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

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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.

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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

 

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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

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

 

Settling in …

Tuesday, January 17, 2017

 

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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.

Motor sailing through the hi

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December 24, 2016 Leg 2 Day 4

4 a.m.

There’s a Hi moving in from the North East and I am on the edge of it now with wind coming from the North, North West at 10 knots. Not a good heading for me to sail into. My course at the moment is 301 at best. I have Perkins on, otherwise our boat speed in this wave condition would not be enough to keep Fleming steering.

Going west would bring us into some wind but our heading would be South of West sailing away from Honolulu. I might have to just bite the bullet and take the jib down and power at 3 knots due north till the hi passes in a day or so. It means powering into the waves which may not work at all. I will stay on this course till daybreak in about an hour when I can see the sea conditions better.

Till  then it’s back to my bunk beside Perkins.

Had a difficult afternoon yesterday. Couldn’t upload or download any mail for a few hours.

I’m now on port tack. Came around from starboard tack because we were heading due west. Now wind has shifted to the east and we are headed east. Can’t seem to win here today. Have a triple reefed main and only 1/4 yankee out and we may be overpowered at that. Lots of wind and heavy seas most of the day. Lots of water making its way into the boat in the form of drips which although small, do eventually make things wet. So hard to find the source of these little devils. I have been reading and thought of working on the chain but the motion is just a little too much.

Got it together to boil a few eggs and had a Plowman’s lunch with cheese and crackers, a little sun dried tomato and pickled onion.

The sky has just gotten very dark so probably in for some torrential rain very soon. Thinking of you. 

I’ll try get this off later this afternoon when propagation is better and down load faster.

Bye for now love you  

4 pm

Merry Xmas to all

Lat. 15.52.82 S Long. 160.25.57 W Course 040 T Speed 5.5 knots Wind NW 10 Knots Waves W 2 M Cloud 100% Baro 1010
Miles in last 24 hrs: 125 NM Range to Honolulu 2239 nm

Motor sailing. Hope to push through this hi in the next day or so. How are things looking for transiting the ITZ’s? And what is above the high?

Trying to stay with a course as close to 160 Longitude as possible, shortest route.

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Thanks again for all the wonderful support and hope you enjoy family and friends over the holidays.

All’s well here.

Cheers Glenn

Riff on a sunset

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Lat 25.24 Long 159.51 Wind NE 5-10 knots Waves SW 1.5 metres Cloud 100% Baro 1013
Distance in last 24 hrs: 98 nm  Range to Rarotonga: 250 nm

Day 18 December 14, 2016

Lovely cool morning here. The sky is filled with change. A very large bank of grey cloud with a ragged front is sliding over from the north east. The sea has just a ruffle of a breeze showing from the east over long rolling swells from both the South West and the East. We’ve had Perkins pushing us along since midnight when, for the very first time there was not a breath of wind. I took all sail down and after drinking up the beauty in the moonlit sky for half an hour, went back to sleep with Perkins snoring beside me. There is just a bit too much swell and not enough wind yet to hoist any sail but it does look from the clouds moving in that we will get wind soon enough from the East.

Last night I witnessed the most spectacular sunset. It was not one of those classic radiating blazes although that element was there. It was the illumination of so many layers of clouds over the entire evening sky from one horizon to the next and one encore after another of those ever changing pastel blues, brilliant reds and flamingo pinks. It didn’t matter where I looked there was a event of galactic proportions as if on an IMAX screen. It started with the billowy clouds on the edge of the opposite horizon which early on showed faint hints of shadow ever darkening underneath them, the blue sky around them fading lighter and lighter.

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As the sun sank into the ocean behind, it revealed the dying moments and molten bright red blazed at the edges and a molten silver flame shot out right at the oceans edge. The high sky above this regular sunset event was still very bright robin’s egg blue. It was the texture and variety and the clarity of the high cloud that was so dramatic, bright white against brilliant pale blue. There were long wispy clouds that stretched in over the northern sky and overlapping those in the western sky just above us were paddocks of soft cotton batten balls all very close together. Then in the southern sky high and overlapping the cotton were jagged thin edged bright white wispy streaks. All these sat in a very bright soft blue sky light. Mean while back behind us, opposite the dying sun in the eastern sky was a large foreboding swirling Tsunami of a wave cloud starting to turn a soft pastel red. It was as if in slow motion all these clouds which were moving in different directions over lapping each other crossed the stage while all their sunset pastel colours grew more faint but so very crisp showing all the detail of the thin cloud edges.

I was overcome by what was unfolding before me. Everywhere I looked in the sky, a beautiful scene was taking place. It went on and on, and eventually after a half hour show, a bright star appeared as if to draw the curtain down and signal the coming of the night. I was spellbound.

My description could never come close to explaining what I saw and experienced in the sky last night but hopefully I did it some justice.

Stallion and rider

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Lat 30.31 S Long 160. 37 Course 14 T Speed 6 knots Wind W 15-20 knots Waves 2 metres W Cloud 99% Barometer 1009 steady
Distance in last 24 hrs: 144 nm Range to 
Rarotonga 558

Day 15 Dceember 11, 2016

Lively morning here this morning. The wind increased last night around 02:37 am to about 15 knots from the west and I was up to find an amazing seascape with the moon bright in the western sky, clouds scudding past it and the moisture in them showing as rainbow colours. The sea was black, tipped with silver from the moonlight catching the wave tops.

I stood straddling the cockpit seats holding on to the hand grip on the top aft edge of the dodger like reins, with one hand as WW II galloped over and through the three metre waves coming on our beam. The cool wind whistled in my ears and the sound of the waves, one after the other being scythed and thrown on the deck filled the scene. WW II’s motion was that of a great stallion. I stood with a broad grin on my face urging her on with affectionate words out loud. Two hours later I was back on deck for another ride, this time the wind had increased to the point that it demanded a third reef in the mainsail. With the decks awash and the wind now screaming and me not quite awake to my surroundings, I made my way, hand over hand up the port side of the boat and clipped my harness to the goose neck (the point where the boom connects to the mast) and started the ritual of reefing the main. There is a great deal of pully haully that goes on and it all has to be done quite smartly and in the right order. Some times it goes better than others, but one thing is for sure, WW II is more than thankful to have the load on her relieved so she can gallop on more freely.  

I have been able to go back below after these exhilarating nocturnal rides and put my head down and fall back to a great depth of sleep even if it’s only for a few hours. Today is day 14 in my watery world beneath the galaxy sky. I love it, while up on deck in the saddle of the night I think of all the sailors through all the centuries that have looked in wonder as they sailed passed. I feel their wonder and mine. 

How lucky I am to be here and through Marylou, share what I see and feel.  

 

Through the high, making good progress

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Day 11 Wednesday, December 7, 2016

Lat. 37.30 S Long 163.40 W Course: 05 T Speed 5.5 knots  Wind NE 20+knots Waves NE 1.5 metres Cloud 99% Barometer: 1020 Falling
Distance in last 24hrs: 108 nm Distance to Rarotonga: 996 nm Distance to Cape Flattery 5571 nm

Wonderful to wake up this morning to WW II surging along at 6+ knots and in the right direction. We made it through the “High”with a great deal of help from Perkins and one of our Raymarine 2000 electric auto helms, and me, of course. I enjoyed the calm of the high, no water on deck, a chance to air everything out – rain gear, cushions, sleeping bag and anything else that could benefit from the sun’s healing rays. The motion, although at times can still be difficult, was a lot less than what we are experiencing this morning. I think we’ll reach one hundred miles for our daily run today which is good.

Very special treat this morning – a Gisborne grapefruit, one of three beauties given to me by Sally and Neil Knight, and right from their back garden, I believe. So sweet and juicy. It’s interesting now that I think about it the amazing oranges I have on board were given to me by Suzy and John McKendry and their three great children, Holly, Matt and Georgia. They all mentioned something about scurvy as well. There’s a connection Gisborne has with being the first place Captain Cook landed in New Zealand, although it was not so amicable a landing as history records it. Hence the name “Poverty Bay” that Cook gave their beautiful waterfront.

I got an email from Alek VK6 APK (in Perth, Australia) yesterday with instructions on how, if I have the right equipment, I could rescue what remains of my damaged solar panel. I’ll study that again this morning and see what we can do. Alek is one of my ham radio guys, and is a real MacGyver kind of guy. Thanks Alek!

Although we had cloud cover for most of the night, I woke around 2:30 to catch the moon setting on the western horizon. It was lying on its back and softly, with and orange glow, slid into the ocean. Most of the afternoon it was visible high overhead, very bright white and clear.

I’m off to make breakfast. Oats this morning.

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Managing in a seaway

 

Day 5 Friday December 2, 2016 @ 03.25 local time

12216-w-chatham-islands Lat 42.51 S,Long 171. 55 W Course 96 T Speed 6.8 knots Wind S 15 knots Waves SW 4 metres Cloud 75% Baro 1011 steady
Range CH 4086 nm 
Distance in last 24 hrs: 140 nm

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Back down below after a half hour on deck taking down the pole from the yankee. The dawn is breaking and as always, the most amazing thing about going up on deck is the enormous sea that is running. The motion below I have gotten used to and belies the great size of the waves.

There are petrels gliding by looking for offal. Sadly for them, my greatest offering would be my old tea bag at best. These seas cause WW II to yaw a fair bit when we are off the wind, it makes the yankee flutter,  and it shakes the whole mast.  It’s difficult to deal with. I am going to have to go back up and see what I can do to stop it. I will probably roll the yankee back in a bit and see how that works. Last night at dusk in amongst the pinking clouds I spied the sliver of the new moon. It will be nice to have that as company as it waxes over the next few weeks. I hope your day is dawning well.

06:40

Tea’s here beside me and the sun is up high enough on our port side to fill the nav. station with cloud filtered morning light. There’s light but no real heat which I have to admit would be nice this morning as it is a bit nippy. Got my fleece on and collar turned up. Finger tips need some rubbing but breath is not visible yet.

I finished Wade Davis’s  The Wayfinders last night. The litany of cultural genocide portrayed in great detail was enlightening but left me feeling guilty and ashamed at the plight of indigenous people around the planet. He did portray Canada as a modern country which in his opinion is moving in the right direct though. Felt like I took a first year Anthropology course and enjoyed it. It is wonderful that such dedicated people have pursued the study of indigenous people and in a very honest way recorded their stories.

My next book will be Bill Bryson’s A short History of Nearly Everything. I definitely need to laugh out loud. I read one of his books about Australia “Down Under” on my passage from Fremantle to Opua, NZ a couple of years ago and thoroughly enjoyed it. Thank you Sally and Neil Knight of Gisborne for giving me this book.

It is important to note that at this very moment the wind has picked up and we are surging along at the breakneck speed of 7+ knots and Fleming seems to have everything in control. I hope it stays that way. I have been conservative in my sail area during the night not wanting to have to get up quickly to react to an increase in wind. This seems to be working fine for now.  

There are several rain squalls around us this morning so I imagine it will be exciting sailing through those. Have to keep a hand on the tea mug.

Another project I’m starting is the carving of a wooden chain out of a solid piece of wood. A shipwright in Opua, Graeme Rigden, an incredible talent, gave me a couple of pieces of wood from his shop to do this project.  I picked up a small set of carving tools from Lee Valley Tools before I left and some sharpening stones. Meeting Graeme was a stroke of luck and of course I am benefiting from his generous gift of two pieces of wood  for my project. He also came down to the boat and dropped off a beautiful wooden bowl he spun out on his lathe one evening. It’s incredible, paper thin. Thank you Graeme for your kind generosity. Wade Davis would likely use Graeme, as an example of those individuals who will keep the planet safe.

My stomach is telling me it’s time for breakfast. I think a hard boiled egg and a pancake with hazelnut butter will do the trick. Making it in this seaway though is going to be a real feat. I’ve had tens of thousands of miles of practice at this, but still one never really knows if at the last minute your breakfast will land in the right place or be interrupted by a rogue wave. He, by the way is part of that same mob as the guy with the fire hose. 

Cheers from the great Southern Ocean. Have a good day and be thankful your galley isn’t moving at 7 knots over 4 meter waves.
(This is ML saying “duly noted and thankful indeed.”  :-)  

Note: A small correction to what was posted earlier. Glenn actually crossed the International Dateline today, December 2, 2016  at approximately 0:737 local time, or 1837 UTC. As this imaginary dateline zig zags in a north south direction, the exact time of crossing varies depending on your position of latitude where you crossed it.