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.

Making good time

January 5, 20170 @ 02:40

The blazing red orb sizzles its round face into the western horizon. Clouds form diagonally across it like war paint and the saucer moon hangs above just like the image in the movie with Huck Finn sitting fishing.  

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Fanning Island rose up from the Eastern horizon not 4 miles off our starboard bow.

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I eased our course 10 degrees to give it a wide berth and watched it slide by. Along with the two fish boats I saw this morning it’s getting crowded out here.  We are now ready to sail through the starry night, our course and sails set to take us over the waves while I hopefully get some sleep.  

Good night and sweet dreams.

Early Morning

Top of the morning to you. Our distance to Honolulu is 999 nm.

All is well. Still making good time. WW II is holding on and I am too.

See you soon.

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.

Safety at Sea

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Day 4, December 1, 2016

Lat 42.13 S Long 174.58 W Course 123 T Speed 6.5 nm Wind: South 15 knots Waves: S 2 metres Cloud 90% Baro 1014 steady 
Range: CH 4213  Distance in Last 24hrs: 144 nm

Bright sun shine streaming through the port  side windows (ports) this morning, quite chilly outside, lovely and fresh. Thought I got a glimpse of a Suka off the stern this morning. This is a hawk-like bird and quite clumsy looking in its flight compared to the petrels. I will look it up in the bird book later and confirm. There many birds around due to our close proximity to the Chatham Islands. Unfortunately I have the smell of a burnt beans from my stew permeating the cabin this morning instead of the more pleasant aroma of Bergamot from my Earl Grey tea. I must have spilled some of my stew on the stove burner last night when I was ladling it onto the rice.  Add cleaning the stove to the list this morning.

Good sleep, only up a few times which is to be expected. I’m still not sure I have the right time zone but I will check things out in the almanacs I have on board. I’m going to start carving my wooden chain out of a solid block of wood this morning,

I’ll have to take my time and get it right. Also thinking of getting the GoPro Kite project on the go as well.

So combine that with my Yoga at Sea class, keeping the boat going, navigating, and feeding myself, I’m not sure how I’ll be able to fit it all in. And, oh yes, I see its vacuuming day as well (Imagine!). Maybe have to put the Kite project on hold.

Reading Wade Davis’s “The Wayfinders” and it has me thinking of the great inhumanity toward humanity.  So, I’m looking for some positive sign we’re going to save the world. Not sure where to find that but to look outside where I am, things here seem to be in order or as they should be.

To answer a few questions people posted through the blog…

Q: Do you ever feel seasick when you start your journey, the transition from land to sea? Or is that a malady for the unaccustomed?

A:  Everyone reacts differently to the wave action of the sea. From no reaction to full on coma. I’m lucky, other than my appetite is a little off. I have very little reaction to the transition from shore to sea, although if it is very rough in the first few days eating is not high on the menu, so to speak.

Q: Are you tethered to the boat at all times? The thought of losing your footing and falling overboard would scare the you know what out of me let alone the  eerie silence of the night.

A: As the famous UK circumnavigator Dee Caffari once said to me, “You can’t finish if you’re not on board”. Good advice, I thought. I have every intention of coming home. Wearing the harness is a two-edged sword, sometimes it’s absolutely essential and other times it’s more trouble than it’s worth. The weather and motion of the boat dictate its use. Night time is one of the times I absolutely need to wear it. Reefing of the main sail is done on deck at the mast and it’s a lot easier to do with two hands. On a cold dark and stormy night when the boat is awash – waves constantly over the entire boat, and I have to go up to the mast, I do have my harness and safety line on. I hook it to the “Jack line ” that runs from the cockpit along the deck to the bow. Most of the time in conditions like this, I am on all fours as low inside the lifelines as I can get till I get to the mast, then I stand up and transfer the safety line to the mast, step up on the coach house beside the mast and rap one leg around the mast and start the reefing procedure. Sometimes it takes 15 minutes, sometimes an hour and of course all that time, the guy with the fire hose is laughing his head off as he tries to get the water down the back of my neck or up my pant leg.

At this point, my eye glasses could definitely do with automatic wipers. So here I am holding on for dear life my leg tethered to the mast, almost blind, trying to work with lines that the wind is tearing at, saying to myself, “You can do this Glenn.” Occasionally I have to laugh, what was I thinking getting out of that nice warm bunk to come here and be violated by mother nature and the fire hose guy.

All seriousness aside, the safety harness is 50% psychological and 50% practical.  Marylou who is here in my heart, is sometimes standing right beside me saying “If you go over the side I’ll kill you.”

There are always risks in life. I have worked as a logger, a fisherman, and have been in the construction industry all my life. Risk of injury has always been with me and I have a huge respect for the consequences of ignoring it. By the grace of God go I. To him or her, all I ask is safe passage back home to those loving arms.

If I had crew on board they would not be allowed to leave the main hatch without their safety harness on. Double standard you might say and you’re right, but I’m still the Captain.

Hope that answers some of your questions. I’m happy to answer them, and thanks for being there.

 

Light winds overnight

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Day 2 November 29, 2016 @ 04:45

The winds have been light and shifting back and forth all night. As you can probably see on the InReach Google map, our track is somewhat erratic. I’ve had the motor on since 2:00 am at 500 RPMs, just enough to keep us going in the right direction.

By the look of the dawning red sky off the bow we are indeed heading away from NZ. The wind has shifted to the west and along with it the sweet smell of hay and sheep. I hope the wind fills in with the sunrise.

We have some very big steep waves coming from the south west and smaller waves coming from the north east. These two sets of waves and light wind make it impossible to keep sail up as the waves shake all the wind out of the sails as each one passes. We need more wind and less sea in order to sail this morning. I’ve taken the jib in and we have two reefs in the main to stop the slatting. As you can imagine sleep has been illusive. 

I’m looking forward to the new day dawning to see what it brings to get us on our way. We aren’t fussy, we’ll work with just about anything. 

I’m going to lie down beside the motor and try to get some sleep. Just had a section of juicy orange from Gisborne. So sweet!

Will check in later.
G