Voyage of Traveler / Blog

August 5, 2011

Traveler’s Position Report August 5

Filed under: Pacific Ocean, Year: 2011, Transpac 2011 — mrlawlerjr @ 10:17 pm

Traveler’s Position Report
August 5 at 1100 PDT
31-34 N, 154-54 W
Wind and Seas easing, 9 knots from ESE
Course: 020
Speed: 5.2

That is great news about Hurricane Eugene losing strength and being downgraded to a tropical storm, as it moves into cooler water. Also, it is so far away that is of little consequence to us directly. That is a big relief, especially to my crew, some of whom were quite concerned about being at sea with (as of yesterday) a hurricane four days away and headed toward us. We can expect some big swells from it, but that will not be a problem for us.

The Pacific High is near, and we are considering starting the engine and motor sailing with the jib furled and getting maybe another half knot or so of speed out of the main. With the engine running, we have power to make water with our watermaker, about 13 gals. per hour, and the engine heats the water, so we can enjoy taking a nice deck shower every day.

Our speed just dropped, as I am writing this, to 4 knots. Between our main tank (117 gallons) and the ten 5-gal. jerry jugs of diesel tied down to the deck, we have enough fuel to motor over 900 miles, so we might as well fire up the Yanmar. Under power, we will cruise at 8 knots.

Erik is no longer sea sick. He thinks he lost three or four pounds, but will likely gain it back over the next week. Natalie is so ready to get off the boat and onto dry land. This is only her second time on a boat, the first being a day sail out of Newport on Traveler in pleasant conditions. For the past 6 days we have been beating to windward, heeled way over, and pounding in 4 to 6 foot seas, into 15 to 20 knots of wind, with reefed sails and waves washing back over the deck and all the hatches closed tightly causing it to be unbearably hot and humid below. So the calmer conditions are welcomed.

The speed just now dropped down further to 3.6 knots. I opened the hatches in the salon and immediately it is a pleasant temperature with a much-welcomed light breeze down below.

We just spotted another sailboat about 4 miles behind us, and they answered when I called them on Ch 16. Their boat is named “Klondike” and they are headed from Hanalei Bay to Santa Cruz (mutual friend Skip Allen).

“Brian, start the engine, please. Let’s furl the jib. Set the autopilot for a new course of 055.”

This marks the beginning of the second of three legs of our delivery of Traveler back home to Newport Beach. The first leg was beating from Niihau north then northeast up toward the Pacific High for about 650 miles. This leg we are on now will be motoring across the southern edge of the High for about 850 miles over five days, to about 35 N, 155 W. The third and final leg will be sailing from there, hopefully with a good breeze just aft of the beam, for the final 1000 miles. Total distance, about 2500 nautical miles, which is slightly more than 1/10th of the way around the world at the equator.

We are still a long way out, so subject to change, our arrival date looks like August 18.

Living the Dream,

August 2, 2011

Traveler Position Report August 2, 2011

Filed under: Pacific Ocean, Year: 2011, Transpac 2011 — mrlawlerjr @ 3:44 pm

Traveler Position Report
August 2, 2011 at noon PDT
26-00 N, 159-48 W
Course 020 M, Speed 6.5 knots

All’s well aboard Traveler as we make our way from the Hawaiian Islands back to Southern California.

I’m glad to report that Erik is gradually feeling better after a day and a half of sea sickness, and he is able to stand his watch once again.

On July 31, before making our way back home, we sailed west for 35 miles from Hanalei Bay, Kauai, to Lehua, a volcanic crater with the northern side open to the sea, at the Island of Niihau. What an amazing place. It has been described as having the best diving in Hawaii and is considered as one of the top ten dive sites in the world. Lehua is similar in size and shape to the crater of Molokini off Lahaina, Maui, if you have been there. We motored into the spectacular crater, but found it too rough to stay, even if we had found one of the submerged moorings. So we then motored around to the outside southwest corner and found calm conditions in the lee of the crater, and one of the submerged moorings. Brian, with an assist from Erik, dove about ten feet below the surface with a long line from Traveler in hand, looped it through the mooring, and back up to Traveler so we could have lunch and go for a swim. Right away, a Hawaiian monk seal, an endangered species, came by to check us out. Jeannine, Erik and Natalie all got to snorkel with the seal, close enough to touch her. While Brian and I were scuba diving, we held out our hands as the seal slowly approached us. She cautiously sniffed our hands as if to say “Aloha,” then allowed us to pet her. The Lehua Crater at Niihau was a memorable side trip, and well worth going the extra miles out of the way. If you have Google Earth, the coordinates are 22-01.5 N, 160-05.7 W, on the northern tip of Niihau, the “Forbidden Island.”

Niihau has some interesting history. On December 7, 1941, after participating in the attack on Pearl Harbor, a Japanese Zero pilot crash-landed his damaged plane on Niihau, the westernmost of the eight major Hawaiian islands. The Japanese believed the island was uninhabited, but at the time it had 136 residents, all native full-blooded Hawaiians. As a part of the overall plans to bomb our fleet and planes on Oahu, the Japanese Admiralty designated Niihau as a safe, convenient location for damaged aircraft to land and rendezvous with a rescue submarine. The pilot, Naval Airman 1st Class Shigenori Nishikaichi, survived the crash and was captured and held by four Niihauan civilian guards, making him the first American-held Japanese POW of WWII. Yoshio Harada was born in Hawaii of Japanese ancestry, lived on Niihau with his wife, and served as the translator. Nishikaichi, with the help of Harada, overpowered the guards, who were not taking their duties seriously, grabbed a pistol and and a shotgun, and took Ben and Ella Kanahele as hostages. Later, Ben and Ella noticed their captors were fatigued and jumped them. Nishikaichi shot Ben three times, but Ella, apparently a large, powerful and now very mad Hawaiian woman, took revenge. She bashed the Japanese pilot’s head in with a rock. Harada, the interpreter, then committed suicide with the shotgun. Ben was hospitalized on Kauai and survived his gunshot wounds. The US Navy report on the “Niihau Incident,” especially the conclusion that an American of Japanese ancestry (Harada, the interpreter) went to the aid of a captured Japanese pilot and plotted with him for his escape, was considered when the Congress debated and decided to establish the Japanese Internment Camps. The wrecked remains of the Zero are on display at the Pacific Air Museum located on Ford Island, part of the Pearl Harbor Memorial. For more info, check out the Wikipedia article on the “Niihau Incident.”

Just 2300 miles to go until we are back home in Newport Beach.

Living The Dream,

August 1, 2011

Traveler Position Report for July 31

Filed under: Pacific Ocean, Year: 2011, Transpac 2011 — mrlawlerjr @ 10:19 am

Traveler Position Report
for July 31 at noon Hawaii Time
22-05 N, 159-57 W
Course 245, Speed 7 kts
Midway between Kauai and Niihau

We are on the next leg of our passage back home to Newport Beach after the Transpac Race, between Hanalei Bay, Kauai, and the “Forbidden Island” of Niihau, located about 15 miles west of Kauai.

Just to review the past week, we departed Honolulu on July 26 and motor sailed in light wind to Nawiliwili, Kauai. We planned to stay only one night, but stayed three nights. The reason for the longer stay was (1) we had Jeannine Patane, a new last minute crew member, join us here for the passage back to California, and (2) we had mechanical problems. We were getting full RPMs out of our Yanmar engine, but only getting about 3 knots of speed. I dove the bottom and found nothing fouling the prop or keel. So after much debate amongst the local “experts” we narrowed the problem down to the feathering Autostream propeller. It must have changed pitch somehow. I did not hit anything or damage it to cause it to change pitch, so I’m not sure how it happened. Fortunately, I have been carrying the original propeller with me as a spare since I bought the boat, four and a half years ago, just in case. I hired a diver to change out the prop while at the slip. At the sea trial we got 8.5 knots at wide open throttle, which is very good speed for Traveler.

Our plan is to motor back much of the way, about 900 miles out of 2,600 miles, into about 10 knots of headwinds and across the bottom of the Pacific High, so a good working engine and prop are essential for the ride home. We have 117 gallon main fuel tank and 10 5-gallon jerry jugs of diesel on the deck, so our range is about 900 to 1,000 miles under motor, depending on sea conditions.

After getting the prop changed, we motor sailed the next morning to Hanalei Bay on the north central coast of Kauai. What a beautiful place. We arrived just after a rain, so we had rainbows and full waterfalls all along the steep cliffs around the bay. The small town of Hanalei has a surfer-ranchy feel to it, much like Haleiwa on the north shore of Oahu. Because of the rains, the water was a bit muddy so the snorkeling was out. We enjoyed a dinghy ride up the river, about two and a half miles. And we also attended the annual fund raiser luau at the Hanalei Canoe Club, so we all got to eat pig and other native Hawaiian foods, take a canoe ride as the sun was setting, and see a Polynesian dance show, including a spectacular fire dance.

At 0730 this morning we said goodbye to our guest crew, Brandon and Ashley, who flew in from Toronto and joined us in Honolulu. It was fun having them, especially to have Brandon on board Traveler again. (He sailed with us from Singapore to Aden, Yemen from January to March, 2008.)

We then weighed anchor and sailed west along the gorgeous Na Pali coast. This has got to be one of the most dramatic shorelines in the world. There were lots of sightseeing boats and helicopters tours. This is a must do if you visit Kauai.

We are now approaching Niihau to go scuba diving. More about that in my next blog.

Today marks the sixth anniversary for Barbara and me of our first date, following the Transpac in 2005. She is back in So Cal visiting friends (hi Cathy and Joe) and getting ready for her teaching to start again soon.

We still have the “Yellowbrick” transponder so you can follow our progress home on the Transpac website (once on the home page, click on “Tracking”), same as the race over.

with Brian, Natalie, Erik and Jeannine

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