Idefix is in Hanalei, rafted up to Green Buffalo (thanks Jim!). Got in shortly after midnight last night. The last day was an incredible white-knuckle ride. During the night I’d taken down the spinnaker in a squall, just left main up and gone to sleep for 5 or 6 hours. I woke up on Friday and the wind had finally arrived. The waves had picked up quite a bit too. The boat was moving at 6 or 7 knots with just the main. I did some quick time-distance-speed calculations and was faced with a conundrum. I was 150 miles away, and I could slow down some and get there early Saturday morning, as planned, but I would’ve felt stupid trying to slow the boat further. I didn’t want to arrive in the pre-dawn hours, because I’ve been falling asleep at 3am like clockwork. But I see that if I average 8 knots, I can get there at midnight. So I decide I’m going to put the pedal to the metal and try to get there as early as possible. The catch is that there’s no way the autopilot is going to handle the boat with a chute up in 20-knot winds and messy 10-foot seas. So I finish breakfast, toss an armful of snacks and drinks into the cockpit, crank up the music, hoist the chute and am off on a wild ride that’ll last 16 hours. I was doing mental math the whole way and calculated an average 10 knots for the first hour, and 9-9.5 for the rest of the day. I got drenched by waves breaking into the cockpit within the first 10 minutes, so needless to say it was not a comfortable ride. I managed to leave the tiller 5 or 6 times to fuel up on food, water or caffeine, but that often ended in a broach or accidental jibe. At some point I went past the research ship Kilo Moana, which was hoding station 85 miles from Hanalei, and chatted them up on the VHF. They mentioned they’d seen another sailboat go by five days ago, by the name of Truth, and he was hauling like me. I was pretty flattered that they thought I was anywhere near Truth in speed! Eventually the sun went down, and the Kilauea lighthouse came into view. Then it was down to the last few miles, and soon I was trying to pick out the lights of the condo, and trying to reach the race committee on the VHF, and getting run over by squalls. Last time I had cleaned up and shaved before the finish. This time I took one last big gulp of coffee and managed to spill it all over myself. Oh well. Finally just pulled out my cellphone and called the race deck. Last couple miles the wind shifts a ton. I’d been expecting it, but then forgot. Fighting to keep the chute up, eyes riveted to the GPS to make sure I cross the line without hitting the reef. Finally I’m there.
Sent at 2012-07-13 15:50 UTC from 23°11.21′N 156°57.58′W
Last night was clear and beautiful. I think this is the first night of the trip that I could really do any stargazing. The milky way is as bright as ever, and after the sun goes down you can see a bit of light from the primordial dust left in the solar system. We’re now south enough that the scorpion is high in the sky, and I spotted Alpha Centauri low on the horizon. The southern cross is too close to the sun to see for now, and the horizon is pretty cloudy.
Today started with a beautiful sunrise, then got pretty hot, again. For most of the day it looked like typical tradewind weather, with puffy little clouds and deep blue water. Flying fish are everywhere (but I’m managing to keep them out of the berths today), and tropic birds keep showing up to check on my progress. I stripped off too many clothes and got a sunburn. Then a massive wall of squalls came and I took down the chute for a while, and clouds and rain have taken over the landscape.
Up until I took down the chute, I had been making very good speed, and I’m now less than 250 miles out. Probably completely jinxing myself, but I expect to come in sometime on Saturday morning, around 8am PDT (5am local). If the wind picks up as expected, it may be earlier than that. I’m torn as to whether I should consider slowing down a bit to ensure I come in with a bit of daylight.
I managed to reconfigure the solar charge controller and got a halfway decent charge, so I have enough power to send a couple emails for the rest of the trip, unless tomorrow is completely cloudy. I also managed to throw out a fork and spoon with my dishwater. I’d sworn that wouldn’t happen again…
I was wondering why the inside of the boat smelled fishy this morning, when I found a flying fish had sailed through the companionway and found its way into one of the quarterberths overnight. Thankfully not the one I was sleeping in. I’ve heard they can get to be up to two feet long, and are quite delicious to eat. This one was the biggest I’d seen at about 8 inches, but I had just finished breakfast when I found it.
Today was finally the clear day I was hoping for to charge my batteries. They’ve been starting to get really low, and I figured the overcast was keeping them from topping up. To my great dismay, I found the solar panels weren’t putting in the 10-12 Amps of power I was expecting, even at high noon. More like 6 Amps. A little bit of investigating later, I found the wires for the cabintop panel had corroded away, so I jumpered them and managed to get 8 Amps for a little while, but it quickly tapered off to 6 again. What’s happening is the solar charge controller thinks the batteries are already topped off, and is giving them only the float voltage of 13.6V instead of the absorption voltage of 14.4V. It’s been doing this the whole trip, but I’ve been attributing it to the cloud cover… I’m going to try rebooting it tonight when the batteries are at their lowest, to see if it’ll cooperate. I can probably survive until Hanalei at this rate, but I’m having to cut down on power use.
Only 439 miles to go, but we are moving excruciatingly slowly. The wind is supposed to build tonight, so hopefully that’ll change.
Sent at 2012-07-12 00:45 UTC from 24°03.02′N 151°46.67′W
Well, Idefix and I are back at CYC in Tiburon, and in 14 hours we will be crossing the starting line for our second Singlehanded Transpac. This part of the ordeal has a comfortable and familiar feel, and my spirits are pretty high, especially since it looks like we’re not going to get the snot kicked out of us by a gale this year. However my mood was quite different only a couple days ago. The last three weeks have been way more stressful than I expected, mostly because I had to find and rig a new boom. Fortuitously, there was a carbon fiber Olson 30 boom for sale in the bay area. It’s incredibly lightweight, and will hopefully survive the trip to Hawaii (and beyond) without shattering into a million splinters.
The boat’s now ready to go, but I didn’t get to do any of the sightseeing I’d hoped for. Oh well, I’m sure I’ll be back sooner or later.
The lineup for the race is pretty exciting. In my division: a Hobie 33, the Express 27 Taz!! (back from 2010), Ronnie Simpson and Reuben Gabriel on Moore 24s, and Jerome Samarcelli representing with the Pogo 2! And there are plenty of great sailors and interesting boats in the other divisions too. You can follow along on the race viewer.
I’ve figured out how to post to this site from the boat, so stay tuned for on-the-water updates!
It’s official, Idefix and I are signed up for the 2012 Singlehanded Transpac. The memories from 2010 are still fresh in my mind, the call of the ocean is hard to resist, and we have three race trophies to defend!
This edition will come with all sorts of new challenges, notably sailing down the rugged northwest coast to the start, and following up the race with a voyage through the South Pacific to Australia. If I can complete this voyage, Idefix will perhaps have sailed more miles than any other Olson 30!
Things will be more exciting for folks on shore too… not only will there be new and interesting destinations, but I am tweaking the HF radio installation to get email on the boat! Stay tuned!
Sailing Anarchy reports that Warrior’s Wish made it safely back to San Francisco. Ronnie and Ed have accomplished a true feat – sailing a 30-foot ULDB without a keel for almost 800 miles. Once again, Ronnie’s determination and energy get him through an unbelievable adventure. This guy is my hero!
Some unsettling news came in from the Pacific this week: Warrior’s Wish lost her keel on the way home from Hawai’i. Unbelievably, Ronnie and his crew Ed have managed to keep the boat upright, and they’re motorsailing home.
The idea of losing the keel is one of those things that sends chills down my spine – along with running into something that pokes a hole in the boat. I’m not sure if Ronnie is the luckiest or unluckiest sailor I know, but one thing’s for sure: if he can bring his boat home from 600 miles out with no keel, he will have pulled off a pretty major accomplishment. I’m keeping my fingers crossed for him.
For updates from Warrior’s Wish, check out Ronnie’s website.