Posts tagged hawaii
I’ve been pretty absent from this space lately, but since I’m off on another sailing adventure I thought I’d post an update. 2014 was a little rough with the NASA UAS Airspace Operations Challenge being cancelled after many hours of hard work put into it, then my motorcycle accident in October almost costing me my leg, and putting a big hole where my knee used to be. After getting reassembled from spare body parts, I’ve spent the first half of 2015 getting back to walking, kneeling, squatting, cycling and sailing, and am pretty much 85% operational again. Naturally it’s time to get back on the ocean, and what better way to do that than deliver a 46-foot carbon sportboat from Honolulu to San Francisco. My friend and occasional SHTP nemesis Ronnie Simpson is skippering. SHTP reigning champ Steve Hodges and boat guru/all around badass Walt Kotecki round out the crew, for what promises to be a fun trip.
As a bonus, we’ll be taking part in The Ocean Cleanup’s first-ever MegaExpedition, a survey involving 40 other boats, and aimed at studying the distribution and composition of the Great Pacific Garbage Patch. For much of our crossing we’ll be trawling a contraption with a net, taking samples from the first foot of water, cataloging them and storing them so they can be shipped to Delft Technical University in the Netherlands for analysis when we arrive in San Francisco. The samples have to stay wet and cool, so we’ve been provided with a little fridge, which I suspect will also keep some of our food and drink cool, since all-out race machines generally don’t have refrigeration. In addition, we’ll be doing periodic visual surveys of the water around the boat for bigger pieces of junk that don’t make it in the net. I think as a whole we’re all pretty excited about this, despite the extra workload involved, and the fact that slowing down to trawl six hours a day will probably extend our trip by a day and a half at least. As sailors we get to see how mankind has been polluting our oceans, and it’s great to be part of one of the first efforts to remove trash from the ocean. You can help too by avoiding plastic bags, bottles, wrappers, and packaging!
You can track Varuna here.
I’m finally getting around to cutting some of the footage from the 2012 Big Pacific Adventure, and I thought this little clip might help some of the people preparing for this year’s Singlehanded Transpac and Pacific Cup races, so it’s the first to go up. I threw in a few gratuitous sailing scenes just for fun!
The big island of Hawai’i, with its twin 13600-ft volcanoes, casts a wind shadow that stretches for hundreds of miles to leeward. We’ve finally exited that patch of light winds and are sailing in the NE trades. Unfortunately the NE trades here are blowing from the SSE, and we’re not making any progress to the E, so it looks like Tahiti is out of question. I’m a little bummed, but our new course will allow us to spend more time in other places, as well as shave 1300NM of sailing off our route. Both of these are mighty appealing, especially since we are running about a week behind schedule. Right now we are aimed at Niue, with Perhaps a stop at Penrhyn atoll, but the weather may have other plans for us.
All is well on board. We are close reaching in about 12-17 knots of wind and 5-ft seas. There is quite a bit of spray on deck, and it’s hot but not unbearable down below. Last night during my shift I was chilling out listening to music when out of nowhere something smacks me in the forehead. Eventually I figured it was a flying fish, probably due to the fishy smell and scales on my face. A couple hours later Nick got one in the face too.
Thanks to Hawaii Yacht Club’s excellent hospitality, I thought we would stay in Honolulu forever. I actually enjoyed the city a fair bit. But eventually it was time to move on. With completely accidental precision, we cast off our docklines at 00:00 UTC and left civilization behind. The seas to leeward of the Kaiwi Channel were pretty lumpy, so we all ended up kind of wet and queasy. Shirley got sick despite her scopolamine patch. We’re now sailing in the lee of the other islands and hoping things won’t get too rough once we hit the open tradewinds. At this point it’s destination unknown, just pointing the boat south and seeing what heading we can stomach. I’d like to make it to Tahiti, but Niue, Tonga and Fiji will make for a much more comfortable ride…
It took some time, but we finally got out of Hanalei… Idefix and crew are in Honolulu after a 24-hour trip bashing across the Kauai Channel all night. Sure enough, the crossing lived up to my expectations: a really unpleasant day and night of upwind sailing, a bit of relief on the back side of the O’ahu, then some more trouncing to Honolulu. Not an experience I care to repeat anytime soon. But we all came through with little more than salt-encrusted faces and some seasickness. Not everyone was so lucky last night as we heard that Brian’s crew on Red Sky fell and broke her rib. Luckily they were only a day out of Hanalei.
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
The last couple days have been a total blur, taking care of basic hygiene, greeting other racers, catching up with friends and family, but also cleaning the boat out, provisioning, fixing up some broken items, and trying to enjoy a truly beautiful place. I’m planning on leaving for Seattle on Monday, so I don’t have a whole lot of time left, and I feel like I’ve wasted most of it sitting around wondering what to do with myself now that I’m not trying to make the boat go fast!