RESORT TO MECHANIC POWER

All through the night and up to one this afternoon we had a beautiful sail.  Steady wind twelve to sixteen knots and running very comfortably towards Hilo at between five and six knots.  Then suddenly the wind stopped blowing.  We went around in circles a few times and then nix, nada, nothing.

By four in the afternoon I gave in trying to sail.  On came the Yanmar engine and we resumed a noisy voyage to the south.

I am disappointed as the wind was forecast to be steady and at this time of year should be blowing trade wind style day in day out.  Oh well, no use complaining, can’t beat nature.  One thing you learn quickly when sailing is patience.  The wind will return in its own time.

In the meantime, life on board goes on.  The usual daily routines and checks.  The usual long debates about what I will eat.  I have no fresh fruit or veg on board now, it’s finished.  My thoughts are turning towards Hawaii, what to do, where to go and fresh food.  Anyway, mustn’t get ahead of myself, need to get there first.

In view of health and safety and the increasingly warm temperatures experienced, beer o’clock has been moved up to midday.  The need to keep hydrated has necessitated this move.  Five o’clock will now be called sundowners or cocktail hour as appropriate.  Voyage distance 1,707 miles.

TALKING DRAINS

Last night around nine I turned toward the south on run down to Hawaii.  We still have big swells for a couple of days and then it gradually subsides the further south we go.

Today has been perfect weather (apart from mountains of swells rolling us around), sunshine, clear skies, sparkling seas – just like the brochure.

For a few days, I have been hearing small voices, very faint.  On one occasion, I actually went outside and had a look around the sea.  I have been at a loss to explain it – other I don’t think I am going crazy, I am not answering them back or holding a conversation with them which could be a sign.  The only person I speak to on board is Micky, the wind vane autopilot.

Today I discovered where they were coming from.  It’s the cockpit drains.  There are two drains at the forward end of the cockpit.  They drain directly down through a pipe and valve to the sea.  As the boat moves up and down the water in the pipes makes small voice like sounds.  That’s it case closed.

I have had a can of beer wrapped in wet cloth sitting in the sun since midday.  I am off to drink it now and see if the evaporation thing works.  I will let you know tomorrow.  Voyage distance 1,473 miles.

A BUSY SUNDAY

For the fourth night in a row we had the crazy winds and seas as the sun went down.  This time I was ready with the triple reefed main and staysail set before it hit.  I am unable to explain it, I have never experienced it before.  Last night the wind didn’t get above 25 knots, more like a gusty 20 knots.  The seas were not big, just steep small waves and breaking tops.  The result is a nasty motion.  By five in the morning normal service had been resumed.  In between lots of deck work to keep us sailing in the right direction.

The only explanation I can give is that we are sailing along the bottom of a large high-pressure system which is bringing cold air down from the north. As this cold flow of air slows it has nowhere to go – so gets absorbed into the warmer air around it.  This results in small local disturbances along the bottom of the low pressure.  It maybe IT happens at sundown when the suns warmth disappears.

Whatever, by mid-morning we were sailing in good conditions, the cold air has completely disappeared, the wind feels warm and dry.  I hope the Alaska air has released us.

My bread ran out a few days ago and I have been craving fresh bread.  It’s still a bit too bumpy for me to make normal bread so I tried making some unleven bread.  I think the results could have been better.  But in the land of no bread home-made unleven bread is at a premium.  At morning Smoko I had fresh brewed coffee and bread with James Keiller Dundee Orange Marmalade.  Wonderful fare.

I received news that Team NZ is doing quite well in the Americas Cup.  After the previous defeat and the way it occurred it is so important to put up a good strong show.  If the rules are applied fairly I have every confidence this sailing team can win the cup back.

When I wrote up the log at noon I noticed that we have less distance to go than we have sailed to date.  Over the halfway point.  This is good as my fresh fruit and veg ran out today.  I am now starting to think what I will do in Hawaii – a place I have not visited before.  I don’t have much information about Hawaii on board – so when I check in at Hilo I will need to get up to speed on local things to do.

I have just watched an episode of Fawlty towers that I had not seen for years.  One where Basil gambles on a horse race, wins and then loses his money through a series of incidents.  Classic.  Voyage distance 1,162 miles.

CREAKING WOODEN MAST

Another one of those funny night day experiences.  At eleven in the evening I reduced sail as there was too much wind.  At three in the morning there was no wind.  Truce just wallowed in very light airs and a confused sea.

At five I heard a creaking sound coming from the mast, right where it passes through the coach roof.  On most wooden boats there are all sorts of groans, creaks and squeaks.  But Truce is so well built none of the woodwork makes a sound.  So, a creak on Truce is an indication something is not right.  I dropped all sail, set the staysail to lie quietly and went to investigate.

I found that the mast wedges on the starboard side had slipped.  I fashioned a couple of additional wedges then hammered them home.  Voila, no more creaks.  It’s not a permanent fix but will get me Hawaii I expect.  There I can take my time and do the job in peace and tranquillity.

Apart from the drama this morning the day has been perfect.  A light following breeze pushing us along at nearly five knots without any stress.  I have been lounging around, cat napping, reading listening to music and generally enjoying good weather.

Last night I was reading ‘Shackleton’s Boat Journey’ by Frank Worsley.  Sir Edmund Hillary wrote the introduction.  Worsley was the Captain of Shackleton’s ship ‘Endurance’.  It was his skill as a seaman and navigator that played a major part of the successful rescue of the whole expedition party.  Well worth a read, only a small book and probably almost free on Kindle.

Rum and coke on the drinks menu at beer o’clock this afternoon.  Must go sparingly on my last lemon.  Voyage distance 929 miles.

THE LURE WORKED.TUNA FOR DINNER

Last night was an easy sail, main and jib reduced and we went easy through the night.  From six this morning until midday the wind was boisterous and the seas very confused, made for an uncomfortable ride for a few hours.

The morning overcast cleared early afternoon and it became quite warm in the sun, although the cold air persists.  My thermometer is climbing steadily and indicated a high of eighteen degrees.

The Lure Finally Worked. Photo Ray Penson
The Lure Finally Worked. Photo Ray Penson

A huge kerfuffle just after lunch.  A tuna took my lure.  It took me completely by surprise, after dragging it around for thousands of miles I was totally unprepared for a fish on the end of the line.

I tried dragging it in, against six knots of boat speed impossible.  I dropped the staysail, furled the Jib, then started dragging the fish in again.  Bloody hard work and took me thirty minutes before I had it on deck.

I gave it a few taps on the head with a winch handle – that made it go berserk.  In the ensuing minute, I lost one of my crocks overboard.

I was pretty upset about that and gave the brute a few more taps before it quietened down.

What a mess, blood and scales all over the place.  Fishing is not the best pursuit for a single hander, it totally disrupted my day and by the time I had cleaned up and rigged the spinnaker pole for downwind sailing beer o’clock was pushed back to seven.

It’s also a waste of good fish for one person to catch a large tuna.  I have no way of preserving the meat and apart from two steaks the fish had gone back in the sea.  I will fish no more unless I can catch small fish for my use.

There were a couple of ships around today.  One a Matson container ship from Hawaii to Long Beach.  We had a chat on the radio and I think he was happy to break the boredom.  The other vessel was a car carrier bound for Korea.

I am now managing to lay a direct course to Hilo on the Hawaii Big Island.  But we are going too fast, I will reduce sail before it gets dark.  Voyage distance 597 miles.

BEAUTIFUL SAILING TODAY

Last night the wind held steady and Truce sailed herself beautifully through the night.  I didn’t touch a thing and we were bang on course this morning.  As often happens the sun came up and the wind died.  I gybed to the east for a couple of hours and picked up some wind before heading south again.

The fishing line went over the side today.  My favourite lure is on the end of it.  The lure has been dragged from Vancouver to China and back and caught zero.  I am determined to catch something on it so it’s being dragged down to Hawaii this time.

I saw another ship today, this time a bulk carrier bound for Mexico.  Other than that, I am all alone out here.  Well there’s some whales and birds as well, plus who knows what sort of monsters swimming around in the deep ocean.  There’s a very elegant bird flying around, looks like a Sheerwater but I don’t know what type.  I should get a book about seabirds – it would make a good Father’s Day present…

This afternoon I got my Bose mini SoundLink working.  What a great little speaker, big enough to fill the boat with sound.  The Bose stuff is expensive but the quality is good and I expect it will last a long time if I can keep the salt air from it.

After my evening beer, I reefed the main sail down for the night.  Now if the wind gets up its easy to reduce sail with the headsails.  We are still doing five knots which will be fine until the morning.  Hope the wind holds for another relaxing night.

Sent from Iridium Mail & Web.

SOUTHERN ROUTE TO HAWAII

Last night was an up and down sort of affair.  The wind was blowing between fifteen and twenty-five knots.  So, one hour we had too much sail and a few minutes later not enough.  We were sailing too fast in the stronger winds and eventually ended up with a double reefed main, staysail and the jib being furled in and out as conditions dictated.  This worked fine and a day later the main still has the double reef in as we are getting occasional gusts to twenty-five knots.

I am still heading in a southerly direction.  Looks like it will take another twenty-four hours before we are clear of this North Westerly flow and can start heading more to the west.  If we turn west too soon I fear we will hit a big calm patch.  So, its circling down to the south, sailing a longer distance and getting there quicker – that’s the plan.

Today’s highlight was finding a bag of dark chocolate raisins – my favourite.  I had forgotten I bought them.  I will try and ration them out but don’t expect they will last too long.  Anyway, they must go before we hit the warm weather otherwise they will melt.

Taking about weather, last night was freezing cold.  My thermometer said it was fourteen degrees but it felt like four.  I dug my thermals out of the locker where they were stored after being laundered at Brisbane Marina – didn’t think I would need them again this voyage.  I was seduced by the warm San Francisco Bay weather, forgetting outside the bridge its back to the real world of the North Pacific.  Voyage distance 180 miles.

FAT AND CONTENTED IN NZ

 I have been back in New Zealand since the end of January.  Living the good life, eating, drinking and enjoying the warm summer weather.  Generally getting fat, contented and too comfortable.  Apart from a couple of mammoth record breaking rain events the weather has been beautiful, real Kiwi summer.  Ngozi and I had a few days away in the Far North, enjoying he beautify scenery and taking in the quiet pace of life that exists just a few hours drive north of Auckland.  February always seems to be the best month.

Oakura Bay, New Zealand
Oakura Bay, Northland, New Zealand

Recently there has been a chill in the air at night and I am thinking more of my return to Canada next month.  Time for action, I have booked a one-way ticket to Victoria for early April.  Then down to Canoe Cove and meet up with Truce again.  I feel guilty about leaving her all winter, I hope she hasn’t suffered too much.  I expect she will need a thorough cleaning and airing, the weather will have been cold and damp over winter.

I have been thinking about the route I will take back to New Zealand.  First I think it’s down the coast to San Francisco, I have never been to San Francisco and I feel the need to sail under the Golden Gate bridge.  From San Francisco, I will probably head towards Hawaii before turning south towards New Zealand.

Anyway, before heading off from canoe Cove I have anti fouling and heaps of boat preparation to get out of the way.  There are always jobs to do on a boat – to keep in the sweet spot between perfect working order and total breakdown.