Topic Author's Original Post - Jun 29, 2012 - 02:29am PT
Michael (Ferretlegger) is now at the Corinthian Yacht Club awaiting the start of the SH Transpac to Hawaii, starting on Saturday. The Single Handed Sailing Society, Transpac Web Site will have regular updates as all the boats will have a tracking device on them.
We are both exhausted getting MN ready, but at least I get to go home and sleep for a week before I fly to Hawaii, while Mike spends the next few weeks out on the ocean.
Mike arrives at Corinthian YC in prep for the start on Saturday.
Yes with a quick release from the jack line are required. Of course they can't enforce the wearing. But we don't leave our slip with being wearing it. And always at night or if we go on foredeck at any time we clip in to the jack line.
And he's off....
Michael (Ferretlegger) had a good start yesterday, currently he's 7th overall and 3rd in his division (Big and Comfy). Mouton Noir isn't a race boat but rather a cruiser with huge anchors and loads of massive chain...we are always happy when we don't come in last!
Pleasant day yesterday giving Michael a proper sendoff in the Single Handed Transpac. This is the 4th time he has done this race. Preparing for this is a hugh task and especially difficult when the trip itinerary includes a continuation on to Alaska and back down the Pacific Coast to the Bay Area in the Fall. Kudos to Michael and Susan for all the hard work and a boat well prepared and ready to rock. It can be an intense experience to put all this together and still maintain some semblance of sanity.
Was great to see a "race" boat head out to the start with two large anchors still on the bow. She's a cruiser mate!
Mouton Noir is a powerful and well designed yacht that will be a pleasure to sail anywhere. She was designed for the high latitudes, read Arctic and Antarctic, but will be a perfect boat for cruising anywhere.
Susan the Admiral
Self steering vane a la Michael modification.
Navigation station, control central.
Forward water tight bulkhead door.
You can get an idea of any boats inherent power and stability from a stern view. Michael "out the pass."
Michael and Brigadier General Ken Roper, age 82, on his 12th Singlehanded Race! No relation to Steve Roper.
Tom Wylie design, Moonshadow.
Love the name. Hobie 33
Green Buffalo a Cal 40, the boat that started the light displacement surfing concept in sailing.
Pogo- a Mini TransAt. 21 ft in length, Mini's are a popular class in Europe and top sailers are considered rock stars. Now being built in the US. State of the art in small boat racing on long ocean passages. All the top European sailers get their start
Here is a recent fax of the North Pacific. You can see a Big Fat High, aka BFH which is stationary North of Hawaii and with the isobars spread so far apart it bodes for very light wind and slow slow progress if you are racing. Especially if you are loaded with all the toys and gear for a passage on to Alaska.
There is a Hurricane off the West coast of Mexico but far far away at this point it time and probably too distant to have any effect with the weather near Hawaii in the near future.
Michael and Mouton Noir are at 31degrees-16 min North and 136 degreeds-34 min West wallowing at around 1kt of boat speed. Wind speed 3.60 kts from 071 degrees.
Received Sat call this morning and we all know the expression cursing like a sailor. For about 30 bucks in airtime charges I think I heard every expletives deleted. Guido did a great job of showing the situation. He actually lowered the main because of no wind. It will be ugly getting her powered back up. In conditions like that the boat just rocks and rolls obnoxiously in the swell. Boom flies back and forth. It's the pits. Actually a lot of damage can occur because of the rocking. This is where we'd motor if doing regular cruising. Just waiting for the trades to fill in. Maybe I'll have more time to myself in Hawaii than I expected.
Good luck to Mouton Noir and all of the boats. What a fascinating race. What is the deal with Truth? According to the Race Viewer, it is making 11.6 knots and will make Kauai in about 50 hours at that pace.
Truth is balls to the walls high end race boat. Not sure why he's in a race like this. Maybe building a winning resume. He's on to race in Australia after this. A climbing analogy would be that Truth is like Flourine or Honnold showing up at the base of El Cap in their shorts and everyone else showing up with a haul bag and porta ledges. And in the case of Mouton it's more like Pass the Pitons Pete.
Right now his wind is light and dead astern. The most uncomfortable direction in nearly any boat.
Go South young man, go South.
Get away from that high center. In the very light airs we were happiest with the main up, a reef in it and the boom belayed hard down amidships. Taut on the mainsheet with preventers out to the jibsheet blocks amidships on either side. Genoa wung out on the pole to leeward and also belayed down. Minimizes the flogging but still could get the sails drawing again in about 3 minutes when the breeze came up.
The problem is that the gyybe angle points you at Chile. Been there, done that, have the 2010 version of the t-shirt. Once you pick your "lane" in this portion of the course, changing lanes becomes very expensive in terms of angles and miles sailed. If Michael can soak down...good. Gybing is going to hurt until the high begins it's northern oscillation in a few days. Hopefully that TD will provide enough gradient to help the northerly boats in the squash zone.
ferretlegger, better double up on the oranges, and hey ... go down below, find the mammalian row (particularly the ungulates) and check for any lactaters. you can save a lot of churning just now, given the current conditions. just sayin' there matey ... now that there's no doubt about who's captain, you're going to want some butter on your biscuit
Another site through SingleHandedSailing Society with racers' updates. Some are crusing along, others are having power problems and hand steering up to 24 hrs at a time! It's always fun to read the progression from "sick sick sick" to "in t-shirts and shorts now, getting naps" etc.
Funny. On small keelboats, we sometimes work our way back to the dock by standing pretty much over the keel and rocking back and forth.
You get about 1/8 knot out of that.
I have always wanted to sail around the world. I have tons of books on the topic. Unfortunately my sailing life has been all about racing dinghys on lakes. That is more intense than you might think, though.
I need to get with Russ the Fish and see if he would want to crew up. Fish will do anything for beer.
Weather models are pretty good these days. Anyone can check them. PM me if you want a basic explanation, but they are all online.
Hey. I know a zillion meteorologists here. They are super good. I am sure you could hire one to help out. Maybe for free.
The entire brain trust of meteorology is in Norman, Oklahoma. It ain't all tornadoes, either. They do everything.
National Severe Storms Laboratory
Storm Prediction Center (They issue all weather watches in the u.s.)
Numerous research groups with too many acronyms to go into.
The University of Oklahoma..which is mainly a mesoscale school
They are all in a new big building under one roof. And yeah, they do tropical storm research as well.
One of my many weird hobbies was chasing tornadoes back in the early nineties through 2005 or so. Now it is so geeky out there that you might have 100 idiot chasers on a good storm. So me and my buddy, who is a full professor, only go out if it is within 30 minutes of the house.
I didn't go out this year, but I did see my annual tornado as one missed my house by 6 blocks.
I worked for Twister in 95. I drove a camera operator and his crew all over the U.S. I got them what little real weather that they used.
I worked on all of the field experiments for many years. Most of it was tornadoes, but there were some boundary layer experiments. I also got to drive geekmobiles into two hurricanes. Georges and Floyd.
Hurricanes make everything go fungal. Jerry threw my shoes out the window in north carolina because they stunk too bad.
Anyway, maritime warnings for the big storms is pretty good. Hell, I think the Navy's global models are still online.
Good question about Hurricane Daniel. Looks like Michael is now finally into some wind and if he keep up this average he will be into Kaui sometime between Thurs to Sat. The Big Fat High looks to stay somewhat stationary but as you can see the isobars have tightened or are closer together so more gradient and more wind. The wind is also at a better angle for running, ie. astern and it will be a more comfortable ride. That is a relative term!
Hurricane Daniel is forecast to intensify and then as it hits cooler water, West of 125 degree longitude, downgrade to a Tropical Depression as it heads West. It is now moving West at approx 10 kts.(12mph) Roughly twice the speed of the "fleet." Later in the season as the ocean temperature heat up it is possible on an average year to have several hurricanes cruise West below the Hawaiian islands without downgrading.
With current patterns staying somewhat consistent the most the fleet will see will be a large swell coming out of the SE and later S. If Daniel heads more WNW it will be closer to Hawaii and there could be an additional wind factor involved. With the Big Fat High circulating clockwise and the Tropical Depression circulating counterclockwise the two can join forces with an Easterly component coming from the bottom isobars of the High and and Easterly component coming from the top isobars of the Tropical Depression. This is called a squash zone and if you are in the area you can get some pretty strong winds. All depends on the location of the boat, the High and the Low from the Tropical Depression.
Everything is opposite in the South Pacific so it gets dowright confusing sometimes.
Michael is currently at 29-59 degrees North and 138-12 West.
In the lower rt corner you can see Daniel sneaking into the picture.
This gives a wonderful overall picture of the High and the Lows. Probably the best overall summation available.
Hurricane Daniel and another Depression to the SE set to develop into a hurricane in the next 48 hrs. Active place that Mexico!
5 day forecast for the position of Hurricane Daniel. Depends where the fleet is on Wed- Thurs and where the Tropical Depression is at that time if there is any influence.
Maybe someone can explain something for me. When looking at the leader board it says that the guy on the sled is first in sleds but 8th in overall monohulls. Is there some sort of handicap? Because I can't figure out how he could be 8th.
Each boat has a time allowance based upon it's speed potential, expressed in seconds/mile. The Open 50 owes the rest of the fleet from a few days to a week or more of time. So, when you finish, the time correction factor is added to your Elapsed Time to determine your Corrected Time. Corrected Time is how the winners are determined.
The Open 50 is also the only one of it's speed potential in the SHTP, so he was given his own racing division. So yes, he will win the sled division, but as you can see, it'll be very difficult for Alex to correct out over the slower and very well sailed boats. Even though the other boats are slower, NONE of the skippers are slouches.
BTW, Alex Mehran is actually a very nice kid who actually works for a living and operates on a budget. Granted, his budget might be larger than Ferretlegger's or mine, but he watches his budget pretty closely. (Seriously, looking at Mouton Noir's electronics array, he has more electronic equipment than Truth by far...trust me).
As for why he entered this race...well the SHTP is the only race available for him of this distance on this coast that he can enter as a singlehander. Neither the Pacific Cup (starts in a week!) or the Trans Pac from Los Angeles permit single handed entries.
So, if you guys are getting off on watching sailboat races on-line...the Pacific Cup race from SF to Oahu begins on July 16th at 1300 hrs local time. Each boat will be carrying Yellowbrick trackers, just like the SHTP boats. Many of them will also be blogging about their race on Sailblogs, FB, or other places. Go to the Pacific Cup website http://www.pacificcup.org/ and follow the links.
Nice description Sal.
Yep Michael is a gear freak no doubt!
Mouton expects to hit half way today. Although we are used to being at the end of the pack and frequently the horses arse Michael was a little disappointed that he is likely to be DFL. Given that he said he likely won't use a chute as single handing it on a boat that size is just too risky for what small benefit it would provide. Fine with me... We have the rest of the world to see.
Props to Alex...flying across the open water at the speeds he has single handed is well ... I hope to see him in the Round the World single handed races. He can do it.
Off to Hawaii tommorrow on a bird and if all goes well off to Alaska on Big and Comfy Mouton in a few weeks.
Good question. Complex answer. It has to do with the Apparent Wind Angle (AWA) that Truth sails downwind in comparison to it's competitors. If the wind is dead astern, your AWA is 180 degrees. Truth and the Pogo 2 sail with asymmetrical spinnakers tacked to the bowspirit, so they can't drive deep downwind without the mainsail blanketing the spinnaker, causing it to collapse and get sucked back into the rig (ugly). Boats like the Cal 40 et. al. sail with symmetrical spinnakers attached to a pole that can be flown opposite the mainsail, out of the backwind vortex of the main at much deeper angles (say 170-180 comfortably). IOW, if the breeze is pointing directly at your target, you can point the boat right at it and minimize the number of miles that you have to sail. Truth can't do that efficiently, so they have to sail steeper angles to keep the kite flying, and gybe more frequently to get to the same place. So, if you're sailing at 175 AWA and turn to 175 AWA on the opposite gybe, you've only turned through 10 degrees and you're still pointed in the same direction. Truth has to turn through 35-50 degrees, thus the bigger gybe angles that you're seeing. If you watch the little Pogo 2, you'll see the same thing, just at a lower speed. Both boats make up for sailing these extra miles by sailing them very quickly.
Figuring out when and where to gybe is the toughest decision to make as the skipper and naviguesser. I delayed a gybe by 6 hours in 2010. In that amount of time (while I was asleep), the wind clocked right 15 degrees, lifting us towards Japan by 115 miles. That cost me 10 hours of elapsed time, and one place in the standings. It also put me in a position from where I had no tactical options, nearly forcing us to go to headsails to even hit Oahu vs....Samoa. Essentially, you want to keep yourself in the middle of the race course, so you can go either direction as the wind shifts, but you want to favor the right side of the course towards the last 5-800 miles because that's the direction the wind shifts.
@SalNichols: Thx, that explains it. Sounds like essentially the main sail blocks the spinnakers more on Truth and the little guy due to the way they're set up, so they have to go at more of an angle when the wind is behind.
Here is one of the drawbacks to sailing a boat like Truth singlehanded: the frigging sails are ginormous. The mainsail alone weighs nearly 300 lbs. We had to build a big wall hauling system (albeit 6:1) to get it upstairs to the loft. The spinnakers are about 100 lbs, more or less, they're huge (over 2K ft2), and he has to sort them out downstairs in a space about the size of one of your bathrooms. Anytime he goes forward, he's standing knee deep in salt water moving at 18 kts., and if you read his blog he's wrestling with a very big, wet, heavy sail while he's doing it. Yesterday he had to cut one corner off of a $25K sail to keep it from being washed overboard and pulled under the boat. He still managed to get it back aboard. All of these sailors are real studs, but Alex has really been wrestling with one bitch of a boat for 10 days.
hey, why don't we put together the first annual Supertopo around the world sailing trip? I'd be glad to be a deck hand - decades of windsurfing experience if that counts for anything. Lets see, if Chris Mac sponsors the bear we can put "Supertopo" on the sail. Maybe Patagonia would pitch in if we name the boat or something after them. I'm looking for an old mans adventure at this point. Trans-oceanic sailing should fit the bill. lol
hey, why don't we put together the first annual Supertopo around the world sailing trip?
Well that's a little ambitious. To really enjoy a sail round the world would take about a year! But to be a true ST adventure it would need to involve climbing. Which is getting more popular. Wonderful show last year at Facelift on sailing climbers.
Our next adventure, if we survive this one, is Mikes dream of heading down the Chilean Channel to South Georgia Island. He wintered over in Antartica as a researcher and dreams of returning to that area which is why he bought this type of boat. Plus some access to great ice climbing!
Yes, weird dynamics can happen on a boat but due to watch cycles you may be sleeping /napping while other crew is awake minimizing interaction.
As to the Ball Thruster, errr I mean Flipper Bow Thruster ... That's a wild picture...but
I think Mike would welcome any help about now. I'm convinced his old knot meter which was like a little paddle wheel would have given him some momentum..
Oh well another day of the beach and rum tonight with the Race Committee.
Completely unrelated to this topic, Netflix has a hilarious or very sad (depending on your sense of pity) documentary on a guy that joined a solo round the globe race called "deep water"; a curious film for sure.
Try to relax over there on the garden isle, looks/sounds like tough conditions over there.
Interesting enough I was looking at the race viewer and was oh there is a boat close to the Mouton Noir and i clicked on it and it was 24 miles away. Not very close at all.
Susan really awesome studff here enjoy the beach and many a day i have layed down on the beach in Hanalei bay and looked at the sailboats in the bay and just been in awe at how many people sail in at night and i wake up and see 2 or three more boats in the morning.
Hey take your man to the St. Regis for a nice sunset drink and send me the bill. I have nothing but respect for his willingness to even leave sight of land let alone sail across the ocean like that.
Looks like you have a nice spot in Princeville to wait this out enjoy.
Inspiring to say the least.
Are you sailing home with him? Whats the plan to get the boat home? Its my understanding its more difficult to sail home than sail there? Is this correct? Guido/Susan
Heck he is moving along at a nice clip right now, not to worry as she is a cruising boat and there aren't any other boats is the Race you would even remotely consider for South Georgia and points South.
Silver, they are taking the "logical" route home via Alaska and down the coast.
Just curious is one fishing while sailing or is it all business at the helm all the time? I would never finish I would hit some good fishing and that's when the sailing would end until the fishing sucked.
this tracking the race program is just mind boggling cool.
Puleeeeze.....no no no. 4 SHTPs are enough. He still has the El Cap solo buzzing around in his bonnet. I just want to cruise and go places....I want to pull up next to you in New Zealand or someplace else exotic. He's sounding a lot more cheerful as he gets closer to "The Tree" on Hanalei Beach, even if the infamous tree isn't there anymore.
Where do you get those pics? Definitely not at Svens. They wouldn't stand for that nonsense.
Yes the sail back can be more of a beat. Some have lost their boats returning because of conditions or whale collisions. Others like us one year had such light winds we ended up motoring all most the whole way. This year return via Alaska...which is only about 100 miles further than a return to San Francisco. In Sept the beat down the coast will likely be ugly but hopefully not epic.
Fishing...many do. I don't think Michael is. We plan on fishing on the way to Alaska. The fish are big, duh, and always breaks my heart to see how much we must abandon even with our refrigeration. Fresh....well you get the picture. Yummmmy. As for helm work they all have auto pilots (as long as they have power) and once things get "dialed in" there are long periods of almost boredom. Those that are really strategizing the race are a little more preoccupied. And now as the finish looms and they turn toward Hanalei the leaders ... Well it's like any great marathon type competition...the next few days will be sooo exciting at party central....err I mean Race Committee Center.
Those are some shots from when we installed a bow thruster in NZ years ago. Must have fun hey what!
You should have a rip roaring ride down the West coast in the fall and yes there have been boats lost on the return passage to Cali from Hawaii. My good friend Skip Allan, one of the most experienced and talented sailors on the planet, after winning the 2008 Single Handed Transpac race lost his beloved Wylie Hawkfarm, "Wildflower" in a gale 300 miles west of Morro Bay. Here is a shot from the ship that rescued him.
On a side note Skip use to climb with Kroger and Davis in the Valley in his Stanford days. Small world indeed and a lot of crossover with sailing and climbing.
Wildflower in nasty conditions 300 West of Morro Bay, 2008
To really enjoy a sail round the world would take about a year
It took Sarah and me a year just to go San Francisco - Mexico - Marquesas - Tahiti - Bora Bora - Hilo - San Francisco
I'd guess to enjoy a sail around the world would require 5 years.
Did you really mean "beat" down from Alaska in September? I haven't checked the Admiralty Sailing Directions for a while but I'd have thought it would be on or abaft the beam if it was blowing and from all around the compass in light airs.
Don't wait till October. We came across Lat 39 - 40 in October and there were major gales blowing in the Gulf of Alaska. Three of them caught us with 40 - 50 kt winds. A wild ride in a 30 footer....WHOOEEEEE
Sounds as if you're getting a good ride now. Hope you keep it all the way to the finish.
Our boat was named Windflower. A Baba 30. I LOVE a cutter for cruising.
Thanks HT for sage advice and a better perspective on a long voyage. We will be no later than mid September as we have plans to be at Facelift. I envy very much your cruise destinations. Very nice Very nice.
I wanted bow thrusters because Mouton is unbelievably poor handling around docks. The Garcia Passoa folks talked us out of it given the unusual configuation of the bottom of our boat. Said it would mess with aerodynamics of the bottom. So I guess we will continue to be the luncheon crowd entertainment as we try to get out of some slips we've been in. Like high tourist season in Monterey when we were blown sideways all the way down the fairway in plain sight of a "restaurant with a view". So it blows.
So I guess we will continue to be the luncheon crowd entertainment as we try to get out of some slips we've been in. Like high tourist season in Monterey when we were blown sideways all the way down the fairway in plain sight of a "restaurant with a view"
Oh yeah, don't I know about THAT. But you said it so much better than I could!
It took Sarah and me a year just to go San Francisco - Mexico - Marquesas - Tahiti - Bora Bora - Hilo - San Francisco
I'd guess to enjoy a sail around the world would require 5 years.
I'm afraid if I ever had the skill and the balls to leave sight of land and do such a thing it would take me at least 20 years to go around the world.
I can just imagine how hard it is to leave the sea once you have found comfort in it and the sense of adventure must be over the top. I see the cross over from climbing to sailing or sailing to climbing. Both require mental toughness and both require you to be able to adapt in a single moment to a new set of problems and solve them in a quick manner if you want to survive.
I need a good sailing book about true story life on the high seas.
Yes I have seen Deep Water and that is one tale that's both sad and amazing.
Guido/Susan anyone have a recommendation?
Today the Mouton Noir is 570nm from finish and yesterday at the same time 750nm. Did 220 NM in 24 hours thats 9.1 MPH for us layman non sailors. Pretty cool. So it looks like your sharing hugs n love in two days Susan. If my math is right he should be in the bay around 11 am saturday. if the winds stay around where they are now.
Perhaps you could enlist the help of a motorized dinghy
actually I do use the dink sometimes when we have it inflated and the situation will work. I love "tug boating" It seems so funny when I'm pushing a big boat around in my little dink. But it works! People always stare. Some people ask me if Mouton has a motor.
This week end will be very exciting in Hanalei Bay. A bunch of the fleet look to be coming in! Yeah! Mike expects a Monday arrival. I hope its during the day.
Looks like Michael is riding the 1022 Mb isobar of a complex multiple High. Since a High rotates clockwise in the N hemisphere he is getting a nice shove along to the east. Of interest is the remains of Hurricane Daniel which is now a Tropical Depression and still cranking out 30-40 kts winds and marching along to the west is Hurricane Emelia with 100kt or 120 mph winds and 35-40 ft seas!
You can see an interesting vertical blip of the isobar above Tropical Depression Daniel.
If Daniel had maintained its original forecast position of further north, the fleet would be "flying" into Kaui.
Also notice how the High isobars are squashed up against the Cal coast. Under this scenario you can often get some nasty weather.
Ou est Mouton Noir?
Next in line off the coast of Mexico and soon to be a hurricane is Fabio. Looks to be an exciting year in he eastern Pacific for hurricanes with already 6 to date. Actually more like a normal year.
Well Friday the 13th had to raise it's ugly head. Michael's boom came disconnected at the goose neck. He's got it secured but not in full operation yet. He's hoping that he doesn't have to finish the race with jibs only and the precariousness of the boom is that it can wipe out our brand new dodger. Just like in any great adventure you just have to find your way through it. It's another risk for single handing a boat this size, esp a cruise boat. Everything is big and heavy. Really big and heavy.
On a brighter note, Turbo Camper came in about 7 a.m. to rainy Hanalei Bay and a rainbow appeared! How neat is that! Guido posted a neat pic of Turbo Camper at the start of the race. A very nice young man.
Turbo Camper just after crossing the finish line.
Turbo Camper second boat in.
Happy Mother and Sailor Son
Mom happy that sailor son is on land. Nice young man, Brian.
The next 48 hours will be having many of the fleet coming in.
Same conditions/boatspeed as yesterday, wind still dead astern
now 393 nm to go.
About 3 days if the wind holds.
Several of the boats are tacking downwind to make better speed, although with somewhat more work.
We generally tacked downwind when cruising in Windflower because the windvane was not very effective straight downwind; for a variety of technical and comfort reasons. And we got better boat speed which almost made up for the somewhat increased distance.
OUCH, we posted at the same time. Sorry to hear about the broken boom gooseneck. That's a bad deal. Good thing the breeze is moderate. Only about 10kts apparent. I presume he got the mainsail down safely. He might be able to jury rig it or even make a permanent fix. As long as he can keep the boom from thrashing around he'll be safe enough. The boom might be more stable if he keeps the main up but double reefed and then belayed.
If he's got his big jib wung out (advantage of running downwind) he might make the same boat speed. Tacking downwind would not be so advantageous with jib only.
Good luck to Michael and keep us posted!
armchair sailing is nearly as obnoxious as armchair mountaineering.
That's good news but it does cast a light on going hi-tech in that it can be
a lot harder to fix - not everyone is equipped to weld stainless.
What would Josh Slocum have done? Seize it and get the glue out! ;-)
HolyMcGuillicutty. . . I go to Kalispell for 20 pounds of delicious beef to make jerky and come back to find out about MIKE'S BIG BUMMER. . . whoa. . . Friday the 13th, indeed!
SO GLAD he was able to pull it all together.
This singlehanded scenerio would have been incredible if it had only been a few days. . . but pushin' two weeks is completely off the charts. . . I can only handle thinking about it, to a point. . . then I hit this "DOES NOT COMPUTE" space and I'm slammed back to the beginning, again.
Susan, does Michael have a banding tool aboard? bands top and bottom on the gooseneck along with a reef might keep his main alive. Or...he can try winding on spectra lashing with a Spanish windlass at the gooseneck. (we tore a vang loose in 2005 and this worked)
I don't know that you can get this fixed on Kauai, and it's an upwind slog to Honolulu. I have friend with family in Princeville. I'll see if Tommy has a recommendation for you guys.
We're leaving on Monday at 1300. Check in with us (the whoe Paciific Cup fleet) on 4A at 1700 PDT.
The Pogo, Team Open Sailing, ran up on the reef to the entrance of Hanalei Bay just past the finish line. He got towed off by some locals and all appears to be ok. He's not taking on water and is set up with a moor instead of having to anchor.
Guido posted a great pic of the Pogo at the start. They are fabulous small race boats.
Yeah you don't want to get to close to the edges of the bay there some big reef.
The first year we went over and stayed in Kauai we were riding the bumper of the jeep down by the pier in the bay watching a 15 foot swell peel on the reef. I see a guy stand up paddle boarding headed in and I notice a large amount of red on his chest. I don't think much of it he's 150 yards off the beach. Well next thing I know he's closer and that red is blood from his half torn off ear and the several holes in his head from smashing the reef. He had a piece of coral stuck in his forehead like Frankenstein had bolts in his neck.
Serious it is out there on big days for sure.
Susan hope Micheal is close I have been busy all day and not checked the tracker. sounds like he got the problem with the mast fixed and I hope he's headed in soon to cold beers and warm hugs.
What a cool journey. Hope he posts a TR for us about the trip.
Ferretlegger due in between midnight and 3 a.m.
Some very sad news, Bela Bartok had to abandon the race and his boat. He ended up ith a very serious staph infection and was picked up by a freighter bound to Oakland. His boat still has the tracker on it so there is hope for a salvage.
Brutal stuff...so close. So close.
So sad about Derk on Bela Bartok. I know he was planning on heading south into the South Pacific after Hawaii. Dam, I hope he gets his boat back! All that work and energy and it is his home.
Staph is a real problem on boats with the salt air, humidity and warm ocean water, any nick and scratch can quickly develop into a serious and life threatening medical condition. Like living on a petri dish.
I watched Derk masterly sail his Sweedish Vindo 40, 31 ft in length, out of the dead-end section of the marina to start the race, and was most impressed.
Would be fantastic if Bela, under the Monitor self-steering vane, sailed into the harbor on its own.
Staph is a real problem on boats with the salt air, humidity and warm ocean water, any nick and scratch can quickly develop into a serious and life threatening medical condition. Like living on a petri dish.
Yes, I almost lost a toe once that started with a hang nail that developed into a mess. Luckily we weren't at sea but still on the Island, but I couldn't believe what happened in a just a matter of days. I initially blew it off and did some Neo or Poly-sporin. I learned a lesson.
Derk is an experienced sailor so he did not pull the plug lightly, and being experienced he undoubtedly knew he was getting into deep doo-doo. I so hope being this close that a salvage can be effected. The tracker still has some good battery power left. Here's hoping he heals well and quickly and Bela is recovered.
yeah Mike is in the bay it says on the tracker, cool and lets hope he's got a cold one in his hand and a warm one on his arm. its says he finsihed about 2:53. This seems significantly harder than El Cap. Just my lame .02 cents.
Right on congratulations and thanks for the awesome share. Loved the tracker and following the progress.
Farmers Market on Wednesday on the farm just north of town a must not miss for great local fruit and veggies.
Thanks all. We are on the boat. I came out with the chase boat and got her anchored and stayed on. Music blaring in the cockpit Bali Hai off the stern ..will post pics later Right now SLEEP.
Some minor maintenance, clean up , reprovision and in about a week looks like we are Sitka bound.
Edit. Thanks for beta about the Farmers Market. I've heard others speak well about it
Single Handed Transpac finish, 8 hours after a middle of the night finish.
Transpac finish. 'Nuff said.
Bela Bartok, the ill skipper and abandoned boat; he will arrive in Oakland today, has been on antibiotic IVs and appears to be improving. He had a staph infection started on his arms traveled to his lungs and compromised his breathing. The Victoria to Maui (Vic-Maui) racers have been informed of his boat's last known position. That is a crewed race and should they encouter it they will try to board it. Bela Bartok is a Canadian boat so there is some nice motivation to help out a fellow Canadian. The Single Handed skippers are also checking out the chartering of a power boat here in Nawiliwili to attempt a rescue.
I have finally gotten my ass off the boat and am enjoying the plush delights of Susan's Condo up in Princeville. And also a real internet connection. Thanks to all those who followed the adventure and who have posted comments. I, of course was oblivious to it all, but it is very warming to read them now.
Mouton Noir is now anchored in Hanaleii Bay, on the north shore of Kauii. The gigantic anchors and chain finally being useful. As Susan mentioned, Mouton Noir is not a race boat, and was not prepared like one, having a lot of heavy gear for our trip to Alaska. It did, however, sail very well, but light following winds are not a fast point of sail for a boat like this. I sailed most of the race with two jibs poled out on either side of the boat (about 125% of J for the jibs) which with the mainsail was about 1540 square feet of sail.
The weather was quite unusual in my experience. The High was, as several have discussed and Guido has analysed, in a somewhat unusual place, forcing a more southerly route. For boats that are set up and designed to sail hot downwind angles, this is not such a big deal, but for boats that get only a small advantage from reaching up with a spinnaker, it meant extra miles, sloppy seas, and sailing deep downwind in light air. The squalls this year were also fairly weird. Rather than being smallish, dark nastiness that looks like a nuclear cloud in an otherwise clearish sky, the squalls this trip were huge (often several miles in diameter) darker globs in a very dark and overcast sky. They also packed quite a whallop, and caused a lot of damage to some of the boats. Mouton Noir was pretty unscathed, but we had a number of very fast rides with 10 to 11 knot boat speed for an hour or so and 30 knots or more of true wind from deep astern. For the boat junkies, Mouton Noir is a Garcia Passoa 47, and is designed and built for severe following seas and wind. It has a very broad after section, and has a retractable centerboard and daggerboard. The ballast is internal to the hull, welded into tanks. The centerboard gives about 8 feet draft when down, and when fully up the boat can sail in 3 1/2 feet of water. The daggerboard, which is just in front of the rudder (which is only 3 feet deep, and very low aspect ratio) can be extended to about 6 1/2 feet below the waterline. In following seas/running conditions, raising the centerboard and lowering the daggerboard makes the hull look like a surfboard. The Center of Lateral Resistance moves way aft, and the boat has very little tendency to broach. Other than the penalty due to the 35,000 pound displacement, MN can really haul off the wind. But it does take a bit to get it moving. It is VERY stable off the wind, though.
There were a few hiccups and adventures this race (as most boats have them). The first was when about 500 miles from San Francisco. We were screaming along in heavy air on a close reach in 25 to 30 knots of wind. The boat was heeled WAY over and I still entertained delusions of grandeur about beating people, so we were pushing hard. It was around 2 am when the bilge alarm went off. MN has very small bilges, as the internal hull is full of welded in tankage, and there is no internal "V" spaces to have as a conventional bilge. There is a rectangular bilge in the engine area, and it was this alarm that went off. I got the hatch over the engine space (actually, the companionway stairs) off and saw to my horror that there was a lot of water slopping around in there. MN is usually totally dry, and there is dust and cobwebs under the floorboards usually. As I stared at the sloshing water, I started looking for where it was coming from. Aft of the engine, there is a watertight bulkhead about 18 inches high, before the lazarettes and the rudder area. I looked aft and saw to my horror that this entire region was a huge churning lake! The autopilots were just above water, and were in real danger of flooding.
I ran outside and started unpacking the port (leeward) lazarette. Frantically throwing sea anchors, spare line, spare anchoring gear, buckets, flares, and all sorts of carefully packed stuff not needed for the sail over to Hawaii into the cockpit, which was being inundated with waves breaking over the after sections of the boat from the speed and the sea state. The entire lazarette was full of water!! I grabbed a manual bilge pump and started pumping. and pumping, and pumping, and pumping until the water had gone down enough to get in there and find the leak. I had had fears that the rudder was going, but that was ok. After a few minutes of desperate searching I found the culprit- a series of holes about 1 to 1 1/2 inches in diameter in the after bulkhead (although more slots than round) near the deck level. This bulkhead is the last wall between the end of the boat and the water. It might be called the transom on some boats. MN has a swim platform and two big lockers on the stern. The lockers are wet lockers, and have drains. Because of the heavy seas, big heel, and very high stern wave due to the speed (9-10 knots), the entire stern quarter was under water, and the leeward (port) locker was completely submerged. The holes in the aft bulkhead, previously mentioned, had been placed there during the build of the boat and allowed a propane line (not used anymore) and some conduits to get into the locker. The high water on the other side allowed HUGE amounts of water to enter the interior of the boat through these holes. The conduits and copper propane line penetrated the holes, but did not fill them up, and made sealing the gaps impossible, not to mention that they were in an exceedingly awkward place to get at.
I got a chisel and hammer, and finally managed to cut the conduits and copper propane line (which no longer had any connection to the propane system), and to yank them out of the holes. Now a LOT more water could get in! A wooden tapered plug pounded in filled one hole, but the irregular hole was very hard to seal. I remembered buying a special foam plug, that looks for all the world, a lot like Locker's blue butt plug, except bigger and red. I sawed off a big hunk of this foam obscenity and eventually convinced it to seal the hole.
With the ingress of water stopped, I then started pumping all the water out of the boat again. An hour or so, and hundreds of gallons later, I took a break and allowed myself a smile of satisfaction. While I was looking at the nice dry engine area, I began to be aware of a sloshing noise from another compartment. I yanked up a floorboard and to my horror found that the ENTIRE leeward side of the hull was FULL of water, and that it had run almost to the front of the boat. This was VERY serious, as because of the heel and shallow bilges, the water could slosh quite high on the side of the boat and was threatening to take out the refrigeration (expensive but not necessary) and the high power circuit breaker panel (absolutely critical for the boat to operate). I ran for the big emergency manual pump, an Edson gallon per stroke monster, and threw a hose out the companionway and started pumping like a madman. Because of the shallow bilge, the flat internal floors of the boat due to interior tankage, and the broad beam, the normal electric and manual pumps (located on the centerline) could not pump out this water- food for thought and some modifications to the pumpout scheme in the near future...). Many of the spaces were not easy to pump with the big pump, and I resorted to a series of smaller manual pumps, skinny hoses, and buckets. I would be head down in an obnoxious position, with the boat bucking and thrashing around, pumping into the bucket, and then staggering down the cabin desperately trying not to spill the bucket onto the cabin sole and back in the bilge to dump the water into the galley sink. This went on for hours, but I finally got the job done. No more water into the boat through the holes, and no more in the boat threatening the systems.
I collapsed in a heap and gave Susan a call on the Iridium phone. I have never been so discouraged, except possibly when I lost all electrical power and had to rewind an alternator at sea on a return trip from Hawaii once. But that is another story...
Anyway, I almost chucked it and headed home, but I was too tired to go on deck and change course, and by the time I got some Gatorade in me and a bite to eat, I was in better spirits and continued. One of the pending jobs is to permanently plug the holes. It is hard to believe that they never caused problems before, as the boat has almost 80,000 miles and several oceans behind her, but she may never have been sailed as hard and as fast in the sort of conditions as we were in. One would NEVER guess that these holes would have allowed water into the hull, but they did.
Well, the roosters are crowing here outside the condo, and the sun has just come up, so I have to get moving. A lot to do today, schlepping fuel and water out to the boat. I had a few more adventures which i will detail if there is interest. I do wish to say thank to all the ST gang and especially Susan and Guido, who came to the boat in Tiburon to see me off, and helped so much with all the last minute jobs.
We hope to keep the tracker for the trip to Alaska, and to be able to post some updates of out adventures. I will post the details of this as soon as we get them finalized.
Now THAT's a scary story. I'll bet you're glad you found the errant holes in the transom before you got to the Gulf of Alaska! At least you were pumping warmish water.
It really is amazing when you're on a long passage and you find a previous owner's screwup the hard way.
Well Done Michael. Are you and Susan going to start an "Alaska Cruise" thread?
OK. . . I wasn't gonna editorialize on Mike's post. . . but. . . I just re-read it, to make sure it really was as hairball as I initially thought. . . and. . . well. . . it was hairball, alright. . . the stuff from which nightmares are drawn.
I just got back from the daily meeting of all the competitors at the "Tree" on the beach at Hanaleii Bay. We drink beer, swap tales, and generally get to know each other. it is a long standing tradition and one of the really satisfying aspects of the race. Family and loved ones and supporters attend, and lifelong friendships are forged. A little like Facelift.
Anyway, for those who are interested, there is an update on the fate of "Bela Bartok", the boat which had to be abandoned when the owner,Derk, came down with a life threatening staph infection which had spread from his hand to his lungs. He had to abandon the race, set off his EPIRB, and was picked up by a container ship and was due to reach Oakland, CA today. They had put him on massive IV antibiotics, and from all accounts this saved his life. His boat, Bela bartok, has been his home, and in abandoning her, he lost pretty much all he had.
Anyway, the SingleHanded Sailing Society and his fellow racers have been trying to find a way to help. When Derk left the boat, he had furled the mainsail, set a small jib and the self steering to track towards Kauii, down the trade winds, and left the satellite tracker aboard. As a result, the Race COmittee has been able to determine the position of the boat at all times. Anyway, one generous racer has funded a rescue attempt for the boat, and this evening, two other racers have boarded a powerboat leaving from Mauii to attempt to recover the boat. At this moment, we do not know if it will be successful, but the odds are pretty good. If the boat can be boarded and sailed back to Oahu, it will be placed in a slip and when Derk is better, he can return to his floating home.
I will try to update this as the status of the recovery attempt proceeds. We should know within 48 hours if it will succeed.
Michael-Thanks for the wonderful and enlightening writeup on your passage. Never a dull moment on a passage. I am sure the solo adventure gave you an opportunity to dial in the boat a lot more.
Looks like you will have time for a little R&R and then back on track to Alaska. Godsend that you don't have time to begin all the new "changes" that result from any passage. Save it for Ca in the winter. Now that the Admiral is on board things will be a lot smoother.
Best of luck to the crew with Derk's boat and the recovery. Hopefully the two will be united again soon. Keep us posted if you can.
As we learned when cruising, if someone gets into trouble of nearly any legal sort far from home, the community comes together to help out. Good luck retrieving the boat.
Michael, thanks for keeping us armchair sailors posted. Hugs to Susan
An update on Bela Bartok recovery. Roman Gabriel and Ronnie Simpson have recovered the boat abd sailed it to the Waikiki Yacht club in Honolulu on the island of Oahu. Derk, the sailor who had to abandon after a life threatening staph infection got into his lungs, seems to be doing much better, and is under a doctor's care in Oakland, CA. He may be able to fly out to Hawaii in a few days to reunite with his beloved boat. All of us competitors are pretty stoked that this happened, and that we were able to look out for one of our own. My hat is off to Roman and Ronnie and also the othere members of the Singlehanded Sailing Society who made the recovery possible.
As I mentioned previously, I had a few interesting speed bumps along the way to Hanaleii Bay. One of the scariest was having the boom detach from the mast when the pin holding it to the mast fell out. This is a pretty unlikely situation, but it happened. At the time, I had about 25 to 30 knots true wind speed (about 20 over the deck) and was running deep with twin jibs poled poled out on either side of the boat, and a single reef in the main. The boom was secured to the boat by the mainsail, the rigid topping lift, a preventer forward, and the main sheet. The forces on the boom were pretty large, and left to itself, the detached boom was a lethal wrecking ball, which was capable of destroying the dodger and other fixed objects or anyone who was in the way when the boat rolled (which it was doing in spades at that time). Below I am pasting in the unedited note I sent Susan after dealing with it. Sitting at a desk onshore in Princeville, the intensity and urgency are somewhat muted, but at the time, I was pretty pumped and frightened. So with no further ado, here is the story of the world famous Mouton Noir Boom Fiasco as sent to Susan at the time:
I looked forward as it became light and saw that the end of the boom was displaced about 8 inches to the side of the mast. At the time I had a single reef in and the main was tightly prevented by a line from the mainsheet attachment point to a spot on the rail near the shrouds. This stabilized the boom for swings across the boat and I think helped keep more damage from occurring. When I investigated, I found that the pin holding the gooseneck to the mast had fallen out. This pin is about 14 mm diameter and had a threaded end on each end. The nut on top (a Nylock) had somehow unthreaded itself and the pin (about 10 inches long!!) worked its way down until it fell out the bottom, leaving the boom disconnected from the mast. The butt end of the gooseneck had been banging on the mast fitting for a while, though, as is evident from a lot of abrasion and deformed metal on both parts. The mast fitting is a set of tangs which extend horizontally from a big piece of aluminum rivetted to the mast. The tangs are perhaps 3/4" thick, and there are three of them. Between the top two is a captive fitting for the tack of the mainsail, and between the bottom two is a space for a universal joint adaptor to the boom. The pin runs through the three tangs, securing the tack fitting and also the universal joint.
Fortunately, All the parts were lying in the well at the foot of the mast!! The problem was how to get the gooseneck fitting into the tangs and lined up so the pin would secure it. At the time we were doing 7 to 8 knots in extremely turbulent seas, and rolling about 30 degrees to each side. I had two jibs on poles, wing and wing, and the main guyed to leeward. The boom was supported with the mainsail clew and tack, the rigid boom vang, and held by the mainsheet and preventer. There were many hundreds of pounds if not thousand or so on each of these lines, and the rolling and twisting motion of the boat made the surge loads quite high. The boom was twisted by the asymetrical loading of the mainsail, which put the axis of the gooseneck at about 20degrees to the axis of the pin.
At first, I tried to twist the boom with a pry bar and push by hand to align with the pin. I quickly gave this up as an excellent way to lose some fingers or teeth as my face was right in line with the end of the boom and if anything shifted, it could surge into my face. Also, the forces on the system were quite large and there was no free play to be gotten.
I tried to lower the main a bit, and things started to go out of control fast. as the balance of forces changed, the boom (which weighs over 100 pounds and is about 18 feet long) with the weight and leverage of the 500 square foot, fully battened mainsail, started to become a wrecking ball. I tried loosening the mainsheet and supporting things with the lazy jacks, which are made of spectra, thank god, but every adjustment made things worse, and it was becoming very dangerous to be near the thing. I finally got the mainsail down with the boom supported by the lazy jacks, and let off a lot of slack in the outhaul and reefing lines. The boom was still trying to sweep the decks clear with the big rolls, but I was able to stabilize it with a variety of lines tied around to various hard points. I spent quite a bit of time trying to find a balance of forces that would allow me to move the boom into alignment, but it proved impossible, The rigid boom vang made a pivot point that would not let me adjust things correctly. So I had to get the vang off. This is not easy at the dock, but using a combination of tension on the lazy jacks, lifting with the spare main halyard, and careful adjustment of the spiderweb of restraining lines, I was able to get the pin out of the vang rod and to tie it off on deck. Then I could slowly lower the outboard end of the boom to the lifelines, and managed to get it between the lower and upper lifelines and secured with some sail ties. Mouton Noir has solid tubing life lines, which made this a lot easier. With the end of the boom secured, but able to slide in and out, I was able to lift the butt end of the boom with the spare halyard and to position the universal joint into alignment with the pin, and to get the pin in.
I retightened the nuts on the pin, and considered how to get the boom horizontal again. Lifting straight up would not work, as the boom would immediately swing over and take out the dodger. So began a very tedious, inch by inch lifting of the boom using the apare main halyard as a topping lift at the outboard end of the boom, and the main sheet, preventer, and other lines to keep it from swinging. I must have made about 20 trips to the cockpit to adjust the mainsheet and preventer, while slowly raising the boom end with the spare halyard. Eventually, I had the boom level and well secured. At this point, I pulled the vang rod tight (fully retracted) and locked it, and then using some lines to hold it close to the desired point, i adjusted the boom up and down until I could get the pin into the vang fitting. I was, frankly, astonished that I was able to do it, as there are really no loose tolerances on this operation.
The mainsail was still lying on the deck (it is HUGE and very stiff and heavy) and trying to blow in the water. I started using the outhaul and reefing lines to coax it onto the boom, and adjusting the lazy jacks to hold it in place. After a struggle, the mainsail was back on the boom and held there. I then raised it to the second reef and secured that. And that is how it sits now: all lines properly led, and a nice flat 2nd reef in. Using twin jibs, close to dead downwind (165 degree apparent wind angle), the mainsail is more of an annoyance than help, so I am leaving it like this for a while.
It took 6 hours to put one silly pin back in, but I think this was the most dangerous and difficult thing I have ever done at sea. As far as I can see, in spite of all the forces and misalignments, there is no damage to the gooseneck structure, although it does look like it has seen better times. I got off with no injuries, but was quite wasted afterwards. I had gotten dehydrated, and overdosed with adrenaline. I feel much better today.
The race so far has been characterized by very awkward wind angles, lots of light air (death to a heavy boat like Mouton Noir), lumpy seas with conflicting swell direction (which makes light air sailing even harder), lots of really vicious squalls, and a Pacific High that was in a bizarre and difficult location. Now that the fleet is nearing Hawaii, the wind has improved, but the wind direction is directly towards the finish (exactly!), and there is a cross swell that makes life a bit like being in a paint shaker. We will all be very happy to finish this!!
Life at sea- hours and hours of tedium followed by moments of STARK TERROR!
FedEx and UPS are wearin' ruts in my dirt road, two rad batches of jerky are out of the dehydrator and suck wrapped, days and days and days worth of vitamins have been suck wrapped, these will be here Monday,
Missing photo ID#256037
And this magnificent accessory will be here Tuesday:
Missing photo ID#256040
When I worked on a sea kayaking mothership from Sitka to Petersburg and back, the kayak guide had one of these hats and it put every other rain hat, on the planet, to shame. I swore if I ever had the chance to go back to Alaska, I'd buy one. It took a really long GOOG sesh to find it. . . but I did. . . and it'll be here Tuesday!
Couple photos to help Silver with his Russion translation as it can be somewhat confusing. Michael was dealing with a loose battering ram that had every intention of wrecking havoc. Since Michael is probably sucking down some brewskis as I speak and I am bored on a fri evening here are a couple of photos.
The preventers run from the boom to the deck to the cockpit and winches, from both sides of the boom to control or prevent disastrous mood swings common to the fate of wind and sea action. On a boat the likes of Mouton the boom can be man killer. Much respect.
The topping lift holds the aft end of the boom up and is usually adjustable from the cockpit to raise and lower it. It runs to a block or sheave at the top of the mast and down.
The vang on this drawing that connects the boom with the bottom of the mast is small whereas Mouton has a very powerful boom vang.
Lazy jacks control the main sail at different reef points and are controlled from the cockpit.
Morning Star or as we called it Morning Sickness, rock and rolling downwind in the Trades with twin headsails-Looked very uncomfortable to the max with hugh gyrations port to stbd
Gooseneck connection on a small boat. Connects the boom to the mast. Large loads generated at this point.
Boom and gooseneck and vang connection, the other extreme. 144 ft Saltperton in NZ
We are talking some astronomical loads here! Check out the monstrous connection for the vang attachment to the mast!
Wing and wing on the way to Tahiti. Poled out jib to port and the main to starboard, with a preventer on it for safety. Nice and comfy ride in most circumstances. Relative term.
The party's over. The luau ashes have cooled so we shove off to Alaska for our next great adventure. Expect landfall mid August. Pick up eKat in Sitka and down the passage.
All the support of the ST community meant a lot to Michael. He was deeply moved as he read the whole thread shortly after landing. Mahalo!
For those wishing to follow returning racers a few of us are keeping our trackers. This exact URL must be typed in to access the site. I'm not exactly sure what the site will look like because it's not set up as a race site and I no longer have regular Internet access
Silver. . . this trip has my mind completely blown! Susan posted up a FACEBOOK photo of Mike starting the race and my reply was:
Kathy Myers WOW. . . I just got that WEEEEEEEEEE feeling. . . you know. . . like going over the top on a roller coaster. . . DANG. . . I WANNA GO, TOO! Good luck to Ferretlegger! KEEP US POSTED.
June 29 at 8:39am · Like · 2
Susan's reply was:
"We're looking for crew."
My reply was:
And the rest is history!
We yammered on the phone for hours on the 4th of July, she graciously answered many of my nOOb questions and I immediately had a 5 page list of ducks to get in a row. . . with everything from getting my caretaker settled in at my ski house in Shasta - to hiring one for this place up here in Montana - making an appointment with an MD to fill the scripts for a serious med kit and filling out my climbing/skiing/kayaking wardrobe well enough to even step foot on that magnificent craft!
You should see my sunroom. . . I'm using it as a staging area - and - well. . . it looks like the shipping and receiving departments at West Marine!
Walleye (from TheTaco) and his GF are here right now for a killer visit and the condition of the sunroom is kind of embarassing..
So, I'm gonna be trackin' Mouton Noir and Universe willin' and the creek don't rise, I'll be gettin' the "We're 3 days of from Sitka" call and I'll book a flight and meet 'em there!
Little update on Michael and Susan as they bash their way north then east to Sitka from Hawaii:
Many thanks for all the notes. It is great to hear from people when isolated at sea. Since leaving Hanaleii Bay, Susan and I have been sailing upwind into enhanced trade winds and the seas that they create. The last 4 days has been extremely unpleasant. We have rarely seen wind less than 20 knots, and mostly it has been 25 to 30 knots and large lumpy swells. We have been reaching at 50 to 60 degrees off the wind with a 90 percent high cut jib, and double reefed main. The boat has been a bucing bronco, twisting, heaving yawing, snap rolling 30 or 40 degrees. Any motion is very tricky, and it is very easy to get injured if you are not braced with three points of contact. Neither Susan and I have eaten much in the last 4 days, as she has been very seasick, and although not sick, I have felt like dog meat. Even getting enough to drink is a problem. The boat is sealed up to keep the foot deep waves sweeping over the deck off, although sometimes one will find just the right angle to make it under thedodger and into the boat. And then there are the squalls... This year there seem to be a lot of them. They are nasty large black things that set off the radar alarm before dumping firehose quantities of rain on us, while adding 10 or 15 knots to the apparent wind.
We are now at 32 degrees 17 minutes N by 160 degrees 17 min W, and finally entering into the region dominated by the Pacific High. The High is currently a massive, complex entity spread out over most of the Eaastern Pacific. Winds in the high are ligh and variable, and although the flatter water and lighter airs are a welcome break from life as a barnacle in one's own boat, we are about to run out of wind entirely, with the option of slatting and banging endlessly, ripping the boat to pieces in the residual swell, or motoring. We are currently about 1800 miles from Sitka, and only about 20% of the way there. We have enough fuel tomotor for about 140 hours (plus a secret reserve that aI refuse to consider as expendable). At 5 knots (low cruise speed), that is about 700 miles. Normally, with a conventional High, one proceeds north from Hawaii to around 34 degrees N, and then starts motoring NE to get across the top of the high and catch the westerly winds on the other side. Sadly, in this case, there is no real top or "other side". We are using the services of Commander's Weather, a professional weaather routing service to advise us on the best way to get to Sitka without burning all our fuel in a wasted attempt to go somewhere that ends up being the same as we started. Their advice (delivered with apopgies) is that there is no easy way out at the present time, but the best of a bad lot is to head due north to around 42 degrees north, about 600 nm from our apparent position, where we will (should, maybe, sacrifice a chicken...) get light northwesterly winds. Maybe...
In any case, we are making about 2 to 3 knots right now and plan to fire up the engine and head north for a while, stopping the engine and sailing if the wind comes up.
Mouton Noir is currently at 34.20 N and 159.50 W and since the wind is about 2 kts and they are traveling at 5.40 kts they have probably kicked on the engine.
Sailing has often been called the most expensive and most uncomfortable way to travel 3rd class.
Below is a current Pacific Streamline Analysis that will help clarify the position of the Pacific High and you can plot the approx position of Mouton Noir. You can see where he needs to get above the center of the High and pick up wind coming from the west.
Update on Michael and Susan and Mouton Noir on passage to Sitka from Kaui:
Mouton Noir is presently at 40:00N by 156:40W headed directly north towards the Aleutians. Not where we want to go, of course, but that is how this trip is going. More on that later.
First I want to say hello to many old friends who have been added to this list. For all the previous recipients of the newsletter, please be patient while I bring them up to speed. About 6 months ago I decided to do the Singlehanded Transpac, a singlehanded race from San Francisco to Kauai, Hawaii, which started June 30. THe boat is Mouton Noir, a French Garcia Passoa 47, a heavy aluminum expedition cruiser. I have been working on her for a long time, and was in the middle of a huge palette of renovations and upgrades. I spent the next 6 months working 12 to 16 hours a day with few breaks to get the boat ready to go.
I had always intended to get a comprehensive email list together for all of my friens and to have all of you on it during the trip. I am using an Iridium satellite email system, so I figured that I would be able to keep everyone in touch with how things were progressing. Ha!!! That never happened due to a bunch of factors, not the least the need to get the boat across the starting line. It was always the NEXT job, and never happened. Some of you had a chance to follow us on the tracking website set up by the Singlehanded Sailing Society (www.sfbaysss.org - follow the links to the Transpac site). Anyway, the email list never got completed, and in fact, I could never get the wretched home email client to spit out a transportable version of my address book. Anyway, we went off and did the race to Hawaii. It has been a terrible year for winds along the US-Hawaii route, and Mouton Noir is a heavy boat. The light airs, and a certain exhaustion after the preparations led to a lackluster finish. Somewhere around 16 days, I think. The turnaround in Hanaleii Bay, Kauaii was chaotic and very busy, and way too short. Susan was there to greet me, and a seemingly endless cycle of ferrying fuel, water, food, spare parts out to the boat with socializing with the fellow competitors in the late afternoon (the best part of the entire adventure) to dinner at night, and then back to it the next day. Anyway, there was no time or privacy to work on getting the email list together.
After a short week in Hawaii, Susan and I left Hanaleii, a week ago Tuesday for Sitka, Alaska. We plan to spend a month working our way down the Inside Passage from Sitka to the Strait of Juan de Fuca, then sail down the coast to San Francisco, arriving in late September. If we ever get to Sitka...
The first 5 days out of Hanaleii Bay were truly awful. To compensate for too little wind from San Francisco, we were treated to enhanced trade winds. This meant 800 miles of beating to weather in large lumpy seas and 20 to 30 knot winds, with the boat sealed up to keep the large amount of water washing over us constantly from getting in. Life in a boat heeling 20 to 30 degrees while heaving, yawing, pitching, and in general acting like a bucking bronco, is not what people like to imagine ocean sailing is like, but sometimes it is. One lies on the settee, sick as a dog, sweating like a ball park frank- grease oozing from every pore.
All things end, and eventually we ran out of wind. The Pacific High is acting very strangely this year. Presently it encompasses most of the Pacific Basin north of the equator, with high pressure all over (no wind), and the isobars wiggling around in ways to make progress to wherever you want to go difficult.
Do for the last 4 days we have been trying desperately to get north to where wind might be found. In a calmer patch today, while motoring, I finally found the time and energy to try to reconstruct my email list. So if you are hearing about this for the first time, I apologize, but it was the best I could do. We are carryinga tracking beacon that shows our positions in semi-realtime on the website http://yb.tl/transback2012.
Now that I have brought all the new people up to speed, here is what is happening now. After several days of light airs, we have hooked into some gradient wind from a big kink in the isobars caused by a small low to the west which is driving us north. We have been using Commander's Weather to supply email weather and routing advice, and the only path to Sitka is along a storm track starting in a few days north of 50N as a big low pressure region sweeps along just south of the Aleutian Islands. Getting there in time to catch a ride on the edges of the gale will be tricky, as for the most part there is very little wind energy in the next 600 miles. At the moment, we are doing 7+ knots in around 19 knots of wind from the EAST!!, but this will probably not last very long.
The lower winds of the last few days have allowed us to bathe and get over the seasickness which plagues Susan, and bothers me. We finally had a cooked meal (eggs, hashed browns, onions, peppers, and cheese all in one pan- delicious). Many of the erstwhile competitors are sailing back to San Frqancisco and having very light airs. They are catching and eating a lot of Mahi-mahi, though. I don't fish at sea, as cleaning a big fish at sea is a messy process, and doesn't appeal to me. On my last trip back from Hawaii I had a friend aboard, Jean, who is an awesome cook. She was baking fresh muffins, and another friend on a different boat 30 miles away heard about them, and we arranged to meet so that he could trade 10 pounds of fresh Mahi-mahi steaks for a bag of just baked rolls.
Anyway, it is late and typing is getting a little harder as the boat is now bouncing around pretty vigorously. I will try to write updates more often, now that I have a bigger captive audience.BWA hahahhahaha!!!
I am reminded of Samuel Johnson (i think) who once said that "going to sea was like going to jail, with the added chance of drowning". I believe that he also said that "any man who would go to sea for pleasure, would go to hell for a vacation". He had obviously done 800 mile to windward in enhanced trade winds!
All the best,
Here is a current Streamline Analysis of the North Pacific and you can plot Mouton Noir at 40N 156 W and Sitka at 57 N and 135 W and get an idea of the immensity of it all.
That Low that is giving him a push for now is forecast to stay stationary for a spell. You can see the "kink" in the Low. Complicated passage to say the least. But then again they are headed for the Gulf of Alaska which is notorious for brewing up nasty Lows on short order. Since a Low in the Northern Hemisphere rotates counterclockwise you can visualize how he could utilize the outer edge of a gale to ride into Sitka if the Low center is north of the boat.
I say CaptainFerretlegger starts up the "C.M.JeffersonEmailOfTheMonthClub."
Dad's got a way with words.
And based on the above, (which was the first thing I saw when I woke up at 4a) I'm not shippin' my stuff to Sitka. . . gonna wait til I get the "3 Days Out Of Sitka" call and decide whether to send it PRIORITY or just check it in my FISH Texas Luggage.
Have fun! That huge Gulf of Alaska Low sets in in the fall as the subtropical jet comes back down and then just sits there spitting out trough after trough. I wouldn't want to get stuck in that sucker, as well as the big tides and currents in the islands of SE Alaska.
I too am enjoying the updates. I'm also pondering how vigorously I should
temper my pity for the beating-to-windward-in-a-stout-boat-lot. It is no
fun being sick but envy doesn't sit well either. Lay aloft and grease the
topping lift pulley ya wanker! :-)
This sounds like really tough sailing and well who the hell wants to be throwing up and sailing and having ones ass kicked by rough seas all day?
Oh that's right Susan and Micheal.
I'm praying for the right winds to blow ya home guys and well e kat you are in for a treat no doubt but its going to be one in which you are reminded of what pain is as I suspect there is a learning curve to sailing that involves ones body adjusting to the pounding of an ocean.
All the best and I need to show Micheal how to clean a fish without all the hassles of blood, guts and potentially cutting ones hand badly.
Safe journeys Micheal and Susan look forward to your next report from Sitka.
This thread has me really stoked over sailing again. I have been cruising the classifieds for a good single handed cruiser. I have always wanted to get my ass off of our rather huge lakes and get to the oceans.
I have a friend who cruised for a couple of years, single handing an Irwin 52.
I have much less ambitious plans. I am looking at the shorter boats.
Hey. I have friends who are full professors in meteorology or work at the Storm Prediction Center here. I bet that they would help out with forecasts, at least in a general sense.
Learning how to understand the models is not that hard, and I can give you a link that gathers them all online, including the Navy's Nogaps, which is worldwide.
They can at least give you an idea of when the summer ridge will break down and fall weather will hit. Those guys are master forecasters. I have had some great Alaskan adventures with one Full Professor.
Michael and Susan are presently due North of Hawaii and about even with Arcata California.
Making 7 kts due North.
Michael's last email forwarded by guido reminds me very much of Sarah and my trip North from Hilo. Rough, tough, 20-30 kt winds, close hauled, rough seas till we got above the center of the Pacific High, then light variable winds.
That beat to windward, all on starboard tack, was a tough 8 or 10 days in a 30 foot cutter. We got really tired of walking on the bulkheads and sleeping on the cabin sole.
An ex-ocean racing catamaran we knew lost their mast about 36 hours N of Hilo while we were sailing parallel courses but out of sight. They had to motor back to Oahu for a new mast---and a 6 month delay getting the boat home.
Subject: Re: Mouton Noir at Sea- Update
Date: August 2, 2012 1:03:28 PM MDT
We finally hooked into some real wind and have been going great guns since last evening. Mostly true north. The latest weather files show that if we can get 300 miles more northing, we ought to be able to pick up wind for Sitka. I sure hope so! if you are watching the tracker, keep your eyes peeled for a move to the east in a couple of days, at arounf 45 to 48 N. I hope...
In the mean time, research how to catch and clean salmon, halibut, and crabs... I am tired of poptarts and cheetos.
All the best,
LawdyLawdyLawdy. . . now I gotta learn how to be a SALMON fisherman! Something tells me my High Sierra trout rig (Eagle Claw) ain't gonna cut it!
Good thing I made 15 pounds of killer beef jerky, eh? . . maybe that will get me (and the salmon) off the proverbial hook?
Update from Michael and Susan on Mouton Noir in the vast North Pacific headed to Sitka and the longest route to Facelift ever taken:
It has been a pretty dull last few days. When we last heard from our intrepid heroes, they were bobbing about in the grip of a relentless high pressure region in the middle of the Pacific Ocean (which was, for a change, actually pacific). Frantic emails to the weather gurus at Commander's weather got little sympathy, although their emails did refer on many occasions to " unfortunately this, and unfortunately that...". Their advice was simply to get north as fast and as far as possible, so for several days we have been motoring across the trackless aquatic wastes, with little to do or see except for the momentary entertainment of hitting 2 30 foot tree trunks dead on. THAT was entertaining! We suffered no apparent damage, other than to our nervous systems. Hence the constant popularity of metal boats...
Our position at 1000 PDT on August 4 is 45:28N by 155:24W, which by my reckoning puts us a LOOOOONG way from the nearest Starbuck's. Our course is 009 degrees Magnetic, our speed is 5.9 knots, and our distance from Sitka is around 1020 nm. We are just beginning to feel the South Westerly wind flow that Commanders Weather has promised us. Currently we have about 10 knots from 213M, which is not enough to sail in because it is ALMOST STRAIGHT FROM BEHIND US!!!!! Grrrrr.....
We are, however, motorsailing, which brings the apparent wind forward a bit ( trust me, its math...), so we have set a small jib and guyed out the main and are getting a knot additional from it. The seas, which have been glassy, are now getting somewhat choppy, and a westerly swell is developing. According to our weather data, we may be able to start sailing without the motor by this evening, as the wind is predicted to come from more forward and to increase enough to give us some actual speed through the water.
The weather, which has been sort of sunny, but cool, has now become Alaskan sunshine, which is to say a sort of airy wet sponge. There is water on everything. Water on the deck, water on the sails, water in the cabin, water up our noses. This stuff is pernicious- water droplets are everywhere! And yet, there is no rain. Rain is completely outclassed by THIS stuff, and cannot compete. Before we left, we bought extra sunscreen. Haven't even opened a single tube yet.
Anyway, with a little luck (or maybe a LOT of it the way the weather has been) we will finally be able to turn off the motor this evening and start actually heading to Sitka. Up to now we have only headed in every other direction. I anticipate an August 13 arrival, although that could be off several days in either direction.
An interesting topic is resource conservation. A boat at sea has need stuff (water, fuel, electricity, wind, etc), and has very limited resources and few ways to renew them. At the start of this leg we had about 200 gallons of water and 165 gallons of diesel. Due to the very severe lack of wind across the Pacific, all our fellow competitors in the TranPac race, and we ourselves have been struggling to conserve these resources, but are also forced to use them. When and how much to motor is a tricky business. Several of our friends have also had serious problems with their fuel delivery systems (blocked tank pickup tubes, air leaks, dirt in the fuel, etc), necessitating horrendous adventures with diesel fuel all over the inside of the boats. We have not had any issues, other than a wish that we had twice as much fuel. Yesterday we pumped our deck load of fuel in jugs into the main tank and carefully measured how much fuel we have remaining. As of yesterday, we had 100 gallons left, of which I have reserved 30 gallons that WILL NOT BE USED outside of 30 miles offshore from Sitka Sound, the entrance to the straits that lead to Sitka itself. That gives us 70 gallons left to motor with, and at that point almost 1200 miles to go. We use between .75 and 1.25 gallons per hour at a low/moderate throttle (nominal 5.3 knots speed), so the 70 gallons gives us around 56 hours at 1.25 gph. That is a range of around 300 nm. When and where to use it in the next 1200 miles??? Based on our weather gurus advice, we are heading straight north (actually cheating a LITTLE towards the east), as we hope to find wind there. We will see if it worked, because when we reach the reserve limit the engine goes off (except for battery charging with the auxiliary charging engine, which uses little fuel) until we are within 30 miles of Sitka Sound, no matter how long it takes.
Sailors on an ocean passage are constantly confronted by these balance problems- how to use the resources to get to the destination, but still have enough for emergencies, and other issues. A really tough problem, and why being the skipper is not a simple matter. Hence the constant popularity of Maalox. If you hear of a black hulled aluminum sailboat arriving in Sitka crewed by glum looking skeletons, then I guess you can assume that it didn't work out all that well...
Well that's it for now. I think I will put on a snorkel and mask and go on deck and enjoy a little Alaskan Sunshine.
All the best,
p.s. I have heard that we are dropping off the tracker (http://yb.tl/traansback2012
at the northern limit. I have heard rumors that one can rotate the earth to reposition us and to follow us as we head further north. I do not know how to do this, but if anyone is interested and can contact the Yellowbrick site operators and find out, if they would let me know I will pass it along. If it is impossible, that is worth knowing also"
Ouch! trees and containers are every sailors nightmare.
Here is a current Surface Streamline Analysis and I have drawn in the approx position of Mouton Noir and Sitka for reference. I also drew in the wind direction associated with the position of the isobars on the High (clockwise) and for a Low (counterclockwise) for reference.
Mouton Noir's current location and Sitka
The following is a 48 hour Surface forecast and of note is the developement of a Low in the Gulf of Alaska. The top of he High and the bottom of the Low will together create a NorthWesterly to Westery wind for Mouton Noir. The big question is how deep the Low will be, how long it will remain stationary and the position of Mouton Noir.
48 hr surface forecast with current location of Mouton Noir and approx in 48 hours.
The following is a 500 MB ( approx 18,000ft) forecast 96 hours out. Upper level predictions are extremely accurate for predicting future weather and it show a deep and stationary Low. Note this is not the predicted wind at sea level but there is a direct correlation. Could be a Mr Toad Wild Ride into Sitka?
Wind direction and intensity at 18,000 ft associated with the Low in the Gulf of Alaska 96 hours out
Just thankful Micheal and Susan are still with us. Hitting large objects at sea especially a container or a large log like they did twice can sink your boat rather quickly I suspect. Scary!
Safe travels guys may the winds start to work in your favor soon.
E kat you're about to do El Cap on water.
If you guys are going to fish let me know I will help you get set up.
The fish you want is not the salmon but the Ling Cod and its easy to fish for not a lot of gear just hooks weight and bait. You could always drag a flasher and a hoochie but you need a good diver that will get you down to the fish.
One thing you also need to is to understand how to handle a fish. Some have razor sharp gill plates so be careful.
Salmon live most of their lives out in the ocean chowing down on plankton and little critters. That diet is the reason that salmon is healthier than Tuna, which is an apex predator where mercury and crap concentrates.
Only one annual generation comes in to spawn. The rest are out getting scarfed up by Asian nets. The only late running salmon are the silvers (coho), which are fantastic. I think it will be too late, though. Ask the locals.
Agree on the cod. Halibut is damn good, though. Make sure you have a license. I have had a warden land a Beaver on floats just to check our licenses. That was in Canada, though.
Berries are fantastic this time of year, and there is only one poisonous species that I am aware of in the whole state.
Stuff is so expensive up there that you need to have a vault to eat from the store. It might be worth it to hit up Costco on your way up and bring a pack of food.
Some great tips on AIS and autopilots. The cool thing about the AIS is you have a good idea who is about the run you down on a dark, stormy night with a gale running and nobody responding to your frantic VHF calls. Let's see, it is a Liberian registered container ship, Hong Kong ownership, with a Philippine, Pakistani crew and an Egyptian captain. Radar is a dream machine for the nighttime game of dodging squalls. Sometimes you win and sometimes you lose. Can be pretty unnerving to have the wind go from 5 to 50 kts without any warning.
Grittings from the briny deep,
Our position at 11:30 PDT is 47:43N by 153:48W. 866nm to Sitka!! We are sailing in a very sloppy, wet, gray, cold 24 knots of true wind from 220 degrees Magnetic. This is an awkward direction (of course...) as it puts the course to Sitka at about 160 degrees apparent, deep enough down wind so that the jib is pretty useless and flogs and snaps and generally wreaks havoc with itself and the boat. As a result, we are steering to 135 degrees off the wind with the autopilot, and taking a smallish hit on Velocity Made Good to Sitka. Commanders Weather predicts the winds will turn more northerly tomorrow, allowing us to steer more directly at Sitka.
We have full main and the 150% jib rolled up to about 125%, and that is plenty of sail area at the moment. We are doing 7.5 knots give or take. Commanders predicts good wind all the way to Sitka, and a rough estimate places us there Friday, August 10. If we can hold an average of 7 knots we will arrive mid morning. We will see.....
It is REALLY cold and the humidity is very high. A biting deep cold that seeps into you. As a result, we are staying below today and watching the radar. We have been picking up ships at distances of up to 30 miles with our AIS (Automatic Identification System, I think) receiver. Each large ship is required to have a dedicated transmitter that transmits the ships position, course, speed, etc on dedicated VHF radio channels. We have a Standard Horizon 2150 Matrix AIS + radio (GREAT VHF radio) which in addition to acting like a normal VHF radio has a dedicated AIS receiver in it. I HIGHLY recommend this radio!!!! Anyway, we pipe the AIS data signal to both our chartplotter and radar, and it shows an icon at the ship's position, with a display of ship name, course, speed, position, and a lot more. We often see the icon appear on the radar screen, plotted at the actual position of the ship relative to us long before we see a radar return from the ship. If you are planning to head out on sailing adventures, I think that a really robust AIS receiver and some way to display the targets and sound alarms is VERY MUCH AN ESSENTIAL. This is not something to be cheap about. Using the main VHF radio and it's masthead antenna is a very good solution, as it preserves the whole power of the VHF (some standalone units require a splitter in the antenna lead, and lose 3dB (one half) the power on both transmit and receive- a very undesireable thing. the 2150 has a crude display, and can be set to sound an alarm itself, but we have not used this feature, as we have other ways of seeing the information.
DON'T LEAVE HOME WITHOUT IT!!!
Speaking of auto pilots: We have an NKE system, which is identical to the ones used on the Open 60's, probably the world's fastest monohulls, the ones sailed in the Vendee Globe around the world non-stop races and so on. The ram is similar to a B&G ram, made by Hydraulic Projects in England. NKE uses Lecomble and Schmidt rams, but I had several of the old B&G ones, and the HyPro unit is form factor compatible. Anyway, this autopilot is truly awesome! I can steer to heading, using a very fast and precise flux gate compass, or true or apparent winds, using a very good mast mounted wind vane, or to a waypoint on a GPS receiver. We use it a lot in the apparent wind mode, as we are doing right now, to keep sailing at an exact angle with respect to the wind. When shorthanded, this is nice, as you can get the sails optimized for a specific wind angle and relax, knowing they will not need constant tweaking as the boat careens around the ocean. Our present deep downwind situation makes it possible to optimize boat speed and to keep the sails full as the boat rolls and yaws (which it is doing in spades at the moment). The wind is oscillating enough that if we stuck to a single compass course, as the wind shifted to more behind us the jib would lose wind, collapse, then refill with a huge bang, the boat would roll, and all sorts of stresses would be put on the blocks, lines and other hardware. The penalty is that we do not track a perfect course to where we want to go, but since we can get more speed this way, the tradeoff is often worth it. We are presently tracking north of the Great Circle route to Sitka, but tomorrow we will be able to head more east to make up for it as the wind is predicted to shift more northerly.
Speaking of radar, we are presently tracking a big squall trying to hit us from the port quarter. It is impressive in size. We may just squeak in fronnt of it (I HOPE). it is currently about 6 miles away, but closing fast. Another really good feature of radars, and if you are buying one amke sure it can see weather. Many of the newer digital radars go to great lengths to clean up the displays and to hide rain, and squalls. We are running the radar in Manual mode (not possibloe on some radars) which lets us tune the gain, rain and sea clutter controls to see things that are often hidden by automatic gain controls. The wind is picking up fast now and we are doing 8.7 knots witht 25 knots true wind. We seem to be near some sort of squally part of the ocean, as more are appearing on the radar. Commanders warned us this might happen. Big bertha is now 3 miles away and coming fast... Whew!! It looks like it will pass 2 miles astern! I am reminded of the old Cheech and Chong routine, where the two dope dealers are driving in the car at night to make a delivery, and see lights and hear a siren behind them. In a panic, they start eating all the dope, and just as they get it all down, Cheech says, "Oh it's ok man! It was an ambiulance!". THis one looked like it packed some punch. I am glad it missed.
Well, I will call it quits for now. The sea is no longer the late lamented pacific- it is now very rough, with a 6-8 foot somewhat confused sea with whitecaps and a COLD stiff wind. At least we can now get to Sitka without worrying about the fuel level. We still have about 80 gallons, enough for several days and several hundred miles of motoring, should we need to.
Best wishes to all. Tomorrow if it is not too rough to type I might talk a bit about how people preparing their boats for sea might think about some things. Offshore is a bit different than normal coastal sailing, and although good preparation, coastal sailing does not cover all the eventualities. As usual, I have opinions. Bill Tilman, the legendary climber and Arctic and Antarctic sailor used to say " the camel driver has his thoughts, and the camel, he has his...".
Pacific Streamline Analysis-18 hours out from now. Mouton Noir is probably 100 nm from last nights position. Most likely sitting on the edge of the Cold Front, the blue line with the triangles attached to it. True to form from the Upper Air analysis several days ago there is a Low in the Gulf of Alaska ( what else is new) and you can see from the arrows drawn in along the isobars the wind angle is advantageous for once for bee lining to Sitka. Big question now is how much wind? and the seas? I have also enclosed the Upper Air Analysis for the next 48 hours. Time to get moving E-Kath!
except don't forget the long underwear (wool), wool sweaters, wool navy bell bottoms, sea boots, light and heavy ski gloves, balaclava, knit caps (2), toothbrush, good foul weather gear (don't scrimp), 3 pair of socks and 10 pair of underwear (don't count on washin' 'em).
and camera in double baggies.
Just hope ya don't have to kedge - but it is a good
trick to have up yer sleeve when a British squadron
is chasing you in light airs.
A hospital bed is not real fun but I've SuperTopo! WOO-HOO - MINDLESS ENTERTAINMENT!
The two main probs are the monitor is a mile across the
room so I have to increase the scren res so much I'm
only seeing about 1/4 of the web page. The other prob
isthe keyboard is one of those rubberized milspec/germ-proof
ones and you gotta pound the keys so hard it makes my
heparin lock hurt. It could be worse - I could be going
into SuperTopo withdrawal and none of us want to see that!
Thanks. . . my mind is still blown. . . I look back over the last 35 days and reflect on how the prospect of this journey has changed my life and I can't come close to guessing what going on it is gonna do.
Old cruisers' truism:
get the SMALLEST seaworthy boat you can afford.
although there are extremes!
We ran into Mike and Karen and 2 year old Falcon on Mike's Columbia 25 as they were completing Mike's 5 year circumnavigation in the Sea of Cortez (San Diego was his finish a few months later).
He'd done BIG mods to the boat.
Lengthened the cabin (taking away from the cockpit), strengthened all bulkheads, sealed cockpit and made it self draining.
No galley (primus stove on a bench), no head (use a bucket in bad weather, piss over the side in good, trailing Falcon's diapers over the stern in a net bag)
No motor (not even outboard) just a long sweep.
Hand held VHF walkie talkie for emergencies.
Lead line for a depth sounder.
Anchor windlass? You've gotta be kidding, right?
Truism #2 (which everyone has heard)
A boat is a hole in the water, surrounded by wood (fiberglass, steel, aluminum, concrete) into which you pour money. See Truism #1
Mouton Noir zeroing in on Sitka, steaks and hot showers:
Mouton Noir is nearing Sitka. We are presently at 55:54N by 138:29W. We are sailing on our ear, closehauled on a course of 37M, right at the entrance to Sitka Sound. We have 120 nm to go. Our current ETA is midday on Saturday, August 11. We are racing a low pressure system which is behind us and to the west. Currently (and for the last 5 days) we are sailing in a foggy, rainy, drizzly, cold wet goo, with about 1/4 mile visibility. The wind is around 20 knots from the East, reflecting the malign influence of the pursuing low. Susan and I are starting to grow green mold under our armpits, and neither of us has changed clothes in a week. Nor washed in a week. If there were any flies this far away from land they would be too repelled by us to bother buzzing around. This unfortunate state of hygiene is not, of course, our choice. The boat is heeled about 20 degrees, and constantly moves around, making almost any chore a challenge. The cockpit is like a thawing meat locker, with water everywhere- flying, blowing, dripping, running. The Eskimos apparently have 27 different names for snow. We know at least that many names for cold water in all it's forms.
As I have been typing this, we are being overtaken by a massive squall system which can be seen on the radar for miles. A gift for us from the low pressure system to our west and south. We REALLY do not want to tangle with that one! ANyway, more lovely ice water in the cockpit. Weee...
Some German friends on Pagena, a French OVNI aluminum sailbot that left Hanaleii just before us are arriving as I type in Sitka. I just got an excited email from them, extolling the great scenery and the whales, and the smells of the pine trees, and the giant steak they are going to have and how nice the hot shower is going to feel, and how wonderful it is to be on solid land, and... you get the picture. Boo hoo hoo...
Well, midday tomorrow, when we arrive on the edge of the low, I am afraid that there will be no visibility but the steaks and showers of Sitka should TREMBLE AT OUR COMING!!!!!! Soooon there will be fewer of them, yess, there will be.....
This squall that is just upon us is huge! The entire radar for a radius of 6 miles is completely covered in yellow and red and blue blobs. I hope there are no fishing boats around, because we can't see them. So far, however,, we have seen, talked to, and avoided many, many ships with our AIS system. Great stuff.
Well, wish us a safe landfall. Conditions are not too horrible, in spite of my whining and moaning. Many years of doing Farallons races has helped prepare for this sort of thing. I don't think I want to be out here in a couple of days, though. We have enough fuel to motor the rest of the way, and we are well inside the SAR radius, where the Coast Guard could reach us with a chopper if some disaster struck, so that is reassuring.
I will drop you all a note after we arrive. We plan to stay in Sitka for a few days, and will probably depart on August 16 for Peril and Neva straits, enroute to Chatham Sound and the Inside Passage. Some tricky navigation there, with narrow, rock filled channels and big currents and tides, but there are ample navigation aids and many boats and ships make these passages all the time. One has to shake one's heads at the skill and courage of the early discoverers and charters of these waters. Whew!!!
My heart took wing when that e "DINGED" on TheBigMac!
I just did the THIRD purge and revision of the garbellion I THOUGHT I was taking. . . and I'm happy to report that things are looking remarkably good.
I've got 2 more days to pack and unpack and repack and rethink it all. . . got ten kinds of stuff to do on the grounds here on TheHolyMont and thank TheGreatGoddessOfAllThingsGood, Blanchard's gonna be here for a month.
I have a stack of books on bluewater sailing, but all I have done is race on lakes in small keelboats or racing dinghies.
Don't knock the little boats. There is so much constant sail trimming and other work that you never get to sit down if you are crewing. If you are solo, it is even worse.
The pocket cruisers with the Alberg design (clunky looking) all seem solid, but yeah, you have to make the cockpit drain quickly and keep it small. They also roll around compared to a boat like Mouton Noir. I actually am having difficulty finding a good example of a really strong and seaworthy modern boat. All of the racers just aren't built to right themselves when knocked down or capsized, and the smaller the boat the worse. They are fantastic to watch, though.
The Mrs. would be happy for the privacy, I assume. She is fairly accustomed to my being gone for periods, having adventures.
I have a good knack for picking up new things and then learning to a high level. I imagine sailing in big waves will be much the same. I want a boat without much weather helm or griping. Trust me, I have had some accidental gybes and broaches during runs. The small racers are really intense boats to sail. I believe Ellen McCarther got her start in small boat racing.
My first boat was a Hobie 14, and that sucker would pitchpole on a dime, tossing you out to the mast. Lasers are also kind of like that. I have a buddy who is rabid about racing Santana 20's, and those suckers haul ass. You can't single hand them at full speed. Too much spinnaker work. Small boats with huge sail areas are kind of like bucking broncos.
Oklahoma is filled with big lakes, a legacy of the pork barrel days when Carl Albert was Speaker of the House. We usually have a national every year. The wind can be wicked, but you don't get ten foot seas in a lake.
I have sailed in the Gulf of Mexico, and big waves were kind of spooky. Then again, most people are still afraid of the dark. That's why you see tents up in perfect weather.
That Gulf of Alaska low looks like it might be settling in. Sailing near that sucker must be a nightmare. So my suggestion is for the Mouton Noir to watch the 300mb models instead of just surface maps. When the jet settles south in fall, the weather there is vicious. Understanding ageostrophic flow isn't that hard. Learn that, and you will understand how waves in the jet create closed lows at the surface. Then reading the longer range models will be easier.
Here is a link to the Navy's model, which is worldwide. It isn't very good at Tornado weather, but it is good enough for shipping. Hear are the best 3 day models, which are really accurate:
It goes out to really long range, but all models beyond 3 days are a little iffy. They do a good job on the big features, but are typically off by a day or so and a few hundred miles beyond a week. It is a good model for general weather.
It is 12:21 August 11, 2012. Mouton noir is at 56:53N by 135:50 W, doing 6 knots on course 51M. We are entering Sitka Sound at this moment. After a horrible last 24 hours, with howling easterly wind up to 30 knots, accompanied by torrential downpours, continual squalls, and an awful, lumpy cross swell, the overcast which has been our constant companion, is lifting, along with the 1/4 mile visibility. And Suddenly we see the huge volcano of Mt Edgecumb on the left, and a whole series of snowy jagged peaks in front of us. The visibility is scattered, with stratified cloud and fog layers ahead. It is very cold, with very high humidity. It is Alaska. We are here!
In about 1 and a half hours we will pass the small islands that mark the beginning of the Wesstern Approach Channel. 8 nm after that we will be turning into the breakwater at Sitka Harbor. The radio is alive with chatter- the first we have heard in almost 3 weeks. There are a dozen small fishing boats visible on the computer screen, identified by their AIS beacons. We should be tied up in 3 hours, more or less.
We made it. Will post landfall pics when I access real computer. I cried when I saw Mt Edgecumbe. The last 24 hrs were a nightmare. Lumpy seas in the vicinity of 8 to 10 ft swells. 35 knt winds that didn't go in the direction we wanted...and squalls that lit up the radar screen like a 70s psychedelic show...out to 12 miles. I like we have a sturdy aluminium boat, but the sounds are very tin cannish in rough seas. But WE ARE HERE....and headed out for a steak...even though we are in the land of fish. Fish tomorrow. Beef tonight. Good hot shower...all is good.
Hours doing laundry and swabbing the lockers.
Drying sails and washing lines.
Checking all the blocks/cleats.
Up the mast checking all the rigging.
Clearing that gooseneck in the head sink drain.
Learning how to walk on Terra Firma again.
The provision list.....then the provisioning.
Cruising is such a laid back way of life!
Seriously, my envy is nearly as green as the mold on the lost onion in the bilge, the one you haven't found yet!
Watch your passage near the Queen Charlotte Islands. Many well founded and well sailed boats have had troubles there.
I'll be there tomorrow. . . ten kinds of ready to bust a move on that reprovisioning list.
Final purge and re-pack day. . . my OUT THE DOOR list is on the door. . . and I've even got my morning coffee set up already! One stop between here and Glacier Park International Airport - TARGET - for a folding luggage cart - to get this FISH Texas Luggage to baggage check and to help with schlepping loads to and from the ship.
I'm so frikken EXCITED, it's LittleKidChristmas times ten!
HT. . . I hear ya on the coffee cup. . . it's already in the FISH bag. . . but the wine's something I'll have to get in Sitka. Interestingly, there will undoubtedly be a better selection of California wines up there than I have here in Montana. . . nobody really gets it up here.
And. . . BASE. . . you are so very correct. . . THIS THREAD FULLY RULES! It totally changed my life!
Thanks. . . my mind is still blown. . . I look back over the last 35 days and reflect on how the prospect of this journey has changed my life and I can't come close to guessing what going on it is gonna do.
First sight of landfall...I cried like a baby. I was SOOO happy.
Later landfall, more to see.
Can see mountains behind the low cloud cover. Getting happier!
Michael after a grueling 24 hour nasty, squally, time. But land a'ho!
Michael, tired but happy about land in the background. We were about 90 minutes from the harbor at this point.
Susan, after the same yucky 24 hours. It wasn't as cold as I look.
yeah, land is right behind me. yes yes yes
Docking was a bro ha ha. We intially went down the wrong lane, with no exit and turning around a 50 ft. sailboat with huge anchors and windvane off the back, and no bow thrusters....well the fishing fleet had a few stark moments of humor and "don't hit my boat". I have become exceedingly handy with a boat hook, standing on the anchor flukes, looking like I am holding a harpoon, kinda. No harm no foul, just alot of locals yuckling at the tourons!...us!
The boat appears to be in good condition with no major repairs obvious. Tomorrow we will begin going over each system and rigging carefully. But tonight, a wonderful hotel with down pillows, but most importantly...a good laundry! Yeah!
Sounds like a great adventure! Can't wait to paddle parts of the inside passage, hopefully in just a couple of years. And with any luck, sailboat support! But a much smaller boat already anchored up there somewhere.
Mouton Noir left Sitka today and headed for the Inside Passage. Last night was very foggy, and the visibility was sketchy when we left the slip at around 10 am, headed for the fuel dock. Bythe time MN had gulped 100 gallons of diesel, the visibility was getting pretty good, so we headed out of the harbor and toward Olga Strait under scattered clouds with some drifting foggy bits. As we motored along, the weather improved, and a few rays of sunshine (!!) actually got through. Olga strait was pretty easy, but good practice for things to come. From fairly wide, island strewn open bays, Olga strait was much narrower, with not a lot of room. Ekat steered through this, her first time at the helm of a boat, and did very well. In a few hours we arrived at Neva Strait, a more serious test. It is entered with a hard right turn followed by a half mile section with very tight, rock strewn channel. We had to pull over to the side and idle for a few minutes to allow a big jet cat ferry to pass through. He pretty much filled up the channel. THe entirety of Neva Strait was perhaps 7 nm, after which Susan took o0ver the helm for Kakul Narrows, Sergius Narrows, and Peril Strait. Kakul Narrows was pretty narrow, but short. The current was really whipping, and we were not that far from slack water. The boat was hopping around like it had St. Vitus Dance, and the wind had come up to about 20 knots. Bythis time, we were mostly enjoying a watery sunshine. THe scenery is magnificent!! Snow covered peaks, rock formations, endless seas of trees- just gorgeous. THe entire day had been structured around getting through Sergius Narrows, one of the truly fearsome passes in the Inside Passage, at slack water. Sergius narrows is really narrow- only 100 yards wide, with a cliff on one side and a horrible looking reef on the other. The water goes from several hundred feet deep to 20 to 40 feet deep in the Narrows, and the numerous reefs, ledges, and holes in the area create horrific turbulence. Currents can exceed 8 knots, perhaps 12 at spring tides, and passing through near slack water is the only sane option unless you have vast power and shallow draft (Jet Cats...). Anyway, when we passed through Kakul Narrows we were about 45 minutes early, so we made a detour to look at schultz Bay, a very nice anchorage a mile from Sergius. It was gorgeous, and definitely worth a visit, but not this trip! Off we went, with Susan driving. The whirlpools, lumpy water and fast current, even 15 minutes from "slack" water were intense! I can onlyimagine how really dangerous this would bein bad visibility, with more current. FOrtunately, we made it through the Narrows unscathed, and into Peril Strait. THis is well named, as it is a moderately wide body of water with ocks and islets everywhere that winds along like a snake with a serious case of the grippe. A few miles up. however, it becomes a bit more reasonable. Still, one can only imagine the difficulties faced by the early sailors in the region. I cannot conceive of sailing it. A few miles on, we came across a pod of humpback whales, maybe 8 or 10, feeding. They were very curious, and several spyhopped on our approach. We passed only 100 feet or so from them (their choice, not ours!!). It was truly breathtaking.
Soon, Peril Strait opened up to Hoonah Sound, and we turned east. 10 miles further, we pulled into our anchoring spot for the night, at Appelton Cove, on the side of Rodman Bay, about 10 miles from Chatham Sound. We are anchored in an almost landlocked pool of mirror smooth water, in about 35 feet depth. For those with Google Earth, our position tonight is 57:28.266N by 135:17.307'. Our ground tackle tonight is a 110 pound Bruce anchor with about 150 feet of 3/8" high test chain.
Tomorrow, we hope to make it to Warm Springs Bay, an exceptionally beautiful spot with a big waterfall and natural hot springs. I will let you know how it all works out. The weather prediction is for more high pressure (This equals the possibility of sunshine, and is good news). We will see. Some scary clouds were passing bywhen we anchored, nut hey! thiws is Alaska.
OK. Totally off topic and spray, but I gotta tell the worst ocean story of my life.
Offshore of the Kongakut River in NW ANWR is a long, skinny, barrier island. The thing is about a hundred or so yards wide, and maybe ten feet above sea level at its peak somewhere.
It is covered in old logs that flow up the McKenzie River in Canada just to the east, and the logs blow up and sit there forever without rotting. It is obvious that it goes underwater because the logs are all over it.
So I am sitting around Kaktovik one year waiting on a flight when the pilot offers me a half price flight out to Icy Reef, the name of the barrier island as he picked up a couple who were out there. I planned on walking much of the length checking out some cool eskimo sites on the west side of the island.
As we load the couple up, they yack about a young polar bear sticking its head in their tent the previous night and throwing burning sticks at it all "night" to get it to go away. The ice was out a ways, so it was weird to have one onshore this time of the summer.
Anyway, the wind starts to really blow hard. The onshore wind from the ice is a regular thing, almost always from the NE. There was one day out on the coastal plain that it was too windy to walk one year. No lie. It was like leaning into a hurricane.
So I do my best to build a wall of logs into a windbreak around my little bivy tent and hunker down. As the gale went on, big chunks of sea ice (no bergs over there) the size of small trucks were piling onshore and the windward side of the island started going under water.
I pretty much nigh shat my pants because it was about a five mile swim to shore. Trapped.
In the morning I called the pilot to pick me up when the wind died. It did, and as he landed you could see a line of ice only a few feet from the crest of the bar. Those were the remains of the ground up ice boulders, and you could see that there was about two feet of dry ground on the windward side clearly marked by the ice.
Anyone who goes sailing in the Beafort Sea has my utmost respect. The wind howls like crazy, and the open water between the coast and the ice never gets too wide until recently. I can't imagine being in a boat in those conditions, and it was July or August or something.
So I was stranded on an island that nearly sank. That would have spawned some good stories.
Yesterday Mouton Noir motored from the wonderful Appleton Cove to the even more wonderful Warm Springs Bay, on the east side of Baranof Island. After going about 80 nm in the last two days, we are only about 12 miles from Sitka, but on the other side of Baranof Island. There are justy 42 total miles of paved roads on Baranof Island, and it is very rugged, so we might as well be on the moon, as the only way to get here is by boat or helicopter.
Warm springs bay is at 57:05.319N by 134:49.956W. It is a stunning bay with steep sides and an enormous waterfall at the end. Just to the north of the waterfall, not 50 yards away, is a public dock, to which we are tied up. A steep ramp leads to a boardwalk, which leads to a few cabins and houses, and then up the hill to a wonderful natural hot springs area, with some dammed up pools just above the raging torrent above the falls. The pools are naturally hot, and there are three of them, with temperatures ranging from very hot to quite warm. We (of course) scampered up there as fast as we could and had a wonderful soak, while looking at the incredible scenery.
After that, we went back to the boat and had a great dinner of BBQ'ed steak, salad, and mashed potatoes, with a nice piece of king Salmon given to us by a fisherman in Sitka. Then fresh baked cookies for dinner. A local charter boat captain came over and showed us some good anchorages and gave us a lot of advice on getting where we want to go. I have to say, this sailing stuff is pretty tough...
The weather seems to be holding, which is to say, it is not raining. hahaha. Overcast right now, as we prepare to depart for Pybus bay, on the way to the famous tidewater glaciers at Tracey Arm. Pybus Bay (we hope to stay in Cannery cove) apparently has a lot of big Alaskan brown bears, so we are looking forward to that. We also hope to do a little fishing, as the salmon was delicious. We spent a bit on some rods and tackle in Sitka, and maybe we will catch something. Who knows, even blind pigs find the occasional acorn, and that is what we feel like when we meet the locals. EVERYONE here fishes, and even toddlers are dragging in big ones. It is quite the technical tour de force, though, and the number and types of rigs and lures is bewildering. Perhaps we can use dollar bills for bait.....
Well, we are getting into what we came for. Hopefully the weather will continue to hold until we get further south. After Pybus Bay, we are aiming for a day to Tracey arm, a day to see Tracey Arm, then two days to Petersburg, followed by two days to Wrangell, and two more days to Ketchikan. So we may be at the southern border of alaska in 10 days or so. Nothing is certain so far, but we are beginning to see signs that if we don't keep moving we may be needing snowshoes, which are not good things to wear on deck.
Pinot Grigio and Leo Kottke and Baranof Island and enchiladas..................
Today Mouton Noir motored over a glassy, sullen looking sea from Warm Springs Bay on Baranof Island to Cannery COve, Pybus Bay, on Admiralty Island. Our current position at anchor is 57:18.428N by 134:09.267W. Fire up Google Earth!!
The sail was uneventful, but very beautiful. Baranof Island has glaciers, huge waterfalls, and majestic peaks, reminescent of the Minarets in the Sierra Nevada Range, near Mammoth Mountain. One highligh was some lunge feeding whales. They were a ways away, but appeared to be humpback whales. They would blast out of the water at an angle and then crash back in. It was an awe inspiring sight!! The sky was mostly overcast today, with a few showers, although a few rays of sunshine would occasionally illuminate something.
Tomorrow we are headed for No Name Anchorage, at the entrance to Tracey arm, a beautiful tidewater glacier. I have a photo of Mouton Noir at Tracey Arm taken by the original owner. It would be cool to get one now. We hope to rendevous with the German couple on Pagena, who we saw in the vicinity on our AIS system.
Cannery Cove is gorgeous. We are anchored in 50 feet of water in a large cove, surrounded by grassy shores leading abruptly to steep, snowfield covered hillsides, and eventually to peaks.
I am attaching two compressed photos. The first is of Mouton Noir at the public float at Warm Springs Bay yesterday, and the second was taken as we approached our anchoring spot in Cannery Cove. As always, if Guido has time he is free to post all this on the Taco (www.Supertopo.com for the uninitiated; go to the forum and search for 'Transpac', or 'SCSEAGOAT', Susan's handle. This should take you to the thread on the Singlehanded TransPac, and I hope, the return trip.
Dinner is cooking (enchiladas!!) and we are enjoying a glass of Pinot Grigio and listening to Leo Kottke as the evening falls. The water is like glass, and we are hoping to see some grizzly bears. Other than a small fishing camp a couple of miles away, we could be the only humans in 1000 miles, as far as we could tell. This is pretty isolated.
Icebergs, sun, Yosemite style walls, Ekat on berg watch, BBQ chicken, sausages and merlot:
Yesterday, Mouton Noir visited the incredible Tracey Arm. The other day we left Pybus Bay and motored about 40 miless to No Name Cove in Holkam Bay. The coordinates are 57:48.607N by 133:37.956W. This is a beautiful little cove just inside the much larger Holkam Bay, where Tracey and Endicott Arms meet. The entrance to Holkam Bay is fairly narrow, and entrance is made between two buoys (green and red), but actually, one uses a range on the island just to the west to find the proper channel, as icebergs are always moving the buoys. Icebergs! Did you say ICEBERGS?
Yes Icebergs! That is the name of the game in Tracey and Endicott Arms. These fiords are home to two large and beautiful tidewater glaciers, glaciers which empty into the sea. The Sawyer Glaciers are up at the end of Tracey Arm, which is about 24 miles long. We left the anchoroage at 6:30 am yesterday, with Joe and Susanna, two young German cruisers we met in Hanaleii Bay, from the sailboat Pagena. The fiord is very deep (greater than 1000 feet deep), but fairly narrow. It is very like Yosemite Valley, with the canyon walls greater than 4500 feet high. As we progressed along the Arm, floating ice chunks, and then larger growlers, and finally small icebergs appeared. About 10 miles from the end we were reduced to having a bow watch (Ekat) with a radio to direct the helmsman to steer around the ever increasing density of ice. The canyon walls are incredible, with hanging glaciers, waterfalls, vast slabs of rock, and ridges and snowfields everywhere. Occasionally one can glimpse other glaciers in the distance. Finally, the SOuth Sawyer Glacier came into view ahead. It is quite big, with a huge tumbling icefall of massive blue seracs plunging into the sea. We went as close tot he closed ice surface as we could, although very far from the actual face of the glacier. There we were, bobbing about in a greenish water (silt form the glacier), with huge ice chunks and bergs everywhere when there was a massive calving event from theglacier face. With gigantic booms and cracking noises, a section of the glacier face as big as a skyscraper separated from the glacier and fell into the sea. We were very much in the clear and there was no possibility of danger, so we all whooped and hollared and capered about the deck. It was really something to see!!
Eventually, we headed back down the arm, and spent several hours dodging ice blocks and enjoying the views fron the opposite perspective. Then last night, safe and snug in our beautiful little anchorage, we had a wonderful dinner with Joe and Susanne, with BBQ chicken and sausages, salad, mashed potatoes, with a nice bottle of merlot. Followed by cookies, home made cake, and tea and red vines. A typical cruiser's social evening. And then we CRASHED!! 11 hours of intense maneuvering through ice left us totally wiped out and ready to sleep, as ekat puts it like a "bag of hammers".
We had really lucked out on the weather, as it was sunny the whole day, perhaps the most scenic day of the trip. Today, the sun is just starting to rise, as we make preparations to depart for Portage Bay on Kupreanof Island, about 55 miles south and 17 miles from Petersburg, which we hope to get to tomorrow. We are starting to head south now, as we need to be in the Strait of Juan de Fuca in about 3 weeks. In a few days we will be going through the famous Wrangell Narrows, but more on that later. Time to get the anchor up and see what the day has to offer.
More on the Mountaneers saga as they continue south:
Today, Friday, August24 Mouton Noir is heading from the town of Wrangell, Alaska to the little hole-inithe wall of Meyer's Chuck. We spent last night tied up at the main float in the port of Wrangell, a small town with perhaps 1800 inhabitants. We had a great dinner ashore at the "Marine Bar", a shop worn old bar that serves great pizza.
Anyway, we have had some real adventure since the last note, so here is what we have been up to. When last heard from, our intrepid heroes were leaving NoName cove to head for Petersburg, with a stop over at Portage Bay. The sail (motoring) to Portagge bay was uneventful- lots of whales in the distance, smooth water, overcast skies. Portage bay had been touted as a secure and restful anchorage. NOT!! Finding it was a little tricky, as the entrance was a right angle fish hook move behind a small headland. THe tide was pretty high when we made the passage, and the bay was quite large, running perhaps 1.5 miles in, and perhaps 3/8 mile wide. The shores were grassy, and it looked ideal for the night. The recommended anchoring spot was not far from the entrance, so we dropped the hook in about 50 feet of water, and set it well. Soon we began to see the way things would go, however. THe tide range was about 18 feet that day, and if one wants an exercise in alarm, calculate the rate at which a body of water 1.5 miles by 3/8 miles by about 30 feet deep average will empty through a small entrance. SHortly after dropping anchor, giant strands of kelp started to whiz by the boat on the way out the inlet. Big mats started to hook themselves on the anchor chain and the rudder. THe current continued to build until we were seeing more than 2 knots. Fortunately, the holding ground was good, and the scope (large initially) got bigger and bigger as the water level dropped 18 feet over the next several hours. Then it reversed, and the fun started over. It was a somewhat nervy night, although I suspect that it was not a particularly stern test of the anchor, by Alaska standards. Anyway, we survived in good form, and the next day we shucked off the kelp collection and motored the remaing 20 odd miles to Petersburg.
Petersburg is a very interesting Town. It is allabout fishing. THe harbors are FULL of fishing boats, the fishing processing plants on the waterfront run 24 hours a day, and there is always a crowd of boats waiting to unload. THere is a lot of action, and the smell of dead fish sort of permeates the town. We tied up in a gigantic slip left vacant by a purse seiner to ancient wood docks that might have been new 50 years ago. It was very rustic (a polite term for a beat up set of docks), but on the whole, very cool. A few slips down, there were a bunch of kids fishing, so I wandered over to see what they were catching. Several little girls about 8 to 10 years old were pulling herring out of the water by the bucketfull (literally- they had several buckets full of them) using small spinning rods and herring jigs- hooks with featers and a few colored glass beads above them. They were obviously there on their own, and I asked them what they were going to do with the fish. " Why, sell them to tourists for bait!" replied the 8 year old. So I bought a bag of them from them. The little pirates charged me $8 for about 10 herring. I hope to try for some halibut in a few days...
We had a great afternoon wandering around town, visiting the (multitude) of hardware stores, the book store (VERY nice), and eating ice cream cones. That evening we had dinner with Joe and Susanne from Pagena, at the Beachcomber Inn, one of only 3 eateries in town. Expensive, but very good.
One thing we are noticing here is that there are very few restaurants in towns in Alaska. The food is expensive and often not particularly noteworthy. But when in Alaska, wear your XtraTuff boots (an essential if you want to look even vaguely like a local; google them....) and eat that pile of greasy spuds and eggs. Wahoo...
Our plan was to get up very early and do the Wrangell Narrows during the optimal current/tide state. The Wrangell Narrows is one of the most famous passages in Alaska. It is really spectacular! It is about 20 nm of twisty, rocky, trick piloting in a channel that gets down to only 100 yards or less at times. That sounds easy enough, and for a small boat, with care and good timing and piloting it is not extreme. But most all of the marine traffic in Southeastern Alaska passes through the Narrows, including 450 foot ferries, tugs and tows, and everything else under the sun. The strategy is to enter the Narrows about an hour or hour and a half before slack water on a high tide, and go like hell. The object is to make it to half-way just at slack water, and then the ebb will carry you out the other side. If you enter at an arbitrary time, the currents are fierce, and there are whirlpools, weird currents and all manner of rocks and sandbars to ruin your day.
So we got up at 3:30 am and were out of the slip at 4:15 am, into a black and inky dark. Fortunately, the rain had stopped, and visibility along the surface was pretty good. Immediately out of the slip, we made a hard left turn into the entrance to the Narrows and started to sweat right away. There are over 60 navigational aids along the passage, and the penalty for missing one or going around the wrong way is severe. Susan was driving (she drove the entire Narrows by hand- over 3 1/2 hours of white knuckle steering) whiloe I ran up and down the stairs from the charts, the computer with Nobletec, the radar, and the Standard Horizon Chartplotter, hollaring out course corrections and the characteristics of the lights. Ekat was glued to the binoculars, spotting the marks, IDing them , and watching the ranges. Many parts of the Narrows are traversed by using lighted range markers to define the path down the center of the channel. These are two marks, on higher than the other, that when lined up one over the other indicate that you are in the right line through the channel. Very helpful!!
We motored along, making turns and spotting marks as the sky gradually lightened, until we could see the actual shore of the Narrows. It is very pretty, and there are houses and fishing lodges along almost all of it on the eastern shore. The weather was very overcast, common on our trip so far, but the visibility was good, and there was no rain. We hit the center point of the Narrows within 5 minutes of our target time, and picked up the ebb at the right point. It gradually built as we headed out the southern end of the Narrows. As soon as we exited the Narrows into Sumner Strait, Susan went below and had a long nap. Her 3 1/2 hour trick at the wheel was most impressive, and she was beat. Ekat and I brought the boat the remaining 20 miles to Wrangell while she slept.
Wrangell has a nice harbor, with a very convenient fuel dock, owned by a great character named Bill, and a long float for transient boats. As mentioned above, there is not much there to see, although with better weather we would have enjoyed a chance to visit the museum and wander around more. Internet connections might have been possible at the town library, but we didn't get there. Internet access in Alaska is very poor, and not easy to get unless you work at it. I am not sure people here really care as much about what goes on elsewhere as you might expect. Most Alaskans seem pretty happy living in this isolated and beautiful place.
Today we got going around 7:15 and are headed south down Zinovia strait and (drum roll please...) Zinovia Narrows. Yes, another Narrows, although this one, although pretty tricky, is short. THis afternoon we will enter ErnestSound, and then Clarence Strait. Our destination for the evening, Meyers Chuck, will leave us about 25 nm to Ketchikan tomorrow. For the curious with Google Earth, Meyers Chuck is at 55:44.49N by 132:16.23W.
It is going to be a steak BBQ with salad and fresh baked rolls tonight.
for eKat fans, here is an postcard update on the cruise shortly after she joined onboard, dated August 24; I just got it in the mail today down in Santa Cruz. It is crafted in pure eKatSpeak and gives one a clear picture of how complex that coastline is up there:
It makes me suspect that eKat will end up buying a boat and going to sea thereafter. I mean, why in a free society would one stay on a parcel number when you could have the whole sea?
A timely message from the seafaring trio. I was just beginning to wonder......
Oh yeah, anchoring at the exit of a pass. Like in the atolls of the south Pacific. Scary stuff. Timing is everything!
And a Bruce anchor. Of which I believe Mouton Noir has 2. The ONLY anchor to have.
The Three Moutoneers arrive in Canada. Beautiful vistas, spectacular and and secure anchorages with their 110 lb Bruce anchor and frost. So far, no mutiny so Ekat is safe from keelhauling.
Wow, it has been a week since the last update of Mouton Noir's voyage. I am rather taken aback- we seem to be in a timeless state, with the days passing quickly and the scenery flying by. We are now in Canada, and making tracks for the crossing from the northern BC islands into the more populated section of the trip in the waters east of Vancouver Island. The crossing of the lower part of Queen Charlotte Sound is several days away, though.
When I last wrote, we were headed for Meyer's Chuck. Meyers Chuck is at 55:44.49N by 132:16.23W. This is a spectacularly pretty little cove. It is rather hair-raising to enter for the first time, as the entrance is blind, and there are a number of reefs and rocks to hit if you get careless. The proper channel is easy, but very small. Inside, there is a dock, and a number of beautiful homes. It is very remote. We tied up at the dock and had a pleasant time walking about and chatting with other cruisers the two large powerboats also at the dock.
THe next day we headed for Ketchikan, the last port in Alaska. Ketchikan is much bigger than Petersburg or Wrangell. We stayed at Bar Harbor, about 1 mile from the downtown area. We were surrounded by purse seiners overhauling their gear. Alaska is very much about fishing, and one cannot get away from the ubiquitous fishing boats and fishing culture. One would think that given the huge industry of fishing that it would be easy to get a good fish dinner and perhaps cheap, too. BZZZZTTTTT! WRONG!!! Our experience is that fish is hard to find in restaurants, and generally very expensive. It is, however, very fresh. After a bus ride to downtown Ketchikan, and the obligatory search for a bookstore, we staggered back to the boat and decided to try the little hole in the wall restaurant just at the top of the dock, which came highly recommended. Well, it wasn't a hole-in-the-wall! It was a very high end fish cuisine palace hidden in a beat up, weathered old building. Reservations were required, but they somehow squeezed us in and we had one of the best fish dinners ever! Fantastic Chowder. It was a great treat from our usual (very good) home cooking. If you are ever there, it is called the Bar Harbor Restaurant.
The next day (August 26) we departed Ketchikan for Prince Rupert, in Canada. We knew that we would have to stop somewhere between Ketchikan and Prince Rupert, however. The two choices were Foggy Bay in the USA or Brundige inlet, on Dundas Island in Canada. It was a beautiful, sunny day, one of the very few we have had, and the miles were flying by. We had to cross Dixon Entrance (where we are exposed to the Pacific Ocean), and then Chatham Sound to get to Prince Rupert, and the conditions were perfect- calm and the current was in our favor for a change. Just as we were passing Foggy Bay, I tried calling the Canadian Customs to see if staying overnight in Brundige inlet without going ashore was legal, and was quickly informed that it was NOT!!! and could result in the confiscation and loss of my boat!!! UGH!!! Don't mess with the Canadian Customs!! So we made a hard left turn immediately and headed for Foggy Bay, grumbling and complaining under our breaths. Foggy Bay is similar to Meyer's Chuck in that it is a hidden snug little cove, with a scary entrance and lots of ways to have a bad afternoon. It is visually difficult to spot the entrance, and we gave thanks for the excellent chartplotters we have onboard. After passing between several guardian islets, and weaving our way past kelp beds and then through a narrow channel (perhaps 50 feet wide in places, we arrived at a gorgeous inner basin with plenty of room for several boats. We were to share it with a powerboat from Texas of all places. Foggy Bay inner cove is at 54:57.00'N by 130:56.48'W. Google it- it is amazing.
As we had guessed, the next day, August 27, was not at all favorable for the run into Prince Rupert. The current was against us most of the day, there was a big ugly chop from the direction we wanted to go, and the wind was right in our faces at about 22 knots, and it was raining. We had a very difficult day getting to Prince Rupert! We ended up motorsailing with a double reef in, tacking to stay about 25-35 degrees off the wind and sniveling a lot. Progress was brutally slow and we were not happy campers. The contrast with the perfect evening in Foggy Bay just 14 hours before was amazing. As the day progressed and as we slowly got closer to our destination, a big navigational decision had to be made. Between us and the fabled fleshpots of Prince Rupert was a very large island called Digby Island. THere are two ways to get to Prince Rupert- either pass north of Digby Island through the torturous (but short) Venn Passage, or take the much longer but straightforward path around the bottom of the island and up the big channel into Prince Rupert. We were tired, wet, and disgusted, but Venn Passage is pretty intimidating. Going around the bottom of the island would have meant several more hours of hacking our way into the brick wall chop and wind, and while Venn Passage might be a beating also, at least it would be a DIFFERENT beating, so we made the decision to go that way. As it turned out, it was a very good choice. Although torturous, convoluted and shallow, there were plenty of navigational aids and ranges, and it is well charted. Susan drove the entire section (about 5 nm) by hand while I called out the courses and Ekat looked for the marks. The end comes very suddenly. You pass through a very narrow channel between some nasty rocks, make a sharp turn to the left in a tiny basin, and BOOM! you are in Prince Rupert Harbor. Prince Rupert is located on a very large Island, called Kaien Island, with a very deep channel between it and Digby Island. It is a nice town, with a lot of fishing, lumber, and shipping related industries. Prince Rupert is connected via road to the northern BC inland and the Yukon, and a lot of freight flows through it to the interior.
We stayed two nights at the Prince Rupert Yacht Club docks. No flannel pants, blue blazer and hat with scrambled eggs on the brim here! Skip and Muffy need not apply. The docks were ancient and barely floating, and the entire marina (to give it a good name) was full of fishing boats. We squeezed into a slip with literally a foot to spare and gave thanks for the 30 inch diameter fenders we had bought in Sitka. The people at the Marina could not have been nicer or more accommodating, and the showers were excellent. 3 minutes for a loonie (a Canadian dollar coin).
We had a nice day off walking around in the rain (a constant feature of life up here this year), re-provisioning at the excellent Safeway, and getting more books and charts for the complex navigation through the maze of islands to come. The second night, on a local recommendation, we jammed into a really small diner in a fish market and had one of the best fish meals I have ever had. The diner had about 8 or 9 tables, and the accommodations were extremely spartan. You were rubbing elbows with a huge tank of terrified (for good reason...) Dungeness crabs, several refrigerators full of smoked salmon, and one of beer. The kitchen was smaller than a typical home kitchen, but the food was to die for! Some people from Belgium were seated to our left, and were so impressed that they actually had two dinners in succession each! I had halibut, which was truly astounding, with a caesar salad and new potatoes, and a Kokanee Beer. Desert was a giant chocolate chip cookie with ice cream and whipped cream. Yum, yum, yum! Life cruising tends to accentuate the small things in life, like a good shower, a nice meal, or a pretty sunset. One gets into a sort of timeless existence, where each day morphs into the next with little to differentiate them except for the weather, the food, the anchorages, and the companionship of your friends. Politics, and the scandal du jour, which seem so important when at home, are really meaningless out here. You just don't care. Period. I have had almost no internet access for months, and I don't care. weird...
We departed Prince Rupert on Wednesday, August 29, headed into the huge archipelago of Northern British Columbia. It might be worth exploring this region on Google Earth, as it is one of the largest archipelagos on the planet. It is simply immense! And very complicated. Both Southeast Alaska and Northern BC are dominated by gigantic tides and currents, cool wet weather, and scenic beauty that will knock you down. Cruise ships are very common here, but I guarantee you that as good as the view is from them, nothing can compare with the view from a small boat wending it's way through the complex waterways of this region.
Coming out of Prince Rupert, we had several hours of dodging islands and reefs as we headed south to the Grenville Channel. This is a narrow, very deep waterway that stretches straight as an arrow for over 35 miles. It is steep on both sides and it is impossible to describe the beauty. When we departed Prince Rupert, it was raining heavily, and quite cold. Fortunately, by the time we got to the entrance to the channel, a weak sun was peaking through the clouds, and the day just kept getting better and better. The current in Grenville channel is a constant headache, and we had hoped to get a favorable one. Sadly, by the time we had wended our way to the entrance, the train had left the station, and we had about 1.5 knots against us most of the day. We didn't really mind, though, as we were quite gob-smacked by the scenery, and there was no navigation to speak of- just lash the wheel and don't do anything but sightsee. Eventually, the current changed in our favor (if you wait long enough it always will...) and we started to pick up speed toward our intended anchorage at Lowe Inlet. We arrived in the late afternoon, and worked our way into Nettle Cove- the inner anchorage. The position was 53:33.49N by 129:34.17W. We anchored in 100 feet of water just off Verney Falls, a beautiful waterfall that cascades into the cove. After a wonderful BBQ dinner, we retired to a perfect evening with a glassy cove and perfect weather.
The good weather continued yesterday, August 30, after a wet, drizzly morning as we finished traversing the Grenville Channel and headed into the complex of waterways that will take us to Vancouver Island (eventually...). This section sees the intersection of the MacKay Reach, Douglas Channel, Verney Passage, and several other sounds and passages. We were treated to glassy conditions, and a number of small whales (humpbacks, I think) were doing their thing in the distance. We headed across MacKay Reach and down Fraser Reach towards Butedale. We had hoped to go to the warm springs at Bishop Bay, but the time and currents were not really in favor of it, so we headed down Fraser Reach instead. Butedale used to be a cannery town and in years past was a popular stop along this section of water. The Grenville Channel, Fraser Reach, Graham reach and so on are extremely deep fiord like waterways, with depths up to 2000 feet. The water at the edges can be several hundred feet deep a boat length from shore. As a result, there are few anchorages in this 100 mile odd section of water. Butedale used to be one of them, but weather and neglect have caused the buildings to collapse, and the docks are in bad repair. We had hoped to stop, but a close examination made an alternative anchorage 8 miles further on seem a better choice. It is too bad, as Butedale is ideally located. We continued to Khutze inlet and anchored last night on an underwater island in the middle of a deep fiord, offshore from Green Spit. Our anchorage was at 53:05.625N by 128:31.313W in about 70 feet of water. This turned out to be a splendid and very beautiful anchorage, but it was a bit un-nerving to be anchored in the middle of a huge, very deep, body of water on a bump, essentially, with several knots of current flowing by as the tide went in and out. Our 110 pound Bruce anchor and the 400 feet of 3/8" high test chain we carry as our primary anchor have been a god send here, as many of the anchorages are very deep or have substantial currents, and the penalty for failure is pretty high. We installed a massive Lofrans Falkon Windlass to handle the anchor system, and it also has been wonderful. People have laughed at our anchors and windlass in the Bay area- here they are admired, and we are very glad to have them. Anyway, we had a very restful night last night. I periodically got up to check our anchor, and was treated to a full moon and a cloudless sky- the first evening like that I can remember. Little wisps of mist wrapped around the trees on shore and gave Khutze Inlet a magical quality.
This morning the day dawned clear, and as the frost (it is starting to get cold...) burned off, we pulled up the anchor and headed down Graham Reach for the tiny Indian town of Klemtu. We have heard mixed reports about Klemtu, but they have a government dock and some amenities, so we will give it a try. We will either have a great time or get mugged, but that's what cruising is all about. In the next few days we will head further Southeast to Shearwater, another small town near the Indian town of Bella Bella, then head trough the maze of passages and islands leading to Queen Charlotte Sound and the passage across it to Vancouver Island. Reaching Vancouver Island will be the start of the home stretch as far as the northern waters go, with the dicey and often difficult passage from the Strait of Juan de Fuca to San Francisco as the last big hurdle.
I will try to update this more often, as it is easy to forget wonderful things. It is always great to hear from folks- we are pretty isolated out here, and don't get much email.
Well, today we are in Klemtu. We had heard mixed reports about it, but decided to come anyway. I am very glad we did. It is very third world- like. It is not a wealthy community by a long shot. Mostly Kitasoo indian people, many lifelong residents. The facilities are pretty run down, but the people have been super friendly. The local caretaker of the community Great Lodge, George Robinson (I know- a traditional First Nation name...), who was born here, invited us to see the lodge. We took him up on it. It was fantastic. It is a large building made of red cedar. There are nice carvings and totems on the outside, but the inside is the prize. It is a huge open room, with bleacher like seats on two sides. Enough for 2000 people (the town has about 500). THe center area is of a sandy gravel, with a periphery of concrete. In the center of the gravel is a large firepit. The ceiling is quite high, with a large chimney like structure over the firepit. There are two ENOMOUS!!! beams made from whole trees running lengthwise along the roof. THere are carved pillars and trusses supporting them with beautiful renderings of bears, killer whales, eagles, ravens, and a frog. There is an enormous drum, made from a single log, about 35 feet long that they use in the cerenonial dances. As many as 20 people can drum at once. I bet it sounds just wonderful. There are windows high up in the roof that let spectacular beams of light in, which illuminate the golden colored red cedar interior. They burn red cedar logs in their ceremonies, so the whole place has the most delightful smell.
It was, simply wonderful to see. THe village sits around a little cove which is full of enormous salmon, which are literally jumping all over the place. Seriously- they are thumbing their noses at everyone. Jumping seveal feet out of the water! All over the place!!
We are tied up at an old wood dock with a few other boats. THe sun is shining, and the temperature is very pleasant. Our trip from the anchorage at Khutze Inlet was easy and uneventful. Soon we will fire up the BBQ and have a nice dinner. Then tomorrow, about 30 miles to Shearwater, at Bella Bella, another Indian town.
THe scenery here is unbelievable. THere is no way to really describe it.
Well, made it to North Vancouver Island, Port Hardy. Things are winding down. Our trusty First Mate has started her return to the Holy Monunt. Michael and I have lost some time due to "gale force winds" in the Johnstone so we have holed up in Port Hardy for a few days. Still some wonderful things to see but I knew when we crossed Queen Charlotte Strait that the homeland beckons.
Ahh, how time flies...pub food tonight. Not too bad!
Mouton Noir back in the USA and headed to FaceLift-sort of. Here is to a fast and safe passage down the West coast to the Bay Area. Transition time of year on the coast and can be anything from a Mr Toad Wild Ride to a walk in Central Park.
Ken should work up an award for the longest, slowest and most uncomfortable round about route ever taken to FaceLift?
I have finally gotten time to drop you all a note and to bring you up to date on our travels. As I type, we are halfway between Roche Harbor on San Juan Island (in the San Juan Islands, USA) and Port Angeles, Washington, on the south side of the Strait of Juan de Fuca. We will be stopping in Port Angeles for the night, and then heading to Neah Bay, a few miles from the Pacific Ocean. We plan to start our return passage down the west coast on Saturday. The weather looks as good as we might hope for this time of year.
I have been informaed that our Yellowbrick tracker is now showing our positions on the chart, so you can follow our passage almost in real time from the website http://yb.tl/transback2012. Or:
or go to the Single Handed Society website, sfbaysss.org
then click on 2012 Transpac Map & Race Viewer
and find "To view the tracker page for boats returning to the West Coast, click here."
So where were we? When I last wrote, we hqad just visited the Great Lodge of the local First Nation people in Klemtu. That was a really satisfying and fun day! THe next day we motored to Shearwater, a resort near the Indian town of Bella Bella. This is a huge marina which has fuel and services (including a boatyard) for pleasure and fishing boats. There were about equal numbers of each in there. We enjoyed hot showers and a good meal and some beers at the local tavern, and the next day saddled up Mouton Nooir and headed down the channels tothe decrepit town of Namu.
Namu is one of the previously flourishing small communities which have fallen apart after the canning industry disappeared. There are many of them in these islands. Although someone lives at Namu and is trying to keep the town alive, it looked pretty dismal and conditions at the dock were rough and windy, so we headed north a quarter mile to a fabulous land-locked cove called Rock Inlet for the night. Rock Inlet is reached through a narrow channel that snakes between tiny rock islands. When one enters the cove it opens up to a beautiful small body of water that is totally protected from any wind or seas. There is a small logging operation on one end, but other than that the place is pristine. It was so calm that we had real trouble even figuring out where we had entered, as the mirror surface of the water created an illusion of continuity on the shoreline. We could have anchored with a 5 pound weight and a string it was so calm and peaceful. The next day we negotiated the rocky inlet at much lower water, and headed for our final anchorage in the Northern BC waters: Fury Cove on Penrose Island. The trip was pretty uneventful, as usual, if you count having your eyes poked out by the beautiful scenery uneventful.
Fury Cove is a fairly large, sort of circular cove whose entrance is hidden behind a bunch of rocks. To enter the cove one blindly trusts the chart and sailing guides and enters a narrow patch ow water between forbidding rock islands. In a few minutes, as predicted, things get less stressful, and after a turn to the left, Fury cove is entered through a tiny inlet about 2 boat lengths wide. THe actual cove is spacious. It has a sand beach on the western side which allows a nice view of Queen Charlotte Sound. Other than a few mild breezes, Fury cove was totally peaceful and we spent a pleasant night, swilling and gorging as usual. When we anchor for the night, we usually BBQ something, with a nice salad and potatoes or other starch, followed by fresh baked cookies for desert. Sirius radio had finally started working, so we had a wide choice of music to entertain ourselves.
THe next morning we got going very early and headed into Queen Charlotte Sound. This stretch of water has about 30 nm of it exposed directly to the Pacific, and has a bad reputation for misery and despair. We were quite fortunate to get the tides and currents in our favor, and to have glassy smooth water for the majority of the crossing. Even 10 to 15 knots of westerly wind would have made the crossing pretty miserable and slow, but we lucked out and got into the lee of Vancouver Island just as the Westerly/North Westerly winds that had been predicted started to blow. In fact, we had just beeten a fairly intense gale from the NW that was caused by very high pressure over the north end of Vancouver Island. Offshore to the west, things got pretty intense, with 45 knot winds. We however, dodged it all and finally motored into Port Hardy Bay. We had planned to spend the night at the public floats, a 3 minute walk from the center of town. The wind had risen to about 20 knots, though, and several feet of chop was causing the floats (which were mostly taken by big fishing boats) to fly around like hooked trout. The sight of a half sunken powerboat dangling by it's bow line from the dock did little to increase our confidence, so we made a hard left and headed into the inner harbor, past a reef marked by yellow floats. This reef was a REAL reef, as we found out on departure, as it was completely out of the water! Inside the inner harbor, we found a small marina, the Quarterdeck Marina, and after a bit of a docking adventure (screaming, confusion, people running too and fro waving lines and trying to interest the amused bystanders to help, that sort of adventure- not the good kind) we tied up, and there we stayed for two nights while the storm raged in the Johnstone Strait- our next destination. Port Hardy was our first taste of "civilization" since we left Hawaii. Alaskan cities and Prince Rupert, while being nice places (mostly...) seem like they are not really connected to the modern world. The pace and the interest spectrum of the people is far removed from what we are used to in the lower 48 states. Fish, weather, and the local high school teams are important- international politics and the latest gizmo from Apple are not. In Port Hardy we started to see a little more of the world we left, and it became more reaal with each stop in a city as we travelled south.
After the gale had blown itself out, we left Port Hardy to do battle with johnstone Strait. This is the long narrow body of water that separates the upper half of Vancouver Island from the mainland. It is bounded on the south by Vancouver Island, and on the North by many islands, which form a series of archipelagos. Currents in this area can be very intense, and careful timing is critical. Our near term goal was to pass through either Seymour or Surge Narrows, two very narrow and ferocious passes that separate the northern waters from the larger sounds and straits leading to Vancouver and Victoria. Currents in these Narrows can hit 16 knots, and trying to go through at times other than slack water can be really, really dangerous. Johnstone strait is very long, and it would take us 2 days to get theough it. It is extremely beautiful, with high, glacier carved sides and gorgeous views. We saw pods of Orcas, and a number of other whales. The first night out of Port Hardy we went north into Port Harvey (like the 6 foot tall invisible rabbit) and found a delightful little marina run by an ex-corporate sort. We had planned to anchor out, but it seemed churlish to do so 50 yards from a nice dock, so we tied up and had some amazing food, cooked for us by the proprietor, Don. He does his own baking, and is very good at it. I had a salmon burger with a fresh baked bun for dinner. It was heaven! The next morning, we had fresh baked cinnamon rolls (and took a few for later!).
Joe McKeown had suggested that we visit some friends on Murelle Island, reached by doing the Surge Narrows instead of the more common Seymour Narrows. There are a maze of channels, sounds, and assorted waterways to the north of Johnstone strait, but only Surge Narrows and Seymour narrows communicate with the waters further south. In any case, we had tried to game out a scenario that would get us to their house with the need to pass through the narrows at a very tightly defined time (slack water). As it turned out, the tides were near neap, meaning a small distance from high to low tides, and we found a window late in the day to get through Seymour Narrows about an hour after slack water that should not have been too hazardous. Unfortunately, we saw no way to pull off a similar feat to go through Surge Narrows, so we put the hammer down on the poor, long suffering Perkins engine (which is now starting to smoke quite a bit, although it runs fine) and headed for Seymour Narrows. Thios was sort of a committing thing, since there are few anchorages in Johnstone strait, and once we committed to the last 5 miles before Seymour Narrows, the increasing current would make it difficult to get to one. As it turned out, we hit our goal exactly and passed through Seymour Narrows 45 minutes after slack water with the current helping us. We only saw a knot or so in the Narrows, but after passing through, we found ourselves flying over the ground with about 4 knots of current from behind. THe outlet of Seymour Narrows passes over Ripple Rock, a formerly highly feared and deadly underwater obstacle that creates extreme turbulence and whirlpools. Until it was blown up by the largest non-nuclear explosion of all time, Ripple Rock killed hundreds of people when boats would be driven into the rocks or capsized in the horrendous overfalls and whirlpools of Seymour Narrows. Now-days, although nothing to take lightly, Seymour Narrows is a much more predictable and safer passage. We certainly had no great difficulty, although it was exciting!
A few miles down from Seymour Narrows is the lovely town of Campbell River. We visited here last summer on a road trip to Alaska, but due to the rapidly approaching darkness, we opted to head into April Point Marina, part of a high end resort on the other side of Discovery Passage. The marina normally handles very large pleasure boats, but due to the lateness of the season, there were only a few smaller boats in there. We had no trouble tying up, and in fact the huge floats and space allowed me to practice some unusual maneuvers without any great fear of damaging a multimillion dollar power boat (very common up here). We had wonderful showers and then treated ourselves to a fabulous dinner at the very upscale restaurant that is part of the resort complex. I thought about getting a mud facial, with cucumber slices on the eyes and all, but it was late and the masseuse had gone home. Maybe next time...
Early the next morning we caught a favorable tide and motored to Comox, a delightful littl town. The marina was cute, but the harbormaster's idea of space between lines of floats was a little distorted, and we got into a nasty docking situation because we could not complete our turn to lay alongside the float. Fortunately, we are a metal boat, and have a sturdy bow. It will need some paint when we get home. The big chunk of wood that we took out of the dock- eh, too bad for the wood! We were lucky that Josh was right on the spot to take a line or things would have been much worse. osh and his wife Keely own a beautiful wooden Giles sailboat "Kuan Yin". We later ran into them at Roche Harbor. One of the great delights of cruising is meeting so many fun people.
We knew Comox was a nice town because there were flowers everywhere, and a 2 minute walk up from the docks led to a fabulous used book store with all my favorite authors. I staggered out of the store with a huge sack of new books and right into a wonderful coffee shop with excellent tea and cinnamon rolls. How lucky is that? Ha!!
The forecast for the next day was pretty dismal, with southeasterlies of 20 to 30 knots forecast. We were headed for Nanaimo, about 55 miles directly to the Southeast. As became apparent, the reason that they have forecasts is to provide a word to the wise as to what sort of horrible things might happen to you. If you are NOT wise, then, of course, the things DO happen to you. As they did to us...
We left the dock pretty early to get the good tidal current, and although overcast and unpleasant looking, the winds were light. THings went well as we worked our way past a few islands, until the butcher's bill for our hubris became past due and the Southeasterly kicked in. Between the islands and Nanaimo lay about 35 miles of the north end of the Strait of Georgia, with nothing to the southeast to block either wind or wave for many, many, many miles. So, of course, the (as forecast) 20 to 30 knot wind raied a miserable 3 to 5 foot brick walled chop, with a period that seemed about the length of our boat. Poor Mouton Noir bucked and shimmied, and slammed and shook. All to no avail. The wind persistently clung to directly from ahead, and the speed dropped, and then dropped some more. THe tide turned and now we had 1.5 knots against us. Our speed over ground fell until we were doing well to maintain 2.5 knots over ground. The motion was wretched, the boat was in misery, and so were we. We put up a double reefed main to try motorsailing, but it was impractical, as there were nasty little reefs and rocks that made tacking off tricky, and in any case, the diabolical wind would follow us from ahead, anticipating our every move. There was no escape. Sometimes in sailing there is nothing to be done but hunker down and contemplate your navel and hope for better times. THis was one of those days. Mathematical logic clearly states that if you have a positive speed over ground in the direction you want to go, then you will (someday) get there. Well, at sea, someday can seem like forever. Pound, pound, slam, stop dead in the water, pound pound. slam, crash, stop dead in the water,...... and on and on it went. Finally, we got a small lee behind a little island and made better progress. Then SLAM, SLAM, Pound, stop, and on it went. Eventually, we realized we would get to Nanaimo long after dark and a decision had to be made- go on and enter a busy, unfamiliar port in the dark, or seek shelter in one of several possible anchorages in our lee. Once again hubris won out over prudence and we passed up several coves and marinas that were totally exposed to the prevailing wind. Finally, as we got closer to Nanaimo, we got a little shelter behind a point and our speed picked up a bit. Before we could get to the harbor, however, we had to pass through a narrow passage between several rocky islets and a rocky point (in case you hadn't noticed yet, the entire journey has been in the land of rocky islets, rocky rocks, rocky points, etc). With Susan steering, we greased that obstacle, and then had to choose between entering through Departure Bay, with a long traverse of the Nanaimo waterfront and many obstacles, or going around Protection Island and entering the harbor from the other end, closer to our projected destination. We opted for the longer, but less eventful route around protection Island, and after apparently driving right over a buoy in the inky blackness, we tied up in delightful Nanaimo around 10 that evening, for a 16 hour day.
We were exhausted the next day, so we stayed two nights in Nanaimo. Nanaimo is a beautiful city, with great docks, an old town, plenty of bookstores (a reliable metric...), LOTS of great coffeeshops, easy internet access, and good food. We did laundry, took showers, and did more swilling and gorging. I found some REALLY GOOD cinnamon rolls.
Because our hearts are pure, or maybe because we were still tired, we decided to make a short day the next day. Or maybe it was because we had to pass through the eye of the needle at Dodd Narrows, a ridiculously tiny break in a rock wall between two enormous bodies of water. Slack water was predicted for 2 pm, and this is another place not to be trifled with. It is about 5 miles down an easy passage from the marina, so after refueling, we ambled over there and found that half the boats in Nanaimo had had the same idea. On each side of the tiny hole (which is only 200 yards long) boats were milling about waiting for the water to stop gushing out of the gap. Finally, about 45 minutes before slack, one boat could not take it any more and started into the Narrows. Like penguins crowding the edge of an ice floe craning their neck to see if the first one in the water gets eaten by a leopard seal, all the other boats edged closer to the gap. When the first boat (a smallish sailboat) made it, the avalanche was on. With motors blasting, and calls of "securite, securite'" on the VHF, the maritime descendants of Atilla the Hun thundered into the gap, with us among them. It was actually pretty cool. Dodd Narrows is very pretty, intense, and short. On exiting it. one is in a lovely sound, with gorgeous homes on the islands on each side. A short motor and we were anchored at Thetis Island, in Telegraph Harbor for the night.
Telegraph harbor is very pretty, and the night was completely still and very clear. Orion and other constllations blazed from a pitch black sky. We slept like logs. The next morning, as we prepared to depart, a very nice man named Michel stopped by in his runabout to chat. He is a local builder who was on his way across to Vancouver Island to get a coworker. We had a great chat, and then headed out for Roche Harbor and re-entry to the US. Roche Harbor is a destination resort and one of only a few ports of Entry. It was literally FILLED with gigantic yachts. Hundreds. It was amazing. The very nice marina staff dound us a perfect slip, with easy access and exit. We had wonderful showers, and then it was off to the outdoor pub for more swilling and gorging (the astute reader will notice a theme here...). I emailed Commandder's Weather for a forecast of our projected trip down the coast, and it was pretty good. So this morning we got going and are headed for Port Angeles to start our journey out the Strait of Juan de Fuca and down the coast.
I hope to be able to provide daily updates from here, as the swilling and gorging is about to end. Hopefully the moaning and purging will not start. The forecast is for N to NW winds in the 10 to 20 knot range, and moderate seas.
thank you for a real education. normally my eyes twitch and skimming ensues when confronted with full screens of text, but your telling read like a novel ... the kind you can't put down.
the three ferry passages i've made between seattle (later bellingham) and juneau, haines skagway included legs out to sitka. this helped shape the images in my mind, but didn't do a thing to prepare me for the stress of vicariously navigating the interplay of hazards with such a lovely boat at stake.
sittin' here with the sated grin of a guy that's just been journeyed
I DIDN'T SPEAK WITH RALPH EVEN ONCE, thank you, very much!
Looks like Ferretlegger has been writing the TR. . . and that's a good thing, since I am without words. . . I did take lots and lots of photos with my new PENTAX Optio WG2. . . but I haven't even looked at them. I'll prolly wait a few weeks before I do, since I never want photographs to dictate my memories. . . that's just the way I roll.
Mouton Noir has departed Neah Bay, Washington as of 11 am PDT and is now motoring against a really big adverse current towards Cape Flattery. We will be around it in an hour or so, and have nothing south of us except the west coast of the United States. The weather forecast looks very mild considering the possibilities, and we may have to motor quite a bit. We have a full load of fuesl (150 gallons plus 20 in jugs) so we should be fine for any motoring needs.
Presently, the swells are fairly unpleasant- big smooth rollers with a few cross swells to get some corkscrewing action. After a month of mostly smooth water, we will have to contend with mal de mer possibilities. I hope that after we get out of the mouth of the Strait of Juan de Fuca that we will get a reqasonably organized Pacific swell and things will smooth out.
Winds are currently light. Predicted to increase a bit tonight, and maybe get up to 20 knots on Sunday. We hope to be back in the Bay Wednesday. We have about 700 nm to go.
We are in the final stretch of Mouton Noir's cruise. As I type this, at 2:20 Wednesday, September 19, we are abeam of Cape Mendecino, in California. THis cape has a very bad reputation for horrible weather, but we have really lucked out this time, and conditions are good. We have bben motoring ever since departin Neah Bay, Washington onSeptember 15. Although the hammering drone of the engine is pretty tedious, this passage, at this time of the year has the potential to be extremely difficult, so we will take the annoyance of too little wind for the ease of making progress.
This is not to say that the passage so far has been without it's frustrations. We rarely are able to get more than 6 knots Speed Over Ground. During this trip we have found that the boat just cannot motor very well. THe engine, A Perkins Prima 60 HP is fine. We have a very nice 3 blade Max Prop propeller, but I think it is pitched wrong, and thus is mismatched to the engine HP and RPM. In any case, that will be an issue to be looked at on our return. Not being able to really power-up and jam the boat into a headwind or choppy water has been a real problem at times. Earlier, I wrote about a really miserable day spent going from Comox to Nanaimo. We have had some similar frustrations on this leg. Although the weather forecasts ALL called for light airs and flat water (relatively speaking...), we have had 36 hours of moderately strong Southeasterly wind, along with the short choppy seas that that sort of wind creates, right in our faces. In addition, there appears to be a north setting current along the northern coast between California and Washington of between half a knot and a knot, and our SOG has been reduced to 4 knots at times. This, of course, creates anxiety about whether or not we will have fuel to make it to the Bay or not. Refueling options along this coast are pretty slim. At the moment, it looks like we will make it with a bit to spare. We have 20 gallons of diesel in jugs, and our SOG is picking up now that the winds have finally gotten the memo and are coming from the Northwest. We ARE a sailboat, of course, and potentially can sail the entire leg, but we would need more than the 5 or 6 knots from behind us that is forecast for the rest of the leg. Worst case is we wait for wind and hope we don't run out of beef jerky and poptarts...
Anyway, all is as well as can be expected. We foresee arriving on THurday, September 20 in the daytime. Exactly WHAT time is very hard to pin down right now, as we have about 180 miles to go, and small changes in SOG make a big difference in arrival time, not to mention the currents in the Bay. I will try to update this when we are closer. If anyone from Marina Village can check that our slip, Gate 11, slip 320 is vacant and drop me a note, I would appreciate it. Apparently, Cabaret II, a beautiful boat we met in Hawaii has been staying there temporarily, and while we hate to ask them to leave, we need a place to dock on our return. Our slip is sort of a nightmare to get into, in that one cannot tell if it is empty until committing to the fairway, and the seawall and underwater obstacles on one side of the fairway make turning around impossible. So if the slip is full, there is a disaster in the making, of sorts. Not what we need after a long voyage.
It is a nice evening. I was just sitting in the cockpit listening to some blues and watching the foaming green wake. The bio-luminescence is strong tonight, and it is very dark. Stars are appearing as the fog lifts, and the wake is a beautiful glowing green ribbon, with blue/white sparkles stretching out behind the boat. I love these moments- they make the tedium, stress, anxiety, and hard work all worthwhile. I am savoring these little moments as the big adventure draws to a close.
Check the buoy reports when you get close guys, it's pretty snotty out there at the moment. Short period, very steep...similar to what we encountered when we got in on Sunday the 3rd. It was the only time in 2500 miles that I was nervous.
Currently, at 2 pm Wednesday, Sept 19, Mouton Noir is about 135 nm from the Golden Gate. We are headed south along the coast, about 30 miles offshore, between Cape Mendecino and Pt Arena. The weather is fairly calm, with a light following winds from dead astern (of course...). We expect to be back in the Bay tomorrow afternoon.
Although the ETA almost became "not for a long, long time!" a little earlier. We had stopped the engine and headed the boat about 40 degrees off course so that we could sail it for a bit while we checked the oil, transferred fuel, and did a bit of maintenance. Our fuel situation was actually pretty grim. We had enough in the tank to get us within 10 miles of the Gate before we ran out, according to our very careful calculations. It was probably worse than that, though, because it is almost impossible to get the last few gallons out of the tank. We had 20 gallons in reserve, in jugs stored on deck, so we pumped them into the tank. We use a fuel polishing/transfer system so that we never try to pour fuel from a jug into the tank. We stick a stainless tube on the end of a hose in the jugs, which are securely lashed to the rails and then just suck the fuel into the tank, while running it through a Racor 1000 filter to remove any dirt or water. It works great. We added oil to the engine (1.5 qts!) and cleaned up a few things.
Then we tried to restart the motor. UGH.... THe starter motor would spin freely, but the gear that engages the flywheel would not do so, and the engine would not turn over. After the usual breast beating and wailing, I dug out the spare starter motor I carry and installed it. I gather the moans, grunting noises, and cries of despair while doing that noxious job were very amusing. Not to me, of course, but Susan is used to such whining and pretty much ignored it.
Anyway, the engine started on the first rotation of the flywheel after all that, and we are back on track for the Gate, getting beaten up by a current that seems to be running at about a knot northward, in complete disdain of the oceanographers, who to a man claim that the California Current runs south. We were warned of this exotic phenomena by a friendly tugboat captain we ran alongside of for a day or so, but it flies in the face of common wisdom. So we are now motoring down the coast, with about 24 hours to go, rolling around, as the boat is dead downwind, with an apparent wind of 5 knots or so and the mainsail guyed out to one side to try to squeeze a little more speed out.
We are ready to get back and have a shower, but that will have to wait until tomorrow. Moral of the story: assume the worst and carry spare parts...
Hey there Michael.
Perhaps you're too close to shore. The north flowing countercurrent is a known occurrence close to the Marin/Sonoma/Mendocino shore. I've actually used it from Bodega Head to Gualala.
Tack off for a while. Besides you'll have a nicer point of sailing through the Gulf of the Farallones. You don't want those seas on your beam if there's a breeze.
Edit: Guess I should have read more carefully. You're 30 miles out.
Really Really watch the shipping off Pt Arena and Pt Reyes!! I had to avoid a southbound tanker in the middle of a perfectly clear starry night about 5 miles due W of Pt Reyes. Tell you the whole story around the fire at Facelift.
Into the home stretch, the Golden Gate Bridge and FaceLift-Ken have you arranged a slip for Mouton Noir and the Mountoneers yet?
We rounded Point Reyes at 5 am running downwind with just the full main up in 25 knots of breeze from dead aft. Just after transferring fuel and replacing the starter, the wind came up enough to sail and we have had some fast downwind sailing ever since. We are currently (7:15 am) headed right down the middle of the north traffic separation zone in the Gulf of the Farallones, headed for the Pilot Buoy, which we hope to make around 10 am. Then another 10 nm down the shipping channel and we pick up a favorable current all the way back to the slip. We will probably be in around 1-2 pm. Wahoo!!
It has been an amazing journey, from palm trees to glaciers. We have seen wonderful things and had moments of incredible beauty. There are no words to fully encompass the experience. My only regret is that due to the late start, mandated by the Single Handed TransPacstart, we were jammed for time all the way andjust couldn't stay and visit any of these great places for long. The need to keep moving was due to a rapidly closing weather window for getting south. While it is true that one might be able to make the various passages in a fortunate window most of the year, after the middle of September, things start to get very serious, weather wise, and also very cold. We have been just ahead of the end of the season all the way down from Alaska, with marinas and resorts calling it quits for the year within a few days of our passage through the area. I think we have been incredibly fortunate to get through the various choke points, sucjh as the Queen Charlotte Sound passage, Seymour Narrows, Port Angeles to Neah Bay, and so on, with minimal delays and are still within a day of our original planned return.
20 years ago, I came down from Neah Bay in Foxxfyre at the end of September, and spent 6 terrifying days in a howling northerly gale, with continuous winds in excess of 55 knots and monstrous, breaking seas. I never want to be caught in one of those "isobar squeezes" again, and we dodged the bullet this trip.
Returning to land will be a shock. There is a hotly contested presidential election that we have heard almost nothing about, bills to pay, our houses to clean. The list is getting longer every minute. Soon the unpleasant aspects of the trip will fade, and the good memories of beautiful anchorages, quaint marinas, interesting fellow travelers met and meals shared will remain, and the sense of accomplishment at executing a difficult and ambitious voyage will be part of us forever.
I hope you have enjoyed following our adventures. This email address will not be used after September 21. I will be reachable at my usual home address, email@example.com after tomorrow.
Congratulations to Mouton Noir and crew, they are back in Dodge after a marathon 3 passage voyage from here to there and back and Guido is signing off:
As of 1:30 this afternoon, Mouton Noir is back in her slip in Marina Village, Alameda. We had a grand sail for the last 24 hours with a bitterly cold northerly wind. We passed Pt reyes around 5 am, and made it under the Golden Gate Bridge around 11 am and change. The weather in the bay could not have been nicer- warm and sunny. A striking contrast to the refrigerator like conditions we had from Pt Arena south. We even managed to get into the slip without hitting anything!!
All in all, a very successful and interesting trip. THanks to all for the words of encouragement and good wishes. THe emails really brightened up the days (and nights), and provided a touch of home in some very strange places.
I will be signing off now. We are going to clean up the boat a bit and head home for a few days. Then we have to come back and REALLY clean up the boat, and service the engine. Please email me at my home email address, firstname.lastname@example.org
We are indeed back. Wandering about the house kicking dispititedly at the piles of stuff dumped on the floor at the last minute before departure for the race. Dust and dirt everywhere, no food in the fridge, lots of laundry. I feel very much at peace and relaxed, though. The feeling is like what one gets after topping out on El Cap. I went to download all my email and instead got sucked into You Tube, and ended up watching/listening to zillions of wonderful rockabilly tunes with great pinup art from the world of hot rods. I guess I am sort of starved for entertainment...
Good thing there are no carnival sideshow scammers with three walnut shells and a pea around here...
I am looking forward to Facelift. Susan and I have a place at housekeeping. It will be great to smell pine trees, and the other scents that make Yosemite such a fond memory over the years. No bilges to check, no engines or sails to tend, no worry as a ship ignores your repeated calls and steams ever closer. Wahoo!! If anyone wants to chat about the trip, just comne on over and have at it!!
Many thanks to Guido for posting up our updates! And also to those of you who have encouraged us or written to us. Life at sea puts one in a weird world, and it has a small horizon. Outside contact is both wonderful and also strange, but very welcome. The whole ocean passage thing really is like climbibng a big wall, and requires exactly the same things for success: a moderate skill level, great desire, greater tenacity, and the willingness to trust that you can somehow solve the problems that you inevitably face. Of all the qualities, the need for skills is dwarfed by the value of personal committment and a mulish unwillingness to admit defeat (although sometimes, you have to know when to fight another day...).
A minimum level of skill and judgement ARE required however, at least in certain areas. I met a fellow in Neah bay who took our lines when we were doing a dodgy approach to the fuel dock. He asked for us to hang around while he brought his boat over from the marina to fuel up, so we stayed to give him a hand. His boat was a charmingly eccentric cold molded copy of a lifeboat hull that he had spent 14 years building. In that time he had taught himself a very high level of woodworking skills, and the boat was a perfect vehicle for expressing his artistic nature. It was, in over 35 years of sailing, one of the oddest boats I have ever seen. The cabin top was a bulbous construction that looked somewhat like a boot. There was a 5 foot carven staff on the bow with an Egyptian like carved head with emerald colored jewels for eyes. The rudder had a similar carved head on 3 foot high curved and laminated wooden struts, and the tiller was a whimsical corkscrewed device. There was a beautiful laminated framework around the cockpit, intended for a hooped sort of enclosure that had not yet been built. The engine was a 9 HP outboard built into a well in the center of the cockpit. Inside reminded me of the canonical minimalist apartment. There was a main cabin which had a small stove, like a Jet Boil on steroids in the corner, and a tiny washbasin in the other corner. The floor was flat, and there were no benches or any other furniture in the boat. Forward was a V Berth like bunk, with low overhead. He had a tiny solar panel, and a single chartplotter/GPS. The mast was made from an aluminum light pole, which had been inset into the hull in a very rugged way. The mast had no boom, but the rig was designed to use only jibs, although he had no poles for downwind work. All-in-all, the craftsmanship was excellent, and if eccentric, the boat was well suited to his original purpose of wandering about the various islands and anchorages in the Pacific Northwest. When he mentioned that he was planning to depart the next day for Hilo, Hawaii and asked if the weather would be nice, I almost fainted!!!
He had actually never taken the boat into the real ocean, and had very little actual sailing experience. As we talked, it became clear that he had just finished the boat after 14 years work, and being that the season for cruising the Northwest was ending, felt compelled to go SOMEWHERE in it, and the most obvious "where" was Hawaii. We talked for several hours, and I tried as best as I could to be tactful. All my friends reading this have just snorted coffee all over the keyboard, but I really did try to wean him from this suicidal idea as gently as I could.. Eventually, I think he saw the light and decided to wait for next year and cruise the islands of the NW as he originally intended. I hope he did forgo the ocean passage, as the boat, although having a sturdy (and oddly beautiful) construction, was totally unsuitable for ocean crossings, at least offseason to Hawaii, not to mention the (much harder) voyage back.
When one goes cruising, one of the great delights is meeting unusual and interesting people. This fellow was certainly that. He was also intelligent, articulate, and thoughtful. He was just temporarily (I hope) in a state of denial about the proper places and uses of his delightful little boat. Having said that, some of the most amazing voyages in human history were undertaken in unsuitable little boats by people who had either amazing skill or incredible resolve, sometimes both. I had the unbelievable good fortune to literally bump into the "James Caird", a converted whaleboat in which Shackleton made perhaps the greatest small boat voyage in history from Elephant island to South Georgia Island in 1914 (I think). The adventure was a life or death situation (which always strengthens resolve...) to get rescue for his crew who were, at that point, marooned on Elephant island, in the antarctic. Anyway, the boat was on a dolly pushed into a dim corner of the British maritime Museum in Greenwich, and had been loaned to the museum as part of a program on polar exploration they had been having. I almost passed out with surprise on seeing it, and later had a good cry. For offshore sailors, this boat is one of the "Holy Grail" boats of legend. I won't bore you with the whole story of that day, one of the most profound I have had, in which I saw close up all of the original Harrison Clocks, detailed in the book "Longitude", and Robin Knox-Johnson's "Suhaili", the first boat to circumnavigate singlehanded, and Chirchester's "Gypsy Moth IV", and a number of other things which offshore sailors have as the stuff of legend (similar to John Salathe, Dolt, Harding, and others of the Golden Era of giants in Yosemite...), but if you are interested, chat me up at Facelift.
Anyway, my longwinded point is that although great skill is not needed to cross an ocean in a sailboat, a certain amount of it, along with common sense, IS required for survival, just like on a wall. And lacking it, bailing is not a shameful or embarrassing thing, merely a recognition that ambition and desire got a bit ahead of the tools or conditions needed for a reasonable chance for success. It is the same in sailing as it is in a Big Wall. Climbing and offshore sailing have a lot in common, especially in the realm of the character traits and mental skills that they develop.
Thanks for following Susan and my travels this summer. Being able to share them with fellow climbers was a special treat for me.
Thanks for the memories! I do take some issue with your comparing Big Walls
to Big Oceans. While some walls are hard or even nigh impossible to bail
from there generally ain't no bailing (yuk-yuk) from far at sea. And then
there is the minor detail of the constant motion, wind, and waves. The
water never stops moving, 'cept when you're becalmed.
I hope you don't get post-partum depression. But since you've not been beached
at half-pay and you know what your next command is then dreaming can commence afresh!
One night I watched the ISS pass overhead when we were in the third day of motoring through the PAC High. It was an interesting thought that those astronauts were only 80 minutes or so from being able to abandon the ISS and land in Russia, while we, being hundreds of miles off of any shipping lane were days away from any kind of help. That realization helps to keep you focused on sailing the boat when you're enduring a five day gale 1300 miles out.
I hope Mouton Noir fared better than No Strings. My holding tank broke free of it's tabbing...fortunately it didn't spring any leaks...it did manage to break the furniture up a bit. I've been home for two weeks and the de-humidifier is STILL pumping out a quart of water every couple of hours...and the bilge is bone dry.
We did find one of the missing Japanese docks out there...you wouldn't want to meet this in the dark of night. Hmmm, can't seem to upload....
We did find one of the missing Japanese docks out there...you wouldn't want to meet this in the dark of night. Hmmm, can't seem to upload....
I am so glad I did not read this before we were home. That was one of my biggest fears. The worst we encountered were two huge logs on the way to Alaska that we glanced off. Some of our compatriots did encounter 2 abandoned fishing boats, at least one upside down, probably debris. Would that dock have been picked up on radar?
So sorry about the tank, nasty nasty, nasty! Glad you are home safe too!
Well, will you look at this....a beautiful welcome home gift from Miss NeeBee herself!
Thanks so much!
what a lovey NeeBee gift to come home to!
We met a wonderful young German couple, who are circumnavigating, in Hanalei Bay in Hawaii. They were on their way to the South Pacific when several folks talked them out of that and to go to Alaska instead. We met up with them in Sitka and did some buddy sailing. Now they are in the Bay Area and we've reconnected and we are now off to show them Yosemite! We leave for Moab next week and I'd love to get them down there too!
Some of you have been asking me for some pics. I've been on the road alot and not able to organize them. Instead of posting a bunch here I'll post a link to the pics when I get them all uploaded. I'll just post a couple of my favorite now...
Going up the Tracy Arm to the glacier...the pic doesn't do justice to the magnitutde of it...plus a huge part on the far left side calved while we were watching it.
The large tower to the left calved as we were watching...but sadly we were getting ready to leave and cameras had been put away. Huge thunderous sound.
Turn! Turn! Turn!....an iceberg, we don't want to be the Titantic. Actually it wasn't quite that dramatic, but it was a big berg.
Big Berg, easy to spot, it's the little ones that sneak up on you.
Navigating the arm through the "bergie field". Everyone had a chance to navigate, and every one on board that wasn't steering was on "bergie patrol". Some are so hard to see because they are clear. We didn't hit any and I think we only pushed one or two small ones out of the way. Boat Hook, my friend.
All hands on deck for navigating the bergie fields! Total obstacle course!
Will get the link up to the whole enchilada in a few days.
Wash, rinse, repeat....the journey continues, Part Deux. Every two years it comes around. In 30 days Michael (Ferretlegger) will be setting sail to Hawaii in the SingleHanded Transpac. http://sfbaysss.org/shtp/racers/
I'll join him in Hawaii and set sail together from there to where????
More sails, winches and antennas accompany us this time! As fellow sailors refer to Michael's penchant for gear: "you have more spare parts than a 3rd world country". Indeed, and it's served us well at sea!
I guess Susan has spilled the beans. I am working like a dog to get the boat ready and plan to head out the Gate on Saturday, June 28 with 20 odd other souls, some of them really, really, genuinely ODD!. Here is a video I found that might help answer the solo sailors equivalent to Mallory's question of "Why do you do it?". As I have mentioned before, in my mind, climbing (especially big wall and big mountains) has an awful lot in common with ocean sailing, especially inside your head and soul. Enjoy!
Months of work from machining custom parts to new sails. Mouton Noir has made it to the Corinthian Yacht Club for the start of the race on Saturday. There's a sentiment about this race (and many other off shore races)..."the hardest part is getting to the start". Well MN is almost there...Saturday when the gun goes off. ...(unfortunately it looks like they are starting on a flood)!!!! The first 3 days look to be pretty brutal conditions. Hanalei Bay here she comes.
Mouton makes it to Tiburon Ca. Race starts Saturday.
There's currently a rowboat race from Monterey to Hawaii.
They've been out 18 days and the leaders have only covered a bit less than 1/2 the distance.
So any singlehanded sailor who gets close to Hawaii after about 12 days (most of them) will risk running right through the rowing pack.
Several have dropped out (one crew rescued from their sinking boat) but there are still 8 boats out there.
I presume SHTP sponsors, SCSeaGoat and FerretLegger are aware of the possible conflicts. At least the SHTP ends up in Hanalei and the rowers will be straggling into Honolulu. http://greatpacificrace.com
Two Bruce Anchors on the bow of Mouton Noir. That's some heavy metal. The Bruce is by far the best anchor I've ever used.
Ah, High Traverse, when it comes to anchors to each his own!
I knew you'd remind me of our previous disagreement on Bruce anchors. ;-)
Ferretlegger is a physicist. I'm a mechanical engineer.
But you've got the experience of hundreds of anchorages!
NW WINDS 15 TO 25 KT. WIND WAVES 4 TO 7 FT.
MIXED SWELL NW 4 TO 6 FT AT 7 SECONDS AND SW 3 FT AT 18 SECONDS.
PATCHY FOG AFTER MIDNIGHT.
NW WINDS 15 TO 25 KT. WIND WAVES 4 TO 7 FT.
W SWELL 7 TO 9 FT AT 12 SECONDS AND SW 3 FT AT 17 SECONDS.
PATCHY FOG IN THE MORNING.
7 foot seas in the Gulf of the Farallones are pretty uncomfortable, even in a large boat like MN. But hey, Ferretlegger's been there and done that......several times.
You can't go to sleep anyway with all the Big Boy shipping going north, south, east and west.
I spent last weekend on the Sea Watch - Shark Boat looking for sharks. As soon as we returned to Long Beach Captain Chris Wade headed out to be a part of the mission to rescue Jim Bauer's boat. They brought her home from Moro Bay Two nights ago. He's heading out again to help rescue what I believe to be the Rowing 4 Reefs vessel.
In seas like that it's going to be a burly rescue mission (again).
Such is life....I'm home, exhausted but sipping a glass of wine! Mike is probably puking his guts out about now. The start was beautiful (with the exception of 2 boats nearly colliding as they were being bumped out of the harbor for the start!)
Mike hooked a nice start within 90 seconds of his start gun.
Approaching the start buoy, did a great hook of it within 90 seconds of the start gun.
Credit: SC seagoat
Past the start buoy, race has begun!
Credit: SC seagoat
Heeled over and pointed in the general direction of Hawaii.
Credit: SC seagoat
Great start...I will await the 2 am sat phone call about how horrible it is and what was he thinking. In a few days they all get dialed in and start to enjoy the passage.
Michael reports being unusually sea sick. “Lying in bunk most of the
time, get up to manage boat is about all the energy I have. Munching an
apple and that seems to be going down ok”. He sounded in good spirits
and expects to be in fine shape tomorrow. Conditions +30 over the deck,
rough, and fast. 36 57.3, 122 57.5
Elise indicates things are pretty rough and the boat is in good
condition. Wind instruments are down. Batteries seem low but Elise is
equipped with an EFOY so she should have no problem getting power up.
Weather is clear with very strong winds. Position: 36 42.8, 124 25.7
Harrier reported in indicating Galaxsea had done the morning SSB check
in and had reports from several vessels. Ken reports a very windy and
bumpy ride, ” miserable “. Only Lee Roper would know what Ken means when
he says miserable.
Domino reported clear skies, 22 kts of wind, sailing a heading of 217
deg at 8 kts. He is having the occasional Auto Pilot glitch requiring
pushing the reset button. Otherwise all systems are go. Position: 36
05.25 124 48.3
Elise is skippered by the only woman entrant. She is a tough-as-nails French woman who has double handed a Pac Cup and also has been rescued by a container ship when they had to abandon the boat because of striking a whale. The skipper of Harrier is 85 years old and a retired Army general doing his 13th race. Galaxsea is Mouton Noir's best competitor. They'd both like to beat each other! Domino is new this year and could be a VERY strong contender for winning, or being up high in the standings.
Things looking good, think I'll head to the mountains! Copy that!
As of 4:15 PM PDT today, Michael's turned back. He's headed for home and about 15 miles reversed from his max point.
He's making only 2.9 knots which is awfully slow. I can only imagine he's had a major failure. Possibly boom or mainsail, I hope NOT his mast.
He's got about 120 miles to get home. At 3 knots or less that's nearly two days.
I suppose it's also possible that he's on minimal sail and trying to fix whatever's gone wrong. He's beam on to the prevailing winds which is how he'd lie if he were hove to.
Good luck Michael!!
EDIT: at 4:30 PM he's down to 2.3 knots, still pointed towards the Golden Gate.
As of 5:00 PM PDT he's making 7 knots. But still pointed homeward. At least he's not in serious mechanical trouble.
He could be powering. He'd have enough fuel to drive all the way home.
He'll have some stories to tell.
Safe sailing Michael.
I don't have all the details as I tried to take off for a few days myself before I got a sat call. He's under his own power with some sail (reefs blowing out) and auto pilot problems. It's unclear if he'll have to retire or if things are fixable. Evidently conditions are really bad so he's quite sick too, which hampers his ability to make major repairs. Continual blowing at high 30 knots and large rolling seas. Another boat, a strong contender, is under Coast Guard assist into Monterey after it's rudder blew apart and the sea state is so unsettled he can't get his emergency rudder on. He is evidently making drogues from his buckets!
So as things stand now, it's up in the air what will happen.
As of 5:45 this AM Michael was making nearly 7 knots about 45 nautical miles from the Golden Gate. With a little luck he should be in by late afternoon. His "official" reason for retirement is medical.
Tough break. Good try Michael.
Susan, give him my best when you see him.
The boat with the blown rudder has hardly moved since last night. He's drifting straight downwind (southeast) at 1 knot, about 120 miles SW of Monterey Bay.
Will he be able to self rescue by making for Morro Bay? Or take a tow back to SFBay?
Meanwhile Galaxsea, Michael's main competitor is screaming along at 8 knots with 1850 miles to go. He's with four other boats all in about 2d place. Too bad Michael isn't still in that group.
2 other boats dropped out with failures Saturday and yesterday and are back in The Bay. Two more didn't start.
As of 8 AM PDT (the internet track is updated every 15 mins and delayed 3 hours) Michael was still making a little less than 5 knots and about a dozen miles SW of the Farallones still on a straight course home.
He should be in sight of the Golden Gate by now. All he has to worry about is shipping!
Your Capri 25 is running 3d from last. Very respectable considering the wind and sea state for the past couple of days. There's a Capri 30 behind him, dead last.
They should all be on a reach in the NW trades by now. Really fast sailing and not too uncomfortable.
The poor devil who's lost his rudder is still moving very slowly SE. At least he's going in a straight line now.
Michael may already be healed. I believe his medical problem was seasickness. Which if prolonged is debilitating. In a matter of 12 -18 hours you become dehydrated. Eventually all you can do is lie in a bunk, or on the cabin floor and try to sleep. At least you stop vomiting because you're empty.
I've been lucky enough to only be seriously seasick once and I got over it quickly.
I've had very fit friends aboard who were sick for a whole day. Even "just" off the California coast. Some of the roughest conditions I've ever encountered were within 50 miles of this coast. Rougher than full gales in mid ocean.
When you're sailing alone seasickness is a Very Bad Thing.
SCSeagoat also mentioned he'd blown out his reefs. That means he couldn't effectively reduce his sail area. Another really tough situation in 30+ knots of wind.
Some of you may have received this; those on Michael's "blast" email. A number of STers have emailed us inquiring about Mike and hoping he was "ok". He is very ok.
While I'm disappointed I won't get my ocean passage ride home this summer, I am SO HAPPY that now we have time to sail on down to Monterey and out to the Channel Islands for some diving and sea kayaking! It's all good to me!
And in true Michael style, he's usually got a lot to say!
it with some sadness and a little embarassment that I have to inform you that there will be no tall tales of derrig-do and nautical adventures this time. I have retired from the race and Mouton Noir is back in her slip in Alameda. The reasons for the retirement are primarily that in the months of intense preparation for the race, I had allowed my physical conditioning and stress levels to degenerate to the point that, although the boat was well prepared, I was not. I tried to pretend that I was OK, but after we got out into the ocean, the horrible sailing conditions quickly wore me down to a point where I was faced to confront my ability and desire to keep going. Over-ruling one's enthusiasm and committment to a project, whether in sailing, climbing, or life is very hard, as determined people live in a constant state of self denial about their abilities. This is a necessary and valuable state of mind sometimes, as it lets you "grunt up" and keep going when times get tough, but it can also allow you to get over-extended, with sometimes serious results. This was the case here, so I pulled the plug. I have completed 4 of these races, and I hope to have a go at it next time. This time, however, I will see Hanaleii Bay via an airplane ride, as I plan to fly over to greet my fellow competitors as they arrive and to help them get turned around and back to California. I will describe the start and my two days at sea, as the race certainly got off to a spicy start!!
I delivered the boat to Corinthian Yacht Club with my friends Carlianne and Craig in the best shape I have ever had a boat before one of these races. THis is of course, due to huge amounts of blood and treasure (and tons of elbow grease and stressful fretting by yours truly, the original stress bunny, along with a great deal of help from poor long suffering Susan). Things at the Corinthian were the usual exciting/chaotic hodgepoge before a race, with everyone running around doing final jobs, shaking hands, dealing wwith the race committee, going to briefings and group lunches, and time flew by. Suddenly it was Race Day, and they were pulling us out of the slips and off to the starting area.
I got the boat out into the windy Raccoon Straits and got the mainsail up and started pre-race manuevers. THe Corinthian is a tough start. Usually there is little wind and bizarre currents. This time we had a ripping flood tide pushing us away from the Golden Gate at several knots, and about 20 knots of wind- workable but stressful. I motored up current about 1/2 mile and started to do big circles, as there was an hour to go before my start. I soon found out that mu autopilot, in spite of being a top notch NKE system, was acting in an unpredictable way. As my start time got closer, I unrolled the 94% jib and started sailing, with the engine in neutral. I soon found that the autopilot was very cranky, sometimes not obeying commands to tack, and then refusing to go out of control mode and release the helm. I had a wireless pendant controller also, and it seemed to obey this command input, but not the interface mounted next to the helm. I was soon doing an imitation of a one armed paper hanger, dodging other boats, steering with my foot while I ground the jib in with my third and fourth arms. Mouton Noir is a BIG boat, and even the smaller jib takes a lot of effort to tack!! To say I was flustered is an understatement...
I managed to hit my start well, blasting in frum up current and rounding the pin nearly on time, and headed towards the Gate. Sort of... The huge flood current meant that in spite of having reasonable wind, we had to short tack along the north shore of the Bay to get some current relief. Short tacking a heavy, big boat with a cranky autopilot is a bit of a chore! Eventually, I squeaked by the North tower of the Golden Gate Bridge and started tacking up the north side towards Point Bonita. Eventually, I headed out into the middle of the flood, got on starboard tack (the one towards Hawaii) and let the boat speed overcome the current. In a few miles, the current diminished and we started to move faster over the ground, right along the track to the finish. The wind continued to increase, and the sea got lumpy and the swell started to get bigger. I reefed down once, and then again, and settled down for the first night at sea. After a small nap, I found that the wind had dropped, so being an optimist, I took out the reefs and went to a full sail plan. THis was a mistake, as most detached observers would have predicted, as within half an hour the sea state becam very, very nasty and the wind was up to over 30 knots. I now had to deal with reefing in fairly difficult conditions, with bad boat motion, water flying all over, and the boat bitterly complaining about being vastly over canvassed, and heeled over about 45 degrees. I got the second reef in after a struggle, and came back to the cockpit and rolled up part of the jib. The boat liked it, but I was totally exhauseted, and feeling very seasick- an unusual state for me. While I was sitting in the cockpit, gasping for air, drenched in sweat and on the edge of barfing, I realized that I had forgotten to properly clutch off the ends of the reefing lines, which come from the sail leech (aft part of the mainsail) through turning blocks into the boom and then exit through clutches at the front of the boom to a winch. As soon as this insight occurred to me, it also occurred to the auto pilot, which inexplicably went brain dead and immediately turned the boat from a reach, with the wind at 70 degrees off the bow, dead downwind, thus gybing the boat all standing in 35 knots of wind and big seas. The motion and chaos were indescribable, really. Huge banging noises as the mainsail tried to tear itself off the boat (along with the associated hardware), sails flogging, lines whipping about, and in the midst of it all, like a huge blinking neon sign, the sight of all my reef lines being whipped out of the boom!! I "dashed" as fast as ppossible (after clipping in to the safety line with my harness) to the mast and started a tug of war with the ocean over the last few inches of the reef lines being pulled out of the boom. I won the battle with the first, second, and fourth reef lines, but to my horror, the third reef line vanished into the boom, to re-emerge a few seconds later as a 50 foot bullwhip, snapping around trying to destroy anything it touched. After securing the other lines, I eventually managed to corral the nasty thing and tie it off. Due to the nature of the boom, repair at sea was impossible, so I just had to hope I never needed the third reef.
I dragged my sorry ass back to the cockpit. got the boat straightened out on course and the autopilot working again, and collapsed in a heap, feeling worse, if possible. I went below and lay down in my bunk, leaving the boat to blast along through the steadily worsening sea conditions at 8 knots. I had not touched any water (or FOOD, hahahaha) in over 14 ours, and the prospect of doing so is only something someone who has been seriously seasick can understand. In any case, I made myself take a few sips from the bottled water Susan had had the foresight to stash in various places, and waited for things to get better. As time went by, I began to take stock of my condition. The seasickness I knew would fade away in a day or so, but undelying it was a deep exhaustion that really worried me. My joy in a strugggle seemed to be missing, and I felt that my reserves were very low. A singlehander has to be able to "grunt up" and deal with whatever happens, no matter at what time, and how much effort it takes. This urgency and "being in the moment" is one of the attractions of singlehanding, as is the satisfaction of dealing with problems. Exhaustion (temporary, at least), is part of the game, as well as a certain amount of fear (or worry or apprehension, anyway). Although I knew the boat was tough enough and that I had the resources to get through the current conditions (very, very ugly and uncomfortable, but not actually life threatening), I had to consider whether the most important resource, ME, was up to the job if things continued for a protracted period of time. I decided, after some soul searching, that prudence dictated retreat. So I checked the possibility of a return, and found that the wind direction headed back would be reasonable. The prospect of going back through the conditions I had just been in for 24 hours was unappealing, but it appeared that the conditions going forward would be the same foe at least as long as a return, so I went on deck and tacked the boat manually in 35 knots and big seas, as the auto pilot was just not up to the job. I got the boat settled on the reciprocal course, another close reach, and went below to wait out events. The seaa state seemed better on the return course, but the wind got up to 40 knots. I would sure liked to have the third reef, but fortunately, my Hood sails are VERY strong and did well.
After about 14 hours, the winds dropped a bit, down to the mid 20 knot region, which felt like a pleasant summer zephyr, relatively speaking. After speaking with several big ships, which I found with AIS (Automatic Identification System) and radar, the Farallon Islands appeared off the port bow. The winds continued to drop and the seas smoothed out so much that I motored from about 20 miles outside the Gate to my slip, which I entered around 2:30 pm Monday afternoon.
It was about 300 nautical miles of very hard sailing over around 48 hours. The boat generally held up well, although a fuel vent line discharged some diesel fuel into a locker, and added a certain "fragrance" to the proceedings. There is a small number of items on the fix-it list, with the autopilots, reef system and diesel spill being urgent. I think the autopilot problem is due to a poorly set of configuration parameters, which I had not the luxury or ability to deal with out there. The diesel leak will involve major surgery to woodwork to excavate the offending line from where it has been imbedded in foam and covered by lovely cabinetry. That job will be a horrorshow. Ah well, all in a days work on a boat. The thing which will take time is to get myself fit again, after months of neglect. But this is also just doing the work- no damage done.
So that is it for this TransPac for me. I have no regret about retiring, other than that I will not sail the course with my friends and fellow competitors. I hope to see them all in Hanaleii by air. I feel that I made the right choice, given all the options, and would do it again. Perhaps 2016 will see me on the starting line again, with a better balance of effort spent to get there. I hope you will continue to follow the race, at www.sfbaysss.org. Go to the TransPac link, and look for the blogs. it is very dramatic out there, with the General, an 85 year old sailing legend vying for first place, and a regular cliff hanger over damage to various boats. This one is exciting!!
Thanks for being interested, and I hope that you all have wonderful and satisfying adventures of your own.
Whoo Hooo...there are four races headed to Hawaii....The Single Handed Transpac (finishers will start to arrive this weekend). The Pacific Cup from San Francisco, the Vic Maui (from Victoria) and the Great Pacific Race (rowers!)
Four races to Hawaii!
Credit: SC seagoat
To me its always so fascinating to be out there with so many other boats, yet you rarely see them during daylight (although one year on the return a Santa Cruz 52 screamed up along side of us and did the "Grey Poupon per chance?"; they were having a blast...hunky young sailors and girls in bikinis all over the foredeck) You do get a lot of radio chatter and there are regular checkins, but other than that you feel you are alone out there. At night sometimes you can the mast lights of fellow sailors, even though they may be a mile or more away.
Mike and I leave for Hawaii to greet the finishers and celebrate...even though we'll be flying home this time.
that I have and probably will never get the chance again to be the Captaian of my own Boat
I bump this non climbing related thred back to top page status for to put to bed the off topic quip. let it all go up on the board and if it swells ride it!
^^^^. Answering for Michael here....Vance Sprock is rafted up right behind us. Michael has worked a lot with Vance on some radio issues.
I have fallen in love with his dog Daisy!!!!
Is Vance a climber? I watched him go up his mast today 3 times with "aiders" (of a sort) and jumars. Usually only climbing sailors do that. Most sailors use a bosun chair.
Tomorrow is a big day...Vance looks real ready!!!!
Vance owns Cupertino Bike Shop in Cupertino, CA. He's not a climber, but I helped him get a rig so he could go up his mast. Yes, he's been having radio problems. I hope he can get them sorted out. Looking for updates on SailMail.
And......WE HAVE A RACE! AT LAST. Someone wake me in 10 days when I need to catch a plane to Hawaii.
This boat is Seazed Asset being towed to the start. The skipper is a friend of a ST and a great back story on this boat. It was a drug running boat, and actually "seized" by the government, then put up for sale and the skipper, Vance, bid on it and got it!
Seazed Asset being towed to start area
Credit: SC seagoat
Ferretlegger (Michael) rounding the start buoy. He had a good start.
Mouton Noir rounds the start buoy. You get an idea of the variety of boats. Taz!! To the left, or port, of MN is also a racer. Half the size but will likely be faster.
Credit: SC seagoat
And we're off to the races....
Mouton Noir and Seazed Asset with Bay Bridge in the background.
looking forward to the voyage as cybercrew aboard the mouton noir, hope being fanboy fills the sails!
and i gotta say, the pinnacle tracking site has some nice terrain/relief graphics
with good performance through this bottleneck of a satellite connection
Seazed asset in position with the leading group. Interesting ..did that group get a bit of luck..Why is Seazed so far ahead of longer boats like Mouton? I see another even smaller boat, a 29 up front as well doing 7 knots.
Many variables could account for it I suppose.. weight.. lucky guess on weather, trying to get position for a better system? or avoid something?..mechanical issues??
Interesting how many low 30's and even under 30ft boats there are in the race. For some reason I expected longer boats..Due to singlehanding?
^^^^^. In this case because of squirrely winds and currents the heavier boats, even though longer, were handicapped by the conditions. No breakdowns reported. Another sailor reported 10 foot seas. Made me want to run for a bucket.
Singlehanders really know how to set up their boats so you do see longer boats. They are usually light, fast and VERY COMPETITIVE sailors.
MN is not a race boat, but a cruiser expedition boat but Michael thrives on the intensity of getting the boat ready and then sailing it as best he can.
Actually the most exciting boats for me are the MiniTransat boats, 21 feet long and they can go up to 25 knots! They are the bomb. I think there are two in this race. They can plane on the water. They will likely do very well. I think both of them are sponsored boats.
Conditions have been pretty frustrating and awful. I passed just north of Middle Farallon around 2 am, after an all night drift-a-thon with lots of current. ugly night, although the bioluminescence was spectacular. very foggy and wet with only a knot or two of wind. I am sailing in very close company with Owl, Tortuga, Saraband, and Elizabeth Ann. REALLY close, too close for comfort. We all got sucked north further than we wanted, because the heavy boats could not deal with the light, shifty conditions well and had to sail deeper, whioch meant north.
A beautiful on the water picture just after the start, then out into the fog and the Golden Gate
Off to a lovely start
Credit: SC seagoat
Headed to the Gate, lots of fog, cold and sickness (for a few days anyways). Then you hit the Trades, and oh my, blue water, throw in a few squalls for fun. Only 2,000 miles to go
Credit: SC seagoat
Here is Seazed Asset about 10 miles east of the Farallons. I'm sure his little dog Daisy is sitting home missing Vance.
The Eastern Pacific Hurricane season has had one of the slowest starts in history. Nothing like a Singlehanded Race to kick it into gear!
Of these two Tropical Storms, Blas has more of a potential for strong development into a major hurricane. However water temperatures near Hawaii are still relatively cool for proper nastiness and both systems should downgrade sufficiently to present little problems for the boats.
There is another Topical Wave traversing across Central America in the next week or so and there may be some systems generated from this.
Big big difference from last year where the waters were so warm and it was impossible to predict what direction storm systems would travel.
Amazing. I really admire folks who can do this, but I'd find it torture to be stuck on a small boat like that. I've got to move around. To be honest, the big bad ocean scares me, too. And I'm a Pieces. Go figger.
Hey Susan, Michael and my dock neighbor on Owl had a gruesome 30 hours...jesus. They're finally out of jail, but facing a flat part of the ridge between 130-140W and the 1020-1024 MB line. If the high stays N and W, they may get a fleet restart, because the western most boats are stalling out. Domino appears to be attempting an escape gybe to the south...it'll take 24 hrs to see if it works out.
Next time I tell Owl to throw all of the heavy sh*t off of his boat, I suspect that he'll pay attention.
Just to keep this climbing relevant, the skipper of Owl is an old time climber from Lawrence Livermore. Most of you physicists know him.
The major impact from Blas is going to be a crappy swell from the wrong damn direction, and I wouldn't want to be caught on the wrong side of it's extra-tropical circulation. You don't want to sail upwind to HI.
^^^^. Didn't know that about Owl. I think he has an SSB so maybe he and Mike can share stories! He is a very nice man. As for extra weight on board...well MN doesn't know that one.
Yes, they were in a sucky situation. Then zoom up, but I think they are going into another slow down. I saw Mouton down to 2.4 kn. Arggh. Slam bang slam bang.
Race Committtee is following Blas closely via professional weather service as well as a a number of SSS weather gurus chiming in. Watchful waiting. Of course as shore support you hear "tropical storm" "hurricane" etc and the anxiety factor start to goes up, up, up. And the swell. Pound pound pound. It will be interesting to see the strategies the racers take.
Here's a nice checkin from Seazed Asset ... He's a friend of ST poster Bruce Hildenbrand, who taught him how to jumar up a mast.
Winds were light and massive wind shifts up to 40 degrees. The wrong way of course. Was up until 0200 trying to keep the boat going. Got up at 0500, not much sleep, nothing had changed, except it was very overcast and drizzly. Cleaned the dodger windows with the drizzle, nice. About 0600 I was about to get a RIB when a massive lift came my way. All of a sudden I am pointing at Hanley Bay! Running under a broad reach full Genoa and main making 7.5-8 knots, fantastic I thought. The it shifted a bit and went lighter. Ok, time for a spinnaker. Rigged the chute and went below for the radio check in. Came back on deck and noticed my spinnaker guy was now under the boat stuck on the rudder. Running new spinnaker sheets and even though I had two wraps on the winch, and in the self-tailing jaws, it snuck overboard. Tried pulling from one side then the other, no luck. Furled the Genoa and rounded up stopping the boat, still stuck, go over the side was one thought. Worked both of the lines to the cockpit, making sure I did not lose more over the side. Rounded up again, pulled, still nothing. The rounded up again, and gave about two fee of slack on the spinnaker end, was able to pull that up! Did it again same thing, so I let go of that side. Then pulled the guy back in the boat. I was lucky that I did not install any shackles. That only took an hour or so, such is a boat. Right now I have the chute up, and am pointing right at Hanley Bay, only 1500 km to go!
It could give them a lift! Hey, stranger things have happened.
Glad Mr Seazed didn't have to keel haul himself! Man, I hate that!
First thing I would have done was put a shackle or a biner on one end of
my spinnaker boom, snap it onto the stuck line, hoist the other end on a
halyard and try and let the weight of it drive the line downwards.
I know, free advice is worth just that much.
Before Vance, skipper of Seazed Asset, left he asked me if I had a climbing helmet he could use in case he had to go under the boat. He didn't want to get pushed into the hull by a swell. He is a cyclist and owns a bike shop, but the foam helmets used by cyclists were too buoyant. Unfortunately, I didn't have one of those old plastic climbing helmets with no foam. Let's hope he doesn't have to go under his boat