Monday, April 30, 2012

Kelsey the crew sails for Bora Bora.

Our crew Kelsey is continuing her adventure aboard a vessel bound for Bora Bora. The timing couldn't have been more perfect for her outbound flight.

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Isla Tahuata snorkeling, beaches and plenty of coconuts.

April 30, 2012
Position: 09°54.5'S 139°06' W
Baie Hanamoena, Isla Tahuata, Marquesas, French Polynesia ,South Pacific Ocean.

After officially clearing Kelsey off our ship papers with the Gendarme at Atuona, Hiva Oa we sailed out of the muddy waters of Baie Tahauka and headed for Isla Tahuata about 10nm distant.

Baie Hanamoena was a welcome change with clear blue waters, a beautiful sandy beach and a lush green mountain backdrop. Shortly after dropping anchor we jumped in the water for a snorkel where we enjoyed quite a variety of corals and colorful reef fish and even a octopus. The octopus den was pretty easy to spot, you just keep a sharp lookout for a pile of shells and sooner or later you'll find an octopus lurking nearby. We made many dives to about twenty feet to observe the octopus dynamically change colors as he tucked back into his den.

We then swam to the beach to check out a small copra shed where coconut meat is dried in the shade in preparation for shipping to a facility where the coconut oil can be pressed out. It was great to spend some time ashore on the sandy beach where a few other cruisers also began to hangout. For the first time in months we felt like we were in cruising mode again.

Andrew is learning the art of coconuts. For the uninitiated there is a lot more to a coconut than first meets the eye. You have fresh young coconuts that are good for drinking, then you have coconuts that are mature from which you harvest the rich white meat and then you have coconuts that have just sprouted that have their center filled with a sort of spongy coco foam that is as close as one can come to ice cream in the tropics.

Gathering the coconuts from their lofty perch is also quite an initiation and either requires scaling the trunk or the use of a long stick to break the coconuts free. Then there is the machete, a formidable razor sharp tool that with one errant stroke can sever a finger or thumb.

This morning we are grating the firm white flesh from coconut halves then squeezing the grated coconut to extract thick rich coconut cream. It's labor intensive with a yield of about 1 cup of coconut cream per coconut, but the result is oh so good. The freshly squeezed cream is far richer than that found canned on the supermarket shelves and a delicious ingredient to a variety of tasty dishes.

That's it for now.

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Thursday, April 26, 2012

LightSpeed- Hiva Oa, Marquesas

April 26, 2012
Hiva Oa, Marquesas

Relaxing for a few days here in Hiva Oa. It's nice to be anchored. Internet access is reported to be available in town at the post office, about 30 minutes walk from the harbor. It's pay for service and reported to be very slow, so I doubt I'll be uploading any pictures to the blog while we're here in Hiva Oa. Lots to do, so I'll blog when I can.


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Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Day 21 Arrived in Marquesas, French Polynesia.

April 24, 2012
2PM boat time
Position at 0000 April 25, 2012 UTC: 10°12'S 138°46'W
Day 21: Mexico to Marquesas Islands... Arrived Marquesas
Early this morning on our final approach to Fata Hiva I started the port engine around 5:45AM to charge batteries, so I could make water with Spectra Catalina 300 13 gal/hr reverse osmosis desalinator.
Because of the time change it was more like 3:15AM local and the stars were still shining brightly as I struggled to stay alert after lots of sleep deprivation over the last 20 some days.
The engine woke Kathy who got up to go to the bathroom and also woke our cat Shell who was apparently scared shitless by the engine and dropped a few huge turds on our bed while Kathy was in the bathroom. What a nice surprise that was! Cat shit in the bed at O'dark thirty. Kathy, mostly asleep, changed the sheets and zonked back out. Lucky me my shift had just ended at 6AM, but I felt bad about Kathy having to remake the bed after the cat shit incident. Eventually, I got some bunk time in nice cozy clean new sheets and when I woke up at 9AM we where about an hour out of Fata Hiva. It was super cool to finally see land appear out of cloud and sea haze. Lush green jungle clad craggy slopes jutting out of the sea and spectacular rock spires were quite the sight.

After a bit of a struggle trying to find a spot to anchor due to one boat hogging the anchorage with 300' of chain out we finally got set. We were still super low on fresh water, so I fired up our Honda generator to run the water maker some more and charge the batteries. Everyone was exhausted, but resolved to go for a hike to the 200' waterfall, a 2 hour round trip. Andrew launched the dinghy and jumping aboard stepped on a squishy rotten flying fish which had landed in the dinghy probably over a week ago and it was pretty gross. So, Andrew scrubbed out the dinghy while Kathy packed snacks and Kelsey worked on getting things sorted out around the boat as I fussed with the water maker.
All good, except that we were not technically allowed to stop at Fata Hiva, although many boats do this every year there is a small risk that you might get caught and fined and who knows what by Customs. Most years this never happens and we were sharing the anchorage with five other boats of which we know for sure that four were not checked in and had been at Fata Hiva for days goofing off.
So, we had the anchor down maybe 2 hours when the French Polynesian Customs boat pulls into the anchorage. Talk about lousy luck. Only 2 hours and we were busted. This seemed an exceptionally good time for us to move along, so as Customs dropped anchor we raised anchor and started to sail out of the bay. In short order the Customs boat launched their high speed skiff and intercepted us asking that we return to the anchorage to be boarded, inspected and whatnot. Within minutes of dropping the hook for the second time we had maybe 8 guys aboard inspecting and checking everything. As it turned out we drew a 'Pass Go, without going to jail' card. The Officers were professional and courteous and the inspection convenient as we are all clear with customs until Tahiti. Just need to check in with immigration at Hiva Oa. I'm pretty sure that my log book saved our bacon as it showed that we just arrived and we pleaded a bit that we were out of drinking water and had to stop to make more...and then we planned to leave immediately for Hiva Oa.
So, we are now underway for Hiva Oa and hope to get there before dark to sort out the crowded anchorage. We are all super exhausted and were hoping to be napping now as we pound our way North. The wind which is usually SE is blowing a little out of the ENE today, so on the nose.
Lots of bites today with a triple hook up and lots of other nibbles, but we can't seem to land a fish.
Happy to be here in the Marquesas and looking forward to getting the hook down for a solid nights sleep.
That's it for today.

Day 21 Mexico to Marquesas

April 24, 2012
3AM boat time

Position at 1100 April 24, 2012 UTC: 09°58'S 138°20'W

Day 21: Mexico to Marquesas Islands, French Polynesia

We've been trying to slow the boat the last few days to time our arrival for daylight hours, but the wind has other ideas and has been building, so the net result is a wash. Thus, our arrival at Hiva Oa would have been in the dark, so we diverted towards Fata Hiva the most southerly of the Marquesas group. It's now 3AM and we have 28 nautical miles remaining to Fata Hiva where we plan to stay one night then a day sail for Hiva Oa to clear with customs and immigration.

Total distance sailed 2750 nautical miles (Cabo to Fata Hiva)
Total time underway 17 days 15 hours
Average speed 6.50 knots (slower than expected, but with a overloaded boat, light winds and conservative sailing, not so bad).

Everyone is excited for landfall. We hope to have a favorable discussion with the local police at Fata Hiva whom we hope will allow us to stay for a night. If so, then a hour hike to a 200' waterfall is the plan for the day.

That's all for now.

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Monday, April 23, 2012

Day 19 Mexico to Marquesas

April 22, 2012
7PM boat time

Position at 0300 April 23, 2012 UTC: 07°38'S 135°51'W

Day 19: Mexico to Marquesas Islands, French Polynesia

Only 228 nautical miles remaining to Hiva Oa, Marquesas and it looks like we'll drop anchor in the early morning of April 24, 2012.

Spent the morning temporarily off the wind so we could run the water maker, Honda generator and enjoy more kindly motion to do some basic boat chores. It was mainly for the water maker, which has a tendency to suck in air when we sail fast, playing hell with the pump. Unfortunately, our proper course to the Marquesas is a beam reach with SE swell on the beam making for a bumpy ride with occasional spray into the cockpit.

Had a fish on the line long enough to drop all sail, hove-to and then take a big splash into the cockpit soaking everyone and everything before a frustrating LDR or long distance release. So, no fish for dinner. The good news is our vegetables and fruits are holding out well 20 days after purchase, many without refrigeration, just sitting on the counter in those funny green plastic bags that preserve foods longer... and actually work.

Still plenty of squalls around today, but nothing with more than 28 knots... so far. High humidity paired with air temperatures in the high eighties is keeping it sweaty and sticky. Sea water now up to 84.3F.

That's all for now.

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Saturday, April 21, 2012

Day 18 Meixco to the Marquesas

April 21, 2012
8PM boat time

Position at 0400 April 22, 2012 UTC: 06°10'S 133°49'W

Day 18 -- About 275nm remaining to Hiva Oa, Marquesas.

Due to limited bandwidth with Sailmail, we'll keep this short.

Lots of squalls today, but fast sailing with an average boat speed over 8 knots. Looks like we are about 48 hours out of Hiva Oa which would put us there after dark by a few hours. So, no rush as we will need to slow down to make landfall in the daylight early on the morning of April 24, 2012. All is well aboard.

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Friday, April 20, 2012

Day 17 Mexico to Marquesas

April 20, 2012
8PM boat time

Position at 0400 April 21, 2012 UTC: 02°08'S 129°17'W

Got a message from Sailmail (the service provider that links our SSB email to shore side email) that we are using too much airtime. Since we need to download weather info daily we'll need to trim our use elsewhere. So, if you are expecting a reply from an email sent to Kathy, Dave, Andrew or Kelsey, it will need to wait a few days until we arrive in the Marquesas.

Daily updates will continue, but may not be posted until we arrive.

Laura, please do reply to our email re: Andrews flight options.

All is well aboard.

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Day 16 Mexico to Marquesas

April 19, 2012
6PM boat time

Position at 0200 April 20, 2012 UTC: 02°08'S 129°17'W

Day 16: Mexico to Marquesas Islands, French Polynesia

Frequent squalls with heavy rain today kept the crew on their toes adjusting the sail plan. Andrew would hand steer the boat in the driving rain while Kelsey manned the soggy sheets.

To manage squalls we use the STACS method to stack the deck in our favor.
S = Sail (reduce area)
T = Trim (move main traveler down)
A = Autopilot OFF (hand steer)
C = Course (adjust to wind shifts)
S = Sheets (ready to ease the main sheet)

Late in the afternoon we tucked in two reefs just ahead of an extra big, dark and menacing squall that soon bombarded us with immense amounts of rain and gusts to 34 knots. We all suited up for squall showers (baths) and then caught water pouring off the mainsail for a bit of laundry. With the wind and the rain it was nice to feel a chill in contrast to the sticky 92F cabin temperature with 70% humidity:( We sluiced along in the squall at speeds up to 12 knots which extended our time in the refreshing rain and cool temperatures.

Just as the squall was leaving us behind we got a hit on the lure we'd been dragging for two days. Just as I yelled Fish On! the line went slack. Then a minute later the line started to scream off the reel at a record pace. We were going at least 8 knots and a quick look off the stern confirmed that a huge Marlin was tail walking the other direction. We furled sail and dropped the main just in time to avoid being spooled (losing all the line). Kelsey grabbed the fighting belt and as I passed the rod to her the behemoth fish nearly pulled me off balance and into the water. Kelsey fought the fish for a time, but its vigorous acrobatics and sheer size were too much for our tackle which finally parted under the strain leaving us 300yds of slack line and our favorite lure lost.

We are now sailing near the rhumb line on a course of 231T for the Marquesas with 2.5 meter SE swell at 9 seconds and East wind at 20 knots adding it's own wind chop to the mix. The ride is not too smooth. Otherwise, all is well aboard. As I write the crew and Kathy are playing Gin Rummy.

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Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Swimming across the equator

April 18, 2012
Noon boat time
Position at 2000 April 18, 2012 UTC: 00°00'N 127°29'W

Swimming across the Equator

Day 15: Mexico to Marquesas Islands, French Polynesia
We all swam across the equator today at noon. Filmed the event with our GoPro camera as I dove off the bow when we crossed the line. Everyone else jumped in as well so only our kitty Shell was at the helm. After a good frolic we each gave the waterline a scrub to rid the boat of growing gooseneck barnacles. Then it was shower time with shampoo, conditioners and razors to bring us back to a more civilized state.
Back on board we couldn't seem to locate Shell in any of her normal hiding places after several extensive searches of the boat. Then we finally found her burrowed inside the main sail. Good thing we didn't hoist the sail right away as who knows where she would have unfurled.
With a little ceremony we toasted our crossing of the equator with a bottle of cold Champagne. The first full glass of bubbly going to Poseidon and then the real glass Champagne flutes clinked together for a toast with the freshly minted 'Shellbacks'. Back underway we are again sailing with regular sail and enjoying 15 knots of wind out of the East on a course of 200T and a boat speed of seven something knots. We'll continue on a course a little more South than West to the Marquesas to keep our apparent wind speeds up and the boat moving. I have little doubt that the SE trade winds will come soon enough and I'd like to be positioned to have the true wind abaft the beam for a broad reach to the Marquesas. As such this was part of our strategy of crossing the equator near 127W so we'd have the wind more behind us to avoid an uncomfortable beam sea, the most loathsome point of sail for a catamaran.
Ok, this is strange. The last time I crossed the equator was exactly 6 years ago to the day. It was April 18, 2006 with Julie and Karl aboard my old monohull s/v La Vie. On that passage from Puerto Vallarta to the Marquesas we crossed the equator at 131 33W at 0030.

Day 14 Mexico to Marquesas

April 17, 2012
11PM boat time

Position at 0700 April 18, 2012 UTC: 01°03'N 126°56'W
226T course
8kts speed
SE14 wind
1.5/2.0 meter mixed direction
1013 hPa
20% cloud cover

Day 14: Mexico to Marquesas Islands, French Polynesia

All is well aboard. We sailed out the ITCZ overnight and are happy to put the squally weather behind us.

Around 2:3PM last night I woke to grinding winches and then a moment later the crash and racket of the mainsail gybing with a huge crash and then gybing back again with another crash. I was on deck in seconds with adrenaline pumping and more than a bit worried about what was going on. Running off the wind in squally conditions, the last thing you want to do is a uncontrolled gybe as the boom and 600SF of sail slash across the deck with a dangerous tendency to break things or tear the sail.

Kelsey was on the 12 AM to 3 AM watch and seeing a squall on the radar had furled the jib had begun hand steering when she crash gybed the main twice within seconds. I was a little upset as my standing watch order was to 'Wake the skipper if there was an impending squall'. Kelsey was a little shaken, teary eyed and feeling pretty bad for the error of judgment in trying to handle too much on her own with out getting me up to help. I stressed the importance of following orders as we steered the boat head to wind and dropped the main sail before bearing off and continuing our course under Jib alone for the remainder of the night. Our boat speed dropped significantly but we were now sailing well within the comfort zone of the crew given the squally conditions and peace of mind the shortened sail plan afforded the skipper slumber.

At 6AM I began my 6AM to 10AM watch and hoisted the main and for the last 17 hours we've been making a minimum of 7 knots on a southerly course on the hunt for the SE trades.

Mostly clear skies today with 10-14 true wind out of E or SE and a crazy mixed swell from the ENE, NW and SE. At the moment we are on a course of 226T with true wind out of the SE at 14 knots and moving nicely at 8+ knots with surfs to near 11 knots from time to time. However, the confused swell create some irregular boat motion that cause the mainsail to back a bit and slam. I usually can't tolerate any sail slamming, but will happily take the speed and course made good while still North of the equator in an area forecast for almost zero wind the next 24 hours.

Fished all day with no catching. A eight foot shark swam along side the boat for a time with fins out of the water in a very 'Jaws' like fashion. Not the sort of image you want to put in your head as we anticipate stopping the boat tomorrow at the equator to swim over the line.

Kathy prepared apple pancakes for breakfast with a side of canned sausage patties, Kelsey baked a loaf of bread and Andrew baked some chocolate cookies. I steered clear of the crowded galley until the stove ran out of gas and I needed to change tanks, I then ran the water maker before enjoying a nice afternoon nap.

This evening Kelsey was on for dinner and we dined on platter of cheese, meat and canned salmon accompanied with fresh bread and a nice cabbage and cucumber salad with a tasty cummin dressing.

Kathy hosted the Pacific Puddle Jump Net as Net Control at 0200UTC on 8A and checked in seventeen participating boats in a record time of just under 30 minutes. Andrew hand steered during the net as the sun set on our 14th day since leaving Cabo San Lucas.

The southern hemisphere skies are slowly revealing themselves as the Southern Cross guides us yet closer to the equator.

That's all for tonight,


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Monday, April 16, 2012

Day 13 Mexico to the Marquesas

April 16, 2012
8PM boat time
Position at 0400 April 17, 2012 UTC: 03°20'N 125°417'W

Day 13: Mexico to Marquesas Islands, French Polynesia

All is well aboard.

We moved the clocks back an hour to better synchronize with sunrise around 6AM, so I think we are now on Pacific Standard time for awhile. Tons of squalls, lightning and hot weather as we pass through the ITCZ.

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Day 12 Mexico to Marquesas

April 15, 2012
7PM boat time
Position at 0200 April 16, 2012 UTC: 05°21'N 123°45'W

Day 12: Mexico to Marquesas Islands, French Polynesia

All is well aboard.

We're at our halfway point in the voyage. Considering our time of departure and lay days at Isla Benedicto, that total 67 hours, we have now been underway a total of 216 hours and 1406 nautical miles for an average speed of 6.51 knots which is consistent with the mostly light winds we've encountered thus far.

We experienced our first good squall of the voyage last night around 10PM, heavy rain and shifty gusty winds. Today, lots more of the same with more intensity and of significantly longer duration. Winds have been steady at around 24 knots between squalls and we've been sailing on just our 400SF jib on a broad reach. Not the fastest, but with just the jib on the roller furler a very easily managed sail plan when we get hit by a squall packing more than 30 knots and usually a significant shift in wind direction. The trade off only averaging around 6 knots is tough to take when you consider we still have 1600nm to go. Slowing to 6 knots vs 7.5 adds an additional 52 hours of sailing to our remaining voyage.

In one of the bigger squalls today we enjoyed cooling off in the pouring rain a nice escape from the 91F inside cabin temperature. The squalls' intensity provided enough water direct from the sky for the girls to wash, rinse, condition and final rinse their hair, now that's a good downpour! Eventually, the windchill cooled everyone enough that we all enjoyed the nearly foreign sensation of being chilled. Back in the cabin drying off, the chill turned almost immediately back to our now normal hot and sweaty.

Around 3PM our wind died out (05 43N 123 38W) and we are now motor sailing. Our course is 180 South as we try to plunge through the ITCZ before gybing over on the SE trades to lay the Marquesas.

As is becoming quite usual, night watches spot glowing dolphins regularly and plenty of flying fish end up on deck overnight.

Looking out the window at our 100% cloud cover and menacing grey black clouds I'm surprised to see a few sea birds skimming the wave tops. It seems amazing these birds could range 900nm from the nearest island (Clipperton) and some 1300nm from the continent.

Lots of lightning as I finally get around to sending this update at 1AM boat time on 04/16/2012 at position 04 47N 123 56W.

That's it for now.

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Sunday, April 15, 2012

Day 11 Mexico to the Marquesas

April 14, 2012
9PM boat time
Position at 0400 April 14, 2012 UTC: 06°47'N 122°22'W

Day 11: Mexico to Marquesas Islands, French Polynesia

All is well aboard.
Starting to meet some squally weather and spent the day under 100% cloud cover. The cloud cover was a welcome change to the burning sun. Some people say you get just as sun burned on a cloudy day, we disagree. Despite sitting on deck all day no one got the least bit red.

In regards to weather, it seems we are going to be a whole lot less lucky crossing the ITCZ compared to last time (2006) when we missed all the convection, squalls, heavy rain and fluky winds.

Based on a recent weather discussion product we downloaded through Sailmail.

We found this snippet about the ITCZ

AND 132W.

We also downloaded a grib file from by sending a email with this is the message body:
send GFS:07N,02N,126W,121W|-0.5,0.5|3,6..72|PRMSL,WIND,RAIN

Within a few minutes you get a reply with a nice little grib file (you need a GRIB viewer to check it out, but here are free on the downloading on the internet) showing major amounts of precipitation and then a whole lot of ocean with very little wind. The good news is we have full fuel tanks so when we get to the nasty area we can turn south and motor through the ITCZ.

That's all for now,

s/v LightSpeed

At this moment 24 knots of true wind out of the NE with light rain.

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Friday, April 13, 2012

Day 10 Mexico to the Marquesas

April 13, 2012
9PM boat time
Position at 0400 April 14, 2012 UTC: 08°11'N 120°23'W

Day 10: Mexico to Marquesas Islands, French Polynesia

This evening we are around 1100nm SW of Cabo San Lucas, Mexico. It was mostly a good day despite mixed swell directions making for a bumpy ride in the cross seas, a minor injury, a wave though a hatch and needing to break our 4 day spinnaker run streak.

First off some good news: Dolphins on the bow in the wee hours of the night entertained the watch. It's pretty surreal to see dolphins glow green as they shoot through the water on a pitch dark night.

Humans also swam next to the boat just before lunch as we hove-to and enjoyed a refreshing swim. I wish we could spend more time goofing off swimming, but we still have a long way to go to the Marquesas. The water is so clear you can open your eyes a squinty bit underwater and see quite clearly and it doesn't even sting much. Pretty cool.

Weather wise we are starting to encounter both stronger winds and squally conditions so this was the main driver in swapping the spinnaker for regular sail this afternoon. Plus, our power foredeck crew Andrew got a rope burn on a few fingers. Nothing serious enough to get Andrew out of his normal watch standing, boat chores and cooking duties, but we did decide to give him a break from any more spinnaker changes today. Andrew's mom (my oldest sister Laura) need not worry as it's only one band aid and a few friction blisters. He was back to swabbing the decks within a few hours.)

A few flying fish found their way aboard overnight, perhaps with assistance from our dolphin escort. Kelsey armed with fresh knowledge gleaned from 'The Cruisers Handbook of Fishing' by Scott & Wendy Bannerot rigged one of the flying fish with a internal hook and even tied the poor buggers wing/fins out so it would look like he was flying as we towed him behind the boat hoping to trick a yellow fin tuna into coming aboard for dinner. It sure looked good and after a hour Kelsey pulled in the line to find only flying fish eyes left on the hook. Not sure if that was a bite or the flying fish just got ripped off by high speed surfs.

Speaking of surfing, everyone had wheel time today and while Kathy was steering she hit 12.9 knots on surfs twice within 10 minutes. This is the point we definitely decided to reduce sail. Good thing we did, as winds built from 19 True to 25 True within about an hour and that would have had us going way to fast for the confused seas.

We also have a new crew aboard named Bobbie the Boobie who has a blue beak and orange feet. Bobbie the Boobie has taken up residence on our starboard bow with his aft end aimed forward, hopefully any Boobie doo doo should shoot forward and away from our decks. As long Bobbie keeps aimed correctly I'm happy to have him or her aboard. Our cat Shell is quite transfixed by Bobbie and alternates starring Bobbie down between trips to the food bowl and frequent naps.

Kelsey was steering today when a bit of a rouge wave smacked the side of the boat sending a good bit of water in through a open hatch over the 'kids' starboard head and across the deck into the cockpit. It's easy for crew to be lulled in to thinking no water will ever touch the deck sailing downwind on a cat like LightSpeed. However, experience shows that although the odds are long, you do eventually get wet. After a lengthy clean up, I think the crew will no longer require reminders about open hatches.

Looks like we be at 05N 125W at the edge of the ITCZ in about 48 hours or about 0400 April 16, 2012 UTC. Which is around 9pm local boat time on April 15, 2012. Gotta love dealing with time zones.

For all you sailing / weather wizards with internet. Your input on getting across the ITCZ would be welcome. From where I sit with very limited bandwidth, it looks like little useable wind between 05N and 05S with plenty of squalls near 04N. Email dbkane (at) gmail (dot) com with your weather insights. Thanks in advance to our sailing buddy Paddy Barry who has been sending us valuable weather updates throughout the voyage.

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Day 9 Mexico to the Marquesas

April 12, 2012
0200UTC or 7PM boat time
Position at 0200UTC: 10°15'N 118°02'W

Day 9: Mexico to Marquesas Islands, French Polynesia

All is well aboard. As I mentioned in a earlier post we've had a spinnaker up non-stop for the last few days and as I write that makes 59 hours. The plan is to keep it flying overnight and maybe change for a bigger sail in the morning. At the moment, we're using our smallest spinnaker, the 'gun', as winds are near 24 knots true and this sail is perfect for running deep downwind as it requires very little attention. The sail is 2.2oz and apparently a storm spinnaker of some 27' Ericson from the 1980's. From a value stand point the $120 I gave for the sail several years ago when we were passing through Eureka, CA is really paying off. The boat course can swing around at the mercy of the waves and despite some pretty big changes in the apparent wind angle all the way from 130 apparent on port to 130 apparent on starboard the small spinnaker is happy to stay set. This is working out even better than I expected.

I thought it was just me thinking that the swell period seemed short and choppy, but tonight on the PPJ net nearly every boat in the neighborhood lamented about the steep and confused seas. Many boats reported lots of 'boat bites' or bruises from getting dashed around their cabins, luckily LightSpeed is still pretty comfortable despite the active sea state, we remain unscathed. We are however, experiencing much more frequent under deck slamming as white crested breaking waves overtake us and bump the underwing between hulls. This slamming is loud and definitely disruptive to my sleep and many times a night I wake with a start and burst of adrenaline which is not complimentary to getting back to sleep. We've experimented with altering the course a bit, but at the end of the day we are just a small boat at the mercy of the sea.

Due to the active sea state our autopilot is working hard to keep pace with the short period swells that seemed to have a mixed direction and shove the boat around. So, to give the autopilot motor time to cool off we've implemented a new policy that requires everyone to hand steer at least once throughout the day. Andrew and I each spent at least 1 hour on the wheel, which also had a benefit of reduced electrical consumption while the autopilot rested. As a result our batteries were fully recharged via our solar panels today. Most days we can't quite get a full charge due to cloud cover or shading from the sails. Less sunny days we've run our Honda generator for about an hour to provide a boost to the batteries. Luckily we've only had to do this twice so far this voyage. Kelsey and Kathy also took turns at the helm while I was napping today and as a result everyone is getting quite good at hand steering which seems to be a skill in decline since the advent of modern reliable autopilots.

The weather is certainly warming up with temperatures in the cabin today ranging from 88F in the hulls to 94F in the pilot house. Even our cat 'Shell' was feeling the heat and spent most of the day sprawled out on the floor. At one point I took her in the shower and got her half soaked, of which she not only didn't complain, but seemed to enjoy the coolness of her soaked coat. The sea temperature is now up to 82.4F. Due to the heat I never even bothered to put on a shirt this morning and by noon was pretty burned on my torso and regretting my early morning decision.

Yesterday, we spotted a ship that passed within about 8 nautical miles and around the same time we unknowingly overtook a 53' Amel named s/v Cest La Vie. We didn't even see s/v Cest La Vie, maybe because she was out of sight or perhaps since we were occupied by the huge tanker ship at the same time. It wasn't until we checked in on the PPJ net that we realized that Cest La Vie was only 10nm distant. At that point I called them on the VHF channel 16 to ensure our paths wouldn't be crossing again. As of net check in tonight we now are 50nm south of Cest La Vie so nothing more to be concerned with.

This afternoon we hooked a small Mahi Mahi which will make a great meal. Not knowing what we had on the line when the reel began to sing as the line ripped off, Andrew and I tackled taking down the spinnaker to slow the boat so we could land the fish. Kelsey was in the shower and Kathy was taking a nap at the time so we had our hands full as the spinnaker doesn't have a sock and we are not flying the mainsail which would have been useful to 'cover' the spinnaker for the take down. Andrew provided the brute force gathering the sail on the trampoline while I managed the two guys, two sheets and the halyard. It wasn't perfect, but we got the sail down and landed the fish about the time the girls showed up on deck. Launching the spinnaker was a bit easier with Kelsey helping, but the foredeck crew made a classic mistake and didn't ensure the halyard was clear before giving the ok to hoist the sail. With 20 knots of wind the sail tends to fill quickly and thus requires the halyard to be winched to the final position. This is the point where a halyard wrap on the forestay starts to do damage as the halyard is loaded and as it's winched it cuts into whatever it's wrapped on. As we were trimming the sail I noticed Andrew really struggling with the spinnaker halyard winch exerting more pressure than would be expected if there wasn't a problem somewhere. I called for him to stop then looked aloft to see the issue. In this case the spinnaker halyard was mostly in contact with the jib halyard and likely sawing through the line due to heat and friction. So, down came the spinnaker, the wrap sorted out and then one of my classic lectures about 'Watching what you winch' was endured by the crew before the sail was reset. The next time the wind drops we'll need to drop the jib and splice the line after removing the damaged portion.

We are starting to look ahead to crossing the ITCZ aka: doldrums near the equator. Deciding where to cross is critical, if you pick well you get to keep sailing and if you pick poorly or get unlucky you are overtaken by days of squalls, torrential down pours, lightning and little useable wind to sail. For the record I really think this ends up more about luck than planning, but we'll still try to stack the odds in our favor. At our present speed and course we'll be at 05N 124W in about 48 hours. 05N is where the winds seem to start getting light and going East, so we might be better off to try to get more Westing in our course for the next few days and aim more toward 05N 127W from there we could jibe over on to port tack and sail south with light winds on or our ahead of our beam. I'd like to get as far south as possible before the SE trades fill in. When they do I hope to be positioned so we can lay the Marquesas by running deep downwind under spinnaker, our most comfortable point of sail.

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Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Bliss and Panic aboard LightSpeed, as experinced by Kelsey, Day 8

Bliss and Panic aboard LightSpeed, as experienced by Kelsey, Day 8

There is a cushion on the breakfast porch of my grandma's house in Cape Cod that describes sailing as something like moments of pure bliss interrupted by moments of sheer panic and depicts a tiny embroidered sailor being alarmed by an equally distressed whale. Having already shared this one experience with the stitched seafarer, the beginning of the long passage has brought on many other high-intensity moments already, and has more in store, I am sure. Most recently such incidences have revolved around the spinnaker, which we have now been sailing under for over 48 hours.

Though, thankfully, I was spared sheer panic, hand steering last night took intense focus. Kathy was net controller for the Pacific Puddle Jump net, so we had to turn everything off, including the auto pilot and steer by hand to minimize interference with the Single Side Band radio. Being my watch, this responsibility fell on me. I hadn't hand steered in a while and not at all with a spinnaker up, so my hands gripped the wheel nervously as Dave said, "your helm," and my eyes began the constant rotation between the digital instruments and compass in front of me, the wind reader and sail luff above, and the the horizon ahead. The large swell coming from behind the beam on starboard turned the boat into something of a gyroscope, and the forestay swung wildly back and forth across the spotty clouds ahead from which I was supposed to be getting some visual reference for steering.

At first these repeated fluctuations in our course were frustrating to say the least and brought on small panic attacks each time the boat moved swiftly to starboard. Swings in this direction were highly stressful because it could bring the wind too far forward causing the chute to collapse. Though this was correctable by immediately cranking the wheel hard to port and back to starboard as the sail filled, my mind was plagued with the possibility that Dave had recently described of the 1200 square foot sail wrapping itself around the furled jib, which could only be undone by jibing the boat, and most likely sacrificing the sail.

So there I stood, braced against seas, whipping the wheel back and forth on almost every wave in a vain attempt to keep us pointed straight. Despite my efforts, the boat continued rock to and fro, and I was often reminded of my incompetence by the noises that barraged the boat. At unhappy angles, the sail would fall slack and then noisily refill, separately or simultaneously as a wave would rumble between the hulls, vibrating the bridge deck below my feet. It as if the elements I was trying to control were throwing a childlike tantrum in protest of this so far meek authority.

I often wished to aim my complaints into the pilothouse, "Dave, these waves are totally messing with my course!" but I knew that the conditions were unavoidable and he would offer me little in the way of sympathy. He later proved his own prowess at the helm by steering, eating dinner, and defending our masthead wind readers from boobies all at the same time. But I found that as I got a better feel for the wind and waves the task became easier and less stressful, and I was able to move the wheel less and less.

For the next couple of hours, as Kathy made contact with over two dozen other sailboats on the SSB, all headed south and west like us, Dave and I steered the boat. The wind shifted slightly and we followed it as the light faded and the stars came out, adjusting our visual reference from the clouds to the constellation of Orion. Learning experience that it was, I was very grateful for modern technology when the net was over and the helm was once again in the hands of our trusty fifth crew member.

The real panic came at 7:30 this morning, on my watch, while everyone else was asleep. I was in the middle of commenting in my journal of the peacefulness of the early morning watch, when the sail started to collapse, this time on the port side. I rushed inside to fix it, thinking to myself, "the sail is collapsing on the opposite side from before, so I must correct by turning the opposite way," but somehow this train of thought didn't span the distance from my brain to my hand before I was vigorously cranking the wheel hard to port – totally the wrong way.

Not realizing until later the error in my ways, I was baffled as to why my go-to method was failing to refill the sail, which was swinging around in front of us, flogging loudly and slapping its sheets angrily on the deck. I tried a few moments more to reset the sail, as the fear of it exploding on my watch built rapidly in my gut. Totally giving up, I yelled shakily for Dave who soon came rushing up, earplugs still in, and quickly fixed my mistake while letting me know that this was not something he should have to do. He was right, of course, and embarrassed and shaken, I held frozen hamburger meat to a rapidly swelling "boat bite" on his shin, as the adrenaline worked out of our blood and we discussed what had gone wrong.

Fortunately, these moments of panic are usually only moments, leaving the majority of the day and night blissful. When I'm not cooking or doing some of the daily chores around the boat I spend most of my time reading a variety of books. Sometimes, while observing the endless scene of sea and sky around us, broken occasionally by a bird or flying fish, I simply let my mind wander to distant places in space and time. Lost as I may become in these thoughts of far away friends or daydreams about the tropics ahead, I am roused not by panic, but by disgust at finding myself absentmindedly picking at a dried squid stuck to our deck. So I guess there are at least three kinds of moments on boats.

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Day 8: Mexico to the Marquesas

March 11, 2012
0900UTC or 2AM boat time
Position at 0900UTC: 14°02'N 114°53'W

Day 8: Mexico to Marquesas Islands, French Polynesia

Crew Andrew and Kelsey completed a major milestone today of 1000 nautical miles of sailing aboard LightSpeed.
Kathy also hit a huge milestone today of 30,000 nautical miles!
Dave now has 41,500 nautical miles since beginning this sailing adventure back in 2005 some 2418 days ago.

At this particular moment we are about 610nm SSW of Cabo San Lucas and we've been flying a spinnaker since 4PM on Day 6.

Around 10:30 Day 7 we gathered on the trampoline to do 'ab ripper X' which is 349 core exercises (i.e. sit-ups and crunches in many variations) which takes about 20 minutes. After the mini workout we planned to swap the medium sized spinnaker for the big one, so we took the opportunity to hove to for a swim. With the sails down we drifted slowly sideways and enjoyed the wonderful clear blue water you can only find far from shore. Back on board everyone was feeling great after a good swim, saltwater bath and freshwater rinse. We must be getting into a grove as it seemed everyone was up and about the entire day enjoying the beautiful sunshine and near perfect sailing conditions. It seems we've finally picked up the NE trades and the swell is shifting from the NW to the N making for a much smoother ride. The wind has filled in a bit and is now around 15+ making for good boat speeds in the mid 7's with a surf to 11 knots a few times. With intensifying sun overhead, today was the first day it started to feel hot, air temps around 85F with humidity levels on the rise and overnight lows around 75F. Sea water temperature is up to 79.7F.

Kathy ran the Pacific Puddle Jump (PPJ) net on the evening of Day 7 and due to a Radio Frequency conflict with our Autopilot and certain radio frequencies we had to hand steer for well over an hour. Kelsey and I took turns hand steering as dusk turned into dark and Andrew had the 9 to midnight watch and noted in the log book "Spinnaker flying great! Bioluminesence". We had a great dinner of Pasta, fish and broccoli prepared by Kathy. The net took over an hour and Kathy had to eat her amazing meal cold as she was too busy on the radio to eat at the same time. We'll act as PPJ net control again on the 17th and 24th at 0200UTC on 8A.

I ran the water maker for about 1.5 hours on Day 7 and the water is so clean the filters still looked like new, a far cry from the murky waters of mainland Mexico. Still no new clues on the fresh water we found in the bilge a few days ago. The bilge is back to it's normal 'bone dry'.

I would have thought I'd be less busy having crew aboard, but we still spend plenty of time on training/coaching each day and then my normal jobs of Captain, Navigator, Weather router, Communications tech, Engineer, Trouble shooter, Chief water maker, Energy monitor and Scribe. The crew are doing well and as the trip progresses I expect increasing return on the investment of all the countless hours of coaching. Soon we'll have a bunch of very competent and confident blue water sailors ready for any ocean. They are well on their way!

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Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Day 6 (PM report): Mexico to the Marquesas

March 9, 2012
Position at 0400UTC: 16°52'N 113°23'W
Day 6 (PM report): Mexico to Marquesas Islands, French Polynesia

I was really tired today after a rough night, but a nice nap from Noon to 2PM did me well. The crew are sleeping well and thus, up and about all day. Around 4PM we hoisted our asymmetrical spinnaker and ripped a hole in it about 4' x 2' during the hoist when the sail somehow got stuck in the sock. The sail was immediately doused and about an hour later we had the sail taped back together and flying. I had Kelsey and Andrew 'sign' the patch with ink markers as a reminder to be a little more careful next time.

Winds are still pretty light and just now beginning to go from NW to N and hopefully soon to NE tradewinds. Sailing in light winds demands considerably more effort to keep the boat sailing quietly and fast. Our course is 226 True putting the NW winds and seas on the beam which is not so good for the comfort factor aboard a catamaran. The shift to the N is welcome and already the boat is moving more comfortably. I look forward to a much better nights sleep, but will be sleeping with one eye open as we fly the spinnaker overnight. This particular sail is only about 750SF and a good trainer sail for the crew. Once they are comfortable with this sail we'll hoist the 1200SF spinnaker for some real boat speed. Thus far we are averaging 7 knots made good to our destination. At this rate we have 13d 04h 57m until we drop anchor in the Marquesas.

Kelsey was on dinner tonight and made a nice beef with garlic and cilantro sauce with sides of rice and asparagus.

We are scheduled to run the Pacific Puddle Jump Net tomorrow April 10, 2012 on 8A (8.294MHz) at 0200UTC. However, the last few nights we only heard maybe 50% of the boats, so it's going to be rough to be net control with the fleet spread over such a huge stretch of ocean. Another issue is that our Autopilot is affected by the SSB radio when transmitting on high power and will require someone to hand steer during the net. Not such a big deal with a crew of 4 for this crossing, but something I need to address in the longer term.

The freshwater in the bilge remains a mystery as repeated checks for leaks today revealed nothing. Which is good if mysterious.

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Monday, April 09, 2012

Day 6 Mexico to the Marquesas

March 9, 2012
Position at 1400UTC: 17°53'N 112°12'W
Day 6: Mexico to Marquesas Islands, French Polynesia

We're underway for the Marquesas, about 2 weeks and 2400 nautical miles distant. Overnight sailing conditions we pretty uncomfortable with short period wind chop banging the hulls and light shifty winds with our apparent wind ahead of the beam most of the time. Looking forward to more steady and stronger NE tradewinds in the next day or so. Andrew and Kelsey are pretty good on sail trim so we've kept the boat moving pretty well despite the less than ideal conditions. Andrew was on dinner duty last night and produced a fine meal of baked Wahoo with orange sauce, mashed potatoes and steamed broccoli.

About dinner time I was searching for a tool in the bilge when I found what I was looking for under a few gallons of fresh water. I'd been running the water maker so thought maybe a problem with the product water line running to the port water tank. Kathy and I removed the floor boards and cleaned up the water and waterlogged items stored in the normally dry bilge. A through search revealed no leaks? We ran the water maker and again checked for leaks and found none so the mystery remains and the bilge is still dry 11 hours later. Maybe the water has been there since we filled the water tanks in Cabo with a very high pressure hose?

Adding insult to injury the saltwater foot pump that provides saltwater to the galley sink started to drip. It looks like I'll be pretty busy today rebuilding the pump and trying to discover the mystery source of the fresh water in the bilge.

Yesterday before heading out of Isla San Benidicto we (Kelsey, Andrew and Dave) built a custom SSB radio counterpoise or grounding system for our SSB radio. The current system worked, but we were looking for better performance for the long haul to the Marquesas and upcoming duties as net control for the Puddle Jump Net. The project involved 200 meters or 600' of 22 guage wire, lots of measuring and some math. The new ground system is comprised of a bunch of wires cut to lengths determined by taking (300/radio freq in MHz)*(0.25)= length of each radial (wire) in meters. So far the new ground system seems to work very well on the frequencies we cut radials for and as others as well.

s/v Blue Rodeo a Deerfoot 50 sailed by Mark and Anne is about 25 nm to the West of our current position and it looks like we might have a bit of a race to see who arrives in the Marquesas first.

Saturday, April 07, 2012

Day 4 Mexico to the Marquesas

March 7, 2012
Position at 0400UTC: 19°17.96'N 110°48.46'W
Day 4: Mexico to Marquesas Islands, French Polynesia.

We're still at Isla Benidicto about 230nm South of Cabo San Lucas and really enjoying our time here.

The plan is to set sail tomorrow if the early morning weather checks reconfirm our understanding of the conditions we might hope to expect on our way towards the equator about 1650nm to the South West. From there we'll head due South across the ITCZ and then when we pick up the SE trades sail directly for the Marquesas.

Snorkeling here at Benidcito is amazing to say the least. We wish we'd have discovered this island group sooner as one could easily spend weeks anchored here. Huge Manta rays cruise through the anchorage and around us nearly every time we jump in the water. Kathy made an attempt at riding one, but quickly got bucked off with a few scrapes on her hands to as proof. Our friends on s/v Blue Rodeo spent 20+ minutes in close interaction with a super huge Mantas and got some amazing rides as they were on SCUBA. According to my free diving watch I made about 55 long breath hold dives today anywhere from 28' to 61', Andrew is progressing quickly and is already down to 31' and will be diving much deeper soon.

Besides snorkeling we made a quick beach landing through huge crashing surf to explore Benidictos volcanic flanks consisting of pumice and ash, tried to swim with humpback whales, but couldn't get close enough to seem them in the water and even jumped off a few cliffs up to 30' high into foaming white water crashing against the cliffs below. While snorkeling we enjoyed whale songs reverberated through the water with astounding clarity, spotted turtles and tons of colorful fish and corals.

Everyone is pretty beat after a long day of fun in the sun.

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Day 3: Sailing to the Marquesas

March 6, 2012
Position at 0500UTC: 19°17.96'N 110°48.46'W
Day 3: Mexico to Marquesas Islands, French Polynesia.

Today we are anchored snugly at Isla Benidicto about 230nm South of Cabo San Lucas for a brief stop to do some snorkeling.

So approaching Isla Benidicto around 10AM last night we stopped the boat and 'hove to' or basically dropped sail and drifted until we could motor into the anchorage in daylight. A little to our surprise we found s/v Blue Rodeo, s/v The Rose and s/v Shanti Anna anchored in the South anchorage. We motored by each boat in turn for a chat before dropping the hook and some breakfast. Around 10AM we invited the crews of the other yachts to join us for a snorkel trip aboard LightSpeed to a offshore a rock pinnacle on the North end of the island called the 'Boiler' to look for giant Manta rays and Hammerhead sharks. It was a little rough with Westerly winds, but we managed to drop the hook on top of the 'Boiler' in about 15' of water then hang on the chain in about of 90'-100' off the edge of the pinnacle.

On a scale of 1-10 I'd give this snorkel 9 as in super, super cool as we had several Giant Mantas 8'-10' wide, dolphins, a few white tipped sharks, tons of Lobsters and too many other fish to count. Mark from s/v Blue Rodeo rode a Manta for over three minutes with his SCUBA gear down to 80' before letting go. Snorkel with the group was a unique opportunity to share an amazing experience. I dove down around 30' feet several times to touch the back of the Mantas which have rough skin sort of like 20 grit sand paper combined with the texture of a cats tongue. However, I didn't have the guts to grab on to the top edge of the mouth for a ride like Mark. Maybe next time, I'll try if I have a solid breath of air in my lungs for the ride. Underwater visibility can be 100' plus feet, but today it was only maybe 30' so tomorrow we'll try another site and hope to see the big hammerheads.

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Friday, April 06, 2012

Day 3: Sailing to the Marquesas

March 6, 2012
Position at 0500UTC: 19°17.96'N 110°48.46'W
Day 3: Mexico to Marquesas Islands, French Polynesia.

Today we are anchored snugly at Isla Benidicto about 230nm South of Cabo San Lucas for a brief stop to do some snorkeling.

So approaching Isla Benidicto around 10AM last night we stopped the boat and 'hove to' or basically dropped sail and drifted until we could motor into the anchorage in daylight. A little to our surprise we found s/v Blue Rodeo, s/v The Rose and s/v Shanti Anna anchored in the South anchorage. We motored by each boat in turn for a chat before dropping the hook and some breakfast. Around 10AM we invited the crews of the other yachts to join us for a snorkel trip aboard LightSpeed to a offshore a rock pinnacle on the North end of the island called the 'Boiler' to look for giant Manta rays and Hammerhead sharks. It was a little rough with Westerly winds, but we managed to drop the hook on top of the 'Boiler' in about 15' of water then hang on the chain in about of 90'-100' off the edge of the pinnacle.

On a scale of 1-10 I'd give this snorkel 9 as in super, super cool as we had several Giant Mantas 8'-10' wide, dolphins, a few white tipped sharks, tons of Lobsters and too many other fish to count. Mark from s/v Blue Rodeo rode a Manta for over three minutes with his SCUBA gear down to 80' before letting go. Snorkel with the group was a unique opportunity to share an amazing experience. I dove down around 30' feet several times to touch the back of the Mantas which have rough skin sort of like 20 grit sand paper combined with the texture of a cats tongue. However, I didn't have the guts to grab on to the top edge of the mouth for a ride like Mark. Maybe next time, I'll try if I have a solid breath of air in my lungs for the ride. Underwater visibility can be 100' plus feet, but today it was only maybe 30' so tomorrow we'll try another site and hope to see the big hammerheads.

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Day2: Sailing to the Marquesas

March 5, 2012
Position at 0400UTC: 19°49' N 110°49' W
Day 2: Mexico to Marquesas Islands, French Polynesia.

As of 0400UTC or 9PM local we are about 190nm south of Cabo San Lucas Mexico. In the last 21 hours we've recorded a maximum wind speed of only 11 knots. We could wish for a bit more wind, but the light breeze made for some nice relaxed sailing. With four of us aboard LightSpeed to share the watch duties and cooking and odd jobs it seems this is going to be one of our most restful ocean passages ever. However, the first few nights out to sea always take some getting used to and everyone was a little tired today.

Since we were pretty busy yesterday getting out of Cabo and to sea, we celebrated Kathy's birthday again today. After breakfast we decorated the main cabin with balloons and streamers, wrapped up some presents and frosted the cake. Then as a final tribute to our great time in Mexico we pulled out the giant pinata and hung it from the rigging. The Pinata did not easily submit to the wailing assault on his candy filled belly. Kathy beat him senseless with our mop then passed the mop to Kelsey who knocked off both legs revealing a little known secret that there is no candy in the legs of a giant purple pinata. Andrew delivered several formidable blows knocked his head loose and revealing yet another secret that the Pinata head is connected to the body by internal strings. I acted as chief photographer, but was also called into action and now beholden of the fore mentioned secrets directed my blows to the belly of the beast. I even managed to knock out a few pieces of candy, one of which was a full size Milkyway, which immediately fell overboard, much to our dismay. Kathy finished off the job, then Kelsey delivered a ulegy to the remaining bits of pinata before delivering his bits to the deep. We wonder if other ocean going crews goof around this much?

I attribute all of our goof off time to our excellent self dogging watch schedule that shifts one position each day and with a four person crew the schedule repeats on the 5th day. Unless you have a night owl as crew this schedule ensures watch duties and cooking chores are spread evenly.

This is what Day 1 looked like.

0000-0300 Dave
0300-0600 Kathy
0600-1000 Kelsey -Breakfast
1000-1400 Andrew -Lunch
1400-1800 Dave -Dinner
1800-2100 Kathy
2100-2400 Kelsey

We've been eating lots of fresh and delicious Wahoo that we caught a few days ago.

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Wednesday, April 04, 2012

Day 1: Sailing to the Marquesas

March 4, 2012
Position at 0200UTC: 22°01'N 109°38'W
Day 1: Mexico to Marquesas Islands, French Polynesia.

So we finally are underway for the Marquesas. But more importantly today is Kathy's birthday! For the celebration we have a 4' Pinata filled with candy and a chocolate cake.

Winds look a little light for the first several days out, but the swell forecast looks good. As every surfer knows ocean swell generated by distant storms can travel very long distances. For a voyaging yacht ocean swell contrary to local wind and waves can create very uncomfortable conditions onboard, the worst of which is know as 'washing machine seas'. So far so good as we are only seeing 4'-5' swells out of the NW at 12 seconds which are a non-issue. Our last stop in Mexico was Cabo San Lucas with it's cruise ship choked harbor, buzzing jet skis and glass bottom boats all of which proved a incentive to get going.

As the sunset tonight we have covered 55 nautical miles since leaving Cabo at noon and are enjoying boat speeds around 8 knots at the moment.

Current Sailing Conditions
Course: 190 True
Speed: 8 knots
Wind: 15 @ 290T
Seas: NW swell 1.8 meter @ 12 seconds

More posts soon.

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Monday, April 02, 2012

Andrew films Dolphins underwater while we drag him from the bow of LightSpeed

Bumping bottoms with a Humpback whale.

It was an exciting day today for a short 50nm sail to Cabo. 

Every time we set the spinnaker, one of the fishing reels would start to sing as the line ran off and then the drill would start to douse the spinnaker.  After our fourth and final fish, a 42 pound Wahoo we pulled in the lines for the day. 

Not long after, Kelsey and I thought we spotted a whale straight ahead. "What was that?" "I don't know, I saw it too." "It looked like a whale..." Kelsey and Kathy rushed forward to scout and we narrowly avoided T-boning the juvenile Humpback by slamming the engines into full reverse.  Way to close for comfort, it slid by only feet from our bows.

A few miles later, everyone was roused by a distinguished thump on the port hull. We rushed out, confused, looking for the source. "Did we just hit a whale??" With all of  us out on deck I issued the order to "hold onto something" as the whale might give us a trashing and throw someone in the water.  A few moments later it seemed disaster had been averted. 

Suddenly, another, much bigger whale appeared beneath the trampoline giving everyone a scare. She blew and then showing us a tail between the hulls as she sounded for deeper water.  About a minute later the two Humpback whales surfaced 50 yards in front of the boat.  Whew!  Now that was a close call.  `

Fun at Frailes, Fishing and Hiking.

 Shell looking for birds while Kathy stands watch in the early morning hours of our crossing from Mazatlan to Frailes on the Baja.
 Sunrise midway across the Sea of Cortez, Mexico.
 Andrew checking the sails as Kelsey keeps a sharp lookout for whales.
 Kathy putting on shoes for a hike at the Frailes anchorage. 
 Vista part way up the hill
 Andrew on the top looking south towards Cabo San Lucas some 45nm distant.

 Kathy cleaning the bottom of LightSpeed.
Kelsey sets the hook.  Since fish seem to only bite when flying the kite (spinnaker) we got lots of practice launching and dousing the kite today with three hook ups throughout the morning. 
 A fifty six inch Wahoo weighing forty two pounds. 
 OMG the fish came alive and is eating Kelsey's hand!!!
 Just kidding.
 Getting ready to clean the beast.
 Andrew curling the Wahoo for a small workout.
 Filleting the fish is no small task.
Catching up with cruising friends at Frailes.
 Sea Lions
 View from the top of the rock at the Frailes anchorage.
 Don't try this at home.  Dave rides the outboard on the way back from a successful whale watching expedition.

 Breach after breach.

 After breach.
 And even more breaches from about 100' to 200' a super cool experience.
 The 'Gun' our tiny 2.2 oz spinnaker in 22 knots true with surfs to 13.3 knots with Kelsey at the helm.  This is the only sail up!  I guess LightSpeed still sails despite the huge amount of provisions aboard.
 Wahoo at close quarters.
Arch at Cabo.... Dave's least favorite anchorage in Mexico due to all the jet skis, Loud DJ's etc.

Sunday, April 01, 2012

Great day on the Baja.

Getting staged for our Pacific crossing, we sailed 160nm from Mazatlan to Frailes anchorage on the Baja peninsula yesterday. Bumped into our Marquesas bound friends Ed and Fran aboard s/v Aka and it was great to discuss the weather and swell forecasts with these well seasoned sailing veterans. The weather is looking decent to set sail for the Marquesas on the 3rd or 4th giving us time to enjoy a great day at Frailes.

Started today with some French toast then climbed the hill near the anchorage. Kelsey and Andrew hit the summit in a brisk 25 minutes while Kathy and Dave took a more leisurely 37 minutes enjoying the many vistas and snapping some great photos. Kelsey led the charge back to the dinghy at a clip that shows her hyper extended knee injury from her first days in Mexico is healing nicely.

Heading back to the boat and ready for a swim after the hot hike the whole crew pitched in to give LightSpeed's bottom a good scrub. After lunch and a nap, we spotted some breaching whales just off shore and spent a half hour watching them breach from as little as 100' from our dinghy. Very cool.

Back from the whale watching, we headed to the beach to set up our volleyball net. Scrounging some sticks we set up the standard on one end with two sticks lashed together, and the other end was supported with our boat hook. The beach sand was deep so traction to get to the ball was in short supply, but the smooth sand made for pretty soft landings. The four of us played at least four games to 21, each time changing the teams up until we had a good match. Great fun! After the game we swam back to to the boat to wash off the sand.

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