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Monday, July 28, 2014

Underway Day 33 LightSpeed Sailing from Marshall Islands to North America

July 28, 2014 @ Noon boat time GMT -8 (UTC July 23 @ 2000)

Day 32 LightSpeed Sailing from Marshall Islands to North America

Day 20 at sea since our last anchorage at Bikar atoll, Marshall Islands.

Anchor position: 51 44.6418 N 176 49.8764 W

Distance:
141nm day/3219nm trip total

Weather:
Wind 23 @ 120T
100 % Cloud cover
1020 mbar
Air temp 47F
Sea temp 46F

Anchors away! And then I tried the windlass switch again and it still didn't work. We'd just made our way into the south arm of Three Arm Bay on the west side of Adak Island. The wind was a steady 25 and occasional blasts from screaming williwaws that made the rigging shudder and turned the surface of the small bay into a froth of white water. The anchorage was supposed to be a 'hurricane hole' according to another cruisers comment, but today with SE winds at 25 the anchorage frankly sucked. I was tired after only a few winks of fitful sleep on my off watch and all be damned, after exactly 19 days at sea the hook was going down. Except it wasn't and I let loose during a good dose of strongly worded sailor language into the biting rain laced wind, but the windlass was having none of it and the anchor hung omni potent from the bow. There's a waterfall in the bay that makes a good landmark and I nosed LightSpeed towards the shore, gave Kathy stern instructions to hold the boat into the gusting wind and then dove into the anchor locker to sort out the windlass. No problems there, so I dug into the binacle and found a corroded wire that broke in my fingers. A strong williwaw thundered down the valley and blew LightSpeed sideways and quickly toward the rocky shore in the small bay. I dashed inside and took the controls ramming one engine in full astern and one in full ahead and with the helm hard over, LightSpeed struggled against the furry of the williwaw blast and we swung the bows back into the wind and motored back to the waterfall. Making a repair in these conditions wasn't ideal, so I manually dropped the anchor feeding the chain out using the built in friction clutch to control the chain as it whipped over the bow roller in the hurling winds.

It was a bit of a gamble as the confines of the bay would require a rapid and solid set. Fortunately our Rocna 44 set immediately and I payed out nearly all 200' of our 5/16" chain and set the anchor bridal. Ohh, and I didn't mention that the blankety blank depth sounder was on the fritz and showing the water depth as --. Murky water, confined bay, screaming williwaw, limited visibility in misty fog, broken windlass control wire and the depth sounder was out to boot. Not good.

I gave the anchor a few minutes to 'settle in' and then backed down and the anchor held. I then got to work sorting out the control wire, which looked to be shot and too short to splice back easily. For the moment I just added some short bits of wire and connected them to the switch as a stop gap. A real repair could wait until after I had a hot shower, lunch and a nap.

All told we sailed 3219nm from Majuro in 521 hours or 21 days 17 hours

From Bikar atoll 2866 non-stop in 456 hours or exactly 19 days for an average speed of 6.28 knots.

We had a few exciting moments, like catching the marlin, nearly colliding with a sperm whale and finding a broken turnbuckle toggle just in the nick of time and running the insane pass a Bikar atoll. Overall it was a superb trip and an excellent adventure.

Now, it's time for that nap.

That's it for now.

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Sunday, July 27, 2014

Underway Day 32 LightSpeed Sailing from Marshall Islands to North America

July 27, 2014 @ Noon boat time GMT -8 (UTC July 23 @ 2000)

Day 32 LightSpeed Sailing from Marshall Islands to North America

Day 19 at sea since our last anchorage at Bikar atoll, Marshall Islands.

Underway position: 49 30 N 175 41 W

Distance:
179nm day/3078nm trip total

Course 345T
Speed 7.5

Weather:
Wind 19 @ 120T
100 % Cloud cover
1021 mbar
Air temp 55F
Sea temp 54F

Kathy and I have been jokingly asking each other 'Are we there yet?' since about Midway Island about 10 days ago, with less than 24 hours to go it sure feels like only minutes remain.

We plan to arrive at Adak's Kagalaska pass at noon tomorrow and ride the north setting flood tide through the pass. From there, it's only a few hours more to the main settlement of ~100 people at Sweeper Cove. It be a few days until the current SE weather system blows through, so we're looking forward to meeting the locals, hiking and salmon fishing for a few days.

We're on pace to arrive earlier than necessary, so I just dropped the main and we're sluicing downwind with 2.5 meter following seas under jib alone. This sail plan affords an occasional surf into the low teens (just had one to 13.7), but not nearly as frequent or fast as a few surfs we had last night with the double reef main and full jib when we hit 16.8 knots. And 16.8 knots is based on a 10 second average, so our peak speed was probably a few knots faster. All good fun during daytime, but a little too much excitement for middle of the night in thick fog, so I reefed the jib which slowed our base boat speed by about a knot and greatly diminished our surfing frequency. Average speed the last 48 hours 7.4 knots and the best 12 hour average was 8.4 knots, not bad for a reach with true wind speeds between 13 and just recently 19.

Sea birds are becoming a common sight, I can see 2 albatross out the window now. One is resting on the water and the other is swooping between wave crests. Foggy today, but less so than before with 2 mile visibility, but NOAA is predicting more thick fog over the next few days and slightly stronger winds to 25 knots for our arrival tomorrow.


That's it for now.

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Saturday, July 26, 2014

Underway Day 31 LightSpeed Sailing from Marshall Islands to North America

July 26, 2014 @ Noon boat time GMT -8 (UTC July 23 @ 2000)

Day 31 LightSpeed Sailing from Marshall Islands to North America

Day 18 at sea since our last anchorage at Bikar atoll, Marshall Islands.

Underway position: 46 36 N 174 45W

Distance:
177nm day/2899nm trip total

Course 350T
Speed 7.4

Weather:
Wind 17 @ 120T
100 % Cloud cover
1021 mbar
Air temp 57F
Sea temp 55F

Fog, fog and more fog at least until this morning when we finally had a short break with a few moments of sunshine breaking through. We're stoked to make our landfall in the mid-Aleutians and see it as a rare opportunity to explore some extremely remote islands abundant with wildlife and striking natural beauty. Our original goal was Dutch Harbor or maybe even Kodiak, but the winds conspired against that plan repeatedly.

We've been sailing a bit more conservatively than I would have liked since the rigging terminal broke mid-ocean, some ~1500 miles ago and we've been running with a compromised stay. By my calculations we should have been there already, now within motoring distance of land we're more comfortable letting LightSpeed stretch her legs a bit. Boat speeds have been averaging in the 8.3 knot range and we've been regularly surfing into the teens with following seas. The ride has been a bit more bumpy, but no complaints with 325nm to Adak Island.

Ship traffic has increased significantly since 44N as we cross the great circle routes from Asia to North America and the Panama canal. We passed within 1.25 miles of one ship and with the sun low behind the ship I could just make out a shadow of the 600 foot behemoth. Today visibility is a few miles and far less stressful than charging through a veil of thick fog.


That's it for now.

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Friday, July 25, 2014

Underway Day 30 LightSpeed Sailing from Marshall Islands to North America

July 25, 2014 @ Noon boat time GMT -8 (UTC July 23 @ 2000)

Day 30 LightSpeed Sailing from Marshall Islands to North America

Day 17 at sea since our last anchorage at Bikar atoll, Marshall Islands.

Underway position: 43 40 N 174 34 W

Distance:
162nm day/2722nm trip total

Course 005T
Speed 7.4

Weather:
Wind 14 @ 095T
100 % Cloud cover
1024 mbar
Air temp 59F
Sea temp 56F


The sea temperature has dropped 10F degrees to 56F in the last 24 hours and it's noticeably cooler inside the boat. Thick fog continues to veil the seas with a grey nothingness, but otherwise we're enjoying near perfect sailing conditions in light winds with calm seas. Average speed since midnight is 7.36 knots. Over the last few days we've been watching the possible formation of a low pressure system to our SE and now it's officially materialized. Here's the NOAA forecast:

.GALE WARNING...
LOW 38N178E 1011 MB MOVING N 10 KT. WITHIN 300 NM E AND NE
SEMICIRCLES WINDS 20 TO 30 KT. SEAS TO 9 FT.
24 HOUR FORECAST LOW 41N178E 1006 MB. WITHIN 240 NM NE
SEMICIRCLE WINDS 25 TO 35 KT. SEAS 8 TO 12 FT. ELSEWHERE WITHIN
360 NM NE SEMICIRCLE WINDS 20 TO 30 KT. SEAS TO 9 FT.
48 HOUR FORECAST LOW 46N170E 1002 MB. WITHIN 540 NM N AND NE
QUADRANTS WINDS 20 TO 30 KT. SEAS 8 TO 13 FT.

We're in the NE semicircle and thus can expect conditions to deteriorate later today. The good news is we're getting pretty close to Adak and the strong winds should generally blow us in that direction. We've been trying to move east the last few days, so when the wind gets stronger we can sail a deeper more comfortable angle to the seas. The real trick is going to be finding a safe anchorage at Adak. The anchorages we'd prefer are on the Bering sea (north) side of Adak and to get to those requires running Adak, Kagalaska or another strait all of which ebb/flood between 3-5 knots. Current against near gale winds could make for some severe conditions and from other reports we understand the current predictions are not so good. Combine the restricted visibility of fog with strong winds, seas and currents and it looks like we'll be extra glad to get the anchor down safely in some snug little cove on Adak in about 3 days time.

We baked bread again yesterday, but the dough fell just before we popped it in the oven and then the oven flame blew out further compromising the process. Kathy made a pizza for dinner and this morning I made a huge pan of hashbrowns, sausage and eggs. It seems our appetites have upped a bit in the cooler weather.

That's it for now.

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Thursday, July 24, 2014

Underway Day 29 LightSpeed Sailing from Marshall Islands to North America

July 24, 2014 @ Noon boat time GMT -8 (UTC July 23 @ 2000)

Day 29 LightSpeed Sailing from Marshall Islands to North America

Day 16 at sea since our last anchorage at Bikar atoll, Marshall Islands.


Underway position: 41 03 N 175 12 W

Distance:
151nm day/2560nm trip total

Course 000T
Speed 6.2

Weather:
Wind 9 @ 118T
100 % Cloud cover
1025 mbar
Air temp 66F
Sea temp 66F


We've been experiencing constant fog over the last 36 hours, it's advection fog that forms with warm moist air moves over cooler water. Visibility is severely restricted and only occasional breaks 1/4 mile, requiring constant use of the radar. Light winds and calm seas make life exceedingly pleasant onboard. Our average speed is 6.2 knots running double reef main and full #3 jib. Autopilot is set to wind mode at 50 apparent on starboard and it works great to keep the boat moving in the light conditions. Our course varies as the wind shifts and puffs and is generally in the right direction; due north. No albatross sightings today.

I test ran one of our two Espar Airtronic D4 forced air diesel heaters yesterday, it worked great and soon the cabin was unbearably hot. I might have been tempted to motor a bit more though the calms if not for wanting to conserve fuel for the heaters later on. Today, I'll need to run our Honda EU2000 gasoline generator to charge batteries as our 540 watts of Kyocera solar panels are only putting out about 1/4 of normal with the thick fog.

Our cat Shell has been extra active running around the boat, we think she likes the cooler weather.

We hope to fuel and buy some provisions in Adak and then move east toward Dutch Harbor, Kodiak and the Kenai peninsula.

Adak, Alaska facts:
26 of the 31 days of August have fog. So, it's safe to call it Fogust.
341 days a year with measurable precipitation.
All months except July have seen snowfall.
Max wind gust 109 knots (125 miles per hour)
August temperature range 40-60F
Highest recorded temp 75F (1954)
Population ~100

Adak Island is about 30 miles long and 20 miles wide. The island is rugged and mountainous and has numerous small bays and indentations. Mount Moffett, 3,900 feet high, near the NW end, is the highest point of the island; it is snow covered the greater part of the year. The island has no trees and is grass covered on the lower levels; the higher levels have a heavy growth of moss. Small lakes are numerous and there are many small streams hopefully full of salmon. We plan to anchor in Quail Cove weather permitting, do some fishing and hike around the lake. There are no bears in the Aleutian islands only foxes and some introduced Caribou. These facts courtesy of the US Coast Pilot 9.



That's it for now.

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Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Underway Day 28 LightSpeed Sailing from Marshall Islands to North America

July 23, 2014 @ Noon boat time GMT -8 (UTC July 23 @ 2000)

Day 28 LightSpeed Sailing from Marshall Islands to North America

Day 15 at sea since our last anchorage at Bikar atoll, Marshall Islands.


Underway position: 38 33 N 175 26 W

Distance:
155nm day/2409nm trip total

Course 000T
Speed 5

Weather:
Wind 8 @ 083T
100 % Cloud cover
1024 mbar
Air temp 68F
Sea temp 66F



A thick veil of fog eerily swallows our surroundings, occasional an albatross swoops out of the hollow of grey and then quickly disappears. We're ghosting along at 5 knots through the swirling mist with a light 8 knot breeze out of the east. The sun is but a shadow of it's former glory, reduced to but a glow through the gloom, is this the last we'll see of the sun?

All eyes are on the radar image overlayed on OpenCPN on our 23" navigation monitor. With the large screen we can comfortably view the radar image while relaxing on the settee. It's significantly cooler this morning and for the first time in years I've put on extra clothes to stay warm. Kathy is still braving shorts and a tee shirt, but I doubt that makes it past noon.

The artisan bread we baked yesterday was a half success, the crust was golden and crispy, but the loaf was either too small to start or we didn't give the cold dough enough time to rise. What ever the case it only half filled our large bread pan, but tasted delicious. We'd halved the recipe that called for 680 grams of flour (5 cups?), maybe that was a mistake. To compensate for the small bread Kathy made a batch of brownies in already pre-heated oven and those turned out perfect.

A big thank you to all of you who offered to send us the broken rigging part. It's always fun to hear from our family, friends and our extended network of blog friends whom we have yet to meet. Thanks for sharing the adventure and we look forward to meeting up with many of you as we make our way toward San Francisco.

About 800 nautical miles remaining to Adak, Aleutieans, Alaska.


That's it for now.

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Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Underway Day 27 LightSpeed Sailing from Marshall Islands to North America

July 22, 2014 @ Noon boat time GMT -8 (UTC July 22 @ 2000)

Day 27 LightSpeed Sailing from Marshall Islands to North America

Day 14 at sea since our last anchorage at Bikar atoll, Marshall Islands.


Underway position: 36 00 N 175 19 W

Distance:
111nm day/2254nm trip total

Course 354T
Speed 7.1

Weather:
Wind 10 @ 088T
20 % Cloud cover
1021 mbar
Air temp 77F
Sea temp 73F



The morning sky was a stunning aurora of pastel pinks painted on an endless blue sky, a fine welcome to a new day. It was just 4AM according to our clocks and it seemed the time had finally come to jump ahead the 4 hours to join Alaska daylight saving time GMT-8.

We've been motoring or motor sailing for the last 48 hours in the most unexpected calm conditions. Based on the latest GFS GRIB model it looks like we'll have more than plenty of wind and at least one frontal passage before making landfall. Based on my brief synopsis, Kathy decided to NOT look at the weather forecast as she decided it would only stress her out, I wish I had the same luxury as I'm not excited about pacing a frontal passage for serveral days with our compromised rigging. At this point it looks we have little choice as the GFS model shows a much nastier storm on the heals of the first

At the moment we're sailing on a full main and jib under clear blue skies with water and air temperature between 71-73F. We're topping up the water tanks and running the water heater in expectation of the stormy cold weather in the days to come. I've been reading a book on Artisan bread making and Kathy indulged me by mixing up some dough when she was making pizza dough last night and we left the bread dough to slow ferment in the refrigerator overnight. The idea is that the slow fermentation will more fully develop the flavor of the bread. I formed a loaf today and it's now rising in the bread pan. I'm pre-heating the oven to max the max of 450F with our large cast iron pan and pizza stone to increase the thermal mass and will add 1/2 cup of hot water to the pan when I slide in the bread to create steam for hopefully a nice crunchy golden crust.

Adak in the mid-Aleutians remains the most likely landfall, however my routing program QTVLM can now calculate a reasonable solution to Dutch Harbor.

That's it for now.

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Monday, July 21, 2014

Underway Day 26 LightSpeed Sailing from Marshall Islands to North America

July 21, 2014 @ Noon boat time (UTC July 22 @ 0000)

Day 26 LightSpeed Sailing from Marshall Islands to North America

Day 13 at sea since our last anchorage at Bikar atoll, Marshall Islands.


Underway position: 34 08 N 175 18 W

Distance:
140nm day/2143nm trip total

Course 000T
Speed 5.5

Weather:
Wind 6 @ 135T
100 % Cloud cover
1020 mbar
Air temp 81F
Sea temp 76F

We ran out of wind yesterday and stated motor sailing and then dropped all sail when the wind went to 3 knots true and stayed that way overnight. An overnight squall brought welcome rain to rinse off the salty decks and we only saw one ship in the last 24 hours.

An east setting current has us steering 345T for a course made good of due north. This further sullies our ability to harness the light winds as they're too far aft to build any apparent wind. Yes, we could be sailing, but with enough fuel aboard for 3 days of discretionary motoring at 5 knots with a 1 day reserve we choose to keep moving. I'm hopeful we'll find some wind soon as it's much more pleasant to sail than listen to the motor humm.

Since Midway island we've been in the constant company of Albatrosses. Usually pairs swooping and gliding close to the swells working the ground effect for lift, always on the lookout for their next meal. Albatross, while rearing a new chick, might forage for weeks before returning to feed the chick a liquid meal of predigested biofuel like fish oil. At any given moment a quick scan of the horizon will reveal at least one albatross. I have a theory that sail boats aggregate birds as the white sail can be seen for miles and the birds fly over to investigate under the presumption that the sail is a mass of feeding birds. Based on the many hundreds of birds we see each day, it unlikely that we're observing the average density per mile.

The water temperature has dropped degrees since noon yesterday and the air temperature as well. Kathy broke out a fleece blanket as overnight temperatures in the cabin dropped to a chilly 78F! We're definitely in for a shock when it really starts getting cold! After spending two summers in the equatorial tropical heat and humidity, it's an unusual sensation to feel cool or to have non-sweaty skin. Kathy remarked yesterday that she was enjoying a great hair day as her hair wasn't frizzy with humidity for the first time in nearly 3 years, but instead enjoyed a curl and bounce that was long forgotten in the absence of drier air.

This morning I made a hearty potato, sausage, cheese omelet to help us ward of the chill morning air. LOL

We had a big fish strike that took a bit of line or at least we hooked something that took a bunch of line. We've seen more trash on this trip than any other, maybe the plastic trash gyre is for real, but I think it unlikely that we'll run into an island of trash. So far a 12" plastic fishing float, a 5 gallon bucket, a 12 oz plastic bottle, a plastic milk crate, a plastic bag, a few bits of Styrofoam, a 2'x3' green plastic tote and a few other tiny bits. After the strike I deployed a second fishing line hoping to catch some dinner and we even circled back to fish a 3 degree thermocline, but no luck yet.

The ever generous Dave Bechtel of Seattle based *Bluefin Marine* offered to mail us some warm clothes and possibly track down a toggle for our broken rigging. Thanks Dave!

We're still looking for the toggle, so Dave Bechtel if you can help us out with this that would be awesome. Clothes wise I think we'll survive, but thanks for the offer again. If you don't find us a toggle, that's ok too, so far our jury rig is holding up, but has yet to be tested by any real weather.

Toggle dimensions: 1-1/4" wide X 1-3/4" tall x 1/8" thick. The hole for the 1/2" pin looks to be 17/32" in diameter and the slot at the top is 7/16" wide. The toggle is a 'U' shaped and typical of what one would find on a standard 1/2" 'Gibb' turnbuckle.

It would need to ship USPS priority mail to:
David Kane
General Delivery
Main Post Office
Dutch Harbor, AK
ZIP CODE UNKNOWN


Tonight, it's pepperoni, sausage, onion, garlic and black olive pizza with a side of canned asparagus.

Adak in the mid-Aleutians is looking like the most likely landfall.

That's it for now.

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Sunday, July 20, 2014

Underway Day 25 LightSpeed Sailing from Marshall Islands to North America

July 20, 2014 @ Noon boat time (UTC July 21 @ 0000)

Day 25 LightSpeed Sailing from Marshall Islands to North America

Day 12 at sea since our last anchorage at Bikar atoll, Marshall Islands.


Underway position: 31 58 N 175 56 W

Distance:
159nm day/2003nm trip total

Course 015
Speed 6

Weather:
Wind 8 @ 142T
60 % Cloud cover
1022 mbar
Air temp 84F
Sea temp 79F

It's a good thing LightSpeed sails so well to weather in light winds. The last 24 hours our maximum wind speed was 12 knots, but mostly 9 true out of the SE. Seas are pretty calm, but the full main sail was slating every other wave and eventually drove me to put in a double reef yesterday afternoon. So, we're feeling good about our 159 run considering the light winds and double reef'd main.

Twice daily analysis of the GFS model suggest a strong high pressure system will develop in the Bering Sea in the next week. If the prediction holds then it looks like we'll be making landfall in the central Aleutians possibly Adak Island. We'd greatly prefer to gain more easting and make landfall in Dutch or Kodiak, but this is looking decidedly unlikely as the high pressure would bring a big header.

If any of our sailing friends out there have a toggle for a 1/2" Gibb turnbuckle with a half inch pin diameter laying around in their bilge and want to be a real star they could mail it to us USPS general delivery Dutch Harbor. Send me an email to dbkane at gmail dot com if you got one and can help us out.

Kathy made enchiladas for dinner last night and we watched an episode of Game of Thrones. We're very much enjoying the tranquil conditions and the restful off watch afforded by the calm seas.


That's it for now.

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Saturday, July 19, 2014

Underway Day 24 LightSpeed Sailing from Marshall Islands to North America

July 19, 2014 @ Noon boat time (UTC July 20 @ 0000)

Day 24 LightSpeed Sailing from Marshall Islands to North America

Day 11 at sea since our last anchorage at Bikar atoll, Marshall Islands.


Underway position: 29 46N 177 32W

Distance:
150nm day/1844nm trip total

Course 045
Speed 6

Weather:
Wind 9 @ 166T
20 % Cloud cover
1020 mbar
Air temp 81F
Sea temp 83F

Light winds since noon yesterday topping out at 13 knots and as I write the last 2 hours the maximum has been 9 knots. We're running in wind mode at 80 apparent on starboard which is yielding a course of 045T which is keeping the boat moving, but 20 degrees east of our desired course. The calm conditions inspired lots of activity this morning. Blueberry muffins and sausage for breakfast followed by lots of boat chores. Kathy swept the floors and Dave mopped all the floors and wiped down the walls. Bed sheets changed, bathrooms were cleaned and the water maker was run for a few hours. After our chores we dropped all sail and had a nice swim giving the bottom of the boat a quick once over to ensure marine growth wasn't going to slow us down. Surprisingly the bottom was near perfect with zero goose neck barnacles and only some light slime above the normal waterline and the propellers were still perfectly clean.

It's a little spooky swimming in 5386 meters of water, more than once I glanced into the deep blue hoping I wouldn't find a curious or worse, hungry oceanic shark looking back at me. The water was superbly clear with only the occasional small jelly and a great treat after a busy morning.

We're now running the full main and full jib, but the light wind combined with some SE swell is backing the main every other wave. A slatting sail and trembling rig as the sail resets is not anywhere close to ideal, especially with the compromised lower shroud with the jury rigged toggle. However, we need to keep moving and I'd rather a slatting sail now than more exposure to passing low pressure systems by going slower.

Lots more sea birds today. We happen to have onboard an old National Geographic Magazine with a feature on Albatrosses whom breed and nest in great number at nearby Midway Island, thus our numerous sightings of as many as 3 at once.

That's it for now.

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Friday, July 18, 2014

Underway Day 23 LightSpeed Sailing from Marshall Islands to North America

July 18 (again as we just crossed the dateline), 2014 @ Noon local or (UTC July 18 @ 0000)

Day 23 LightSpeed Sailing from Marshall Islands to North America

Day 10 at sea since our last anchorage at Bikar atoll, Marshall Islands.


Underway position: 28 28N 179 50W

Distance:
159nm day/1694nm trip total

Course 047
Speed 7.3

Weather:
Wind 17 @ 195T
20 % Cloud cover
1015 mbar
Air temp 85F
Sea temp 83F

Crossed the dateline at 28 20N 180W today at 10:40AM local, that's about 140 west of Midway island, 1300nm west of Honolulu, 3000nm west of San Francisco. Ten days into our voyage from Bikar atoll, we're still in the middle of nowhere, but almost exactly halfway to Dutch Harbor. Dutch is now looking like the preferred landfall as it's closest at only 2 weeks away!

Despite confused seas which made things a little extra lumpy and bumpy, we can't complain as we've had a spinnaker flying for the last 48 hours. Yesterday, I binged on weather downloads eating up lots of Iridium sat phone minutes, feasting on 6 gribs, a text forecast, blog update, position report and returning a few emails. Downloading 6 gribs throughout the day would be excessive if not for the fact that we need all that data to skirt the edge of the convergence zone to our west. If we get too close, it's squalls and way too much wind and confused seas and if we get too far away the wind shifts E and goes too light. So far so good as we've had zero squalls in the last 48 hours and mostly clear skies.

Yesterday, just before sunset (7:30PM local) I spotted a dozen sea birds ahead, it took some cajoling and a pretty please with sugar on top, but finally I convinced Kathy that we should try to catch a fish. Since it's a team effort to land and clean and process a fish, it's definitely something we agree on before putting a line in the water. Within 10 minutes the reel was really screaming, I was hoping I could just brute force the fish to the boat without taking down the spinnaker, but after tightening the drag three times to the point something would surely break, I called for help dousing the spinnaker.

Since the small spinnaker doesn't have a dousing sock and since we didn't have a mainsail up to 'cover' or block the wind for a typical spinnaker take down we employed another simple method. Just unfurl the jib, adjust the course dead downwind to cover and depower the spinnaker and then haul it in. We're pretty fast, but the fish was still taking line at a rapid rate. Once the spinnaker was down I furled the jib, started the engines and powered astern to stop the boat, then I put the helm hard over, so we'd lie a hull or beam to the wind to fight the fish.

By the time I picked up the rod and reel the line was nearly exhausted indicating that we had a big fish on the line. I was dreaming of a frigde full of Yellow fin tuna as I used the cadence and lifting of the ocean swells to work the line back on the reel. Since the sun had now set, it was time to get the fish in quickly. I pushed hard reeling and reeling and reeling until both my arms were about to explode. However, I was getting closer with only 50 yards of line remaining when I felt a few tugs on the line that telegraphed the message that this definitely was not a Tuna or if it was it was currently being eaten by a shark.

Each type has a signature type of line feel when you fight it. Some jump and run, others go deep, some have quick jerks of the line like a marlin wagging it's head in fury. We'll I had no idea for another minute, until the fish broke the surface and tail walked by the stern of the boat. Definitely a marlin and by the looks of it around 100+ pounds. At this point I went into overdrive retrieving the line and battling the fish as line came in and line went back out. When the fish got close I called for Kathy to cut the line. And with a zing we short distance released the Marlin. It would have been delicious to eat, but there's no way we could store 80 pounds of processed fish. Bringing the fish closer to the boat to unhook it would have been dangerous for both me and the fish and better that the fish endure the hook for a while until it falls out than be so thoroughly exhausted to the point that I could handle the fish and try to remove the hook. I have little experience handling marlin close to the boat and usually just slack the line and hope they throw the hook. That technique didn't work and I had no interest in getting the fish close enough to grab the sharp bill and pull the hook, just too much risk of getting hurt.

The night watch was uneventful and I tried to sneak in one last look at the southern cross, but think we're already too far north and it's dipped beneath the horizon.

Today lots of sea birds including a Albatross!

That's it for now.

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Thursday, July 17, 2014

Underway Day 22 LightSpeed Sailing from Marshall Islands to North America

July 18, 2014 @ Noon local or (UTC July 18 @ 0000)

Day 22 LightSpeed Sailing from Marshall Islands to North America

Day 9 at sea since our last anchorage at Bikar atoll.


Underway position: 26 35N 178 05E

Distance:
147nm day/1535nm trip total

Course 035
Speed 6.2

Weather:
Wind 16 @ 210T
20 % Cloud cover
1012 mbar
Air temp 85F
Sea temp 83F


I'm not sure what's bigger news, so I'll go in chronological order. Around 10am yesterday we'd just finished setting our small spinnaker, for the hour previous I was having an internal debate on which of our 4 spinnakers to set. I could set the biggest spinnaker based on the current light'ish conditions and run dead downwind making best speed, but if the wind piped up, it could be a drama to get the big 1200 square foot kite down in one piece. Alternately, I could go with the medium size spinnaker which was probably the best compromise, but it doesn't have a dedicated dousing sock, so that would entail removing the sock from the big kite and swapping it. No small job given the current heat wave and lack of breeze in the cabin as we go down wind. Or we could alter course a little to the east and heat up our sailing angle a bit and fly the A-Sail, but I was concerned that putting more east in our course would move us too far from the low pressure system that was providing all SSW wind and we might get into really light air.

The Grib file was suggesting that we head more north east and sail parallel and about 120 east of the convergence zone where we'd find about 18-20 knots of wind, but avoid the squalls and higher winds in the convergence zone. Or I could fly the smallest spinnaker and enjoy peace of mind that nothing could go wrong, but the trade off would be loosing a 2+ knots of potential boat speed. I was still reeling from my night watch and was/am feeling pretty sleep deprived, so I went with the most trouble free small spinnaker. I remind myself that this isn't a race, but regretted the lost speed that could shave many hours or days off the journey.

After working up a sweat rigging the lines and hoisting the small spinnaker I was ready for a quick shower and on my way aft I grabbed the lower shroud and whoa it was waaaayyy too lose. The toggle was busted and was just barely holding the turnbuckle. Yikes 2500+ miles remaining and I have a key element of my rigging busted! I replaced every last bit of the rigging in Mexico in 2011 to avoid this exact problem and a broken toggle is a major disappointment.

I dig through my spares and find a spare turnbuckle, but it has aircraft eyes for ends and no toggle. So, I find a couple of large shackles and swap in an aircraft eye ended stud into the existing turnbuckle and shackle it to the chain plate. So, the rig isn't going to come down, but I'm pissed that a part that should have never failed failed. Luckily, I found the problem quickly and had the luxury of making the repair in calm'ish daylight conditions. That was news item #1.

The second most exciting thing was we almost rammed a HUGE sleeping Sperm whale. Kathy gave a shout that there was a blow just ahead. We scrambled on deck and sure enough we sailed right by a HUGE Sperm whale whom apparently was not too stressed by a close encounter with a sailing catamaran sluicing past at 7+ knots. I can only imagine what would have happened if we would have tickled his back with a keel or rudder. Either of which would surely be ripped off at that speed or if the whale would have woken and thrashed the boat with a quick move of the tail. Yikes.

This trip has provided far more drama than needed. Dragging anchor in the night at Erikub, shooting the river rapids at Bikar pass, broken rigging and now a close call with a whale. Hopefully, the next 2500 nautical miles to Kodiak, AK will be less exciting.

I mention Kodiak as that's where were aiming at the moment. Dutch Harbor is many hundred of miles closer, but it's already really late in the far north sailing season, making landfall in Kodiak or maybe Sitka seems a good tradeoff as we'll have more time to enjoy Alaska without rushing so much.


That's it for now.

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Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Underway Day 21 LightSpeed Sailing from Marshall Islands to North America

July 17, 2014 @ Noon local or (UTC July 17 @ 0000)

Day 21 LightSpeed Sailing from Marshall Islands to North America

Day 8 at sea since our last anchorage at Bikar atoll.


Underway position: 25 03N 176 02E

Distance:
156nm day/1389nm trip total

Course 050
Speed 6.6

Weather:
Wind 13 @ 210T
20 % Cloud cover
1012 mbar
Air temp 85F
Sea temp 84F


We had a nice easterly run yesterday, but slowly the wind has shifted to the S and now SSW and the seas are confused. Late in the morning we launched our smallest spinnaker with the expectation that winds would increase throughout the day and into the night. So we're going a little slower than we could at the moment, but are hopefully avoiding a high wind take down of one of our bigger kites. Our current route has us riding southerly winds for the next few days on a course of 050 which should take us close by Midway Island.

In the calm conditions yesterday I was taking a shower on the stern swim steps when I noticed a 4" Japanese glass fishing float not more than 10' away. For all the tens of hours we spent walking beaches looking for Japanese fishing floats, I think spotting one at sea is akin to winning a power ball jackpot.


We're starting to see more commercial shipping traffic with two sighting this morning, both ships were headed to China.


That's it for now.

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Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Underway Day 20 LightSpeed Sailing from Marshall Islands to North America

July 16, 2014 @ Noon local or (UTC July 16 @ 0000)

Day 20 LightSpeed Sailing from Marshall Islands to North America


Underway position: 24 56N 173 12E

Distance:
148nm day/1233nm trip total

Course 090
Speed 5.7

Weather:
Wind 7 @ 110T
40 % Cloud cover
1015 mbar
Air temp 85F
Sea temp 84F


Yesterday we finally got the long awaited wind shift and 116nm of the 148nm sailed since noon were due east. Without the shift it was looking like we'd end up in Kamchatka!

Today seas are nearly calm but for easterly ground swell that provides a subtle reminder that we're actually sailing. There is no wind noise only the rushing of water along the hulls making for some very pleasant sailing. Our game plan is to sail east along 25N as long as possible, we could angle a bit more north and find considerably stronger winds, but we might also find confused seas and a convergence zone where the low pressure that disrupted the normal E winds is crashing into a high pressure. We'll stick with the bliss as long as possible.

The highest wind since noon yesterday was 10 knots and that was only for an hour, since 10PM last night we had a maximum of 8 knots true and mostly 6-7 knots. LightSpeed is delighted with the conditions and our our boat speed has yet to dip below 5 knots and is mostly hovering in the high 5's. I'm sure glad we sorted out the stuck storm jib yesterday as we are using every inch of sail running at 48 degrees apparent in wind mode on the autopilot.

Last night Kathy treated us to pepperoni pizza and also baked a loaf of bread in the pre-heated oven. Just after diner we were treated with another green flash with local sunset occurring at 7:25PM at our location in the middle of nowhere some 2000 miles due west of Honolulu.


That's it for now.

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Monday, July 14, 2014

Underway Day 19 LightSpeed Sailing from Marshall Islands to North America

July 15, 2014 @ Noon local or (UTC July 15 @ 0000)

Day 19 LightSpeed Sailing from Marshall Islands to North America


Underway position: 23 49N 171 06E

Distance:
143nm day/1085nm trip total

Course 035
Speed avg ~6

Weather:
Wind 8 @ 110T
40 % Cloud cover
1016 mbar
Air temp 86F
Sea temp 86F


We're 1003nm north of Majuro, but still haven't passed east of the longitude of Majuro! This morning we finally got a nice wind shift from ENE to ESE and are just now beginning to make some easting.

All is well except our storm jib is stuck in the up position with a jammed luff tape. It's a new to me sail from Minneys in Newport, CA and the luff tape was not as advertised and just a hair too big. I sprayed the luff tape with Teflon and then winched it up and got it really really stuck... that was three + weeks ago. The sail has been perfect up to this point, but this morning the wind dropped to 8 knots true out of 110T and yep we gotta get that small sail down and the normal jib up. LighSpeed is at her best in light wind conditions, yesterday we had only 9 knots true for a few hours and when the seas settled down we were making better than 6 knots.

I went to work on getting the storm jib down with a block attached to the fore beam and pulled the first few feet down by hauling on the tack and winching. Once I ran out of purchase I tied into a grommet further up the sail and winched down a few more feet pretty much ripping the small grommet out of the sail. I repeated the process again and again with Kathy winching while I pulled with all my weight. Begrudgingly the sail finally slipped free of the foil.

At the moment I'm taking a break from the sail handling and started our Honda generator to top up the batteries while I run the water maker and check email. Next the normal jib goes back up and hopefully we can run that for the remainder of the trip.

Last night the seas got really confused and it made for a rough night of bouncing around.

That's it for now.

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Sunday, July 13, 2014

Underway Day 18 LightSpeed Sailing from Marshall Islands to North America

July 14, 2014 @ Noon local or (UTC July 14 @ 0000)

Day 18 LightSpeed Sailing from Marshall Islands to North America


Underway position: 21 32N 170 25E

Distance:
130nm day/942nm trip total

Course 005
Speed avg ~5.4

Weather:
Wind 13 @ 092T
20 % Cloud cover
1015 mbar
Air temp 86F
Sea temp 85F


Confused seas and lighter winds the last 24 hours has resulted in covering less ground than expected. Today around 10AM I shook out the 2nd reef and we're now sailing a knot faster with just one reef. I'm also using our Simrad AP24/AC42 autopilot in wind mode and have our apparent wind angle set to Starboard 52 degrees. The idea of wind mode is that the autopilot will try to hold the apparent wind angle and adjust our course according to the shifts in the wind and wind strength. Today that has our course oscillating between 357T and 015T. The last 3 hours we've averaged 6.4 knots and run a course of 005T. Since Bikar atoll we've only made a piddling 20 miles of easting in 560 miles of northing.

Both today and yesterday I've seen the white Tropical bird with the very long tail one of my favorite sea birds, otherwise nothing but endless blue.

At the moment it's 86F with 77% humidity and very pleasant with a breeze blowing through the cabin. I haven't worn a shirt in 18 days except for sun protection on our beach combing walks and I can't remember the last time I slept with so much as sheet covering my toes. Around 30N I'm guessing it going to start cooling off pretty quick. Just before we left Majuro we ordered warm slippers, socks, thermal underwear, fleece and bought 3 comforters for our bed. Our cat Shell is going to have to start growing some fur fast.


That's it for now.

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Saturday, July 12, 2014

Underway Day 17 LightSpeed Sailing from Marshall Islands to North America

July 13, 2014 @ Noon local or (UTC July 13 @ 0000)

Day 17 LightSpeed Sailing from Marshall Islands to North America


Underway position: 19 25N 170 12E

Distance:
159nm day/812nm trip total

Dave since August 2005: 57,317nm
Kathy since April 2007: 45,810nm
Combined total: 103,127nm or 118,596 statue miles or 190,939 kilometers

Course 000
Speed avg ~5.6

Weather:
Wind 14 @ 083T
20 % Cloud cover
1012 mbar
Air temp 86
Sea temp 85.5


We're starting to settle into an underway rhythm and slowly becoming desensitized to the constant motion and crashing about that come with beam seas on a catamaran. Honestly, I'd rather be sailing a monohull in these conditions, beam seas are simply ruthless on a catamaran. Each passing wave has a chance to slam into the windward hull then a second chance to hit the windward side of the leeward hull. I'm not talking about underdeck slamming, that is very uncommon with LightSpeed's high bridge deck and long bows, just the hull slapping of beam seas. It would happen on a mono, but with a monos rounded bilges, heavy displacement and slower period of roll it's not as much of an issue.

Off the wind LightSpeed is bliss. Thinking about lazing along with these swells on the stern Kathy and I had a legitimate discussion about sailing to Japan and maybe making the North Pacific loop through the Aleutians next year. However, crossing over to Japan would put us at a great risk of encountering a Typhoon this time of year, so we nixed the idea after downloading a GRIB and looking at the weather situation between here and Japan.

So we continue to pound north more or less driving up 170E and hoping for something other than ENE winds and their attendant forward of the beam seas.

Highlights from yesterday.

Most of the afternoon was quite pleasant with little spray coming off the bows so we had the front door open most of the day with no spray flying into the cabin and a nice breeze.

A beautiful sunset and a solid green flash lasting a few seconds.

Kathy prepared beef burritos for dinner topped with cabbage. The use of cabbage signals that nearly all other fresh items are now exhausted. We've been eating well to this point with tons of spinach and broccoli. I think all we have left now is apples and oranges, carrots, cabbage, potatoes, onions, garlic and I noticed Kathy was starting a tray of broccoli sprouts. Sprouting is a life saver once all the fresh produce is consumed.

Our sea going kitty 'Shell' gave us a scare when she fell of the desk while trying to extract a bird feather from the drawer, she let out a scream when her paw got caught giving us all a fright. Shell limped around for a while, but seems fine now.

Overnight I spotted our first ship of the voyage or at least spotted it on AIS, but never made a visual. As we move further north I expect we'll be seeing plenty more ships as we cross the great circle routes between Asia and Panama canal and Asia and major ports in the US.

Wake Island lies immediately to our west at 200nm, we considered a stop a few days ago, but didn't want to give up 200 miles of easting, unless we were heading to Japan! So next stop is either Dutch Harbor 2400nm, Kodiak 2900nm, Sitka 3400nm or maybe Prince Rupert, BC, Tofino, BC, or Astoria, Oregon. Our landfall will depend on the weather we encounter en route, how we play the systems and some luck. Given an August arrival, we'll have precious little time to explore Alaska. From Dutch Harbor it's still ~2600nm to San Francisco or around 5000nm remaining in our planned voyage. I seriously doubt we'll make San Francisco before the north pacific high collapses in early fall and thus our southerly voyage down the west coast promises more headwinds, but that's ok as there are plenty of nice harbors to visit along the way.


That's it for now.

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Friday, July 11, 2014

Underway Day 16 LightSpeed Sailing from Marshall Islands to North America

July 12, 2014 @ 7:30am or (UTC July 11 @ 1930)

Day 16 LightSpeed Sailing from Marshall Islands to North America


Underway position: 14 25N 170 00E

Distance:
143nm day/653nm total

Course 000
Speed avg 6.3

Weather:
Wind 17 @ 082T
40 % Cloud cover
Air Temp 86F
1012 mbar
Air temp 86
Sea temp 86

Plenty of squalls overnight would have us ripping along upto 12 knots then nearly becalmed banging around in the swells waiting for the wind to fill back in. Still running a storm size jib and double reef main. Definitely looking forward to any point of sail other than close on the wind.

Still heading due north and currently within a few hundred miles of Wake Island which lies to our west.

Moving forward I plan to post just once daily. Our position report to Yotreps (call sign WDF2150) and this blog update will hopefully both go out at noon local or 0000UTC


That's it for now.

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Thursday, July 10, 2014

Underway Day 15 LightSpeed Sailing from Marshall Islands to North America

July 11, 2014 @ 9:30am or (UTC July 10 @ 2130)

Day 15 LightSpeed Sailing from Marshall Islands to North America


Underway position: 14 25N 170 00E

Distance:
93nm day/510nm total

Weather:
Wind 17 @ 082T
40 % Cloud cover
Air Temp 86F
1011.5 mbar
Air temp 86
Sea temp 86

The first few days of a multi day trip are always the hardest as it takes time for the mind and body to slowly adjust to the constant movement and lack of sleep. Yesterday, Kathy and I were both feeling a little sea sick, but today were fine minus the general malaise of not enough rest. It's usually a few days until the body is tired enough to sleep through the jolting crash of a extra big wave, until then a solid sleep will be but a fleeting memory.

Since our last report we averaged 6 knots of boat speed and have more or less gone due north. It could have been closer to 7, but around 2am I was tired of banging around and furled the jib, dropping our speed to 4-5 knots until 7:30 this morning.

Moving forward I plan to post just once daily. Our position report to Yotreps (call sign WDF2150) and this blog update will hopefully both go out at noon local or 0000UTC


That's it for now.

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Wednesday, July 09, 2014

Underway Day 14 LightSpeed Sailing from Marshall Islands to North America

July 10, 2014 @ 5:30pm or (UTC July 10 @ 0530)

Day 14 LightSpeed Sailing from Marshall Islands to North America


Underway position: 12 53N 170 02E

Distance:
57nm day/417nm total

Weather:
Wind 16 @065T
80 % Cloud cover
Air Temp 86F
1008.3mbar

Seas: inside lagoon nil
Sea temp 86

We finally got underway this morning around 9am and with some trepidation headed for Bikar pass to shoot the rapids. About half way across the lagoon we got a squall as a send off gift with blasting rain limiting visibility in the coral studded lagoon. Over the last week at Bikar atoll I can tell you more than once I woke up in the night worrying about getting LightSpeed back out Bikar pass in one piece. As we approached we couldn't spot our marker bouy that we'd placed on the most dangerous coral head at the lagoon side of the pass. It was surely lost in one of the 40+ knot squalls we've had the last few days. My primary point of reference then became the remains of the wrecked fishing boat, mostly just a jumble of parts surrounding the massive diesel engine block, the other remaining parts of the broken ship are deeper inside the pass. As we passed the wreck we had a solid 4 knots of current sucking us out and at least a knot cross current that increased to at least 2 knots of cross current in the vicinity of the "Y". I had LightSpeed crabbing sideways with my speed through water showing 8 plus knots. Going a bit sideways at 8 knots does NOT make the pass feel wider. Just past the 'Y' it seemed for a moment that we might overshoot and hit the far side, but that was short lived as just seconds later the sluicing and boiling cross current had me fully powered up and running at 20 degrees south of our course over ground. If there was an EKG connected to me in those last few moments as I goosed the throttles to full ahead, I'm sure it would have shown my heart rate and blood pressure going off the chart. As we rocketed to safety though the standing waves on the ocean side of Bikar pass I thought I might puke for a second.

My advice is don't even think about taking your boat into Bikar lagoon. Getting in is one thing, but coming out is 500 times riskier. Bikar pass might be 100 times more dangerous than other dangerous passes we've ran like Mopellia (6 times), Penrhyn (in close out conditions which required a huge surf to 14 or maybe 16 knots) and Aitutaki (more than 20 times including low water with a big breaking SW swell) and 1000 times more scary than anything we ever ran in the Tuamotus in 2006, 2011 or 2012. Yep, the place is pristine for a reason, it eats boats.

Once outside the pass Kathy deployed a fishing line and within minutes we had a LDR (long distance release). I updated the logbook and shut down and flushed the water maker and then opened the discharge valve for the head. The holding tank was 7/8 full, but refused to drain. The next hour involved way too much $h!t slopping all over me while I crammed myself into the anchor locker to remove hoses and clear the blocked line. It was a truly disgusting job requiring way too much close contact with fecal mater. Mid-way through the project and dripping with you know what, the fishing reel started to scream and we must have had something big as it took most of our line before it broke the leader. Unfortunately, it was back in the stinking locker for me as I still had to finish the job and then a shower and then a big clean up and then we finally got to set sail about 1.5 hours later.

I started with a single reefed main and storm jib and we were charging at 9 knots, so I dropped all the way down to 3 reefs which would only produce 4.5-5 knots and then about 15 minutes later decided 2 reefs would be best. We've been averaging 6.9 knots which is almost too fast for the sea state going close hauled. Occasionally we launch off a wave at 8-9 knots and crashing back down and into the next wave is not too pleasant. With like 4000-6000 miles to go in this trip we need to minimize the crashing for both our sanity and the sake of not breaking gear.

Based on the weather models we downloaded this morning, it looks like we'll sail a course of 355T until 20N then veer slightly to the east until 28N where I hope we will be sailing due east on the bottom edge of a low until about Midway island and from there who knows. Anyway that's my 10 day plan to be in the vicinity of Midway Island. Unfortunately, we can't rest at Midway or any of the other nice islands on the end of the Hawaiian chain as they are off limits to any stops.

That's it for now.

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Day 14 LightSpeed Sailing from Marshall Islands to North America

July 10, 2014 @ 7:00am or (UTC July 9 @ 1900)

Day 14 LightSpeed Sailing from Marshall Islands to North America


Anchorage position: 12 14.68N 170 07.92E

Distance:
0nm day/360nm total

Weather:
Wind 18 ENE
80 % Cloud cover with a few rain showers
Air Temp 83F

Seas: inside lagoon nil
Sea temp 86F

We hope to get underway this morning. One more look at the weather, breakfast and then we get to shoot the Bikar pass.

Based on the weather models it looks like we'll head almost due north until about 28N then start to veer east.


That's it for now.

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Tuesday, July 08, 2014

Day 13 LightSpeed Sailing from Marshall Islands to North America

July 9, 2014 @ 7:00am or (UTC July 8 @ 1900)

Day 13 LightSpeed Sailing from Marshall Islands to North America


Anchorage position: 12 14.68N 170 07.92E

Distance:
0nm day/360nm total

Weather:
Wind 18 ENE
80 % Cloud cover with a few rain showers
Air Temp 83F

Seas: inside lagoon nil
Sea temp 86F

Yesterday, major squalls with wind gusts to 41 knots and lots of heavy rain. We analyzed the weather extensively running scenarios using Viewfax and then more in depth studies with QTVLM. We'll check the GRIBs again this morning and see how things look. Some big squalls are visible on the horizon and the wind is more NE, but less than 20 knots for the moment.

Otherwise we idled the day away with a swim to polish the bottom of the boat and propellers, played Scrabble and read books made pizza for dinner and watched Homeland season 1 episode 6.


That's it for now.

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Monday, July 07, 2014

Day 12 LightSpeed Sailing from Marshall Islands to North America

July 8, 2014 @ 7:00am or (UTC July 7 @ 1900)

Day 12 LightSpeed Sailing from Marshall Islands to North America


Anchorage position: 12 14.68N 170 07.92E

Distance:
0nm day/360nm total

Weather:
Wind 24 NE
80 % Cloud cover with a few rain showers
Air Temp 83F

Seas: Choppy inside lagoon with wind gusts in the mid 20's.
Sea temp 86F

Yesterday, Kathy made a delicious chocolate cake and we walked around Jabwelo island twice. Going a little stir crazy waiting for weather.

That's it for now.

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Sunday, July 06, 2014

Day 11 LightSpeed Sailing from Marshall Islands to North America

July 7, 2014 @ 7:30am or (UTC July 6 @ 1930)

Day 11 LightSpeed Sailing from Marshall Islands to North America


Anchorage position: 12 14.68N 170 07.92E

Distance:
0nm day/360nm total

Weather:
Wind 24 NE
90 % Cloud cover with a few rain showers
Air Temp 83F

Seas: Choppy inside lagoon with wind gusts in the upper 20's.
Sea temp 86F

We're anxious to get going, but the wind is still cranking out of the NE at over 20 knots. We're 100% go ready, just waiting for a break in the weather.

Yesterday, Kathy was swimming after breakfast and I hear her scream shark, shark all in a panic. She's freaking and I launch the dinghy and go pick her up. Apparently, a grey reef shark was making unwelcome advances and Kathy was repeatedly having to kick the shark in the face. The shark didn't get the hint and bugger off until I pulled up in the dinghy several minutes later. I was ready to go kiting, but was feeling less enthused after all the recent shark activity. It was a low key day, I skimmed all 544 pages of the US Coast Pilot region 9 (Alaska) played a few games on my tablet (2048, Follow the white line and Temple Run Oz), I also fixed a heater duct, inspected the rigging again and rove the 2nd and 3rd reef lines on the mainsail.

We downloaded more GRIB files and ran various scenarios and think we see a break in the weather in a few days.

That's it for now.

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Saturday, July 05, 2014

Day 10 LightSpeed Sailing from Marshall Islands to North America

July 6, 2014 @ 8:30am or (UTC July 5 @ 2030)

Day 10 LightSpeed Sailing from Marshall Islands to North America


Anchorage position: 12 14.68N 170 07.92E

Distance:
0nm day/360nm total

Weather:
Wind 24 NE
30 % Cloud cover with a few rain showers
Air Temp 84F

Seas: Choppy inside lagoon with wind gusts in the upper 20's and 30's in squalls
Sea temp 86F

We're totally ready to go, both boat project wise and mentally stoked for the 20+ day passage in the north pacific, but now the weather's not cooperating. Stronger than anticipated NE winds have been buffeting us for the last 36 hours and the forecast has more of the same on the way. IF we left today we'd bash our brains out all the way to 30N, that's 1000 miles and probably make little if any easting. The GFS has been modeling a low forming just to the west of us which could give us the boost we need to punch through the easterly zonal flow, get north and hopefully find some westerly winds. As I type we have 26 knots at 075T, so we're not going anywhere today.

Yesterday, Kathy was feeling a little off after a big morning swim, so I entertained myself with another walk around Jabwelo Islands in the NE corner of Bikar atoll. I found one more Japanese glass fishing float, otherwise it was just projects around the boat like washing underwear and organizing my workbench and fishing cabinet.

This morning Kathy is feeling fine and she made some delicious blueberry muffins from scratch. Yumm.

That's it for now.

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Friday, July 04, 2014

Day 9 LightSpeed Sailing from Marshall Islands to North America

July 5, 2014 @ 7:30am or (UTC July 2 @ 1930)

Day 9 LightSpeed Sailing from Marshall Islands to North America

Tags: Bikar Atoll, Japanese glass fishing floats, turtles, turtle nests

Anchorage position: 12 12.68N 170 06.88E (east side, mid-atoll at kite launch sand island)

Distance:
6nm day/360nm total

Weather:
Wind 20 NE
30 % Cloud cover with a few rain showers
Air Temp 82F

Seas: flat inside lagoon
Sea temp 86F

Yesterday was a busy day. Before breakfast we headed over to check out the shipwreck at sand island, then we motored up to the other sand island in the NW corner. Along the way we made use of the power the engines were generating to run the water maker.

NW sand island was beautiful, but smaller than expected, so after a short walk we snorkeled at a nearby patch of coral and wow was it loaded with sharks! Grey reefs, black tips and white tips swarmed in the minute we got in the water and their curious circling was a bit of a distraction from the intended search for super giant clams.

Next we moved LightSpeed again to a short term anchorage near the pass and launched the dinghy to scout the pass for our eventual departure. We tied a fishing float to the most dangerous shallow coral head in the approach and made a few mental notes about the locations of other shallow coral heads. The current is a solid 3-4 knots in the approach, so no place to hang up on a coral head or we might find the same fate as the wrecked fishing boat nearby. We ran the dinghy through a few times to feel the current and did some power snorkeling where Kathy leans off the side of the boat far enough to get her snorkel mask in the water and Dave slowly pilots the boat. Kathy said there were thousands of fish along the walls.

We considered drift snorkeling the pass, but the currents are too wicked strong and boiling and the visibility too poor in the churning waters for the risk. During our observations around low tide the set of the current within the pass has a strong cross flow setting to the north side of the channel especially in the vicinity of the 'Y'.

After a few runs we headed all the way out the pass to snorkel on the outside reef wall. Once outside we donned our gear and stuck our faces in the water in what we call the 'shark check' to see if there is a really big shark waiting to eat us. Wow!!! The amount of sharks surrounding us kept us in the safety of the boat to enjoy the show as we leaned over the edge. At one point I counted 30 grey reef sharks circling around us! Numerous Giant Bump head wrass, giant groupers, giant everything was checking us out. Schools of mackerel and permit obscured our vision and times in dense schools. Turtles joined the mix. Incredible and we never got in the water, just way way too many grey reef sharks way to close. So many and so close that even sticking your head in the water from the dinghy was a bit stressful. Eventually our heads were about to explode from hanging upside down for so long and we headed back to LightSpeed to move once again across the lagoon.

We anchored at Jabwelo island again and without delay headed in to beach comb the final island at Bikar atoll. Although, the smallest it had a lot of junk piled on its shores, fishing floats of every description, huge pile of line and way too many empty bottles both plastic and glass. We found three Japanese fishing floats, two round and one rolling pin bringing our total to 11 in the last 9 days, I think we can check that one off the list.

We were considering leaving Bikar today, but this morning the wind is a solid NE and steady at 20 knots. Perfect weather for kiting, so I think we'll be moving the boat again to sand island for some kiting.

I have yet to download a GRIB, but based on the local wind conditions I doubt we will sail today.

That's it for now.

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Thursday, July 03, 2014

Day 7 Sailing from Marshall Islands to North America ( Bikar atoll)

July 4, 2014 @ 7:30am or (UTC July 2 @ 1930)

Day 8 LightSpeed Sailing from Marshall Islands to North America

Tags: Bikar Atoll, Japanese glass fishing floats, turtles, turtle nests

Anchorage position: 12 12.68N 170 06.88E (west side, mid-atoll at kite launch sand island)

Distance:
2nm day/354nm total

Weather:
Wind 15 NE
40 % Cloud cover with a few rain showers
Air Temp 85F

Seas: flat inside lagoon
Sea temp 86F

It's 4th of July, so happy birthday to my cousin Kim! In celebration of the 4th of July, we'll be shooting off some Roman candles we've had onboard since Fiji.

Yesterday we moved the boat up to the sand island that's midway down the west side of the Bikar Atoll lagoon and yep it's the perfect kite spot. Now all we need is the wind to pick up a few knots. The sand island is an all tide launch site and even at low tide there's enough water for some freestyle jumps/crashes. We'd hoped to check out the ship wreck just to the north of the sand island, but the tide was too low to navigate the coral gardens on the shallow reef, so we combed the sand island for beach treasures and pretty quickly found 2 small Japanese glass fishing floats. Just a couple more floats and we'll have our beautiful hand crafted Marshallese basket completely full. During our exploration a big squall came through and pelted us with a deluge of rain, so we slipped into the water for some snorkeling. The corals near sand island were ok, but the wildlife was superb. A 9.5 on a scale of 10 for wildlife, huge schools of all sorts of fish, countless giant clams, black lipped oysters, large Palau clams the only thing missing was big sharks. During low tide the visibility is pretty bad so, maybe the big sharks were there lurking in the shadows?

The remainder of the day was spent onboard. Kathy made rice crispy treats, Dave and Kathy studied the weather and discussed routing, Dave touched up the deck paint between rain squalls, we took a nap and lounged around until evening when we had a great pizza and watched a movie. With a constant 15 knot breeze the 86F air temp is very pleasant, no more constant sweating in the calm conditions found at Majuro.

Today, we started early on the high tide to check out the ship wreck, it looks like an 80-90' steel fishing boat. The bow is ripped off and located 1/8 of a mile away and still contains the entire anchor rode (chain) which is rusted into a 1m x 1m x 2m block. Can you imagine the storm that moved that chunk of metal?

Later today we'll scout the sand island in the NW corner and then head back to the best anchorage in the NE corner and explore the remaining island there.

That's it for now.

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Wednesday, July 02, 2014

Day 7 Sailing from Marshall Islands to North America ( Bikar atoll)

July 3, 2014 @ 7:30am or (UTC July 2 @ 1930)

Day 7 LightSpeed Sailing from Marshall Islands to North America

Tags: Bikar Atoll, Japanese glass fishing floats, turtles, turtle nests

Anchorage position: 12 11.85N 170 06.53E (southerly anchorage near Bikar Island, Bikar Atoll)

Distance:
4nm day/352nm total

Weather:
Wind 15 NE
50 % Cloud cover with a few rain showers
Air Temp 85F

Seas: flat inside lagoon
Sea temp 86F

Yesterday, day 6 we sailed down the Bikar lagoon scouting for kiting and snorkeling spots. There's a really nice sand bar near the ship wreck on the west side of the atoll which looks like an all tide kite launch site and also looks like it might offer some limited wave protection in easterly winds. Since the wind eased from 20+ early in the day to 15 by the time we got to the sandbar, we decided to continue to Bikar Island in the south of Bikar Atoll. Bikar islands provided superb beach combing where Dave found two rolling pin shaped glass floats and Kathy found the biggest glass ball ever. Kathy's glass ball was so heavy that we didn't even try to carry it back to the boat as we couldn't imagine what we'd do with such a giant glass ball or where we'd store it for the long ocean journey ahead.

We found some other unusual items on our walk such as the tip to a military missile which had several bullet holes through it, several turtle skeletons and sheets of dried turtle shell that resemble sheets of heavy plastic and that we hear make great guitar picks and lastly a US Army Core of Engineers survey marker from 1952.

Turtles on Bikar island seemed to be flourishing with turtle nests covering the entirety of every available inch of beach and lots of fresh tracks with at least 50 recent nesting sites based on fresh turtle tracks in the sand. On the SW corner of Bikar island a dozen palm trees languish, few with coconuts, but we managed to knock a few loose with a long stick and enjoyed the refreshing coconut water midway through our circumnavigation.

Today we plan to check out the kiting sandbar and nearby shipwreck and do some extensive snorkeling.

Based on yesterdays GFS grib, we might head out early on July 7 local (July 6 @1800UTC) as a low passing to the north could give us some southerly component winds on our way to 30N where we hope to find westerly component winds. However, all this could change based on the GRIB I'm about to download after I upload this message.

That's it for now.

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Tuesday, July 01, 2014

(no subject)

July 2 2014 9:10AM local (July 1, 2014 2110UTC)

Bikar Atoll, Marshall Islands

Anchorage position: 12 14.70N 170 07.94E (Jabwelo Island)

We hope to stay for a few days here at Bikar atoll to do more beach combing and snorkeling while we wait for a nice weather window to get us to 30 north where we hope to find westerly component winds. It was squally overnight, but today the clouds are looking more like trade wind clouds and the breeze is steady at 20 knots out of the NE. Top on the agenda will be scouting out a nice kiting launching spot.

That's it for now.

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Monday, June 30, 2014

Day 5 update #2 Bikar atoll

July 1 2014 1:35PM local (July 1, 2014 0135UTC)

Bikar Atoll, Marshall Islands

Anchorage position: 12 14.70N 170 07.94E (Jabwelo Island)

We arrived at the Bikar pass at low water and I took the dinghy through to check depths and access currents. The initial straight portion of the channel boils with alternating currents of 3-4 knots and at the 'Y' where the higher volume flow rushed in a deeper channel there was a wicked eddy line. In the dinghy it was all fun and games, in LightSpeed it would feel pretty tight.

Back on the boat we had a quick discussion and then hoisted the dinghy back on the davits. We decided to go for it and head in on low water as depth wasn't an issue for us with only a 3 foot maximum draft. LightSpeed is loaded for the passage and the steering felt more sluggish as the first swirling and boiling currents alternately grabbed at the hulls pushing and pulling in the narrow channel with jagged overhanging coral edges. At the 'Y' I hit full power and the steering required extremely large rapid corrections as one hull entered the stream while the other was still in the eddy line. Whew, I sighed with relief as we charged over the shallowest spot leaving only 4' beneath the keels while nearby bommies protruded from the fast flowing stream. The hulk of a wrecked Japanese fishing boat a visible reminder that any mistakes or mechanical issues would have dire consequences.

Once safely inside the lagoon, I began to worry about going back out as the wind and current will be pushing and I'll need 3-4 knots of headway to maintain decent steering. That means on the way out I'll be going 7-10 knots relative to the adjacent coral edges vs 3-4 on the way in. Not looking forward to that.

We've only been at Bikar for a short time, but we've seen turtles swimming, turtle nests ashore, seas birds in every stage of life form eggs in a nest to fledgling chicks to hundreds and hundreds of birds aloft and in the bush. The lagoon floor is wilderness with vibrant coral gardens, huge wrasse, giant groupers, fearless schools of fish of every description and clams o plenty. One surprise was the abundance of obviously planted, non indigenous Palau clams many of which are as big as 24" across. These Palau clams look out of place, some in the sand and some grouped together in on coral outcrops none meshing with the surroundings.

Beach combing Dave found 2 small Japanese glass fishing floats, so that's 3 in 3 days.

That's it for now.

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Day 5 Sailing from Marshall Islands to North America (Ailuk atoll to Bikar)

July 1, 2014 @ 9:30am or (UTC June 30 @ 2130)

Day 5 LightSpeed Sailing from Marshall Islands to North America

Tags: Ailuk atoll to Bikar atoll.

Underway position: 11 58N 170 00E

Distance:
98nm day/348nm total

Weather:
Wind 17 ESE
Max wind speed 30+ knots in squalls
100 % Cloud cover with rain and squalls
Air Temp 86F

Seas: 2.5 meters and confused
Sea temp 86F

We sailed out of Ailuk atoll yesterday afternoon around 5pm after a lazy day of beach combing, swimming and naps. As we cleared the NW pass on Ailuk winds were light, but many large squalls loomed ominous on the horizon. With only 120 miles to sail we'd need to go fairly slow to meet our desired afternoon arrival time at Bikar, so I tucked in a double reef and unfurled our new tiny working/storm jib. The wind soon filled in with the first squall and didn't let up until sunrise. Controlling boat speed was the challenge. LightSpeed was skipping, jumping and slamming into the confused seas. It didn't help that the predicted ESE moved to ENE putting us close on the wind. In the most vigorous squalls the storm jib started to feel too big and I was wishing I'd rigged that third reef in the main. LightSpeed lived up to her name and we occasionally surpassed 10 knots going to weather. 10 knots was way too fast for the sea state and eventually I furled the tiny jib.

This morning the seas are still a bit confused and slapping us around a bit, but the wind is down to 15 and the jib is unfurled driving us at 6-7 knots. Needless to say we're going to arrive many hours earlier than anticipated at Bikar. I guess that will give us a chance to see the pass at low water and maybe a few hours of lying a hull for a nap before we decide if Bikar pass is tenable. We have 15 miles to go to Bikar.


At the first opportunity I'm going to repurpose the first and second reef lines to second and third reef lines. I'll loose the ability to fully hoist the main, but gain the ability to easily reef down to 3 reefs.

That's it for now.

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Sunday, June 29, 2014

Day 4 Sailing from Marshall Islands to North America (stop at Ailuk atoll)

June 30, 2014 @ 1:30pm or (UTC June 30 @ 0130)

Day 4 LightSpeed Sailing from Marshall Islands to North America

Tags: Erikub atoll beach combing and Japanese fishing float, Bigen Island Ailuk atoll


Anchor position: 10 24.94N 169 57.63E

Distance:
95nm day/248nm total

Weather:
Wind 12 ESE
Max wind speed 25+ knots in squalls
Cloudy, with rain and squalls
Air Temp 86F

Seas: Calm with 1m ground swell
Sea temp 86F

Yesterday we had a great beach combing session walking around Jeldoni island at Erikub atoll and I finally managed to find an old Japanese glass fishing float. Whew, I can finally check that off my list after years of searching. After our walk we enjoyed some truly spectacular snorkeling in coral gardens on the lagoon side of Jeldoni island. The anchorage is tough, but in settled conditions it's well worth the visit. We ranked our snorkeling session in the top five ever. Lots of big fish, sharks, incredible coral gardens and tons of gorgeous clams some twice as big as a rugby ball. After a shower and lunch we headed across the lagoon on what we thought might be a slow 36 hour sail to Bikar. Shortly after sailing out of the west pass on Erikub we hoisted a double reefed main and small jib and enjoyed some brisk sailing between frequent squalls. Our sail plan was perfect for strong blasts of the squalls and soon we could see we'd be arriving too soon to Bikar. We'd planned on 5.5 knots with little wind and were now averaging 7-8 knots. The logical choice was to make a day stop at Ailuk, do some more beach combing and then make an easy overnight the remaining 120 miles to Bikar.

We're treating tidal height and direction as critical for a safe passage into the super technical entrance of Bikar atoll. We want half tide and rising and for the next few days that brackets our arrival time to 2-4pm with high tide around 5:30pm. After we clear the pass we need to navigate another 4 miles across the lagoon and there looks to be lots of hazards, so good light will be required to dodge the coral heads.


That's it for now.

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Saturday, June 28, 2014

Day 3 Sailing from Marshall Islands to North America (anchor drama)

June 29, 2014 @ 9:30am or (UTC June 28 @ 2130)

Day 3 LightSpeed Sailing from Marshall Islands to North America

Tags: Yellow fin tuna, Erikub atoll anchorage, turtle nests, anchor in a squall twice


Anchor position: 09 03.37N 170 06.09E

Distance:
44nm day/153nm total

Weather:
Wind 12 ESE
Max wind speed 30+ knots in squalls
Cloudy, with rain and squalls
Air Temp 81F

Seas: Calm with 1m ground swell
Sea temp 88F

Yesterday on the approach to Erikub atoll we landed a nice yellow fin in less than 10 minutes of fishing, then a school of dolphins escorted us to the pass. A nice welcome to a beautiful remote atoll and soon after we found a suitable day anchorage near 09 01.518N 170 02.394E in sand with isolated coral heads. We wasted no time heading ashore for a bit of beach combing as the tide was rising, plenty of fresh turtle tracks, but disappointingly quite a few human tracks in the vicinity of the turtle nests. The Marshall Islands are not CITES signatories and regularly kill and eat mature turtles at every chance, clearly egg thieves had been at work. Dave foraged in the bush trying to find a Japanese glass fishing float near the high, high tide line with no luck. With the tide nearly high at 4:30pm we headed back to the boat with the plan to move across the lagoon to what looked to be a fresh ship wreck on the SE corner. It was a 90 foot foreign steel fishing boat that was hard on the reef, I wanted to check out the interior, but there was no easy access up the sides of the ship. It was late in the day to be moving around the lagoon, so we hustled up to Jeldoini Island and found a decent anchorage that had the anchor in 30' of sand and the stern of the boat in 90'. Not ideal as we'd be pulling the anchor downhill if it moved from it's nice set. We did our normal procedure and backed down hard on the anchor twice to ensure it was set.

We had a nice sashimi dinner with the tuna and the last of our fresh spinach, watched a movie and were rudely awakened around 1:30AM when the anchor alarm started to howl. A big squall was lashing fiercely at our rain catching awning as buckets of water poured from the skies.

We were actively dragging anchor, but before we could deploy more chain we'd have to retrieve about 25' of chain to remove the chain hook on the anchor bridal. We were drifting uncomfortably fast toward unknown dangers in the howling squall and it was a relief when all the chain was deployed and the anchor grabbed the sea floor some 100' below.

Luck smiled on us as while we were dragging astern we avoided crashing into any dangerous isolated shallow coral heads that might have been off our stern, very likely with grave results for the boat. All said we'd moved fully 300 feet and now the anchor scope was now a tenuous 2:1. Attempting to move to a better location in the howling wind and driving rain and the zero visibility of this moonless squally night was not a good bet. We'd stay put and wait for first light to access conditions. Once the adrenaline subsided I reset the anchor alarm and went back to bed for a few restless hours until around 5AM the anchor alarm sounded again and we sprung to action in the still pitch black and stormy conditions.

This time our options were more limited, our 200' of all chain rode and 44 pound Rocna anchor were omni potent in over 130 feet of water. We'd have to retrieve the anchor and move blindly toward shallow water to reset the anchor. The only other option was to motor around in the dark waiting for sunrise and that was just too risky with isolated shallow boat wrecking coral heads in unknown locations. So, we retrieved the anchor and slowly approached our original anchorage utilizing all of our electronic wizardry, Goggle earth charts with radar overlay and standard low tech stuff like use your eyeballs with Kathy on the bow with a flash light in the driving rain and howling wind. We ever so slowly motored back toward the shallows at 1/2-1 knot, just enough speed to maintain steerage as we crabbed toward shore with strong winds buffeting the boat. I kept an eagle eye on depth sounder and watched it tick down slowly at first 117, 114, 104, 99, 97, 88, and 74 I knew we were getting really close to the reef now. Then more quickly 62,59, 56, then too fast 41, 33, 18 and now Kathy yelling now that she can see the bottom all to well. Engine in full reverse and anchor chain running fast off the bow, adrenaline pumping as I see as little as 8.9 feet on the depth sounder and sort of tense up waiting for a crunch, but we escaped into deeper water laying out chain as we went until we'd deployed all 200'. Anchor snubber on and then we waited as the howling wind swung us about 30 degrees and back toward the reef and the depth sounder went from 90 something back down to 64 feet before settling. Whew, not ideal anchoring conditions in the pitch black howling wind and rain. Having practiced this routine thousands of times, it was all very routine beside the 100% lack of visibility and far too much reliance on technology. I guess we could have tried to anchor again at a very marginal depth of 90' with a 2:1 or added more anchor rode to get to 5:1 scope, but that would have most likely resulted in permanently fouling our anchor in depths beyond our ability to retrieve it and the loss of our primary anchor gear. So, we decided to get close to shore and re-anchor. Next time I'd do the same, but go even slower on the approach.

Exhausted from the restless night I went back to bed and slept in until a record 9AM when I was awakened by a big thud. Oh, what could it be now? I jumped out of bed in a rush and looked on deck to see Kathy sheepishly smiling as she'd just slipped on the wet deck and landed on her bum. Whew, everything and everybody was alright. Hopefully, the remainder of today is less eventful.

That's it for now.

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Friday, June 27, 2014

Day 2 Sailing from Marshall Islands to North America

June 28, 2014 @ 8am or (UTC June 27 @ 2000)

Day 2 LightSpeed Sailing from Marshall Islands to North America


Underway position: 08 34N 170 22E

Distance:
109/109nm

Weather:
Max wind speed 4 knots
Partly Cloudy
Air Temp 88F

Seas: Calm with 1m ground swell
Sea temp 88F

Yesterday we motored out of Majuro lagoon and we're still motoring along 20 hours later. The only excitement was a issue with the port engine alternator that failed to output unless the starboard engine was running. This proved to be a bit of a head scratcher and took a few hours of trouble shooting and too many trips into the broiling hot engine rooms to sort out. Our charging system uses two Balmar external regulators and 'centerfielder' to balance the load between the alternators as it turned out it was just a dirty connection that blew a fuse.

This mornings job was to top up the port fuel tank and calculate our fuel consumption rate, 11 gallons in 21 hours, so we're burning about 1/2 gallon an hour at 2150rpm running just one engine and making about 5.7 knots speed over ground. Maximum windspeed thus far is 4 knots and that was a gust, mostly less than 2 knots true, so no chance to do any meaningful sailing. We unfurled the jib, but it was only for show as I think it boosted our speed 0.1 knots. It's hot and still and the going is slow, but we're stoked to embark on a epic journey towards Alaska.

Our plan is to stop at uninhabited Eirkub atoll (we obtained written permission to visit in advance) this afternoon, do some beach combing and then head out early in the morning with a possible stop at uninhabited Jemo which shows a interesting looking ship wreck on Google earth.

Kathy has been cooking some great meals in the calm conditions and we're enjoying our current bounty of fresh spinach, broccoli and fruit. Our cat Shell is suffering in the heat and spends most of her day sprawled out exhausted by daytime temps into the mid-nineties. Yesterday I read an entire National Geographic magazine in one sitting. It's a bit hard to unwind after several weeks of concerted effort to prepare LightSpeed for the voyage ahead.

Overnight we didn't spot any ships and enjoyed the using our new Simrad 3G radar. The radar is overlayed on OpenCPN and easily viewed on a 22 inch monitor from our settee.

That's it for now.

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Thursday, June 26, 2014

LightSpeed Underway today for Alaska

June 27, 2014

We're getting underway today June 27, 2014 around noon (Majuro time) and hope to make one stop at uninhabited Bikar atoll before the long voyage north.

Sailing from Majuro, Marsahll Islands to Dutch Harbor, Alaska on a small boat is going to be a challenging voyage with everything going right. At the moment I have some doubts about our communications as we're using aN Iridium Satellite phone from Global Marine Networks, GMN has been a huge disappointment in every respect.  The first phone they sent to us untested and guess what it was DOA.  Most recently, I've made no headway obtaining our new satellite phone number which they could have sent to us nearly a week ago, if they had a clue.
Customer dis-service will not return our emails in less than 24-48 hours.  All of this makes me concerned that our coverage may be interrupted en route due to ongoing incompetence at Global Marine Networks.  That being said if those who follow our blog see more than three (3) days pass with no blog update then we'd appreciate some shore side support to contact GMN on our behalf and ensure they haven't buggered something up.  Communications in the north pacific while dodging storms are critical.

And of course it's possible that the new phone GMN provided could also break, so don't worry if you don't hear from us for many weeks and GMN checks out.   We have an EPIRB for emergencies.

So, here are the particulars of our account

David Kane
Iridium Sim card number:  8988169326000433643
Phone IMEI: 300115011233070

Global Marine Networks
GMN Help Desk
info@globalmarinenet.com
1.877.379.8723 (USA) Press “201” for Support when the auto attendant answers which they have not in the past!

Iridium Customer Support
info@iridium.com
1.866.947.4348 (Option 3) (USA)
001.480.752.5155 (Option 3) (International)

Thanks

David and Kathy Kane
WDF2150
KF7TDY ham
USCG 1058693






Wednesday, June 25, 2014

LightSpeed to Alaska. 7000nm doesn't look so far from space.

Marshall Islands San Francisco via Alaska, British Columbia, Washington and Oregon ~7000 nm.

It's hot in the Marshall Islands during summer, so we're heading to Alaska to cool off.   There are plenty of reasons to leave the Marshalls for summer, none the least is the chance of a typhoon as a result of el nino. On the way north we hope to stop at Bikar atoll about 300nm north of Majuro and from there the next stop is somewhere in North America, very possibly Dutch Harbor, Alaska (home of the deadliest catch crab boats).  Even though it's summer the weather enroute is likely to be boisterous at times.  

LightSpeed is ready for the voyage with a new storm jib, 100 cone series drogue, cold water immersion survival suits, tuned up our twin Espar D4 diesel cabin heaters, closets stocked with warm clothes and cupboards full for at least 40 days of good eating.

For communications we recently sold our Icom M-802 single side band radio with the hopes of replacing it with an 'Iridium GO', a satellite powered WIFI hotspot.  Unfortunately the 'GO' release date keeps getting pushed back, so we recently purchased an Iridium 9555 satellite phone which we'll be using as a data modem to download weather and update the blog.  

I could have purchased the Iridium 9555 on ebay for under $1000, but I went with what I thought was a more reputable supplier, Global Marine Networks.  Well, I paid premium price, but the purchase process has been far from smooth.  The first phone provided by Global Marine Networks was dead on arrival as it would not recognize the sim card.  A real shame that GMN didn't take the one minute to power it up with a sim card before sending it half way around the world!  GMN customer support was quick to send out another phone and just as quick to charge my credit card for a second phone and shipping.  I was also, welcome to return the DOA phone at my expense.  I'd really rail on the experience with GMN, but at this point I wouldn't put it past them to disconnect my service half way into my voyage.  Buy your satellite products elsewhere.  

Obtaining weather under-way is of vital importance to the safety of our voyage thus the reason for paying the big bucks for the new satellite phone.   For email services www.Sailmail.com is still the best for both SSB and Satellite phone.  A big thanks to Sailmail for all the great service over the past 8+ years.  

I'll be doing frequent blog updates along the way, so we hope you virtually join us for the epic voyage to the north.



   


Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Bikar atoll expedition

Bikar Passage, Marshall Islands

12° 14.2841' N
170° 04.3454 E

We're heading toward Bikar hopefully this week.  Bikar atoll is the second most northern atoll of the Marshall Islands and infrequently visited due to it's remote location and technical pass with limited water depths just inside the pass.  Before going in we'd scout the pass in the dinghy.  It looks like the north branch is most favorable, however on the lagoon side the water looks very shallow and studded with coral heads.  It will definitely require good visibility and settled conditions to attempt.      

 Bikar Atoll, Marshall Islands
 Bikar Atoll Pass looks sketchy and then it looks very shallow just inside.
Bikar Atoll is located just above the M in Marshall Islands.