Passage to Hawaii

On Passage to Hawaii, Part 2

IMG 062201 May 2011 | In the middle of the ocean
Sequoia's passage to Hawaii is now 8 2/3 days old, and Barbara, Jamie and I are truly in the middle of the big ocean. In that time, we have travelled 1222 nm, with 1424 remaining until we make landfall in Hilo on the NE corner of the big island of Hawaii. We have averaged 165nm/day so far, respectably better than our average speed crossing the South Pacific of 150nm/day.

Our trip started with northwesterly winds as we left Cabo San Lucas, Baja California Sur. As a result, we spent the first two days heading off to the southwest. Cabo is about 3 degrees (or 180 nm) north of Hilo, so that was part of the plan. After a rough first night, during which we took lots of water in the anchor locker because we left the deck hatch open (well, duh!) and dealt with a failing refrigerator cooling pump, our second night out was about as perfect a sail as one could ask for: a steady breeze and easy seas.

That seems a distant memory now. The winds increased to 25 knots and higher, and the seas have steadily built to 8-10 ft. As a result, the boat's motion is very lively. I can't write this without wedging myself in at the chart table, and even then I am thrown forcefully between the table and the cabinet behind me every 30 seconds or so. As we are sailing nearly downwind, the boat rolls from side to side and each roll is accompanied by a cacophony of thumps and clatter as gear shifts in lockers. The motion may be the easiest sitting wedged into the cockpit, but moving about is a two-handed exercise in caution, and eating, sleeping and other daily functions are also more challenging.

Despite sailing along the latitude of 20°N, just inside the northern edge of the tropics, it has been on the cool side. I see a mix of shorts and long pants during the day, with the first layer of fleece handy. At night it is fleece and foul weather gear. It's not really cold, though; the water temperature is 75°F and it is pleasantly warm when the sun breaks through the usually heavy cloud cover.

All is not grim aboard and few grumbles have been heard. The other evening Jamie was just finishing a 3-6PM watch and I could tell he was ready to get a bit of rest while Barbara prepared dinner. Suddenly he spotted dolphins, and before long he was ensconced on the bow pulpit watching them weave a complicated dance in and out of our bow wave. The 20 or so animals put on quite a show for nearly an hour.

The best part of our days have been the tasty meals Barbara has been creating, despite the rolling that threatens the stability of any bowl left on the counter. These are frequently one-pot dishes with an accompanying salad or two. We have had stroganoff, shrimp over rice, tuna curry (which Jamie prepared) and no repetitions, although yesterday's main course does have a way of showing up in today's soup. Barbara just made a big batch of cruiser salad, one of my favorites: cooked chicken, hard-cooked egg, almonds and salad dressing, mixed into shredded cabbage and crumbled, uncooked ramen noodles. We have eaten the last of the papayas and avocados but still have lettuce, carrots and other vegetables. I expect the cabbage will hold out for the length of the passage.

We showered yesterday, cleaning out the head in the process. (We have a shower but it is full of dive tanks, spare water bottles and all of our foul weather gear.) We had showered in the cockpit a few days earlier, but it was just too rough and windy to do it outside. Think tiny bathroom with a drain in the floor-all you have to do is hide the toilet paper. We all appreciate getting clean!

So that is a glimpse of our life for the next 10 days or so, depending on the weather. We are hopeful that the winds and seas will increase no further, and perhaps ease a bit in the last few days. When we reach the half-way point, I know there will be some celebration. From then on, hey, it's all downhill!