Crossing the Pacific–Part II

Day 14 – Mon 23 May   05 20.310S  116 37.725W  141miles

We had a good run overnight but the wind diminished in the morning to a frustrating 9kts and went back into the ESE then later, ENE. Think I might just ignore forecasts from now on. We waited for it to settle down then threw the parasail up which has pulled us along nicely all day. We decided on the basis we hadn’t seen the wind go beyond 13kts true, to keep the parasail up for the night. We will sleep in the cockpit in case we need to get it down quickly. A great day’s sail on a wonderfully pacific sea.

We are starting to see some growth on the hull – not that we are stopping to clean it. We made use of a trick that I had heard of which is to drag a line along side the hull and just leave it to rub the hull around the waterline. It seemed to work although the line needs to be in the water for a couple of hours per hull.

It is no surprise when there is little to do on a long passage that meals become hugely important events. It was the same on my Atlantic trip I did where we lucked out with a Navy Lt Comd called Tim who was a brilliant amateur chef. After he took over the galley, life was very pleasant. We aren’t doing badly either with some great food coming out of our galley and, with some good planning by Lou, we still have plenty of fresh fruit and a small supply of veg left.

Eleanor made the dough for our bread this morning. We are making dough every second day and then mixing and matching what we make with it.

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Lou has got a great inventory of bread types. Plain loaf, rolls, rosemary, flat, nan, coriander, pita, the list goes on and gives us a great variety to enjoy. There is nothing better than the smell of newly made bread wafting around the cabin. Today was a simple loaf. Added to that, she dug out a frozen pack of bacon so lunch was a magnificent bacon and egg butty. It’s the simple things in life!   This evening’s offering was a rather good curry.

We transferred 25 gal of diesel in jerry cans to the tank today. We have been using the generator a couple of hours a day and the tank had just reached half full. Most of that diesel usage was from running the engines during the first couple of days when we needed to motorsail down to the trades – certainly the generator doesn’t take much. In this heat, I prefer to have as much fuel as I can in the tank to prevent any condensation that may occur.

I saw a falling star tonight. Not a shooting star, a proper falling star. I thought it was a flare at first. It burnt out just to the N of us. Quite beautiful.

Day 15 – Tue 24 May    05 52.856S  118 53.656W  127miles

Our first sail with the parasail up overnight went well. The wind ranged from 6 to 10kts from the ENE and it dragged us along beautifully at a 6kt average. It makes such a difference to the daily total if you can press on overnight. The daytime wind was no better. A light wind of 10-13kts from the ENE again. Thank you, Mr Parasail. If we didn’t have you, we would be having a tedious day of rolling. As it is, 5s and 6s is reasonable.

Dawn is getting later and later again. Nearly time for another time zone. I hope tomorrow to move to –8UTC. Then there will be just one more to go before we hit the Marquesas who are on –9.5UTC.

When we are sailing we always have the scale to include the boat and the destination. There is something very satisfying being able to go down a scale and watch your destination get bigger on the screen. Today we were able to go from the 1200miles to the 600mile scale. Still a long, long way to go but it brought a smile to my face.

I had a nice chat with Vaguebond this morning. Ivan was saying that he has been running under twin headsails for the last six days. He hasn’t had to touch them once! Nice way to sail. We have been running on a converging course for some days now and are about 40 miles NNW of him.

The girls did a bit of a clean up this morning. H found her missing sunglasses (what started the whole cleaning thing off), E brushed so much hair off the floor (is it true that girls moult? I have compelling proof…..) and their side of the boat now smells of lemon all purpose cleaner.

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Hannah, a touch distracted, found lots of postcards that we hadn’t got around to writing. Sounds like a something to do this afternoon!

 

Day 16 – Wed 25 May 06 07.748S  120.47.476W      131miles           TIME ZONE CHANGE to -8UTC

We had to change down to the jib just after midnight this morning as a huge black lump of nastiness rolled across us. It lasted a while so we decided to wait for first light to throw the parasail back up. As soon as we did the wind came back in beautifully and went back into the SE giving us a fantastic broad reach with full plain sail. A bit bouncy and bangy but fun as well. The wind dropped in the evening to 10kts, enough to make sure we are still moving at a respectable pace.

We should have really changed time zones yesterday but we waited for the 120W line. Only one more to go now.

Activities today? A chocolate cake (slightly over done), a loaf (perfect) and a bag of laundry using the the ammonia technique which seems to work so well.

Boat maintenance?  I had to reset the solar controllers. I have three different controllers. Two of them automatically condition the batteries once a month and the Blue Solar controller for the main panels doesn’t like it. I’m sure there is a more elegant solution but at the moment I resort to disconnecting it at the batteries to reboot it. Seems to work. Whilst I was in with the batteries I checked water levels and refilled with a surprising amount of distilled water  – over a litre between the four batteries. I’ll need more from Hiva Oa as I have only 500ml left. As I filled the batteries at Santa Cruz just a month ago, I think I’d better keep a closer eye on them. One cell was dangerously close to exposure. I may need to up the regularity of the checks.

We had luck fishing today. We caught a small 3kg Mahi followed 15 minutes later by this beast. Good eating for us for a few days!

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Finally, Happy birthday to my best mate John! Hannah sang Happy Birthday, we ate cake and reminisced on a memorable day we had with John and Sharlene a while ago, walking down to the pub via the duck pond and then playing bananagrams in the evening. We need a repeat performance when we get home.

Day 17 – Thu 26 May   06 45.762S  122 52.136W    118 miles

The wind backed at midnight to ENE, leaving us with options of dropping the main or running a lot further S than we wanted. We ended up under jib until first light at which point the wind moved back to the SE, the main went back up and we started moving at more than 4kts again. I wish the wind would just stay in one place. The consequence of this fluking around is a small side swell that forms on the main long swell which then gives you a couple of hours of washing machine before it all calms down again. It is a right pain and meant a slow morning.

The wind was kind enough to come round far enough E to get the parasail back up. The difference in pace is a knot and a half. I think we will try and run it tonight as well, keeping a close eye out for squalls. The moon will be up at about 2200 local so we will have a couple of hours of dark before it gets light enough to see any rubbish coming in at us.

I had to clean the log again. I always find it a little worrying pulling the log and watching, just for that split second before you get the dummy in, the ocean flowing in to the boat through that hole in the hull! There was a little growth on it, quickly cleaned. It is still working flakily so there may be an electrical problem too.

No one was in a particularly good mood today. Little happened other than arguments.

Dinner tonight was some of the Mahi we caught yesterday.

Too much cloud and little wind meant long runs on the generator today.

Day 18 – Fri 27 May  07 12.104S  124 57.522W   129 miles

What a quiet night! The wind dropped and dropped to the point that the parasail was collapsing – a whole 4kts of wind – but  came back enough that in the flat sea we had, we made some good mileage. First light saw us with 10kts from the ENE.

Lou and I are tired and we both need to get our mojo back. E and H stood watch for a couple of hours each whilst we tried to catch up on some sleep. They did well.

I repaired one of the fishing rods. After an unfortunate incident involving a winch, a jib sheet, the tip and Eleanor, the last 4” of the rod was broken. It was a simple job to grind down the end of the rod. Not quite so easy was to clean out the old tip but judicious use of the blow torch and brute violence stood me in good stead! I had a go at cleaning up the rarely used kid’s rods and reels. Perhaps we should have paid more than $20 for them as the reels,  “precision engineered” (says so on the label so must be true) Chinese rubbish were rusted solid.

We have had the parasail up all day. We have decided to start worrying about the strength of the wind when the wind generator starts turning again. Light air sailing………

Comms seem to have gone for a burton. Manahi is supposed to be the closest and strongest station for Airmail that I can use but it just isn’t working. The only thing I have had from it was a message to email the guy who runs it and use his services whilst I’m there. Not very happy. It means I am trying to hit San Diego to get my email, which is taking time. I reckon I have had a lot more than my 30min a month this month. Think Quatra may have had finger problems. I got their posn email eight times today saying they were under a 1000 to go to Gambier but had no wind. At least we are moving.

Lots of emails from people we know telling us about the Marquesas. We can’t wait! Sadly I think we will miss Quatsino, already looking for a weather window to the “Tomatoes” (Lorna’s description!) and Free Spirit is well on their way to Tahiti already to get David back on a plane to Australia. I hope we catch up with both of them down the road.

Of note, my beard came off today. I had intended to keep it until we reached land but I was bored of the scratching. Although the girls find it funny, the three tone colouring (ginger, grey and white) is an odd look.  I don’t think it suits me…….

Day 19 – Sat 28 May  07 30.532S  127 03.225W  118 miles

The wind stayed light for the night and we pushed with 5 and 6s. It strengthened in the morning to the point we really should have brought the parasail down but doing 9 and 10s was too much fun and in the gusts I bore away and ran to lessen the effect.  The wind strengthened to 20kts in the afternoon and the parasail had to come down. We had a nasty side slop mixed with the main swell of 10’. We sailed with white sail initially but the angle was terrible and we had to go down to jib only. 

I’m pretty sure we are losing at least half a knot with the growth we have on the hull. I have cleaned what I can off with rope and a scrapper lashed on to a pole but we are pretty gungy. Much as we had when we arrived in at the Galapagos, we have a brown scum line at the water – almost a spattering. I have no idea what it is. Whether man made or otherwise, it looks a mess.

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We also got the wind generator working again for the first time in three days. Hopefully we can save a bit of time on the genset today.

Vaguebond told us to watch out for Chinese fishing boats, one of which he had had to dodge last night. We saw one of them that was going N. It wouldn’t talk to us which was a little disappointing as it is the first boat we have seen in over a week.  It went by a mile behind us.

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A quiet day otherwise. The girls watched something called “Glee” and much reading was done. Less than 700miles to go!

Day 20 – Sun 29 May    07 46.753S  128 55.377W  134 miles

There is, we found during the night, something called the wrong kind of wind. A crap mixed sea, lots of side slapping just killing our speed, an apparent of 15-18kts, jib only (just too much for the parasail) and 3 to 4kts of boat speed. Lou and I were near in tears trying to get something to work. Lou’s watch was shocking. 10miles in 3 hours. It has to have been the most frustrating 12hrs we have had.

By 0800L, the wind had calmed enough for H and I to throw up the parasail. It was cheeky sailing with gusts regularly getting up to beyond the theoretical maximum of the sail but we rode it out and the wind steadied as the morning went on. The rest of the day we fired along with 6s and 7s. We had expected to do less than 120 after the dreadful start to the day. 134 was a very pleasant surprise.

By the looks of the weather forecast, we need to keep firing on too. There seems to be a hole developing behind us which will make its way as far W as 132W in about 36hrs. We need to be on the other side of that line to make sure we have wind for the final leg into Hiva Oa. If we keep the wind for the next 24hrs, we should do it.

We finished the eggs today. Lou used them up for one last fahata with a side dish of cabbage and butter. Dinner was interrupted by the arrival of a big pod of dolphin, only the second pod we have seen in the crossing. We enjoyed their aerial display.

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One thing that H has reinstigated recently and that we are all loving, is the evening bedtime reading of a story. Although both girls read prolifically, it is great that H wants to roll back the clock and be “little” again for a while. Note the luci lantern, still in our opinion one of the best inventions ever,  tied off on the spinnaker sheet.

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We ended the day playing dodgems with another three enormous fishing boats. None wished to speak to us. 

Day 21 – Mon 30 May 08 08.832S  131 11.131W  138 miles

What a lovely day. Or at least up to 1400hrs. We had been firing along at 6-8s with 15kts true from the ENE. The wind started to drop to sub 10kts true, then we had a squall, a touch of rain (a few spots rather than anything really wet!) and then back to 12kts true. Perhaps the weather gods are being unkind and the hole is forming early. We put the parasail back up and ran along at about 5-6kts. We have our fingers crossed that the wind lasts. To help us along, the sea is now running straight for the islands so is giving us a bit of a shunt too.

Eleanor made dough this morning so we had a cob loaf for lunch.

Minecraft mania has started again on the boat. After a couple of months of never ending discussion which died in Grenada, we seem to be back into the game with a vengeance. The girls are reciting  data out of the Minecraft hand books and are building each other huge skyscrapers. It is keeping them occupied. Dad, of course, has joined in. He is in full combat mode rather than creative, has a big sword and is loving the mindless violence!

We had more luck with the rod this evening. A cracking black fin tuna, about 30lbs. We really need to get some scales to measure properly. We cut steaks off it. Once we had bagged it, we had enough meat for 8 meals for 4 people. On the basis we have had a bit more luck than they, we have promised Vaguebond some of the spoil.

 

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The wind has dropped this evening. The sky was initially overcast but thankfully has gone clear. With the moon rising after 0100, it means a dark night which is a little worrisome as we intend to fly the parasail right through. We are hoping for a steady breeze to get us over the 133W line by the morning.

Day 22 – Tue 31 May

The wind died and died as the night went on to the point that the parasail was struggling to stay filled. We moseyed along doing 3-4kts. Frankly I gave up worrying and enjoyed watching the amazing dark sky above us. The Magellan clouds were so clear.

First light saw us joined by a small pod of dolphin. A great way to start the day. Dawn came a few minutes later – 0700hrs today. The sun was just able to peek out under the cloud that was rolling in behind us. This gave us squalls and rubbish for much of the morning.

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Lou spoilt us for breakfast today, leaving us out some bacon with instructions to “use it all”. Happily, dear, happily.

Come morning the wind strengthened to 12kts from the E but we sailed into the hole at 1500hrs. The stb engine is on and we will run until the wind appears to be favourable again. It is about 40 miles to the 134W line. I’m hoping that the wind will fill in by then. If not, we will run further W until we do pick up the breeze. We have decided not to wait and allow nature it take its course. We want to be there now.

We had a real bouncing downpour today, our first prolonged rain since Panama. I had a great time cleaning the decks and then there was plenty rain left to allow us to each stand outside, strip off and have a free, warm shower. Lovely!

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With the time of arrival down to less than 100hrs, the GPS has started to give us an estimated arrival time. About 70hrs at current speed. Fingers crossed…….

We are missing Ferne’s of Jade birthday. She turns 9 today. Hannah has already made her a present and in way of an apology for not getting to FP in time, she got to send Fern an email wishing her the best of the day.

We had enough light left for a bit of tomfoolery as well. Does everyone know Hannah has very, very tickly feet?

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Day 23 – Wed 1 Jun  09 02.640S  143 43.350W   95 miles 

I was thinking of doing one more time zone change to ready us for the –9.5 UTC setting on the Marquesas but as it means the morning radio traffic with Vaguebond then falls into the period we are using for the generator (and more importantly, my non-comms using wife’s watch!), we have decided just to stay at –8 UTC until our arrival.

We finally hit wind again at 0830hrs this morning at 134 28W, a bit further W than expected. Only 7kts but enough for us to get the parasail up and the engines off. Blessed peace! We haven’t seen anymore than the occasional sniff of 10kts, the av being 8 all day and we are running at 4kts. Not a fast day but we are moving.

We are now close enough for lots of questions on when we will see land. Unfortunately it looks like another couple of days before we reach land now unless our speed picks up markedly.

Tonight’s fare was a chicken pasta bake. Eleanor did us proud earlier with a no bake chocolate cookie mix which was so good, it didn’t last long.

We heard this morning that the main issue of no email we have been having, that of not being able to hit Mahini, is because Mahani isn’t working. They are waiting for new parts. Apparently there is the intention of putting a new station in on Hiva Oa as well, but this is some months off. Perhaps next time round…… We did talk to Vaguebond and Plastik Plankton (the couple that helped us through the Panama Canal) tonight. PP is waiting for us at Hiva Oa. We are really looking forward to catching up with Wolfgang and Kathi, two really nice people.

It looks like a clear night tonight. There is a little high cloud but the sky is already wonderfully clear. Stargazing is on the agenda tonight.

Day 24 – Thu 2 Jun     09 20.334S  136 11.448W  88 miles

I wish I could adequately describe the night sky here. I fell in love with offshore sailing many years ago when I helped my father take a boat from the N of England up the North Sea, through the Caledonian Canal and back down towards Oban. Being the youngster on board I had a night to myself, motoring 50 miles offshore on a mirrored sea, in what was probably my first proper dark sky, being amazed at the brightness of the heavens. The sky here is equally as awe inspiring with the Milky Way blazing overhead. We have Jupiter, Saturn and Mars up with us too and I can see moons on the first two.  No pictures are possible whilst we are at sea as our camera is not up to it but I will try to take some long exposure pictures once we reach the stability of land.

The night’s passage was very slow with a 5-9kt wind blowing us along at 3-4kts. There is no sea to bother us. We had a beautiful sunrise with the E sky ablaze but little wind to go with it.

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For our morning’s entertainment, the girls and I played Mah-Jongg. Hannah came out on top by some way.  Kirsty will be pleased to know Hannah logged all the hands in her notebook for further analysis.

We trogged along during the day with the mileage slowly falling to less than 150miles. Far too slowly for Lou whose morale is shot. I think she needs gin…..

We gave up with sail at 1455hrs and switched the engine on. With 2kts true, we couldn’t fly the parasail. The wind didn’t make another appearance and we gave up even trying to motor sail. We headed towards Hiva Oa on a bearing of 248.

Vaguebond is 60miles out and should arrive tomorrow morning. We will be a day behind them as we will need to slow and will arrive Saturday morning now.

We had a memorable event tonight. Our log reached 10000 miles which means we have now travelled 8400miles since the start of our journey.

 

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Day 25 – Fri 3 Jun 09 40.532S 137 51.632W 103 miles

The wind failed us again, blowing at 3-5kts overnight. Just tedious. I really hate motoring but with about a 100miles to go, I will be divorced if I suggest taking another a couple of days to drift in.

However, at 0615hrs the wind finally kicked back in with a steady 10kts out of the E. Parasail went back up and the engine went off. Strangely the girls both woke because of the sudden lack of noise so I was joined by them for sunrise.

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Hannah has decided that she needs to get her tan back. It has flaked off in a rather amusing piebald way which she is not happy about. Her morning activity included lazing on the foredeck.

 

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Finally – 1455 LAND HO! We could just see the end of the Hiva Oa rising out of the sea. There was a fair amount of excitement and jumping around. 

By mid afternoon, we had but 60 miles left to run and plenty of time to get there for first light tomorrow. The parasail came down and up went the jib.

Our last evening meal was a doozy. A corned beef pie with fresh potatoes and beans on the side. If there isn’t any wind tonight, I’m sure the Henderson side of the family can supplement!

We decided that the last of the grapefruit, never our favourites, should be sacrificed to thank Neptune for a safe crossing. Ever hopeful, Hannah took it as an opportunity to model new boobs but we did get some throwing practise in too!

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We talked to Kathi from Plastik Plankton and Jean from Out of the Bag this evening. PP will be waiting for us tomorrow morning and gave us an idea of the anchorage we are heading for including a good spot we should be able to take, single anchor only. Seems that the anchorage is quiet at the moment with few boats in.

Day 26 – Sat 4 Jun    Time Zone change to –9.5UTC – Marquesas time

By midnight, we had a whole 20 miles left to run as we slowly made our way along the S side of the island, about 5miles off, under jib. There are no lights on shore at all and with no moon left, it is very dark tonight and the only reason I can make out the island is by realising I can’t see stars to the horizon to my N

The girls are sleeping upstairs tonight. Although we could see the islands of Hiva Oa and Mohotani as the sun set behind them last night, they were still a great distance off. They both wanted to make sure they are up to see land “properly” at first light.  Which they did!

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The weather for our arrival was not auspicious but gave us one last chance to wash the salt off Skylark.

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We had one worrying incident as we came in. As we were positioning ourselves to anchor, the Stb engine gear cable ( the one that froze on us just as we left Galapagos – then freed itself) snapped with the engine in forward and I was unable to change it. I had to kill it which left us with limited manoeuvrability. Some very quick dropping of dinghy allowed us to throw a stern anchor out on our rode line, stopping us from piling in to another boat.

The anchorage is everything I dreamed off. A spectacular view with being overlooked by an enormous hill. The island is so lush after the dry, drought ridden Caribbean and Galapagos islands. Can’t wait to start exploring.

Skylark, arriving!

 

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Summary

Departed   00 57.933S  090 57.700W   Isabela, Galapagos on 10 May 16

Arrived       09 48.167S  139 01.866W   Hiva Oa, Marquesas on 4 Jun 16

 

Total Distance by log: 2985 miles

Total time: 24days 21hrs

Av speed: 5kts

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7 thoughts on “Crossing the Pacific–Part II”

  1. Dear all,

    Fantastic. Thanks for the update.

    I have been following your progress very closely. Delighted to are in the Marquesas. Congratulations!

    It isnow very late here and I have a train to catch to London at 6.24 am tomorrow.

    Have printed off your blog, including the illustrations, in full. Will look forward to reading it in full on the train. I am headed to Lord’s on Friday to see a day of the third Test England v Sri Lanka at the invite of a member of the MCC. The Series has already been decided, but no matter.

    Will get in touch again on my return. Meantime, enjoy and keep safe.

    Best to all.

    Jim Henderson.

    Like

    1. HI JIm,

      trying to catch up with a bit of mail now we have a little internet. Thanks for all your kind comments and I’m glad you are enjoying the blog. We are trying to put a bit more effort into it!

      Cricket sounds great. I enjoyed the match I aw between the WI and Aus last year in Dominica, even if it was a bit of a hammering. Glad England is back producing the goods too.

      Best

      Stewart

      Like

  2. We were in Edinburgh staying with Jim when you arrived at your destination. We opened, and enjoyed a bottle of champagne to toast your success. Brilliant, loved your blog. Love to all Jennifer

    Like

    1. Thanks, Jennifer. I did look at getting a bottle here to celebrate but at $180 a bottle of Moet I decided beer and cocktails would have to do us. Glad you are enjoying the blog.

      Best wishes

      Stewart

      Like

  3. I am reading this sitting in my office in overcast Glasgow and feeling very jealous! Can’t believe it was a year ago we saw you guys. It all looks very lovely. Hope to have a chat with you very soon on Skype if we can managed it! E xxx

    Like

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