Heading ‘True North’

Saturday, April 22, 2017

It’s 8:23 am and I have caught up on some sleep that was donated, to keep us on the best course and move along top speed through the night. We’ve had some fickle winds the last 18 hrs. Either on the nose or just not strong enough to keep us on course.

I spent a bit of brain power debating which tack is best and tried out a few of my theories several times in the middle of the night and suffice it to say, looking back I would have been better to take all sail down and go to bed. Such is the benefit of hindsight. Here in the light of day I am trying not to make the same mistake. The overwhelming consensus is that heading north is the best tack at the moment.  

The air is lovely and cool in the evenings and not too warm during the day, which is perfect for life on board. 

Today I have been becalmed for hours so going a little crazy even thoughI have been here literally one hundred times before so I know how to do calm. Thanks for your email they are a real life saver. Trying hard to head north and get more wind. Overhead I noticed I’m on the flight path to and from Hawaii so it’s reassuring to know I am headed in the right direction.  It’s a beautiful bright day and not too hot. Still feel the effects of my all nighter last night so been trying to nap in between pushing WW II homeward.

Found an interesting problem this morning while checking the engine. The bracket on the motor mount that I had repaired in Gisborne has broken, so no more powering! I can run the engine but can not put it in gear because it is so out of line. That must have happened last night while I was powering. Can’t do much about it and it seems to be stable so I will just keep an eye on it. This old girl needs some TLC when we get home.

I had a great ploughman’s lunch today, cheese and crackers and nice little tomatoes, mmm good.

As usual, we’ve had our fair share of malfunctions but with a great deal of fumbling and perseverance, I’ve managed to keep West Wind II afloat and moving along. Our communications systems have been intermittent. The ham radio works to talk to the Pacific Seafarer’s Net each afternoon with Peter Mott,  ZL1 PWM in Russel in the Bay of Islands, Randy KH6 RC and Jane NH7 TZ in Hawaii along with a large group of very dedicated volunteers from around the Pacific Rim help MaryLou keep track of her wayward husband. (Editor’s note: And you’re all doing a fantastic job!) There is an online program that lets her listen to me while I transmit my daily report and facilitates her getting real time audio messages from me. (You can listen in as well here.)

The other capability I have on board is sending email through the ham radio while I’m hooked up to a Pactor Modem using a program called Winlink. This is what I will use to send this blog posting, hopefully. After many tens of thousands of salty ocean miles, we’ve developed a loose connection, for lack of a better excuse, which makes sending my messages a bit like winning the lottery. I think if you could see the expression on my face when I plug in the modem and push the button and a message comes up saying ” Com 4 does not exist on this computer” you’d see crushing disappointment with a small curl of rage. Conversely, when it does connect and the lights flash, well you could probably hear my joyful shouts from where you are.  

After a complete failure of the ham radio when I left New Zealand, I had to turn back and get it fixed. After that we decided to purchase an InReach tracker, a devise about the size of a flip top Marlborough cigarette package. This small device sends out a signal every 30 minutes and lets the world know where I am. It also can be used to send text messages, well that’s if the user possessed the ability to do so! At this point, that is not me and do you think I can overcome that little cigarette box full of electronics to send a simple text message?  Not a chance. This must be so frustrating for MaryLou, who is a wizzard at such things (Editor’s note: He’s exaggerating), and hasn’t be able to teach me so far. Don’t get me wrong.  ML has the patience of a saint, I’m just a bit slow on the
uptake here.

I have been rattling on a bit here and I’m not even half way through my list of challenges so I’ll spare you and save them for a future installment.

First I’ll try to send this blog post. Wish me luck, here goes.

Cheers Glenn at Sea

Email is back !

Friday April 21, 2017

Lat 24.42 N, Long 157.04 W Course: 053 Speed: 6 knots Wind:ESE 10 knots Waves: E 2 metres Cloud: 40% Barometer: 1020 Distance to home: 2098 nm

Bright sunny morning here. Half moon still with us hanging faintly over the port stern quarter. A majestic sooty albatross has been circling us looking curiously for breakfast. I have shaken out the night reefs in the jib and main to catch a ten knot easterly blowing over a slightly calmer sea with a two metre swell from the NE.

It is still warm although cooler than Honolulu …thank goodness. Still a little drowsy and I think breakfast is imminent. Nice motion on board this morning not quiet so life threatening as yesterday.

Our speed over the ground is 6.5 knots and we have a course of 23 T. The entrance to Juan de Fuca is bearing 47 T and is 2130 nm over the eastern horizon.  

Wind today will swing around from E to SSE at ten knots as the day wears on. Should be able to lay the mark and fall off the wind a little.

And now for tea and a light breakfast.

Can hear Glenn loud and clear on the Pac Seafarers Net this evening and he reports “All’s well.”

Dotted blue line inching homeward

Thursday, April 20, 2017


Position: 27.26 N, 153.37 W at 1:58 p.m Pacific Daylight Savings time.

 

This is what the wind conditions look like near Glenn (the small green circle in the middle) as of early this afternoon.

On the Pacific Seafarers Net roll call tonight, he’ll have his weather report read to him and instructions about how to activate the message feature of his Garmin InReach hand held device. With that in place, he’ll have 140 characters to work with. It’s not email but I’ll take it …short and sweet.

On the call tonight, he reported a boat speed of 7 knots and winds NW 15 knots holding steady. He sounded less tired and a lot more chipper.

There wasn’t time to fully explain how to use the message system tonight so if we don’t get any messages overnight, we’ll repeat the instructions tomorrow. We were able to have Peter read our family messages to him which he always appreciates.

And,  it was nice to hear Barry Mitchell from Australia on the call with his mate Doug and I could also see that Cliff Gray from New Zealand was also listening in.

 

 

 

 

Voices across the ocean

Thursday, April 20, 2017

Position as of approximately 6:30 a.m Glenn’s time 26.90 N, 153.58 W

While I was listening to Glenn last night on the Pacific Seafarers Net roll call for marine mobile operators, I was struck by a couple of things.

First, is the obvious miracle of the technology that lets me listen on my computer at my dining room table in Victoria, BC, to Glenn who is on our boat off the coast of Hawaii and that the person coordinating the call is in the Bay of Islands in New Zealand. So, even though we aren’t able to have a voice to voice conversation, or one over email, at least I can hear his voice (and his report) and know that “all’s well” on board and he knows I’m listening to the call and can send me a short message.

Glenn and I have talked many times about the eventuality of no email. And while we may not like it, and know that it will to some extent impede his ability to prepare for weather, we agree that it’s not the end of the world and we’ll work around it. He’s very experienced and understands the nuance of changing weather conditions and knows instinctively how to prepare and act. We’re working with what we have and hope the email gods might give us a break.

Second, is the generosity of the folks who run this net. Like Peter Mott, in NZ. Peter who runs the call, goes over and above in accommodating our requests to read messages to Glenn at the end of the call which he happily did. Once the roll call was completed, I was able to sneak in a short (and sweet) personal message via email which Peter read to him and, we were able to relay a weather report for the next two days, courtesy of my dedicated brother, Peter (in Regina, Saskatchewan) just to complete the circle.

Third, is the almost instant response from friends and ham operators around the world, who, knowing his email system is down, make time to listen in on the call and relay messages to him. Fantastic. Last night we heard from friends in New Zealand and Australia. An amazing group of people. Others left messages here on the blog. It all makes a difference and is so appreciated. Thank you.

Even though he didn’t say it, I did hear fatigue in his voice and that he wasn’t his usual cheerful self. I think that goes with the territory. I hope he can catch up on sleep in the next couple of days.

I’m particularly enjoying creating these Google maps these days. The best thing is that we can actually see home base in Victoria in the same view as that little blue sailboat icon.  And, this probably goes without saying but the sight of that little blue sailboat pointing towards home and getting closer every day, well I have no words for how that makes me feel. Over the moon comes close.

And, last but certainly not least, thanks to @claire_bare3 for suggesting I write a post from my point of view.

 

Listening to Glenn’s report online through the Pacific Seafarers Net

hamradio-online

Through the miracle of technology, I was able to listen to Glenn online this evening on the Pacific Seafarers Net roll call. This is the image I see on my computer as each participant gives their report amidst the crackles and blips.

Huge thanks to Peter Mott who manages the call from New Zealand and gives marine mobile ham radio operators the opportunity to report their position and give a brief report. I was able to send Peter some weather information to Glenn which Peter read to him over the radio which is a big help to Glenn.

Glenn’s report was his usual “All is well” which I was grateful for and even though we couldn’t speak directly, I could send a short personal message to him over email which Peter read to him.

It was nice to hear Barry Mitchell’s voice on the call as well and mention of Alek in Australia and Cliff in New Zealand, two long time supporters of this project and ham radio gods in their own right.

WordPress is giving me some grief at the moment around the comments function of this blog so for the moment, I’m not receiving any. I will work on fixing that and get them back online as soon as possible.

Thank you all for your ongoing comments which Glenn very much appreciates receiving.

 

 

 

Technical difficulties. Please stand by.

Tuesday, April 18, 2017  5:48 p.m. (Hawaii time) Position: 24.75 N, 157.0 W, Course heading: NE

navstn

At the nav station

Through the Pacific Seafarers Net, I learned this evening that Glenn is having some technical difficulties with his computer and is unable to send or receive email which means he isn’t able to provide his usual updates… for now. I’m hoping that miraculously changes of course and we’re back online soon. fingers crossed.  For now and in lieu of email, I will be listening in to the ham radio call over the internet which takes place each evening at 0300 utc (8 pm Pacific Daylight Savings time) on 14.300 frequency. 

You can listen in as well, if you are so inclined, by going to this link or by typing this address into your browser http://kiwisdr.northlandradio.nz:8073/?f=14300usbhere

Glenn checked in to the Pacific Seafarers Net this evening and asked that they relay a message to me about his current difficulties. Thank you Peter Mott in New Zealand and Jeanne Socrates in Mexico for getting the message to me. Glenn’s eloquent albeit short message for tonight was “All is well.”

We also have the InReach tracker so we can see his daily progress. Here’s a link to that page. Just refresh the page to get the latest update which happens every 4 hours. If you want his exact position, click on the blue arrow head beside his name and select More.

Screen Shot 2017-04-18 at 10.09.33 PM

 

As of 5:48 p.m. his time, his position: 24.75 N, 157.0 W

April 18, 2017

April 18, 2017

He also managed to get out a brief email yesterday to let me know that he has successfully replaced the bilge pump (thank goodness) and that he was still feeling a little “off the mark” and was hoping to get some food down today. 

So …that said, the blog may look a little different for the immediate future and we hope it’s back to normal soon. And, we hope you stay tuned.

 

 

On my way home

 

Screen Shot 2017-04-17 at 6.59.41 PM

Diamond Head, Honolulu, Hawaii

April 17, 2017 Honolulu, Hawaii  8:35 am local 18:35 UTC

Lat. 22 06.9 N, Long 157 35.8 W, Course 003 True, Boat speed 5 knots, Distance to Victoria 2232 nm

Left Honolulu yesterday (April 16) under sunny skies and a warm offshore breeze.

Been resting all day today after a long night. Beating into that NE 20 knots of wind with 2-3 meter seas. Taking it easy at 5 knots. Lots of water on the deck. All is well.

Trying to catch up on my sleep and get my sea legs and tummy settled. Still fairly warm with overcast and grey skies. 

Been resting all day, but still yawning and generally feeling tired. Just had a few spoonfuls of “FATSO” and a cracker to tie me over.

Making great headway at the moment, very lively ride and the best place to endure it is in my bunk. The combination of the 20 knots of breeze and the height and breadth of the waves and our sail set is giving us a steady 5-6 knots of boat speed. The electric bilge pump has packed it in so glad I brought a new one with me. We are not making a lot of water but enough to make it something to keep an eye on which is exactly how I found out the pump had packed it in. I have a small hand pump mounted on a board and that is what I have been using for the last little while, til things calm down enough so that when I replace the old for the new I don’t risk falling head first into the bilge. I may have to shorten sail for a bit to make that happen.

There’s lots of those extremely talented sea birds skiing the waves and providing a living element to the vast breaking ocean vista that I am sailing through. Both the ocean and sky are fifty shades of grey, the sky the lighter of the two. The clouds look like a tray of endless croissants floating all at the same level. I think they are only one croissant deep as occasionally you can see the blue tray they float on.     

Looking back to yesterday afternoon there is quite a contrast in the scene. I left the Ala Wai Marina channel with bright sunny skies, warm offshore breeze and patches of surfers like a flock of birds waiting for the perfect wave suspended in the azure green water. Watch this short video MaryLou took of the same channel back in January.

The sea was calm with a gentle swell. Diamond Head was picture perfect with a few billowy bright white clouds contrasting its distinct and powerful shape.  

I sailed out into the ever increasing wind and waves towards Molokai and then tacked on to starboard as the sun set, to clear Oahu and have been sailing along ever since.

I am in a familiar place and all my senses default to sailing mode, preset after thousands of miles, hundreds of sunsets, thousands of reefs and tacks all adding up to a program deeply set into my genetic makeup and may have been there for generations – passed down from my Dad and my Mom.

There are instinctive movements and decisions made automatically in response to the fluid environment all around me. My mind adjusts to the 2300 nautical mile passage ahead, already breaking it down into bite sized pieces that are easy to fathom. The warm leg, the temperate leg and the cold leg. When will the moon shine full? I have sailed down the Straits of Juan de Fuca in 1973, 1997, 2006, and 2013 all but one single handed, in boats from 55 ft. to 26 ft. always headed out into the Pacific, never home.

So this passage will be very special. It’s the end of an odyssey, a returning home. I long for the smell of the west coast. That mixture of coniferous forest and salty seedy beach.

And home once again to MaryLou who waits ever so patiently. Thanks for waiting MaryLou.

 

WestWindII on the hard in Keehi Boat Harbour, Honolulu

Painting the bottom at Keehi Boat Harbour in Honolulu before setting sail

April 17, 2017

The short view

 

April 17, 2017 #2

The long view

Screen Shot 2017-04-16 at 7.48.26 PM

Go to earth.nullschool.net for up to date wind conditions across the north Pacific.

 

Settling in …

Tuesday, January 17, 2017

 

 IMG_1094

I’m here in the legendary and very hospitable Waikiki Yacht Club.

I am happy and very lucky to be here with my MaryLou and to have arrived safely. MaryLou and I have just enjoyed a coffee and fresh breakfast prepared by chef Jasmine.

I’ve been for an early morning swim in the pool, which overlooks the boats and Ala Wai Boat Harbour. I’ve done my poolside yoga lying in the early morning sunshine. 

We’ll spend the rest of the day working on West Wind and preparing her for her 6 month stay in Hawaii. 

Thanks for all your welcoming comments.

Arrived in Honolulu !!!

FullSizeRender (1)

Arrived safe and sound to Honolulu Sunday, January 15th @ 11:30 am Hawaii time. We’ll spend a week here putting West Wind to bed and fly back to Victoria. 

Sorry for the wonky looking post. Trying to upload from my cell phone in a harbour with intermittent wifi.!

We’re tied up at the Waikiki Yacht Club and are being treated very well. 

Met  lovely people since he arrived who have invited us to their beach house.

 

 

 

Excited, relieved and thankful

Screen Shot 2017-01-13 at 1.00.43 PM

Friday, January 13, 2017

03:00

All’s well. 122 nm to Honolulu. Boats going well and water is under control. “You gotta love it!”

Just going for a tour on deck and then back to sleep. I was surprised to find a fairly large bird perched on the dodger, sound asleep.

I took several flash shots of it but it didn’t seem to mind. I know very well what it’s like to be woken early.  After adjusting the sails, I left him to sleep. It’s overcast and the breeze is still strong. Our heading is still good!! Lat 19 16 N long 158 06 W

05:30 

Woke to a wind shift from South East to North East which is something I can work with. Our early morning sky is filled with very large dark clouds that look rather ominous. Well time will tell if they are friend or foe. For now, we’re up, as is our fine feathered passenger who is watching from the deck on the lazarrette after leaving a calling card on the front door step. Onward ever onward to our destination.

07:25 

The sun is climbing rapidly out of the sea and our passenger Bella the Booby seems quite happy to be getting a ride and doesn’t seem to be in any hurry to vacate the premises. She’s sitting quietly cleaning herself.  

I feel great, excited and relieved. The sharp bite of anxiety that has been a constant shipmate is losing its grip on me. We have very good conditions so far today which I hope will last for the next 102 nm. We are about 100 miles due west of the big island of Hawaii. Far enough to not be in its shadow. The wind is coming from the North East and with this low seaway, we are able to point to a course of 354, which is only 10 or 12 degrees off the rum line into Honolulu. When I get closer, I can tack and bring us back to where we want to be. All in all, a day to be savoured and enjoyed to its fullest, moment by moment.

I have been forty four days sailing from Gisborne. The distance sailed over the ground will be almost 5000 nautical miles.

I want to say a very warm thanks to all those who have supported me on my voyage through its many ups and downs over these past weeks. Your words of encouragement and kindness have helped me make it through some very difficult times. I send my heartfelt thanks to all the ham operators who came up everyday and lifted my spirits and brought a human touch to my solitary world. Also, I believe there were Coast Guard people from both New Zealand and the US who kept me on their radar. To them I send my thanks as well. Knowing you were there in case I needed you, was huge for me.

Then, there is Marylou my life partner. She’s the one who brought you the story in all its moods and was, as she always is and has been, there for me, quietly and unassuming, behind the scenes, with love and support, every wave of the way.  I love you Marylou and am writing this with anticipation to be with you again soon. Thanks Marylou.

With love, fond regards and very “73’s” (ham radio talk for Best Regards).
Glenn