Posts tagged race finish
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…
Read Part Seven.
At morning check-in I am 81 miles from Hanalei. Dave is 352 miles behind me, and making a very respectable speed for a boat with a broken boom, but I am pleased with my advance. My impatience is growing. All morning I keep interrupting my reading of “Mutiny on the Bounty” to scan the horizon for land, to no avail. To make matters worse, the trades are lighter today and my boat seems to be wallowing helplessly in the swells instead of screaming down waves. I’d hate to have to cross the finish in the dark and consider hoisting the spinnaker on the jib halyard for a while. But I feel I’ve had enough problems already and can’t risk the halyard chafing through the forestay, or splitting the luff foil, or whatever else might happen. I think about it most of the day, though. I have visions of bikini-clad girls on the beach interrupting their game of volleyball to watch Idefix surfing gloriously across the finish and into Hanalei Bay under a billowing chute. These visions are punctuated with others of the boat dismasting in sight of the finish line and running aground on the reef. It’s hard for me to adopt a fatalistic attitude after all the hard work and tough decisions that got me here, but I eventually convince myself to let things happen at their own pace, and rule out any thought of flying the chute. Instead I decide to make myself presentable for the welcoming committee and pull out my trusty bucket for a quick bath and shave, then put on a clean WYC shirt. I return to my berth and finish the book, and land is still not in sight. Clouds stretch across the horizon, and I guess the visibility to be no better than 15-20 miles. I have the feeling the clouds to the southwest are a little denser and higher, but perhaps it’s wishful thinking, helped along by my GPS-induced conviction that the island is there. The last time I checked my position with anything other than a GPS was 6 days ago, when I took a sun sight and came out 20 miles off (after three rounds of correcting my algebra). I certainly hope the little magic boxes know their stuff.
Having nothing better to do, I take a long afternoon nap. When I finally emerge from my berth, I scan the clouds to the southwest and spot a thin gray coastline emerging from the mist. There it is, something I’d promised myself a long time ago: my first sight of a Hawaiian Island, off the bow of my sailboat.
I expected a wave of relief, a huge sense of accomplishment at the sight of land. Maybe it’s because the island is barely creeping out of the mists instead of towering out of the ocean, but all I’m feeling is how far away from home I am, what a long trip is still ahead of me, and a recollection of the stress of being on land, getting a boat ready for an ocean voyage. My apprehension about the trip home has grown substantially in the last couple days. This race has been physically and mentally draining, and the voyage home will be 50% longer, the winds and waves that have been pushing me to Hawai’i will be against us, I’ll have to share my small living space with someone else, and we’ll be heading into a cold, stormy, and empty part of the Pacific. Will my sanity survive? Can the boat make it?
I tune my VHF radio to the race frequency and make a call, but the radio makes a strange clicking sound when I key the mic, and I get only static in return. The island seems much closer now, and I can make out a ridge of mountains, and shades of green on the shore.
I wonder now about the arrival. Is my radio working? Will they be expecting me? Will I run my boat onto the reef? I check the radio antenna connection and make another call.
Then some static. Finally a crackly voice says the name of my boat and something unintelligible. I respond that I’ll try again when I get closer, as we obviously can’t make out what the other is saying.
I clean up the boat a bit and adjust the sails. The wind has been slowly clocking, and I’m finally beginning to understand the advice in Stan Honey’s weather brief – I should’ve been aimed 10 or 15 miles upwind of Hanalei to anticipate the wind shift around the island. It would’ve made a big difference if I’d had a spinnaker up, but with the #4, it’s no big deal to take the pole down and trim in the sails.
I’m now 10 miles from the finish, and I can see the Kilauea lighthouse on shore. The race committee has me in sight and is expecting me. The long race feels like a little daysail now that I’m close to land. I pull out my cellphone, call some friends, and send some text messages. I feel like I’ve broken some sort of pious vow of silence. I relish the last moments of being a solo ocean racer.
I can see buildings on the island. The mountains are covered in more shades of green than I knew existed. After two weeks of nothing but featureless ocean, they’re the most beautiful mountains I’ve ever seen. I’m still several miles upwind of the island, but I can smell it. Vegetation, dirt, rocks. Things I haven’t smelled in weeks.
I’m paying close attention to my GPS now, trying to avoid the reef at the mouth of the bay. Soon the voice on the radio calls out in a Canadian accent, which sounds completely out of place in the tropics: “Idefix, you have just completed the Singlehanded Transpac. Congratulations!”, then Bob comes on the radio: “Adrian, this is Bob, I want to congratulate you on sailing a fantastic race!”. I can barely reply. It was really a fantastic race to sail.
Read about the return trip here.