing gear, dive/snorkel gear, and maybe even the kite board.

We’re expecting to hit the ITCZ around 9N in another day or two where the weather will be inconsistent with many squalls. We’ll sail when we can and motor when we can’t. We have plenty of diesel since filling up in the Big Island, so aren’t afraid to turn on the engine. After the ITCZ, we’re hoping to finally see those “doldrums” of glassy seas people keep talking about. If it really exists, we may simply hang out for a day, watch Waterworld and go for a swim.

In the meantime, I’ll keep my eye out for the smokers. I just watched a cargo ship pass 13nm N of our position.

Festina Tarde,
Alyssa & Lewis

April 28, 2015

18:50z
14 53 N
156 56 W
176T
6.5 Kts
21.1 Kts Wnd
9-12 Ft Seas

Hawaii to Fanning Atoll – Day 1

Day 1 Summary:

At 0700 this morning we had covered 145 miles since leaving Kona and were 113 miles south of the Big Island and 800 miles N of Fanning Atoll.

We nailed the weather window and the forecast was right on. We motored south in the lee of the Big Island and found the SE wind about 12 miles from south point. The wind was wrapping around the island and piped up to about 20 knots at the peak but the sea state was manageable and we bashed into it close-hauled making upwards of 7.5 knots at times, helped along by a favorable south-setting current. Once we cleared the island the wind settled down to low teens and we had an absolutely beautiful sail on a course of due south through the night. The east wind is picking up and turning north now. We expect to see the NE trades sometime this evening. We have kept all of our easting in the bank so when the NE trades fill in we’ll change course to 190T and run off for Fanning.

All is well onboard and we are rested and well fed by the onboard master chef ;-)  I think our battery bank is at the end of it’s life. Something I forgot to address in Hawaii. Voltage drops noticeably at night when you put a load on, I’ll have to decide whether the house bank can make it to Australia or if we should look into having batteries shipped to Pago Pago, American Samoa. Allan – When you get a moment, would you mind checking if USPS will ship Lifeline AGM batteries priority? That will probably drive the decision.

Otherwise, Ellie is sailing like a champ, we have ice-cold draft beer and sparkling water on tap and sunny skies to keep the fridge cold. We have our sea legs back and are getting back into the groove of being at sea. All smiles this morning.

Manuia from the Pacific Ocean!

Lewis & Alyssa

April 27, 2015

21:45z
16 50 N
156 24 W
172T
6.5 Kts
16.5 Kts Wnd
6-8 Ft Sea

Hawaii to Fanning Island – And We’re Off!

Good morning from the lee of the Big Island!

We finally caught a break – literally and figuratively – with the Hawaiian seas. We sailed from Maui to the Big Island last night and it was glorious compared to the beat down we had leaving Oahu. We motored through the lee of Maui on calm seas and were able to sail out of the lee into the Alenuihaha Channel (between Maui and the Big Island). The SE wind provided the perfect amount of wind (about 15-20 knots) and the seas were much smaller (about 3-7 feet). We sailed past Molokini Crater and short tacked out into the channel between Maui and Kahoolawee. The wind died a few hours after sunset so we went back to motoring. But this time the seas were much more reasonable and we were both able to take 3 hour sleep shifts through the night. Oh, and the autopilot is working like a champ.

As planned, we entered the breakwater to the Honokohau Harbor on the Kona Coast around 0600. This is the exact time that all the sport fishing boats put to sea so we had an interesting time dodging the parade of boats exiting the narrow harbor entrance. We managed to make it in unscathed despite the fact that the lighted range was not working! We came alongside what was described to me over the phone as a sea wall, but in reality was merely a rock and coral wall with concrete on top of it. This was definitely the most sketch sea wall we have ever come alongside and tensions were high. We decided to tie long lines to the wall and Alyssa was tasked with the duty of pushing Ellie off the wall the entire time I was taking on diesel fuel. With the tank topped off, we slipped the lines, shoved away from the scary wall and put back to sea. It felt great to be back in open water.

We just traded sleep shifts and I am now on watch after a 3 hour nap. We are motoring SSE along the coast of the Big Island in very light air (less than 4 knots) and glassy seas. Our plan is to take advantage of this break in the trades to get a half day south of Ka Lea, the south point of the Big Island, and the southern most point in the USA (for you trivia buffs – it’s not Key West). The forecast is calling for 10 knots out of the SSE to SE so we should be able to sail close-hauled into these tonight. The NE trades are forecast to fill in late tomorrow out of the NE and we will ride them on the quarter towards Fanning.

Well, have to get back to watching for whales. We came close to hitting a Mother and her calf yesterday off Maui. That would have left a mark. We’ll keep a sharp eye.

Wish us fair winds and CALM seas over the next week.

Aloha,
Lewis & Alyssa

April 26, 2015

TIME 21:11 z
LAT 19 12.0 N
LON 155 59.9 W
COG 170T
SOG 6.3 knots
TWS 3.6 knots
TWD 200T
SEA 2-3 FT

Revised Hawaiian Islands Exit Strategy

We caught up on some much-needed rest and are feeling great. We woke up to a peaceful quiet anchorage with waves lapping the shores. Went for a snorkel before breakfast and spent 15 minutes swimming with two sea turtles – it was awesome and we shot some GoPro video we’ll have to share.  We love it here but the weather window beckons so we plan to leave tomorrow.

So here’s the plan:

Tomorrow morning (Saturday), once the SE wind lightens and the seas moderate, we will leave Honolua Bay bound for Honokohau Harbor on the Kona coast of the Big Island. It’s a 100nm run so we should be in at first light on Sunday morning. We’ll hit the fuel dock and top off the diesel tank. Then we’ll immediately put back to sea and motor south along the Kona coast. It should take us about nine hours to clear the lee of the Big Island and encounter (what is forecast to be) light E winds at 10 knots. We’ll ride the light easterlies due south. On Monday the NE trades are forecast to fill back in at 15-20 knots. We should be well clear of the venturi effect of the Big Island and we’ll put the trades on the quarter and run for Fanning, 900 miles south of the Big Island. These trades are forecast to strengthen to 20-22 knots but we’ll have them on the quarter so it should be a nice angle and sea state. By the time they are forecast to strengthen above 25 knots we will be well clear of the squash zone and encountering the ITCZ around 9N. Then it’s anyone’s guess what the wind and squalls will do from 9N to Fanning at 2N. We’ll plan to make landfall 7 days later on Sunday (which is Monday in Kiribati because they keep the same date as the rest of Kiribati, much further west, and because they say so).

So that’s the plan. Stay tuned for the actual account.

Today the Mermaid is cooking up a storm in the galley prepping passage meals. She is also jarring green beans so they don’t spoil. I am tightening the lower shrouds because they looked a little loose when we had 25 knots on the beam; they are suppose to go slack on the leeward side but not flail around, and they seemed to be doing a little flailing, so I’ll give ‘em a half turn and see if that does it. I am also going to seal up the hawse pipe (where the anchor chain enters the deck) and un-pickle the watermaker. I adjusted the belt on the autopilot so it should work now. If it’s still acting like a moron I’ll throw it overboard and put in our spare.

Then it’s back to watching all the ridiculous tourists on the charter catamarans belly flop into the bay.

Cheers from Honolua Bay!

Aloha,
Lewis & Alyssa

April 24, 2015

Anchored: 21 00.861 N, 156 38.363 W

Extremely Rough Re-introduction to Sailing in Hawaii – Anchored in Honolua Bay, Maui

April 23 – In the past 24 hours we have experienced extreme discomfort and are now enjoying the best life has to offer. Allow me to explain…

We bid our farewells to friends dockside at 0900 and put out to sea into a lumpy steep sea state with little wind. We were bouncing and heaving side to side over 12-14 foot mixed seas as we cleared the lee of Oahu. We dosed on Meclizine the night before and the morning of our departure but despite our preventative measures we both were feeling terribly sick as Ellie got tossed around violently in the big washing machine seas with no sail to stabilize us. We’ll have you know that we have sailed over 9,000 miles together and have yet to throw up – although we have come close many times. In case you were wondering – the streak still stands.

Once we cleared the island the wind filled in from the NE at 22 knots and we sailed 50 degrees off the wind under double reef and half a jib on a heading for the lee of Lanai. A few hours of brisk sailing later the wind died but inconveniently the seas decided to seriously mess with us – hard. Once again we found ourselves in huge, steep, short-period swells from what seemed like all directions…..and no wind. Every monohull sailor out there knows how horrible it is to motor through steep washing machine seas with no wind to stabilize you – it’s the worst, most uncomfortable, barftastic motion you can experience on a boat. We were miserable. To compound matters we were forced to motor directly into the wind for 7 hours in this mess because we had to clear Penguin Bank, which was to the north by only a mile and fishing boats operating to our south. It seemed like an eternity to clear that bank and head north towards Lanai.

Once we reached the edge of the bank we started our slow turn north….and so did our headwinds. That’s right, they stayed directly on the nose, and then started increasing in speed to 20+ knots as the sea state got steeper and steeper. It was so short and so steep that if the sets hit us just right it would slow us to less than 2 kts. We were sailing close on the wind with a double reef main and engine cranking hard. This went on for another 6-8 hours.

Once we reached the channel between Lanai and Molokai we were hoping to finally find this lee that was forecast and the dead air that windy.ty promised. Instead we were hit with 35 knots on the nose, short steep seas, squalls and lightning. The Mermaid was hissing at me and we were both miserable. Ellie was pissed as well and was only making about 2 knots towards Maui so I spun us around and ran for the lee of Lanai. It was 0200 (am). And the AIS was showing two tugs with tows coming right at us and a fishing boat thrown into the mix just for kicks. I woke up the Princess who had only laid her head down 30 minutes prior. “Lyss Get Up! Sorry! But the autopilot is busted, I’m hand-steering down huge seas running from 35 knots and we have three ships on a collision course steaming right at us.” At 0215 our autopilot conveniently bit the dust for good. Murphy’s law right?

I should mention here that in the midst of all the fun we were having we decided to bag the Big Island for now and go hang out in Maui until favorable weather is forecast for our crossing. So the night was spent trying our best to reach Lahaina. Hence why we found ourselves between Lanai and Molokai..

.Back to the passage from hell..  We motor-sailed around the south of Lanai in big lumpy seas while the sea tried it’s best to test our provision-stowing skills (Lyss was awesome and it all stayed in place). We rounded the SE point of Lanai around 0400 and found some dead air. One crappy element down, one to go (sea state). Once Manele Bay, Lanai was to port the sea state started to finally moderate. It felt amazing to be back in a reasonable sea state (it was a bumpy 5-7 feet at this point).

The seas kept calming down as we neared the lee of Maui and I was treated to a most spectacular sunrise. The sun started peeking out from behind both peaks of Maui and I saw it slowly creeping up from the valley in the middle. It was glorious. As I snapped photos, I forgot, for a moment, just how miserable the past 18 hours had been. I also remembered how sailing throws life at you in its extremes. I had not been that uncomfortable – ok, let’s call it miserable – since sailing between these islands last. I had also not had a moment as serene and welcoming as that sunrise. The misery was necessary to appreciate the beauty and simplicity of that sunrise over calmer seas. I always say, “The sweet would never be so sweet without the bitter.” That statement was certainly true of this passage.

We motored up the coast of Maui and dropped the hook in the beautiful Honolua Bay. The charter cat moored in the bay was cool enough to help us grab a sunken mooring pennant and even offer us some leftover grub – we swam the dry bag over to meet them and snag some fresh grilled chicken.

Inside of 12 hours we went from wet, cold, seasick, and frustrated – to – relieved, elated, welcomed and refreshed. We’re still exhausted but we’re smiling. We’ll take that over flat-lined any day.

We plan to spend a couple of days here and then we’ll have to go to Lahaina to find some diesel and a cheeseburger in paradise. In the meantime, wish us some rain to wash all the salt off our newly polished stainless.

Aloha from Honolua Bay, Maui.

Lewis & The Tired Princess Lyss

Bon Voyage from Oahu – HD Video!

We are finally done provisioning Ellie up and will be sailing out of Oahu tomorrow morning (Wednesday). We made a video so everyone can see how beautiful my girls (Alyssa and Ellie of course) are lookin’ before we put to sea. Tomorrow we sail for the Big Island, a 160 mile overnight run. Once there we’ll patiently wait for favorable wind to sail south. I’m stoked to be putting to sea again. Stay tuned for updates…  Aloha Oahu

A huge mahalo to Spencer of Harbor Sharks for cleaning our prop of barnacles today for no charge – you’re the Man Spencer! Also a special thank you to Danielle, my Mother, for the GoPro that shot this video. 

 

Hawaiian Islands Exit Strategy – It’s Howling!

The send-off party was a huge success. We hosted about 40 of our friends on Ellie and down the dock. The keg was emptied halfway through the party, which happened to be right after the Aussies showed up! Our friends were jamming on guitars and Ellie’s waterline was half a foot below the boot stripe! We have made some amazing friends here and we’ll miss them all when we leave.

Today is our last day in the marina….so we are suppose to leave tomorrow….but it’s howling 30 knots in the marina and the forecast is for stronger winds through Wednesday. We learned our lesson last fall. We’re not going anywhere until the wind abates. No need to beat the crap out of Ellie and crew when we can patiently wait for a better weather window to head south. To make the passage even less appealing, in about 5 days they are forecasting multiple low pressure systems/tropical storm centers spinning on the edge of the 30 knot trades around 10N and huge squalls and thunder boomers – ya – F*** sailing into that crap!

So here’s our plan:

1) Wait until the trades shift to the ESE, which is forecast for Wednesday and Thursday. Then the Big Island creates a large enough lee of dead/light air to possibly get to Maui (80 miles east) or even all the way to the lee of the Big Island (150 miles east). We will try to make the Big Island but if we fall short we’ll head for Maui.

2) Once in Maui or the Big Island we’ll fuel back up and wait for the trades to lighten up. The current forecast is calling for lighter trades on the 30th – 1st. We’ll use those lighter trades to sail south to Fanning. The ITCZ also looks much less active after the 1st. [Stronger trades = stronger ITCZ]

So hopefully this plan works and we’ll be in Fanning around the 7th-8th of May. Timing the passage is tricky because we want to leave the islands in moderate trades but we also need to time our arrival in Fanning to clear in during the week so we avoid overtime clearance charges. We’ll be watching the forecast closely and heading out as soon as the wind lightens up a bit.

We’ll write again before we depart the islands. Hopefully it will be a message of satisfaction with our amazing weather interpretation and smooth crossing between the islands and NOT another horror story! We have the utmost respect for the seas between these islands so we will be as patient as necessary. 

Aloha,

Lewis & Alyssa

Ko Olina Marina, Oahu, HI

We’re Leaving in a Week! Bound for the South Pacific Again!

You would think I have had enough sea time over the past month, and 3,200 nm, but nope. Alyssa was hoping that I would get my fill of the sea and come back to Hawaii with plans to bury the anchor for another year. Well, that’s not how it went. A few days after returning to Oahu we decided it was time to head south again. We leave the marina on the 18th. If the weather window looks good we will exit the breakwater and set a course 1,050 miles due south to the little island nation of Kirbati. The passage should take us a week. We plan to make landfall at Tabuaeran (Fanning) Atoll. The lagoon is navigable so we will enter the pass and set our hook in fine white sand and enjoy the flat turquoise water.

The first couple months of the season will include remote isolated atolls with no internet access. We will most likely be unable to post pictures until we reach Samoa. Be sure we will be taking some epic photos and video and will share as soon as we can. Of course the regular blog posts should be coming throughout the next few months. You’ll just have to Google image search these various islands to get an idea of our surroundings.

I put together a map (below) of our “planned” route for the season. This is what we have written in sand at low tide so who knows where we actually end up going. That said, this is the general plan.

Our 2015 “planned” itinerary includes:

Tabuaeran (Fanning) Atoll (Kiribati)
Manihiki Atoll (Cook Islands) [if the weather allows for anchoring off in the lee]
Suwarrow Atoll (Cook Islands) [a nature preserve with only one person on the island]
Samoa [we’ll go to American Samoa if we need to receive packages, otherwise Apia]
Vava’u Tonga
Fiji
New Caledonia
Australia [where we have 1-year work visas]

We are having a send-off party this Thursday at our slip. We’ll be filling up the kegs, rolling out the grills and celebrating our departure with all the wonderful friends we have made here in Hawaii. So many people have helped us out while we have been here, the least we can do is fill up their glass with a libation and say a proper farewell. We have really enjoyed it here and are very glad we decided to spend cyclone season in Hawaii. Ko Olina Marina has been a perfect home for Ellie. She is ship shape and bristol. We even treated her to a hull waxing this week so she’ll be sparkling for the party on Thursday. Still need to finish loading her up with a few months worth of provisions, empty the dock box, top off fuel and propane, etc. Then it’s South Pacific here we come!

Spending the season in Hawaii would not have been possible without Alyssa’s hard work. She was able to land one of the most coveted serving jobs on this side of Oahu (MonkeyPod Kitchen). She made enough to cover the entire slip fee (about $1,100 a month) and cover most of our other living expenses. There is no way the cruising kitty would have been able to sustain our fun lifestyle here in Hawaii without her contribution. She said it has been worth every minute of effort. We’ve both had a blast here and made friends that we will know for life. 

Oh, I sold the car…..for $2,000….a nice $700 profit after expenses. I also sold the motorcycle a month ago, for $3,300….a nice $900 profit. I’ve got a knack… 

Mahalo to all our friends here in Hawaii. Once again the sea beckons. Let’s go chase the green flash.

Aloha,

Lewis & Alyssa

April 12, 2015

Ko Olina Marina, Oahu, Hawaii, USA

south-pacific-map