For those who are interested, below you will find a long scrolling list of the Learnativity Update logs I sent out morning and evening each day of the crossing from Puerto Ayora in Galapagos to Rapa Nui aka Easter Island.
It is a long list so if you plan to read this I’d recommend a comfy chair and a good beverage. I’ve been quite delightfully surprised at the reactions I received from the small group of family and friends I was sending these daily updates to directly during the trip. I thought they would only be of interest to these few souls brave enough to want to wade through all this and keep track of Ruby and I as we sailed along. But apparently it makes for some interesting reading and I certainly enjoyed writing them to start and end each day. It is actually quite a good discipline I think as it forces you to take a few minutes and reflect upon the day or the evening and see what you learned, what stood out, your reactions and so on.
I had a phenomenal time in Galapagos, truly one of the natural wonders of the world. Was able to see many of the unique species and experiences such as walking amongst over a hundred large Galapagos tortoises, underwater ballet dancing with seals, Scuba diving with Hammerhead sharks, white and black tipped Galapagos sharks, and watching huge sea turtles idly swimming under the water while tens of fish worked at cleaning off all the grown on their shells. Was also able to visit the Charles Darwin center and lucked out in befriending several people on one of my diving trips who were on staff there doing various research projects and get a bit more of an inside view on the work. And of course it was always wonderful weather with hot sunny days and nights just cool enough to need a sheet on. How fortunate am I?
And next, the trip from Galapagos to Easter Island was a fantastic success as not only did we get here safe and sound but did so in record time; only 14 days when I thought it would be more like 20-25. Not that it is a race or anything and in fact I would have enjoyed many more days of it, but the winds were very strong and consistently the right direction such that I was able to stay right on the bearing for Easter Island the whole way.
Hope you enjoy reading through each of these, I’ve put them in chronological order starting with our departure from Galapagos and as you’ll see there is a set of data at the start of each log entry that will give you the basics of our location, wind and weather, speed, etc. They started out very basic and I evolved the information more as each day passed so you’ll see that happen as you read along. Hopefully they improved as I went and I would appreciate any feedback you might have on how to improve these for you further. Now that I’m in the habit and getting the discipline of writing these each morning and evening I plan to continue to do so for the remainder of the voyages of the good ship Learnativity.
For those interested you may want to take the lat/long coordinates and put them into Google Maps or Google Earth to see just where on the planet we were and the route we took to get here.
For those not familiar with some of the sailing terms, the key ones are:
SOG = Speed Over Ground
COG = Course over Ground (compass heading)
VMG = Velocity Made Good (actual progress along straight line towards destination)
UTC = Universal Time Clock aka GMT Grenich Mean Time
NM = Nautical Miles
kts = Knots = Nautical Miles
Port = left side when facing forward
Starboard = right side when facing forward
Great to have you along, enjoy the ride, Ruby and I sure did!
================================ START of DAILY LOG ENTRIES ===============================
LTY AFTERNOON UPDATE: April 11, 2009
02:34 Local Time 20:34 UTC
START POSITION: -00d 44.838’ S -90d 18.387’ W
Wind 2kts NNE
It is about 2000nm from Galapagos to Easter.
We're off! Greetings from the (not so) high seas today on the way to Easter Island. Rather fitting to be headed there on Easter weekend don't you think? <g> Hope the Easter Bunny make a visit to your house and when you're done with him can you send him my way and tell him (or is it her?) that I can give them a lift home! <g>
Changed all the fuel and oil filters before leaving, TOTALLY topped up to the brim with diesel fuel that I was able to have a fellow bring out via 20 gal jugs. Used less than 50 gals for the whole trip over from Ecuador plus all the generator use for the past 2 weeks, so quite pleased with that. I did the last provisioning of vegetables, bread, etc. and pulled up the anchor at 14:10 local time off on the biggest leg of the journey so far.
Or not! Just as I was motoring out I realized left my cell phone and digital notebook at the internet café! So back to re-anchor, quick trip ashore and back in water taxi and off again at 15:05, this time for good.
LTY Evening UPDATE: April 11, 2009
22:01 Local Time 04:01 UTC
POSITION: -01d 16.04’ S -90d 38.367’ W
Wind 10kts NE
Had a very good start heading South West between Isabella and Floreana islands. Wind was good and we were doing almost 7 knots with the spinnaker up. The wind died down after sunset as usual, but must have current going our way as still maintaining 4.3-6 kts
We had the most FABULOUS moon rise! It was just past full and was this rising golden globe glowing off our port beam that was beautiful to behold as we sailed into the night.
LTY Morning UPDATE: April 12, 2009
09:44 Local Time 20:44 UTC
Position: -2d 07.394’ S -91d 15.766’ W
SOG 6.4kts motoring
Wind 2kts NNE
Up at first light to a similar pattern of clouds all around on horizon. Also some clouds above but all look to be white and good. Moon still up very high. Swell up a bit but almost no wind! Wind has stayed shifted to the NNE which seems odd compared to predictions. Motored all through the night unfortunately as wind had pretty much died, spinnaker wouldn't stay up and main was just slating all the time. Ran watermaker till about midnight and tanks were full so shut down. Slept well, few false Radar alarms for the first few hours until midnight then all quiet. Ruby snuggled all night and seems to be glad that I'm on board all the time not leaving her alone all day as I had done several times for the Galapagos day trips.
Wind still strangely coming from the N-NNE. Trying to sail with spinnaker alone. Working fairly well but wind shifting a lot between N and NNE which changes which side it blows over so collapses a bit, will watch and learn. Starting to see the benefits of a pole and a full spinnaker but not sure if it is worth the cost and trouble? Code 0 on a furler perhaps?
The wind died on us not long after sundown last night and hasn't come back much yet. Ran with just the spinnaker for a few hours and was able to get 3-4kts SOG but then it died and the spinnaker kept collapsing and then fell in love with the headsail furler and wrapped itself VERY intimately around her! So I cleared that out and took the spinnaker down, fired up the good ole" iron Genny" and we are motoring now. We've got a following current it seems that's helping so I'm able to maintain about 6.4 knots at a fuel miserly 1400RPM so will keep an eye on fuel and try to get us further South into some more wind. This is typically very windless area around the equator so nothing out of the ordinary. The only odd thing is that the wind, what VERY little there is, has backed itself around to being from the N and NNE which is very atypical as it is usually SE. So here's hoping we find more wind up ahead.
But it is truly gorgeous weather here! Gets very humid at night, into the high 70's@ so everything gets very damp and even though it only goes down to about 78F it feels very chilly to my thinned blood so I have my sweatshirt, long pants and a blanket when napping up in the cockpit at night. Skyler, you’d get a kick out of knowing this is the Mexicali blanket from when you were aboard when we were sailing down Mexico and I’m still using it every night!
We've are still getting those INCREDIBLE moon rises here the past few days, you getting them too?
Patched the tear in the upper spinnaker. Had been just a small hole previously but when I put it up today saw that it was a L shaped tear now about 6" on each side. Patch with sticky rip stop nylon repair tape seemed to work very well. I see that the dousing sock also has some big tears in it down near bottom but will need to sew those up later when I have access to a sewing machine. I’m seeing that it may be as much of a safety issue as a nicety to have a sewing machine on board so will have to start saving up for that.
I started up generator for a bit to top up the batteries and also turned on water maker to fill up the water tanks and take advantage of the extra amps from the genset.
LTY Evening UPDATE: April 12, 2009
18:34 Local Time 00:34 UTC
POSITION: -02d 48.226’ S -91d 42.061’ W
SOG 5.8 motoring
Wind 2kts NNE
Nice sunset, clouds forming in far distance to S and SE
Rather frustrating day with what little wind there was being very unusually from the North and constantly switching from N to NE such that it was always right on the stern and switching sides. Able to use the sails, spinnaker only mostly, for a few hours but continuously collapses in these conditions and likes to wrap itself around the headsail which then requires some interesting acrobatics on my part to unwrap.
Tried again just before sundown but no luck so all sails back down and back to motoring. Wind is usually light to nothing in the evenings so suspect will motor again tonight. However have a bit of helpful current and am able to motor at low revs, about 1400RPM and still do 5.8-6.2kts while using very little fuel.
According to the Ugrib weather file I downloaded before leaving Galapagos, the winds will be light down to at least 4 degrees S which means till Tuesday or so for us.
Was a typically busy day aboard with patching a few small tears in the spinnaker, fixing the sunroof panel, and just dealing with sail changes. You end up at the end of the day wondering where all the time went and you didn't really ever seem to sit down and relax for long. However it is a great way to spend the day, busy all the time and I did get caught up on a few Emails and the like.
It is very peaceful out here, not a soul in sight and not much wildlife either. Seas are calm, swell is a bit larger today, about 1.5-2.5 meters but long frequency so just large undulations in the sea that rock the boat steadily. Was a bit cloudier today than past days, mostly large white ones, not overcast, so the sun was not as direct and very pleasant.
Hope this finds you having enjoyed a very good Easter weekend. I sure did and seems all very fitting to be starting this journey to Easter Island on this weekend.
Thanks for coming along for the ride!
LTY Morning UPDATE: April 13, 2009
Position: -03d 37.211' S -92d 27.385' W
Wind: 15-20kts SE Apparent
Seas: wave ht.~ 1.5m @4secs
Weather: suns up, scattered clouds on horizons, clear overhead
Sea temp: 83.3F
Air temp: 94F 64% humidity
WOW! What a difference since the last update last night! The Easter Bunny arrived with a wonderful gift of a sudden burst of wind that is still holding! The wind clocked around to where I expected it to be, SE and has been a steady 15-20kts ever since. I've been riding the edge of the minimum wind angle and close hauled at about 35d over the port bow. We're heeled about 12-14d but quite comfortable and is a joy to have compared to motoring in the calms of yesterday.
There were some storm cells showing up on the radar as this wind came up and they continued through about midnight local time and then cleared off but fortunately the wind stayed. I got some good batches of sleep through the night, am well rested and very thankful to the Easter bunny for this great gift!
LTY Morning UPDATE: April 14, 2009
06:15 local 12:15UTC
Position: -5d 24.266'S -93d 33.911' W
Wind: 11-15kts SE Apparent
Seas: wave ht.~ 1.5m @8secs
Weather: suns up, scattered clouds on horizons, clear overhead
Sea temp: 82.4F
Air temp: 82.2F
Distance in last 24 hours: 134 nm
Distance to Destination: 1580 nm
Well, after losing and recovering the blown spinnaker last night the rest of the evening went very well. Wind picked up a bit and held steady throughout the night at 10-15kts which drove us along at about 5+ knots all night. Died briefly about 2am and we slowed and lost steering and drifted off course but easy to get back on it and it held through the rest of the night. So we made lots of VMG (Vector Made Good) and are down to about 1600nm to Easter. A few storm cells showing up on the Radar screen during the night but very small and don't seem to amount to much so not sure what the Radar is seeing that I'm not. It is enough to sound the Radar alarm which can be annoying so have the alarm off most of the time and just keep an eye on the Radar screen to see what's around us. Don't expect we'll detect much till Easter. Got some good sleeps during the night and am feeling well rested and good. Really enjoying the quiet sounds of no motor and non stop sailing for several days and hope it continues for many more!
Have not seen a ship or anything else since clearing Galapagos so makes for easy sailing
Hope you have a great day as well and will be back with this evenings LTY update.
LTY Evening UPDATE: April 14, 2009
19:40 local 02:40 UTC
Position: -06d 24.969' S -94d 11.336' W
Wind: 12-20kts SE Apparent
Seas: wave ht.~ 2.m @ 6 secs
Weather: lots of clouds on all horizons as night fell. Stormy looking to the S and SW so may have some rain tonight, but nothing showing on Radar as of yet.
Sea temp: 82.4F
Air temp: 82.1F
Distance in last 24 hours: 124 nm
Distance to Destination: 1518 nm
Pretty good day's sailing. Wind was in the 10-15kt range from the SE most of the day which translated into only 4-5.5 knots most of the time. I still don't seem to have the optimum speed/sail trim figured out when the wind is on the beam (at 90 degrees to hull) so I need to keep playing and learning with that tomorrow. Since the sun when down the wind has picked up a notch as has our speed so that will be good if it holds for the night to make more VMG.
Had a busy day aboard installing new 1/2" SS U bolt for the main sheet blocks (lines that control the boom) as one of the previous pad eyes (SS rings) I had let go due to metal fatigue. I'd purchased the new U bolt setup previously and so was just a matter of drilling new holes and bolting them in but took the better part of 5 hours all together. Not the easiest thing in the world when you're hand drilling 1/2 holes in steel up on the coach roof with a boat that is pitching in 2 meter seas and heeled over at 10+ degrees! All part of keeping me young and fit.
Had a fascinating time this morning watching "flocks" of flying fish all around. They have been around most of the trip all the way up to Mexico and I usually find several of the poor things on deck every morning on my rounds. But watching them this morning was fun. They seem to literally go in "flocks" or whatever you call groups of them as they all launch themselves out of the water in groups of 20-70 and fly an amazing distance till they head back into the water. There average flight time is sometimes more than 10 seconds which is quite amazing to me. I also read that the world record (who knew?) is 45 seconds so I guess these guys are under performers!? And did you know that flying fish are the official national fish of Bermuda? One of the many things I learned today. (thanks to my trusty offline version of Wikipedia I now have! Thanks Xavier!)
Ruby has been having her challenges going out to her "potty mat" on the front deck when we are heeled over so much. Her claws don't work so well on steel decks at 10-15 degree angles! But she's a real trooper and manages to get out there eventually and manages to balance herself with amazing grace as she squats to look after business. She's pretty amazing to watch as she stands inside the cockpit automatically swaying to adjust to the boat pitching through all 6 degrees of motion!
Well the wind is dying again now. Was up to 20 knots for the past hour or so and now dropped back down to 8-10. Likely the effect of storms around us so expect it will be up and down through the night. Will let you know with tomorrow morning's update.
LTY Morning UPDATE: April 15, 2009
07:05 local 13:05 UTC
Position: -7d 27.808' S -94d 53.636W
Wind: 14-20kts ESE Apparent
Seas: wave ht.~ 2\\1.5m @ 5 secs
Weather: Breaking clouds all around and over, clear sky ahead
Sea temp: 81.5F
Air temp: 87.2F
Distance in last 24 hours: 148 nm
Distance to Destination: 1434 nm
What is it about 2am?? Seems that so many of the calamities that befall sailors happen around or about that wee hour of the morning and such was the case for me again last night. The shackle that holds the port side main sheet block snapped off with a ferocious BANG! Fortunately when I was re-doing the rigging I decided to go with a rather unusual dual main sheet setup where I have lines going from the boom down through 6:1 blocks on each side and each of these are controlled independently. So when the port side gave way, which is the one with all the strain on it as we are on a port tack, the boom did not travel too far before the starboard side lines stopped it. So what could have been a rather catastrophic failure, breaking the boom, was averted and I was able to continue to sail while I affected repairs. But what to do? Fortunately I remembered I had some super strong small diameter synthetic line that is used to secure the main sail to the furling boom mandrel and this stuff (Amsteel Dynema) is supposed to be about as strong as steel cable. The design of my blocks is such that there are two large holes with nicely radiused edges for the line to go through and so I was able to make multiple wraps through the blocks and through those nice new SS U bolts I installed yesterday and secure the block in place. Because this is such a critical junction and takes so much load (the full force of the main sail) I added a second set of 3 wraps of some larger diameter rope for backup.
Next problem, what knot to use to join these lines together that would be sure to stay tight under such strain, not slip and be one I could tie after I had wrapped it all around the blocks and U bolts so it would be the right length? Down to the library for my book of knots (thanks Doreen!) and looks like best choice is a double sheet bend. Now I just need to change instructions figuring out how to tie this knot and do so when the line is in place and needs to be a set length. Got it all sorted out, couple of practice runs and tests, committed it all to memory and now on to put it all into practice and place.
Now THIS is learning in action! There I am, at 2AM out on the deck, headlamp on, rope and tools in hand trying to lash down this recalcitrant block. Oh, and did I mention that all the while, the boat is heeled at about 15 degrees, it is going through every one of the 6 degrees of motion, the wind is 20-22 knots and the sea spray is washing over me along with a steady wash of water about 4" over my feet. Ahh yes, another calm relaxing day in the life of a sailor! What do they do with all their time at sea??
However by 3:30 it was all sorted out, blocks were sturdily attached, boom was back at the angle it should be, wind was still up at a steady 15-20 knots and we were charging through the night at 6.8-7.4 knots an hour! Time for some well earned 1-2 hour sleeps and soon enough it was first light and another nice sunrise on the South Pacific.
So that's what my night was like. How was yours? <g>
We really are steam rolling along here. This wind has been great and strong for the past 2 days now and I'm getting a better handle on the optimum trim of the mainsail for these conditions so our speed has been in the high 6's low 7's since yesterday afternoon. Heck, at this rate we'll be in Easter island in mere weeks!
Well, I'm late getting this off to you so I'll send it now and be back with the evening update tonight.
Thanks for coming along for the ride.
LTY Evening UPDATE: April 15, 2009
19:30 local 01:30 UTC
Position: -8d 40.295' S -95d 45.75' W
Wind: 12-17kts SE Apparent
Seas: wave ht ~2.0 m @ 6 secs
Weather: At sunset (about hour ago) clouds on all horizons, clear overhead
Sea temp: 81.5F
Air temp: 84.8F
Distance in last 24 hours: 148nm
Distance to Destination: 1345nm
Another great day's sail! Wind has continued to be steady from the SE - ESE and running 15-20kts. I'm getting better at sail trim and so our speeds have consistently been in the high 6's and low 7's (nm/hr) which is just great and makes for lots of VMG and clicking off those miles to Easter.
More boat projects done but nothing of great urgency for a nice change. The flying fish have been more fun to watch and I see that some of the more advanced fliers are able to both catch gusts of wind off the tops of waves as well as deflect themselves off the surface to keep going before diving back into mother ocean. Fascinating evolution. From what I've read it is primarily for escaping their enemies but I wonder about that. I usually fine several of the poor things up on my deck each morning in my walk around, along with half a dozen squid as well, and the flying fish are beautiful shades of bright and iridescent blue. Usually about 3-5" long so not very big and their wing span is about the same as their length so they can really fly!
Night time now and so I'll get this sent off and head to the galley to rustle up some dinner and attend to more Emails. Hope this finds you having had a great day back from a good Easter weekend.
LTY Morning UPDATE: April 16, 2009
07:40 local 01:40 UTC
Position: -9d 52.475' S -96d 29.512' W
Wind: 17-21kts SE Apparent
Seas: wave ht ~2.0 m @ 6 secs
Weather: Broken clouds above and mostly behind to the North. Mostly clear ahead SW
Sea temp: 80.6F
Air temp: 83.2F
Distance in last 24 hours: 170nm
Distance to Destination: 1261nm
Another excellent night of sailing as the winds hold steady in direction (from SE) and velocity (15-21) so we continue to maintain above 6 knots/hour and often into the 7's. That gave us the best distance in 24 hours of 170nm since yesterday morning at this time! IF this continues we could make landfall in as little as 10 days from now, April 26th, but I'd expect it to be more like April 28-30. You'll be the first to know as the updates come in!
Last night looking up at all the stars, I was reminded that although I keep thinking that I'll get used to it, I never do. The clarity you get when you are away from ANY other light sources is truly quite amazing. It's like having super High Definition TV or something. You gain a whole new perspective on just how many stars, galaxies and solar systems are out there, a better sense of just how tiny and insignificant we are and it's just one of those times when I can honestly use the word awesome and mean it. Awe is what I feel as I look both up at the sky and out at the sea and experience the healthy humbling sense of just how small a little speck I am, floating on the "top" of this sphere of water and on this tiny little planet in the universe. And isn't that GREAT!!?? One of my favorite quotes about this is I believe from a movie I once saw, name I'm not sure of but stared Jodie Foster as an astronomer and when asked if she thought Earth was the only inhabited planet out there she responded "If so, it is a terrible waste of space". Quite right and I for one can't believe there is such a waste of space so I stare up at the billions and billions of stars each night thankful that I get to do so and comforted by the knowledge that I and we are SO much not alone (nor that significant). So get over yourself and get on with yourself right?!! <g>
Well, enough of my philosophical ramblings for this morning. I'll spare you any further right now, fire up the sat phone and get this on its way to you from my aquatic waves through the air, radio and electronic waves to you.
LTY Evening UPDATE: April 16, 2009
18:05 local 00:05 UTC
Position: -10d 59.350' S -97d 10.890' W
Wind: 17-21kts SE Apparent
Seas: wave ht ~2.5 m @ 6 secs
Weather: Broken clouds on all horizons, sun just down
Sea temp: 79.7F
Air temp: 83.2F
Distance in last 24 hours: 169nm
Distance to Destination: 1183nm
Well we've made it past the 10 degree South point, in fact coming up on 11 degrees very soon here so we are making great time. The wind continues non stop up to and sometimes above 20 which is pretty much perfect. Any higher would more than I'd like for both sail, stress on the boat and roughness of the seas. And we are already pretty much doing what LTY wants to do max speed wise as we have been in the 7's all day.
As it is there is quite a bit of boat motion and it makes moving about a very conscious act. We're heeled (angled) over about 15-30 degrees partly from the sails/wind of course but more so and the back and forth is from the seas which in this wind are running 2-3 meters (6-10 ft) and coming at us at about 70 degrees so we ride up and over them every 6-10 seconds. When your seated it is all very good and I never tire of the sensation of riding up these swells and then back down the other side. But it makes moving around, making meals, and working a challenge to be sure s their is a LOT of motion all the time and it is not one that you can time or get in a rhythm to. Ruby is particularly affected as she can't get out on deck now as they are just too steep and she can't get any traction on the steel. So I need to take her out to her "potty mat" a few times each day and I think she misses her independence of being able to move around the boat of her own free will. I do too!
But we'll take this gladly compared to more violent storms of becalmed so no complaints and we are really making MUCH faster progress than I expected. The total trip will be just under 2000nm I think and so we will likely hit the halfway mark by Friday afternoon at this rate!
Weather also continues to be more of the same, clouds all around but all the very "friendly" kind, mostly broken higher elevation and "fluffy" stuff, mostly out on the horizons. It stays pretty much clear overhead so days are bright and sunny and nights are clear views of all those stars and planets. Sun has just gone down here so it's time to get ready for another night, get some dinner so I'll sign off for now.
More in the morning.
LTY Morning UPDATE: April 17, 2009
08:00 local 01:00 UTC
Position: -12d 17.050' S -99d 01.480' W
Wind: 14-18kts SE Apparent
Seas: wave height = ~1.0 m @ 4 secs
Weather: sky covered with high breaking clouds, some stormy looking the N, NE
Sea temp: 79.7F
Air temp: 82.4F
Distance in last 24 hours: 169nm
Distance to Destination: 1091nm
Good morning! Had a bit of excitement in the night when the wind picked up to over 25 knots for awhile at about 10pm. Nothing significant,but it did mean I needed to shorten the sails to reduce their size in this higher wind. This is a pretty straight forward and very common maneuver and requires bringing the jib in, starting the engine, motoring into the wind, letting the main down to roll in the reef (I have an in boom furling system which rolls the main sail onto a drum inside the boom), tightening the main in the new position, get back on course, set the boom angle, roll out the jib and trim all the sails. It has been pretty great with the wind being so steady for this first week that I have not needed to do a reef up till now, nor needing to do that much sail trim. This also gave me a chance to check all the lines, sails, etc. and get new spots on the lines that are tensioned, going over the rollers in the blocks, etc. so that there is not the steady wear always on the same spot.
This is totally different sailing than what I or most people are used to, where you get on one sail set and stay there for days. Typical however of the Trade Wind belts and which is what I'll be in for many months now and it makes for some very good sailing.
With the higher wind, the seas got much larger too of course so things on the boat were a bit rougher. Nothing serious again, more "annoying" than anything in that the movements back and forth in all directions are more severe, the angles go up another notch and so getting around is that much more challenging. Best thing of course is to be laying down, nicely wedged into a corner on the low or leeward side of the boat and so this worked out well as it was happening at night and we were all set up with the new reefed setup by 11pm and so started the night shift of "sleeps" which are typically for me 1-3 hour stretches where I sleep, get up briefly to check instruments, sails, wind, etc. and then go back down again for more. So Ruby snuggles in with me and I lie in the starboard side of the cockpit nicely nestled into the corner of the seat bottom and back and the motion now becomes wonderfully soothing and comfortable. So we got a very good set of sleeps and are up ready and rested for another day at sea on the way to Rapa Nui.
This morning is the cloudiest I've had this trip, very high clouds with spaces of blue between but Mr.. Sun has not managed to get through yet so there is that overcast lighting which is quite a contrast to the bright blue and sunlight days that have become so much the norm for me. But the wind is down now, averaging about 15 knots which is just perfect and so I've unrolled the reef, we are back to full main and jib and nicely doing 6.5-7.4 knots and continuing to make great VMG towards Rapa Nui. The motion and sound is also much reduced in these conditions, we are heeled over much less so even Ruby can get around much easier now and so conditions are quite excellent this morning.
We'll pass the halfway point by distance later today if everything holds and so that means we'll have done it in less than a week, which is MUCH faster than I ever expected. But I won't count my chickens just yet as there are lots of miles to go and anything can happen with the weather so we'll just keep on pointing SW and get there when we get there.
As always, you'll be the first to know how things progress via these updates and the SPOT updates on Twitter, the LTY blog and my Facebook page. Thanks again for your interest and for coming along for the adventure. It is great to have you there and be sending out these updates to more than just myself! <g>
LTY Evening UPDATE: April 17, 2009
18:25 local 00:25 UTC
Position: -13d 10.945' S -98d 40.888' W
Wind: 14-18kts SE Apparent
Seas: wave height = ~1.5 m @ 4 secs
Weather: clear sky, not a cloud to be seen as the sun kisses the horizon
Sea temp: 78.8F
Air temp: 84F
Distance in last 24 hours: 159nm
Distance to Destination: 1025nm
What a WONDERFUL day it was! As per this morning's update the wind was down at the start of this morning as were the seas our speed and our motion. But it came back in perfect Baby Bear fashion (just right) and stayed in about the 15 knot range, with low seas, good speed in the high 6's and not much heeling.
It has been interesting for me to note how much different these slight changes in conditions make. It was noticeably calmer state, more peaceful, more relaxed. I think that when the speeds, wind, seas and boat motion are all high then you are unconsciously much more alert, balancing against the physical movement, and otherwise just more "on". It wasn't at all stressful or anything at the time, but when the wind and the seas drop and it all smoothes out then you notice the difference quite markedly. It's a bit like when you finally stop at the end of a busy day and relax and take a breath that you realize how wound up you were.
So today was quite wonderfully relaxing and I took full advantage of it, catching up with more and more reading that I am SO behind on. Though I really can't imagine any such thing as being up to date on reading? There is always easily 100x more I would like to read and know about. But I put a bit of a dent in the pile of magazines onboard, and went through several of the books I've currently on the go. My book reading now is almost all on the Kindle (electronic book reader from Amazon) and it is proving to be FANTASTIC! It so very much passes the ultimate test of any technology for me in that it becomes invisible. That is to say, I just get lost in the subject matter of the story I'm reading and have no sense that I'm "reading a book" much less doing so that this is also an electronic book. It is so much so that I regularly find my hand unconsciously moving to the top right corner to turn the page, that isn't there! That and it's size, that I can have a couple thousand books on it, all in one place, and with a built in note pad and Oxford dictionary. THIS is when you love enabling technology!
Did manage to tear myself away to do some cleaning up aboard, some Emails, some writing and some boat repairs as well, so it was another full and productive day as well. Gotta love it!
And as the sun sets on this glorious day the wind is picking up a notch. Running about 17-19 and the seas are only up slightly so we are again back up into the 7's boat speed or SOG wise, but still quite comfortable in terms of boat motion. So far it looks like this will hold and not keep climbing which would be great. Very different night tonight, not a cloud to be seen, not even on the horizon, which I don't believe I've seen on this leg before and hopefully bodes well for what's ahead.
So that's the quick day in review. Have a great evening yourself and will be back to you in the morning with the next update.
LTY Morning UPDATE: Saturday, April 18, 2009
07:20 local 13:20 UTC
Position: -14d 24.488' S -99d 34.287' W
Wind: 12-15kts SE Apparent
Seas: wave height = ~2.0 m @ 5 secs
Weather: No clo0uds overhead but some closer to us and all around, wispy building upwards, a bit flat bottomed and all white
Sea temp: 75.4F
Air temp: 78.8F
Distance in last 24 hours: 160 nm
Distance to Destination: 934 nm
Another great night's sail. Wind piped up to about 15-19 and stayed there all night so we keep steaming along like a locomotive out here! This morning we are up to another great day, clear overhead with lots of large billowing clouds all around us a few miles off and out on all horizons. The typical pattern this time of morning and then it usually all seems to burn off and then come back in the evening.
As I enter week #2 it is feeling a bit surrealistic to be under sail this consistently for this long. The wind has been extremely consistent direction wise, from the SE and so once I got the sails all well trimmed they need hardly any attention and the auto pilot looks after keeping us on the right heading (215 degrees) for Rapa Nui. With no traffic, no land, no nothing out here, you don't even need to keep that close a watch as there is nothing new to see, nothing to run into, nothing that is going to run into you. This is SO very different than what it is usually like with sailing where you are constantly on alert, tweaking the sails, changing heading, tacking, etc. and so it is now feeling more like being on a train, where you are a passenger and just get to enjoy the ride. Which I AM I assure you! Just a very odd sensation as you realize that you've been on this same point of sail, this same sail trim, for almost a week, non stop, 24/7.
The vastness of it all starts to make an impression as well. I've become accustomed to seeing nothing but ocean stretching out for as far as they eye can see, being able to see the curvature of the earth all around you for 360 degrees, getting the feeling of floating on the top of this sphere of water and witnessing literal infinity as you look up into the night sky. And now after a week of that, having sailed non stop for a week and not seeing anything off in the distance, no land, no ships, just some local wildlife, and in fact very little of that, you also become aware of just how truly BIG the ocean is. I've been fortunate enough to travel to many places on land where there are vast distances stretched out before you; dessert, forests, plains, tundra, arctic ice, etc. this is different when you realize it isn't just one moment in time from one vantage point, but a week's worth of constant traveling through this same vast ocean. It is this fascinating combination of feeling so very very small while at the same time appreciating the true meanings of big, vast, open, infinite. It is both a visceral and literal thing as well as a very cerebral and conceptual thing. And how privileged am I to be able to experience all this? VERY!
Well, log has been taken, morning walk around the deck is done ,LTY Update now done and it is breakfast time aboard the good ship Learnativity. Top of the morning to you all, back with a summary of the day tonight.
Don't touch that dial!
LTY Evening UPDATE: Saturday, April 18, 2009
18:25 local 00:25 UTC
Position: -15d 21.225' S -100d 13.619' W
Wind: 14-20kts SE Apparent
Seas: wave height = ~2.0 m @ 5 secs
Weather: sun is just setting behind some low clouds on the W horizon, clear otherwise.
Sea temp: 75.4F
Air temp: 81F
Distance in last 24 hours: 159nm
Distance to Destination: 876nm
Sun going down on yet another fast and good day's sailing. This great wind just won't stop (thankfully!) and we continue to roll along at relatively breakneck speeds of 6.5-7.5 knots/hr and regularly doing over 150nm each 24 hour day. I had anticipated about 100nm/day so you can see how much faster this is. The wind has been up and down a bit but mostly over 16 and gusting up to 21 at points. Seas have similarly been up a bit more so things are back to being at much more of an angle and more motion than yesterday, so the day was spent mostly continuing to catch up with reading and some smaller chores aboard. But then I happened to notice that today is Saturday so its the weekend I guess and I can afford to take it "off"! <g>
Hope your weekend is going similarly well. Be back with more in the morning update.
Night for now.
LTY Morning UPDATE: Sunday, April 19, 2009
07:55 local 14:55 UTC
Position: -16d 34.787' S -101d 05.878' W
Wind: 10-18kts E Apparent
Seas: wave height = ~1.2 m @ 5 secs
Weather: up to a GORGEOUS rainbow spread out in front of us!
Sea temp: 74.5F
Air temp: 78.6F
Distance in last 24 hours: 158nm
Distance to Destination: 777.7nm
Wow! Now THAT is a rainbow! We are greeted this morning to a full rainbow arcing across the slate gray storm clouds right in front of us. Have captured on the camera but surely it is one of those things you just can't really capture. We continue to be blessed with great sailing weather. These storm clouds are nicely missing us, one is passing in front moving to the West before we get to it and the other is behind us, also moving West and looks like well skirt in before it passes over. But it is obscuring the sun from us right now and so this is the first overcast light I've experiences for some time. It's interesting to note how even this brief change affects your mood and attitude. Nothing severe but I note that feeling of wanting to just "stay inside" and be safe, dry and warm, read, eat soup, etc. There has never been any question in my mind that our moods and many of our actions are based on our environment, that which surrounds us and yet I think we give this so little regard in terms of either knowing these effects will be there or altering when we can, our environment to promote and optimize the mood or the settings we want. I think this literally affects the way we think and the kind of thinking, working and learning that is optimum in these different circumstances. I'm trying to pay more and more attention to the effects of my environment on my work, thinking, learning, moods and be able to adapt to them or change the environment to be optimal for what I am doing at the time. This experience on the boat and out at sea is providing me with even more chances to experience different environments and the time in this little "lab" of mine to experiment more with how to optimize environments for learning, working, thinking, etc. Yet another dimension of this whole experience I am loving, learning and living by.
Hope your Sunday is off to a similarly spectacular start and there are rainbows in your life and that your environments are stimulating and optimal for you. If not, why not??
Back with the evening report tonight. Sea you then!
LTY Evening UPDATE: Sunday, April 19, 2009
18:15 local 01:15 UTC
Position: -17d 36.300' S -101d 48.341' W
Wind: 13-18kts SE Apparent
Seas: wave height = ~1.0 m @ 5 secs
Weather: Perfection; scattered clouds on horizon, all blue overhead, sun just going down
Sea temp: 75.4F
Air temp: 81.1F
Distance in last 24 hours: 165nm
Distance to Destination: 703.7nm
Perhaps the best day sail yet! Covered 165 nm in the past 24 hours and our speeds today were consistently in the mid 7's. I'll attribute most of this to getting the sail trim better. I adjusted both the jib and the main out a bit this morning when the wind had backed to the North a bit and so was more on our beam (perpendicular to the boat) than in front, and this has seemed to be a better sail trim even when the wind has returned to being from the ESE and is at about 70-80 degrees to us most of the day. Wind speeds have been consistently between 14-18 and so they don't account for the great speed and the seas are smaller, which helps both with speed and motion. So all in all a pretty great day's sail.
The patches of clouds overhead seemed to follow the sun today so it was often behind them and noticeably cool in the cockpit with the wind coming through, but very pleasant.
I spent the day reading for the most part, got through another 6 magazines and am about half way through Snow Crash and a few more chapters of Diamond's Collapse, both of these on my Kindle. Had a shower and shave which is always a fun acrobatic exercise up on the aft deck as the boat is pitching and heeling throughout, but feels great to be clean and refreshed.
Miss Ruby is more comfortable with the less motion and heeling and enjoyed another day snoozing alongside me in the cockpit and the occasional trip out for a potty break on her mat which I now have out on the back deck so she doesn't have to make her way all the way to the front in these seas and at night. I still accompany her on these as it is just too slippery and uneven pitching for her on her own.
We are now past 17d South and 101 degrees West, and I guess it is an indication of my resetting of measurements of speed and distances when I'm measuring them in degrees of lat/long. I also remember reading a quip that "If you're adjusting your sails more than once a week, you're not really cruising" so I guess we are now "really cruising"! In any case I'm really liking it and the whole experience. Unlike what I read about for many, I find this part, being out at sea and underway, the best part and when I sight land and anchor there is a certain let down and disappointment that it is all over. But this quickly is replaced by the new fun of being in a new location, seeing new sights, sounds, food and meeting new people, wildlife and experiences. And then I get to weigh anchor anytime I decide and start another voyage out to sea!
Pretty phenomenal and I've been starting to read up as well on destinations after Rapa Nui (Easter) and doing some of my route planning. The new wonderful problem I have is how to see as many of these fascinating places as possible and on routes that work for the wind, currents and weather. Right now I'm thinking that after Easter it will be heading for Pitcairn, then Mangareva (Gambier's), perhaps a trip over to uninhabited Henderson and then I need to make some decisions about heading North to catch the Marquesas which are quite spectacular, mountainous and beautiful, or perhaps go SW and catch the Austral Islands? And how to fit in the Tuamotu's in this? In any case, these will all be as I make my way to Tahiti and ultimately will leave Learnativity there, most probably Papeete, about the end of June when I'll fly back to the USA to look after some business, see some friends and family in the Bay area AND celebrate Lia's wedding on August 1st!!! Just a bit excited (and scared) about that as a Dad.
Which reminds, me, there will be this wonderful sailboat/floating 2 bedroom condo, sitting vacant in Tahiti for the month of July in case any of you might want to turn that into a vacation? I'll write more about that in a future Email in case any of you are interested.
For now, the sun has set here in the South Pacific, time for me to put on some clothes as it starts to get down to 80 degrees and I need to go make some supper!
Sea you tomorrow morning for the next update.
LTY Morning UPDATE: Monday, April 20, 2009
07:25 local 13:25 UTC
Position: -18d 40.811' S -102d 44.315' W
Wind: 14-22kts E Apparent
Seas: wave height = ~2.5m @ 5 secs
Weather: Perfection; scattered clouds on horizon, all blue overhead, sun just going down
Sea temp: 75.4F
Air temp: 77.9F
Distance in last 24 hours: 159 nm
Distance to Destination: 620.3 nm
It was a dark and stormy night. (sorry, couldn't resist) It was actually. Wind suddenly picked up about 10pm and we had cycles where it would drop down to under 10 knots, clock around to the South and then start to pick up, back around to the North and gust up to the high 20's. So I put a good reef in the main (made it smaller) and we settled in for the night. These conditions continued all night and got worse in terms of the variation of the wind, sometimes up over 30 knots and some very high seas. We took one wave on the windward side that managed to make it through the side curtains a bit and give all the seats on that side in the cockpit a good soaking, but otherwise we handled it well.
I'm rather spoiled, and part of the reason I chose this boat is that it has a very protected cockpit. On most sailboats the cockpit is quite exposed and you typically need to be dressed accordingly because it takes on water regularly in these kinds of conditions, gets most of the wind, sun, rain, etc. All very good for being out there in the elements and when it is nice it's pretty great. But when it gets very windy and stormy, it isn't as much fun. On Learnativity, the cockpit can be pretty much fully enclosed. There is a solid 3 windshield up front with a solid roof all the way overhead and this provides a tremendous amount of shelter from the front and above, yet it is open on all 3 sides so you get great visibility, protection from the sun and rain. Then there are clear plastic curtains which I have fitted onto a track around the roof edges which snap down onto the bottom sides of the cockpit and can completely enclose the cockpit. At nights out here, I usually just snap in the first 2 curtain panels on each side to keep the wind gusts out but last night I put in all but the very back center panel and we were pretty comfortable.
This morning it looks like it is breaking up and we have blue patches out on most of the horizon and some above us. But the sun is still blocked behind a large set of storm clouds off our stern port side, to the NE and there are still other large sets of storm clouds around. Hopefully these will all dissipate as the day goes on. There is another large set of storm clouds that look like they will pass in front of us as they move to the West and we'll probably get hit with a bit of wind and perhaps some rain from that but then looks to clear afterwards. The wind is still up in the 20's so we are still sailing along with the reef in and our speed is in the 7's most of the time but it is all quite controlled and comfortable. The seas are much higher as a result of the storm and winds so we ride up and down over about 2.5m/8ft swells that are coming across us from the East which rolls us a bunch and makes moving around a challenge so we'll sit it out mostly this morning and try to catch up on some sleep.
Hope your evening was not quite as boisterous and will be back to you with the evening update to let you know how the weather and sailing went for us today.
LTY Evening UPDATE: Monday, April 20, 2009
17:25 local 23:25 UTC
Position: -19d 32.757' S -103d 18.687' W
Wind: 10-16kts E Apparent
Seas: wave height = ~4.0 m @ 9 secs
Weather: Clear overhead, scattered, high billowing clouds around horizons
Sea temp: 74.5F
Air temp: 86.7F
Distance in last 24 hours: 149nm
Distance to Destination: 559.2nm
We keep marching down the lat/longs, now passed 19d S and 103d W, so continue to make excellent time. Lovely ride out here this afternoon. The swell is much higher, up to about 4 meters but much more spaced apart and going a bit more in our direction.
This may sound nasty but it is quite the opposite. It's not really the height that is the issue with the seas I don't think but their frequency and direction relative to you. Today was wonderful as the swells were up to about 4 meters but stretched out to 10+ seconds apart and going more the same direction as the boat, about 40 degrees off. So this is one of my favorite motions as the boat glides up one side and down the other but in a very gentle "soft" way. And as you look out you see this incredible view of this mass of undulating swells of billions of gallons of water coursing their way SE as if they were horses headed for the barn. That combined with lower wind, 10-15kts, has made for a wonderfully gentle ride this afternoon and our speed is averaging about 6kts.
Miss Ruby got a bath and is looking maaawvelous now and I got more reading done so a good day had by all.
The sun is starting to head for that West horizon, we are headed for Rapa Nui and the skies look good ahead so all is well out here as I hope it is for you.
Back to you in the morning.
LTY Morning UPDATE: Tuesday, April 21, 2009
08:05 local 14:05 UTC
Position: -20d 29.877' S -104d 06.850' W
Wind: 4-11kts E Apparent
Seas: wave height = ~ 2.0 m @ 7 secs
Weather: Clear overhead, scattered clouds around on all horizons
Sea temp: 74.5F
Air temp: 89.6F
Distance in last 24 hours: 132nm
Distance to Destination: 496.5nm
Quite the opposite of the night before, last night was very calm as the wind and the seas both gradually diminished starting at sundown last night. Wind is now down to as low as 5kts at times, but averaging around 9-10 so its enough to keep us moving at 4-5kts which is just fine and the pace I had expected for the whole trip. Morning weather is equally fine, all clear overhead all evening and this morning, some scattered clouds as per usual on the horizons all around us, so looks like we are in for a more typical bright and sunny day. With the seas and the wind both down it makes for a much calmer ride which we'll enjoy as well while we have it. Live in the moment, max what you got right?!
Still seeing almost nothing else around us but sea and sky. Very little wild life in either. We had a few gull like birds that would come and follow overhead for an hour or two the past 3 days but none yesterday and no flying fish on the decks this morning nor visible out in the water for the past 4-5 days. Also still to sight any other ships, which is as expected. This is a very untraveled part of the world, no commercial routes here and very few sailboats make this trip, Easter Island usually sees less than 20 sailboats a year and is dependent upon the supply ship which comes in about every 6 months from Valparaiso Chile, 2000nm away. This certainly makes for stress free sailing when there is almost no worry about hitting anything as there's nothing to hit! <g>
In any case, both Ruby and I are enjoying it, though Ruby is certainly hoping that she might be allowed off the boat when we get to Easter so she can get some exercise and do her crazy running in endless circles that she SO loves to do on sand and grass. More and more of the places we are going to now have very restrictive animal policies and so in most cases she will be restricted to staying on the boat. This is all very understandable as most of these countries are rabies free and understandably want to maintain that all too rare condition, and of course many of the islands are small and have fragile eco systems so the introduction of foreign species and diseases is a major problem and one they therefore are increasingly guarding against. Unfortunately this is giving me more and more concern as some of the upcoming countries make it either very difficult and costly or impossible to have a pet on board and so I need to make some difficult decisions as to whether to find a place to leave Ruby and sail without her for a while, or just not go to some of these locations. Neither option is a good one for me of course and so I'm doing more and more research into it all and will see if it isn't possible to work something out.
Entering and exiting countries is quite a significant part of the challenges of blue water cruising, and for the most part I enjoy it as it is different in each country, provides experiences with some of the people in each one and gives you some insight into governments and other country situations. Of course bureaucracy is bureaucracy and can drive you crazy as well with endless forms, endless copies, and often takes a day or more to clear in and clear out. In some countries you need to do this for every port you go to as well. However, it is important to remember that I am privileged to be a guest in these amazing countries and only right that I should have to comply by their standards and rules. For the most part it is no different that I've found with officials in any country, treat them with respect and courtesy, act like an appreciative guest, try to speak a bit of the language and use the killer weapon as much as possible: SMILE! That plus the art answering only the exact question you are asked, never adding any embellishment or further explanation unless explicitly asked for it. Has worked well for me in all the millions of miles I've traveled in my life and similarly for all the entry and exits I've experienced while out logging sea miles. Easter Island is reportedly quite quick and easy, as are many of the small less inhabited and visited islands I'm headed for and I look forward to meeting these new officials, acquiring new stamps in the passport and just the chance to be able to be welcomed into these fascinating places and cultures of our amazing world.
Will continue to keep you posted as this all unfolds. Back to you this evening with a summary of this, our 11th day at sea on the way to Rapa Nui.
LTY Evening UPDATE: Tuesday, April 21, 2009
18:25 local 00:25 UTC
Position: -21d 18.898' S -104d 41.809' W
Wind: 12-16kts ESE Apparent
Seas: wave height = ~ 2.0 m @ 9 secs
Weather: sun setting into the usual evening buildup of clouds on all horizons.
Sea temp: 74.5F
Air temp: 80.6F
Distance in last 24 hours: 138nm
Distance to Destination: 427.6nm
And the sun sets on yet another glorious day of sailing the South Pacific seas and we stealthily slide through the swells towards Rapa Nui. The mornings overcast cloud cover cleared away to blue skies and the clouds have now built up as usual to their nightly position as pillows on the the ocean beds on all horizons. Wind freshened up to the 12-16 knot range pulling us along at a good 6+ knots average SOG as we gently glided up and down the undulating swells of the unending expanse of saline that stretches for as far as the eye can see over every degree of 360.
Spent most of the day on the laptop, getting to Emails, responding with more reflective notes to many unfinished bits and people. Late lunch of yet another giant salad. Still have a few days more of fresh vegetables but today was the last of the bananas for the morning ritual of toasted peanut butter (crunchy) and cranberry and banana "sandwiches". It is on to cream cheese and orange marmalade tomorrow. Eating well, feeling well and continuing to enjoy this special aquatic existence.
Realized earlier today that I've fulfilled one of my goals without noticing it explicitly, which was to become a full time learner again. Not that I don't learn every day and do my best to satisfy my endless curiosity and fascination with just about everything, but this has afforded me the opportunity to truly be a full time learner. Be it through reading that I get to do more of now, an environment so fertile for reflective thinking, time to write, to become more amazed every day as I study all my atlas, guides and maps on where to go and when, just how full and teaming with people, culture and countries this supposedly "empty" expanse of the South Pacific really is. My wonderful new problem is that of abundance; how to choose from an endless list of great choices. I do understand that as they saying goes "you can't kiss all the girls in the world" but I'm definitely out to kiss life full on the mouth every day and learn how to do it better every day. While I've got a LONG ways to go, as in the real think (kissing) practicing is the best part!
So as I watch the sun kiss the horizon and the day goodbye, I bid you adieu for another day as we sail into another night out here. Sweet dreams to us all, back in the morning to tell you all about them!
LTY Morning UPDATE: Wednesday, April 22, 2009 07:20 local 01:20 UTC
Position: -22d 26.478' S -105d 35.583' W
Wind: 15-18kts ESE Apparent
Seas: wave height = ~ 1.2 m @ 4 secs
Weather: sun rising to a mostly clear sky except for the storm we passed through in the night which is now off to the North.
Sea temp: 74.5F
Air temp: 76.8F
Distance in last 24 hours: 148nm
Distance to Destination: 353.6nm
A bit of excitement last night. Discovered about 10pm that both starter batteries, one for the main engine, one for the generator, were completely dead. I had been noticing that the last few times both engines had taken a bit longer to start and know I guess I know why, they were cranking slower. These two batteries are completely separate from the house bank and the bow thruster batteries, which is normally so that if you completely discharge the house bank you can still start the engine and generator. In this case I'll do the opposite, use the house bank to start these engines.
In hindsight I made a poor decision in not replacing these batteries before the trip. These are the only ones I've not replaced and are still the ones that came with the boat and I therefore know little about. My thinking at the time was to get the most out of them and frankly I simply let them be and forgot about them. I also now realize that I don't have monitors on these batteries to check their charging and condition which is something I'll rectify as soon as possible as well.
So what to do? I'll first try to just jump start the main engine with the set of automotive jumper cables I have along for that purpose and ensure that I can start the main engine and have it when needed. I'll also then leave it running for some time as there is an alternator on the main engine dedicated to charging the starter batteries. Something I also need to check is that it may be that this is the only way these batteries are getting charged and they are not being charged by the main battery charger or generator that looks after the house bank. Given that I have not run the engine for almost two weeks now, other than for a few minutes to reef the main it could well be that the starting of the main plus starting the genset and not recharging the starter batteries in between has drained them. We'll see later today if that's the case and ideally I'd be able to bring them back up to charge. If not, I'll likely wire the starters into the house bank and use that until I can get to a location where I can buy new starter batteries. That could be quite a while from now given the remote spots I'm headed!
This all produced a bit more excitement at 4am this morning when I passed through a storm front and winds picked up considerably. Winds picked up to over 20 and ran as high as 26+ in gusts for a while. The challenge was to be able to reef the main sail if needed without the motor to help keep up the boat speed and steering. If the boat is not moving through the water then you have no steering. And to reef the main, you need to point the boat directly into the wind, which would stop the boat from moving so you see the problem.
As it turned out, these higher winds did not last long, and repeated the same pattern as in previous days, usually at night, when I've passed through other storms. The wind picks up for about 15-30 minutes while we pass through and then dies right back down again. That's what I was counting on and what happened again last night. I was therefore able to get by with just reefing the jib (front sail) and pointing us more into the wind which slowed us down from speeds in the 8's down to 4-5 knots and reduced the stress on the sails and rigging considerably by aligning the boat and sails more with the wind. Once the wind settled back to 12-15 I was able to unfurl the jib point us back on course and settle in for another day of great sailing out here on the South Pacific.
LTY Evening UPDATE: Wednesday, April 22, 2009 18:10:20 local 00:10 UTC
Position: -22d 21.568' S -106d 20.189' W
Wind: 18-24kts ESE Apparent
Seas: wave height = ~ 3 m @ 6 secs
Weather: after morning winds died down rest of the day was great, wind 13-16 but now storms off to the S are kicking the wind back up over 22-25
Sea temp: 75.4F
Air temp: 82.2F
Distance in last 24 hours: 150nm
Distance to Destination: 284.8nm
Well, a very busy day at sea. After dealing with this mornings storms, the wind dropped back down to a pleasant average of around 15 knots. So I dived into the engine room to deal with the dead battery issues and of course an hour later as I'm up to my ears in grease, corrosion and acid that storm that was behind us had clocked all the way around and hit us with another round of strong wind. Got the sails reefed and back to work.
As suspected the two starter batteries were dead, one for the main engine one for the generator. Cleaned all the terminals, check the water/acid level, hydrometer readings, etc. and they were definitely dead. Confirmed that part of the problem is that they are only being charged from the main engine and so when I don't run it much but do start it and the generator several times, they would get run down. Got both the main engine and the generator started with jumper cables from the house bank and charged batteries for most of the day and used the juice to also run the water maker for 6 hours.
In the end, the generator battery is toast. Literally, overheating badly when charging and only 10.6volts so it is history and I've disconnected it. The main engine start battery shows some promise and has come up to 13.6v after the day's charge so we'll now see if it will hold it. If not, I'll rely on the house bank and the jumpers to enable me to start the generator and main engine when needed and until I get somewhere that sells batteries. Doubtful that any of my upcoming destinations will have any such supplies so likely won't be till I get to Tahiti, but you never know what you'll find on these islands so I'll try at Easter and see what happens. Also hoping I might find a sewing machine or tailor or even a sail maker there to see if the spinnaker is salvageable, but again it will be what it will be.
So between sail changes and batteries and other chores aboard I didn't sit down much today and now we have another storm off to the South which is clocking around in front of us and has kicked the wind back up over 20 again so I need to go deal with that.
More tomorrow. Night.
LTY Morning UPDATE: Thursday, April 23, 2009 07:10:20 local 13:10 UTC
Position: -24d 30.398' S -107d 22.189' W
Wind: 15-19kts E Apparent
Seas: wave height = ~ 2 m @ 5 secs
Weather: scattered clouds, stormy looking to North
Sea temp: 75.4F
Air temp: 78F
Distance in last 24 hours: 160 nm
Distance to Destination: 185.8 nm
Winds have remained strong and steady and we knocked off another 160nm in the last 24 hours and are now under 200nm away from Easter Island. If these speeds continue I estimate our ETA in Hanga Roa to be in the late afternoon tomorrow, Friday the 14th. This is quite amazing as I was estimating at least one and perhaps two weeks more than this and had no expectation of winds this consistently high and in the right direction. We are enjoying the what are known as the trade winds and they are known for just this kind of wonderful consistency and comments from others like "if you are adjusting your sails more than once a week you're not cruising!" We will see how they hold up for this last distance as we close in on Easter Island. If they do drop off and delay our arrival I will slow us down tomorrow so that we don't arrive at night and delay our arrival to Saturday, but I'll let you know in these updates how that all goes.
I've not been recording the times of sunrise/sunset but it is very noticeable this morning that the sun is rising considerably later now that we are this much further South. Quite amazing really to have gone from sitting on the equator as we were in Galapagos to now being over 24 degrees South and will end up at 27 degrees at Rapa Nui. That will also mark the furthest South I will go for a while as after that I'll be heading slowly North as I work my way West across the South Pacific toward Pitcairn next and then onward to the Society Islands (Polynesia), Samoa, etc. Not sure just what route I'll take through all of this, but I will need to be out of the area by about the end of October when hurricane/cyclone season begins and right now am likely to head back South again to the top of New Zealand at Whangarei. However as my trip to date has well proven, I just never know where I'll be or for how long, until it happens. I really do work at using serendipity as my guide and my strategy for life and given my track record of a phenomenal life so far I don't intend to change that now and only work at getting better at it with each passing experience.
Ahh, the sun has just pushed its way through the clouds and is treating my eyes and skin to its healing rays and so another good day, lucky 13 of the voyage, is off to a great start. Had a super set of sleeps last night with the winds and seas being so consistent and no reefing necessary so I'm feeling very well rested. The seas are a bit confused still after the previous storms but the ride is quite gentle this morning and we are not heeling or rolling too bad from side to side so moving about isn't too difficult. Of course I'm sure that it is also partly due to adjusting to these conditions and it will no doubt feel very strange when the boat is at anchor and when I'm ashore. I sure hope that I'll be able to bring Ruby ashore for a few runs. I do feel badly for her being cooped up aboard the boat for this long as she can't move around too much with all this motion. She does amazingly well and it doesn't seem to phase her, but she can't go out on the decks as easily or up and down the stairs as easily with all this motion. Plus she just SO loves to race around in circles whenever her feet touch sand or grass. Not sure what that is, been this way since I first got her, but grass and sand are to her like catnip to a cat and she just flips into this different dog who races at top speed in circles around and around and around, making these gleeful little grunts as she does so. Been a long time since she's been able to do that as most places of late have restricted her to the boat. She got in a few of these at night when I'd take her ashore in Ecuador but none since so here's hoping I can get her ashore a few times when we are at Easter Island.
The other thing I've been meaning to tell you about is that I think I've discovered what the color indigo is supposed to look like. Whatever the name, the color of the ocean out here is impossible to describe and something I often just sit and stare at in amazement. I've been fortunate enough to see a lot of oceans around the world and thought I had pretty much seen the full spectrum of blues and greens that ocean water, sand, sun and rocks can produce. But this color of blue that is so consistently out here is completely new to me. It is quite dark and yet very bright at the same time and it has given me a new appreciation of the term "the deep blue sea". I think I've just experienced where that comes from and will have to leave it at that as an attempt to help you imagine it.
All of this I guess is more confirmation, not that I really needed it, that there is just no substitute for experiential learning. Life, as best I can tell, is meant for such learning and is a huge part of what it means to BE alive. As as often been said but not so often realized, life is for living and what I'm working at more and more is ensuring that I LIVE while I'm alive. I really don't fear death, though I'm not anxious for it either, but I do fear not living while I'm alive, and so the best way to deal with fear that I know of is to take action, to charge directly into it, convert the unknown to the known and deal with it and revel in it all. As the great blues tunes puts it: "Live the life you love, and love the life you live!" I'm doing my best to do just that and hope you are finding more and more ways to do it too in your context.
This is your maritime cub reporter Wayne, signing off for the day, be back to you with this evenings update to summarize it all.
LTY Evening UPDATE: Thursday, April 23, 2009 17:50:20 local 23:50 UTC
Position: -25d 22.840' S -108d 02.387' W
Wind: 8-12kts ENE Apparent
Seas: wave height = ~ 3 m @ 8 secs
Weather: clear with scattered clouds all around. Wind down and shifted a bit North making for a very comfortable day's sail
Sea temp: 75.4F
Air temp: 84.2F
Distance in last 24 hours: 155nm
Distance to Destination: 132.0nm
A most enjoyably calm day at sea today. Wind was down in the 10-14 range so not heeled much at all, swell is up to 3m but good frequency making for a lovely ride. Spent most of the day reading and enjoying these conditions.
We are now only about a day away from Hanga Roa harbor in Rapa Nui and I'm already finding myself lamenting the end of this rather endless state of being under sail and the daily rhythm that has established itself. I REALLY like this state of being underway to a destination and "in motion", something I've known about myself for a long time. I recall how much I enjoyed it when the plane doors would close and we'd start the take off procedures and I cold settle back into the seat and similar to being aboard, maximize this opportunity to do some reflective thinking, catch up with some reading and writing. This sea based version is even better as the durations are MUCH longer, I'm "home" and have it all to myself!
Not that I'm not looking forward to being in Easter and all the great experiences that are undoubtedly awaiting me there; seeing the amazing Moai, meeting with Sonja and the great people on the island working to resurrect the great island this once was. This provides a great deal of the purpose for doing all this. But it is still the time underway and the journey that brings me such great joy. Yet this isn't a competition and journey and destination are not choices I need to make. One begets the other and I'm the fortunate soul who gets to reap the benefits of the combination of the total of which is SO much greater than the mere sum of these two parts. A fortunate fellow indeed I am.
So I shall simply enjoy these last few days of this leg of the journey and what has been an incredible experience. As unexpectedly fast as it has been rich in it's learnings for me. I had anticipated these 2000 nautical miles would take at least 20 days, perhaps more with some inevitable calms and low winds that are typical of this route. Instead I've been treated to an extremely steady and strong set of mostly SE and E trade winds and will be arriving in only 14-15 days! And as per the above, much different than many other's experiences I read about I'm almost disappointed it has gone so quickly. However I get to experience Easter's charms all that much sooner and have more time for what's up ahead, which is certainly all good.
And so onward into the night we'll sail to see what this evening brings. The sun is headed for the horizon again but has a ways to go (only just after 6pm here as I type this) and the calm conditions continue though they often change a bit after sunset and with the cooling of the air. Clouds all look very "friendly" being scattered and quite while and fluffy and small all around us. More of a buildup behind us to the North but they don't appear threatening or stormy. Tomorrow I'll make the call as to whether to push on to arrive in Hanga Roa tomorrow, Friday afternoon or if I'll need to purposely slow down so as to not arrive in the night and do so instead on Saturday morning. Will see how many miles we sail through this evening and what conditions are like tomorrow and make the call then. Either way the next part of the adventure looms ahead and I look forward to the transition back to the destination phase and remembering what it is like to not have your world constantly going through all six degrees of motion.
Enjoy your evening and I'll be back with the morning update for Day #14 tomorrow!
LTY Morning UPDATE: Friday, April 24, 2009
07:50 local 13:50 UTC
Position: -26d 33.290' S -109d 01.595' W
Wind: 5-15kts E Apparent
Seas: wave height = ~ 3 m @ 8 secs
Weather: Clearing off nicely with the rising sun, rain patches and varied low winds overnight.
Sea temp: 77.2F
Air temp: 883.8F
Distance in last 24 hours: 148nm
Distance to Destination: 44nm
Had a bit of everything weather wise last night. The wind had been low and steady all yesterday afternoon, about 10-12kts most of the time and then it started to pick up to 15+ about 10pm only to then die off to almost nothing and swing around all points of the compass at about 11pm when we also got some rain showers. These only lasted about 5 minutes each and were not at all heavy but should have been enough to give the boat a good fresh water rinse, which is needed VERY much after 2 weeks of crusty salt buildup everywhere. Thank you Mom Nature! Had about 3 more of these short burst of rain in the night and the wind stayed low to nothing most of this time. Tried to keep sailing but by about 1am our SOG (speed) was down to under 2 knots and steering starts to be a problem and I therefore reluctantly turned on the motor to help move us along. This also helped to bring all the house batteries back up to 100% and save running the generator to do so.
It would have been nice to have sailed the whole way there unassisted, and I could have done so I suppose but would have made for a very uncertain night just drifting about, sails flapping, etc. and so we'll use up a bit of our carbon footprint and motor. Not too bad though as I have not used the motor since the first day after leaving Galapagos 2 weeks ago.
Tried several times in the night to go back to sailing but the wind continued to be up and down and changing direction a lot so we motor sailed through the night. It was quite lovely outside as the stars were out in almost all the sky all night, so this must have been smaller storm clouds spread out and that matched up with what the Radar was telling me. Radar in case you don't know picks up rain and dense cloud formations as well as ships and land. Basically anything that will bounce back the Radar signal. So you can see storm and rain formations on the screen which is both helpful and not. Good to see things like squalls and sometimes be able to steer around them, but it also means that you don't tend to see anything else, like ships in the midst of all this. Not much of an issue where I am right now but this can be a problem in busier areas. I'm still yet to sight my first ship or anything other than wildlife for that matter since leaving Galapagos 2 weeks ago, and there isn't exactly a lot of traffic to and from Easter Island and there isn't anything else for over 2000 miles in any direction, so I'm not likely to have too much of a traffic congestion problem!
This morning the sun rose to give a spectacular show as it lit up the large clouds behind us to the North and East and gave them all a beautiful halo of yellow, gold and pink. Now (about 8:30pm by the time I'm getting this done) it is well up in the sky, has burned off mots of the clouds and we are left with a few scattered clouds around most points on the compass, crystal blue clear sky overhead and the wind looks like it might be coming back up again!
I've got the motor on still as I've made the decision to press on and arrive in Hanga Roa before dark tonight. I don't want to arrive after night fall as the area is obviously new to me and anchoring is tentative at the best of times anywhere on Easter Island. There are essentially no safe harbors from all weather anywhere on Easter Island so my stay and location there will be dictated by how good or bad the weather is. It is reportedly often difficult or impossible to anchor in most spots for any length of time and I also have the challenge of leaving the boat unattended while I'm ashore as the weather is notorious for changing very quickly. But this will all play out however Mothers Nature and Ocean decide and I'll let you know how it goes.
For now I'm just starting to prepare for landfall, anchoring and the other changes needed to make the transition to be stopped for a while. As per my previous messages this is always with mixed emotions; some sadness that this lovely day to day rhythm of non stop sailing and being out at sea is coming to an end, and excited about the new people I'm about to meet, new things I'm about to see and new experiences I'm about to have. I'm going to Easter Island man!! How cool is THAT?!! As my previous boss Kelly used to say "It's all good" and that certainly sums it up for me!
Enjoy your day and I'll be back to you with more and perhaps the conclusion to this chapter when we are likely to have reached Rapa Nui and be safely anchored at Hanga Roa.
LTY Afternoon UPDATE: Friday, April 24, 2009 15:40:20 local 21:40 UTC
Learnativity has landed at Hanga Roa, Rapa Nui aka Easter Island!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Anchor down and set at 15:15 local time 21:15 UTC
Position: -27d 08.625' S -109d 26,087' W
SOG: 0kts Hey, that means we're stopped!!
Wind: 5-8kts SE True
Seas: swell = ~ 0.5 m @ 8 secs
Weather: Gorgeous afternoon on Easter Island, some billowy clouds to the North and West, otherwise spectacularly clear.
Sea temp: 77.9F
Air temp: 92.4F
Distance to Destination: ZERO! We're here man!!
Well, with a set of the famous Moai statues a few hundred yards in front of us on the shore of Hanga Roa, I think it is a safe bet to say we're here!! The anchor was down and set at 15:15 local time, held right away in about 40' of the most unbelievably clear water I think I've ever seen. The water is still that incredible bright dark blue that I tried to describe a bit in the previous posting and I'm currently floating in about 50' and yet I can see the bottom as if it were about 5' away. Can't wait to break out the snorkel and my Sea Breathe (electric compressor/snorkel unit) and check it out up close and personal.
It is a spectacularly brilliant afternoon here, there is just enough breeze blowing from the shore (SE) to keep us off the shore nicely and the blue sky above with the dark blue water below is the ideal contrast to the greens of the grassy low volcanic hills and trees of Rapa Nui.
The Port Control was in contact with me on the VHF about 3nm out ,took my basic information and will be sending out the Navy and Port officials in an hour to look after all the paper work. It can apparently all be done on board so can't get to much more convenient than that and they were very professional and helpful.
** update: in fact before I could send this out their RIB arrived with the full compliment of 8 officials from the Navy, immigration, health, agriculture, port captain, island council and some I'm not sure of plus two to manage the RIB. I had all the documents they wanted to see, they confiscated my limes (boo hoo) but everything else was fine; apples, tomatoes, lettuce, potatoes and meat (no bones), we signed a lot of forms, though many less than most other countries, shook hands and we're now officially here. Ruby was officially entered, forms stamped and so she is all legal and no mention of not going ashore so I'll assume that means she can! Woof woof says Ruby!!
And according to them it is no problem for me to go ashore on my own in the dingy, so we'll try that out and see how difficult it is. There is a strong surf but there is also a more protected harbor not far south that I'll try. Will be good if I can do this on my own and be able to come and go when I need to and not be dependent upon others. I'm not supposed to leave the ship unattended which makes it rather difficult as a single hander, but I'll do it anyway and just keep a close eye on the weather for any change coming up.
There is one other Canadian catamaran on the one mooring ball here, a German aluminum sloop about 40' came in from the South the same time I was coming in from the North and there is one other large sailboat anchored further off shore. Then there is a very large (to me) ship, may be Chilean Navy I think and one small fish boat and that appears to be about it. The Navy vessel just pulled up it's anchor and is heading South and I'll inquire ashore when I meet my local contacts for more information.
Ashore is there are a series of buildings along the shoreline that make up the main settlement on the island and the official port of entry. Almost all the houses and buildings are within about 200m of the shoreline and I didn't seen any other buildings on the coast coming down the west side of the island.
Ruby smelled the land about 40nm out and I think she is anxiously awaiting her turn to go ashore and get some much needed exercise. Hopefully that will be possible. It is highly discouraged to take your own dingy ashore due to the strong surf and rocks and lack of docks or landing spots so you depend upon the locals to bring you back and forth but I still hope I can take Ruby ashore for at least a short while.
I'll let you know if/when I get internet access, it is available on the island and I can pick up one access point from here but it is locked so will need to check it out when I go ashore, hopefully that will be later this afternoon.
This trip was FANTASTIC!! So much faster than I EVER expected, we got here in 14 days vs the 20-28 I was ready for. And the whole experience was amazing. For those of you who have been receiving the twice daily updates you know all about it and for the others I'll post all these daily logs as a blog posting on the Learnativity blog (http://learnativity.typepad.com) as soon as I can get a regular net connection. (this Email uses my sat phone which works great but is quite expensive)
It is great to be here. The feeling is one of delight in having turned an intent into a reality. I'd been saying for a long time that I wanted to go to Easter Island. Then it became I am going to Easter Island followed by I'm on my way to Easter Island and now, sitting here typing this out in the cockpit as I look out at this postcard view of the first land I've seen in 14 days and then the Moai statues to verify that this is not just "land" this is EASTER ISLAND!! I don't have any feelings of wanting to get here sooner or that it is a relief to be here, for me the journey is the destination in many ways and I so thoroughly enjoyed every minute of the 14 days voyage to get here that there is a bit of a let down effect that it is over. However it is immediately offset by the realization that I'm here, really HERE and about to set foot on this place that Thor Heyerdahl once called the loneliest outpost in the world. Doesn't feel that way to me ,at least not yet. I'm just looking forward with great anticipation to going ashore, meeting the contacts that my good friend and colleague Pete Kelsey from Autodesk has introduced me to and adding the experience of exploring Easter Island and some of its mysteries for myself. I've done a lot of reading of the history of the island which was also fascinating learning. And now I get to do my favorite kind of learning; experiential!
I'll do my best to keep up the daily logs at least once a day while I'm here for those of you who are on that list and I'll also get them posted to the Learnativity blog whenever I can get a connection to the internet. I look forward to sharing this rare experience that I am so privileged to have and will enjoy having you along for the ride in that sense.
Rapa Nui, here we come!!
================================ END of LOGS =======================================
Whew! If you made it this far you deserve a medal! Hope it was worth it if you did and I’ll start adding more updates here while I’m on Easter but these are all dependent upon me having an internet connection which is often a challenge and not something I have when I’m out at sea.
If you are not receiving them now and would like to, send me an Email ([email protected]) and I’d be glad to include you on the list of people who receive the morning and evening daily updates when I’m underway and out at sea.
Thanks for joining me on this grand adventure. Hope you are enjoying the ride, I sure am!