Wednesday, April 19, 2017

2017 Pacific Puddle Jump (Day 11 to Day 20)

Day 11 - April 2nd

Yesterday was our best 24 hour run at 160 miles and we are past the 1/2 way mark!
The water is an inviting 81 degrees but we are waiting for our equatorial swim to test it out.
Haven't run the main engine in 6 days.   Today the spinnaker came out at 10 in the morning and have been flying it all day.  The seas are down to 4 to 5 feet at the stern and less confused.

As we close in on the ITCZ we see huge clouds but haven't experienced the big rains or squalls that come with them yet.  I am getting good satellite image data at it looks like we were able to avoid a big cell last night.

The outhaul fix is still holding and I expect it to be fine for the rest of the trip.

We got two surprises today.  The first was a flying fish that flew or flopped into the main cabin sometime last night.  Flying fish appear to be the only fish in this area of the Pacific.  Second was Tom's computer.  His hard drive crashed.  There was much debugging today that will continue tomorrow.

Mushu pork for dinner!  (no we will not eat flying fish)

Evening dinner in a bowl

Day 12 -  April 3rd

Shindig bested our daily run at 163 miles yesterday.  We got a lot of miles on the spinnaker for sure.
Squalls and electrical storms kept us busy last night starting at 0200.  This afternoon we sailed in and out of the rain and watched Cool Hand Luke in the afternoon.  The movie choice was inspired by a discussion of the most famous movie lines of all time.  Sylvia has wikipedia on her computer so we can be informed on such trivia.  You wouldn't believe how much we have referenced it.  Can you guess the famous line from Cool Hand Luke?

We have experienced a significant wind shift to the SE from the NE.  It is too early to tell but we might be on the South end of the ITCZ now.  We are close reaching in 14 knots of wind and it is pissing rain.  Weather models predict little wind for the next few days.  The D-sail might be coming out soon.

Kite up and making tracks

Day 13 - April 4th

It is 1:00 am LaPaz time and I'm just now getting around to doing email and position reporting.
I've only had success getting connected to stations in Hawaii and yesterday one was down an the other was "propagationaly  challenged" when I was trying to connect.  We are talking about changing the ships time... but just talking about it.

The seascape is dramatic in the ITCZ.  Huge towering cloud banks are all around.  Some are very high and have towering offshoots.  Others are low and dark, ready to drop a load of rain.  The rainy clouds are visible on radar too and we can get a sense of how big they are and how much rain they carry.  It is nice to be able to anticipate their intensity then you can choose to move out of the way or just get wet.

Our 24 hour run was 117 miles. (4.7 knot average)

We sail when squalls produces enough wind to sail at >3.5 knots.  Otherwise the D-sail is deployed (last 12 hours).  We have also observed adverse current in spots.  0.5 to 1.0 against us in the area of 6N to 4N

Shindig is aiming to cross the equator at 133W

Tom made a fishing flasher and noise maker out of Topo Chico bottles.  With this secret weapon deployed we are hope to catch.... Something!

Thanks for all the comments on the Cool Hand Luke quote.  "What we have here is a failure to communicate" was the famous quote.  Other winners from the movie.  "This is the way he wants it.  This is the way he gets it."  and "you got your mind right?"  Try to work these into your day today.

Shindig out.

JD getting some more practice with the sextant

Fashioned a twing out of a few snatch blocks

First of many squalls.  Yes, that is 5:20 in the morning.

Is it raining?  Only Sylvia seems happy about it.

Double Rainbow!

Repairing the dousing collar after it came apart during a night-time sail change.

Tom's hard disk crashed.  He and JD are noodling through the problem.

Day 11 - April 5th

Last night we motored at "fuel saver" speed toward the equator.  Watches were easy and everyone was well rested this morning.
The night sky was clear and the 1/2 moon set behind clouds on the horizon on my 2-5 watch.  Jupiter was over head and the Southern Cross rotated from its side to the 12:00 position during the night.   Incredible night sky with stars horizon to horizon.

At 9:00 we took a break from the passage and got off the boat.  We jumped into 80 degree water that was 11,000 ft deep.    For an hour we splashed around the boat and hung onto the safety line.  Tom and JD found many Come Jellys.   Back on board Shindig, a trip to our local copy of wikipedia detailed all the interesting facts about this Ctenophore.

The wind picked up a bit by noon and the spinnaker has been up since then.  We are making 4.0 to 5.5 knots toward the equator.

Today I fixed a leaking chainplate on the port side.  In doing so I discovered than several of my sealants had spoiled and were not usable.

This is our 13th day on passage from the tip of Baja and the 16th day onboard since our LaPaz departure.
Tomorrow we cross the equator.  Two pollywogs will become shellbacks.

JD having fun diving with the safety line

Great visibility

More fixing....  finished up re-caulking a chain plate that was leaking

Day 15 - April 6th

The winds did not materialize for our equator crossing today.  We were able to sail through the night with 4.0 to 5.0 knots of boat speed but at dawn the wind backed off and did not return.   We are in the doldrums.  So we wait.... And watch and movie.... And go swimming... And do boat maintenance.

Eventually we turn on the motor and start making our way to the equator and just around dinner time the wind arrives and the spinnaker goes up.
Right now we are making 6.5 knots and should be at 00N in the morning!  Our crossing will be between 133W and 134W Longitude.

New sailing configuration for DDW

Day 16 - April 7th

A special report.  Shindig has left the Northern Hemisphere!
She is accompanied by 4 shellback, two of them just so.

At 8:17 AM we crossed the equator at 133 27.859 West

There was much celebration.  Care packages from Nancy and Elaine for the crew were opened. (full of treats and treasures)
We dressed up to honor Neptune and champagne was offered to appease the ruler of the sea.  Our offering was accepted and we were allowed to pass.  Surrogate Neptune Tom, inducted the slimy Polywogs, Rob and JD, into the mysteries of the deep.  A few choice words and wave of the magic snorkel and it was done.... Shellbacks.

Following the grog and photos JD and I jumped over the side and located the equatorial rope below the surface.  It is a little different than the you see on globes and charts.  1/2 nylon three strand.  Who knew.

Sylvia capped off the morning with apple pancakes and bacon.

We have wind and are speeding toward the Marquesas at 8 knots with the spinnaker up.  2131 miles down and 624 to go.

Any day with bacon is special but today was extra special!

"Puddle Jumper" branded beer near the equator! And... Tom drew a map on me!

It is getting silly

Crossed the Equator

An offering to Neptune

Team Shindig

Gifts for Shellbacks - little turtles

And scrubbies to get clean!

More goody gifts from Nancy opened at the equator!

Celebration is in order

Capain Shellback getting serious

Is that the equatorial line?

Yep, found it

Rob and JD swimming at the equator

Day 16 - April 7th

With our equatorial victory behind us, Shindig is pressing on the final 600 miles to the Marquesas.
Afternoon sailing was amazing with the asymmetrical spinnaker up for 10 hours.  Beam reaching in 12 to 15 knots of wind resulted in high average speeds.  The boat motion was a bit herky jerky as we punched though confused swells and wind chop.  This evening we have 8 to 10 knots on the beam and mild squalls.

Weather gribs indicate sailing wind for the next 36 hours and then we become a motor boat.  We expect on and off squall activity for the remainder of the trip.

Today our friends on Pangaea and Tumbleweed are expected to cross the equator!  Hurray!
Based on the boats I know to be on passage that check into the Pacific Puddle Jump radio net, the three of us will be the next Mexico based Puddle Jumpers to arrive in the Marquesas.

Tom has been doing deck and rig inspections daily.  Earlier in the trip he found screws backing out of the gooseneck.    Fixed with threadlock.  Disaster averted.  Two days ago he found one missing ring-ding on a lifeline retention pin.  Without the ring-ding it was a matter of time before the lifeline would have detached from one end.  I'm glad we found these things before they became a real problems.  Don't think that Shindig is falling apart.  This is expected when you cram a years worth of normal sailing into three weeks.

Carnitas tacos for dinner.

Ships time was changed to Marquesan time.   UTC - 9.5 hours.  I need to know where the .5 hour came from.

Sunset in the ITCZ

Day 17 - April 8

Our 24 hour run that began at 7:30am local (just before crossing the equator) was 158 nautical miles.

We took down the kite at 8:30PM and had a more conservative sail plan for the evening.
One good size squall visited on Tom's 8:00 PM to 11:00 PM watch and we were glad to have reduced sail.  There is a welcome 1.0 knot current helping us here.

At the end of my watch we spotted a large fishing vessel that crossed our bow 2 miles ahead.  This is the first boat we have seen since traversing the shipping lanes off Baja more than 2000 miles ago.

JD and I put the spinnaker up at dawn today and we flew it 15 hours until the wind and sea state slowed progress to 3.0 knots and we were not able to sail a good course to Nuka Hiva.

The wind has been much more North East than East.   This angle means we have to sail a dead run to the Marquesas and in this confused sea state that is too hard on gear in light wind.

So we are motoring at 5.3 knots with 400 miles to go.

Nothing broke since my last position report!

Pangaea crossed the equator last night (4/9) as did Tumbleweed!  Add five more shellbacks to the roster.

The Shindig Cineplex featured Moana last night and the crew enjoyed chicken mole.

Day 18 - April 9th

140 miles to report in the last 24 hours.  16 hours was sailing and then we had to fire up the iron oar.
The wind is predicted to be < 10 knots and squally for the final 300 miles.

At this moment we have an unpredicted 18 knots from the East and we are hauling ass at 7+ knots down the course.
The radar is on the 12 mile range and there are 4 different rain events around us.

We had many squalls today but they were not of the violent variety.  We'd get maybe 10 to 12 knots of wind and big drops for 5 or 10 minutes.

This morning we inspected our main outhaul fix from a week ago.  It was holding up well but there was some chafe that needed to be addressed.  We replaced the Spectra lashing with a metal shackle and now the fix is bomber.

Dinner.  Cold noodle salad with shredded beef and oyster sauce.

Looking serious during maneuvers

Day 19 - April 10th

Last night I reported that the unpredicted wind came up.  In the early evening it picked up to 15 or so and then we sailed into a giant squall.  It was 40 miles wide and we popped out into a clearing sky on my 2 to 5 AM watch.  All watches got wet but we made good progress.

We use radar to see squalls from a distance.  You can get a good idea of their intensity and where they are going.  When you are "involved" in a  squall the radar doesn't do anything for you.  It can only cut through the rain so far.  You can't see the edges.  When we entered this big one last night we didn't think it would take 8 hours to get through it.

Today the winds backed off at dawn and we motored until 4:00 PM at fuel economy speeds.

Now the wind is back and we are making 7.1 knots toward the Marquesas.

All day we witness huge clouds gathering strength and we wonder which ones will track us down at night.  We expect to be "involved" with weather again tonight.

Two more nights at sea.  We plan to arrive in Nuka Hiva Wednesday morning!

We are starting to notice more bird life out here.
Still no fish.

Today I finally lowered the Mexican courtesy flag.

Hand Ho!

Day 20  - April 11th

At 21:11 on 4/11, Shindig and her crew have arrived and are anchor down at Nuka Hiva!  The full moon illuminated the anchorage for easy navigation.  The floral smell of the island was strong 1 mile off shore.

This has been an amazing passage with an outstanding crew.  As we enjoyed another one of Sylvia's galley creations we all reflected on some of the highlights.

Swimming in the open ocean, experiencing the vast ITCZ and its big bully squalls, endless spinnaker sailing, a double green flash and the wonder of in mast furling.

We are celebrating our achievement with some nice tequila and jelly beans.

Thanks for tuning in on our South Pacific passage.

Shindig, anchor down at Nuka Hiva

Thursday, April 13, 2017

2017 Pacific Puddle Jump (Day 0 to Day 10)

Shindig's track from Baja to Marquesas

On 3/21 Shindig left Marina Palmira for the Marquesas!

With four onboard we  made a few stops on the East Cape to test the boat systems and jump onto a "norther" that was blowing down the Sea of Cortez.

On 3/23 we poked our nose out into the Pacific.... and kept on going!

Here are some photos from the passage with passage notes that I posted on during the trip.

Day 1- Baja March 21

Shindig slipped her lines today at 11:30.  We enjoyed a wonderful send off from friends on the dock and Mom and Dad escorted us out of the channel aboard Elegante.  Rob, JD, Tom and Sylvia are all excited for the passage ahead.
We are currently at the Bonanza anchorage at Espiritu Santo and making our plans for the next few days.

There is a norther expected in the Sea of Cortez on Thursday that may not make for the most comfortable sailing but will shoot us out of the Sea like a cannon ball.

Day 2- Baja  March 22

Today we started heading South toward Cabo!
We had a mix of sailing and motoring today and are now anchor down at the Bahia De Los Muertos.
Our buddies on SV Pangaea are here too.  It is 75 degrees outside and there are 5 knot winds from the NE.
At the moment we are studying the weather to plan our departure timing to take advantage of norther that should arrive tomorrow.  The trick is to have good wind but not get spanked during the windiest part of the system off the tip of Baja.

Day 1 - Pacific Puddle Jump Passage March 23rd

Shindig is off shore and on her way.
This morning we left Bahia De Los Muertos and sailed south.  
We had 20 to 25 knots most of the day and made good time around the tip of Baja.
Right now we are in the wind shadow of Baja and motorsailing West to pick up North winds.
There were many whales spotted on our trip South.  They were breaching all over the place.  I like to think they were waving goodbye to Shindig.

Windy conditions off Baja

First sunset at sea

Day 2 - March 24th

Last night the wind came up at 0200 and allowed us to  sail West and we have been sailing for the last 18 hours.  We are beam reaching in lumpy 6 ft swells.  It is a "one hand for you, one hand for the boat" kind of day.  Everyone is getting used to the watch schedule and taking naps to catch up since is was not a restful night.  Yesterday's 24 hour run was 152 miles.
Sylvia made excellent beef burritos for dinner.  All smiles for the crew.  JD and Sylvia saved the day today when they recognized a bolt had fallen out of a support brace for the wind generator.  We were able to fix it before anything bad happened!  2474 miles to go.

This ship, seen in the shipping lane off Cabo, was the last boat of any kind that we would see for 2200 miles

Day 3 - March 25th

Last night we had excellent sailing conditions.  Beam to broad reaching in 12 to 17 knots of wind with far less sea state than the night before.   We clicked off 154 miles in the 24 hours ending at 0730 this morning.  Soon after sunrise the wind dropped to less than 10 and we struggled to make good progress down the track.

Tom and I have been studying the weather and it looks like there is a big wind hole forming around us and we need to be west of our position to get the boat sailing.

We have been motor sailing that way for most of the afternoon.  To conserve fuel we motor slowly at about 5.5 knots.

Dolphins swim by throughout the day but we are very slow and boring for an extended visit.  The ocean is an incredible blue and over 11000 feet deep here.

The first few days we were chasing squeaks.  Tom is soaking down a sheave at the end of the boom that was.... noisy.

Day 4 - March 26th

Yesterday was a 132 mile day.  Light wind (<12 knots) was again the big story.  In order to keep Shindig moving comfortably we are sailing more West than South and are looking for more wind.

The sailing is comfortable but we are not breaking any speed records.  4.5 to 5.5 knots.

Much of the day was spent attending to and fixing critical boat equipment.  Our trusty Keurig coffee maker broke and crew moral soured quickly.  

It took a while to figure out how to take it apart but it soon gave up its secrets and debugging on the salon table entertained everyone for hours.  We found and removed debris in a check valve and now hot coffee is flowing freely.  Mutiny avoided.

400 miles completed.  2238 to go.

Tonight we are having green chili chicken enchiladas that Nancy made for us!

The boys onboard tackle the all important task of fixing the coffee maker.

That little green fleck was the reason the machine wasn't working well.  It was stuck in a check valve in the bowels of the machine.

Day 5 - March 27th

We are now 25% of the way!
Great sailing conditions for the last 24 hours.  The best winds have been at night (15 to 20).  During the day the winds back off a little but made for beautiful trade wind reaching.  We have two more days of westing before we gybe over and aim for the equator near 135 West.  The long range weather model suggest we will encounter winds <10 knots in a week or so.  I hope the forecast improves because Shindig likes lots of wind on the stern.

We had a visit from a booby bird today.  It was very interested in the fishing lures and circled for  an hour diving occasionally to get a closer look.

JD got out the sextant and we looked at it.  It should be able to give us a latitude and longitude position but we can't figure out how to turn it on.

The crew feasted on penne pasta with red sauce and a salad for dinner.

last 24 hour miles: 145
Distance covered: 545
Distance to Nuka Hiva:2095

JD enjoying a morning coffee on his 5AM watch

JD plotting our daily position on paper charts

Sylvia driving downwind.  This was a popular sailing configuration for the first 1/3 of the passage.

Day 6 - March 28th

All is well onboard Shindig this evening.

In the morning Tom collected two flying fish that were on deck.  They are now bait but no takers.
In fact, we have been dragging lures in the daytime for 5 days without a bite.  We must be doing something wrong.

100% cloud cover today and good winds from the NE 12 to 20.  We are now sailing wing on wing and it is very comfortable compared to the broad reaching in 6 foot swells and chop for the last few days.

Todays highlights......

We open the "in case of scurvy" gift from Cliff and Donna.  In it we found delicious freeze dried fruits.  Yummy puffy fruit snack

Sylvia is getting to know the boat and spent three hours driving on her 11 to 2 watch.

Tonight was calm enough for movie night.  We enjoyed Passengers.

Last 24 hour miles: 157
Distance to Nuka Hiva:1945


Day 7 - March 29th

Today, on our 7th day at sea, we gybed.  After being on the same tack for 900+ miles it is time to slow down our westing aim more at Nuka Hiva.

The morning lull at sunrise relented and we continued making good speed in 15 to 20 knots of wind all day.

In the middle of the night I found myself chasing new noises.  You get used to the noises your boat makes.  It is quite noisy in fact when the boat is going fast and rolling a lot.  When a new thud, thunk or squeak shows up I always investigate to make sure something bad is or is about to happen.  I got harnessed in at 0100 and went on deck with my flashlight.  It was coming from the stern near the wind generator and new "squeak, squeak thud" only happens when the boat rolled hard on its side.  There is a little play in a wind generator bracket and I think that may be the culprit. (yes the same bracket where a bolt worked loose 5 days ago).  I used some lashing to preload tension in the bracket and went back to bed.  A short time later the boat rolled hard and "squeak, squeak" no thud.  Did I get it.....?

Tonight we are having chicken, turkey and gruyere crepes and cucumber salad.

PS.  Nancy has forwarded me some facebook comments to these position report.  It is fun to share them with everyone onboard.  Keep them coming.

Last 24 hour miles: 155
Distance to Nuka Hiva:1800

Day 7 treat bag from Mom and Dad!

Day 8 - March 30th

Today the sun came out in the morning and we have had some of the best trade wind sailing of the trip.  We are broad reaching in 15 knots and miles are flying by.

We are now more than 1/3 of the way and broke the 1000 mile mark.  If you know where, "in the middle of nowhere" is, well we past that a few days ago.

Today we opened a care package from from Mom and Dad.  It was labeled, "open after day 7".  It was full of fun snacks and everyone was very excited.  Thanks Mom and Dad!

JD had continued success in the Bad Noise Eradication Program(BNEP).  There are some wires in the mast that flop back and forth and make a racket.  It has been a lively sail and being that the mast is right next to JD's bunk we decided to tackle the project before he went crazy.   The solution involved a dremel tool, bungie cord and patience.  We are happy to report there is one fewer bad noises on board.

Our weather analysis today indicates that we will have these same good winds for a few more days and then we are likely to experience some rain and light winds.  We are enjoying these trade wind conditions and clear skies while we have them!

Chasing more noises.....  This project silenced wires that were slapping around inside the mast.

Day 9 - March 31st

146 miles completed in the last 24 hours.  Is is amazing how consistent our mileage has been in last 7 days. (154, 132, 145, 157, 155, 142 and 146)
As expected the clouds rolled in today and we have 90% cloud cover the wind is holding at 15 to 20 this afternoon.  It is a rambunctious ride as the sea state has grown to 6 to 8 ft and is confused.  There are also less significant wave trains from different directions.

This type of ocean sailing I call, "Endurance Sailing".  It is said that this three week trip will but more than 1 year of wear and tear on boat gear.  The goal is to make it without breaking people or gear and have a fun time.  No reason to take risks or subject the boat to stressful situations on purpose (that shit will happen on its own).  How is this different than the way we normally sail Shindig? For one, we are not flying the spinnaker in these conditions.  Sailing with the kite puts a lot of stress on the boat and requires a lot of crew attention.  Especially in 15 to 20 knot winds and 6 to 8 ft confused seas.  Another thing we have done for Endurance Sailing....  Inspect the rigging every day, re-rig sheet and guys to avoid chafe, and move control lines periodically to avoid chafe points.

Today we encountered rain and mild squall activity but the wind is still good and consistent.  The ITCZ (google it) is moving north into our path and we will need a plan to traverse it sooner than expected.  In the morning we'll get another set of weather data and modify our course to a skinny part of the ITCZ.

No fish today but when I pulled in one of the lines the hook on the lure was bent straight.  Something had a taste.... or it snagged on debris.

JD giving Tom some tips on celestial navigation

Sylvia getting some help at the helm from BooBoo Kitty

Day 10 - April 1

Yesterday was our best mileage day at 159.  Last night was our first with squally conditions.  The wind stayed with us though and the 15 to 20 knots pushed Shindig downwind with ease.  In the late morning Tom and I studied the weather and all the predictions for a long ITCZ in our path were reversed.  Odd for sure.  We decided to gybe and head a bit more south around noon.  With all hands on deck we over sheeted the main in close and flopped over.  The expected bang was followed by the pitter patter of torlon bearings bouncing on the deck.  The outhaul car on the boom broke.  No April fools.   JD and I got the outhaul car off the boom and collected as many of the bearings as we could find.  With all the bits and pieces on the floor of the cockpit it was clear that fixing the block was not going to be an easy option (car end plastic was cracked allowing bearings to escape).  We all channeled our inner McGyver and turned our attention to modifying an old staysail deck car to work.  Soon after we had the end of the boom off, fitted the modified staysail car, and.... Bobs your uncle. The fix worked!  Team Shindig is back on course and getting closer to the equator with every hour.

First serious breakage.  The outhaul car (right) lost 1/2 of its ball bearings do to a cracked end cap.

Lots of pieces

Rob and JD removing the end of the boom and fitting an old genoa car to replace the busted outhaul car.

Stay tuned for days 11 -> 20