Passage Log - Hawaii to Berkeley   

Hi Everyone,

It looks like tomorrow or the next day is the ONE. We're ready and once we get a preference from our weather routing service, we'll be off. The high as I've said before is WACKY!!!! This is a pretty safe bet this crossing will be a hodgepodge of sailing conditions. We'll probably start off with beautiful 15 kts out of the ENE (we will be going North so we'll be on a nice close reach), after 4 days of that or so we'll end up in highland and have to nurse the sails depending on the conditions. We'll hopefully have enough wind to move - fortunately Pacifica doesn't need that much wind to move along, so we're Ok with the challenge (though it will be tiring with all the sail changes). This will probably last for the rest of the trip minus the part which we get close to the Bay - then we'll have tons of wind probably.

It's really weird planning to leave on this trip having no idea what is going to happen with the weather. The good news is nothing bad looks like it's coming our way - and I guess that's as good as it gets. So we're ready to get out here and start making our way. What an adventure to look forward to.

We wish Matey knew what sorta deal she was getting. Since we will be leaving on the 1st or 2nd she'll be at sea for 4th of July. Last year she was still getting over the fireworks when we were down in So Cal (she was afraid to leave the boat in the dark). Fortunately she'll miss them this year and really I think if she had the choice she would take being at sea for three weeks over being around over the 4th of July.

We've had a good couple of days provisioning and enjoying the life here in Hanalei. Swimming off of the boat is one thing we are sure to miss. The water is around 81 degrees and clear. Bottom cleaning has been so easy to keep up with. There have been a few fish that have taken up residence under our hull - they are always fun to look at.

Oh, I almost forgot - we've had a request to give more information about the shave ice with beans. Greg has tried this (I took a bite but wasn't willing to give up my ice cream choice) and let's just say -- he's not doing again and doesn't recommend it. Not that it's a bad thing but it just didn't compare to ice cream at the bottom of your shave ice. We did have our final (so far, if we leave Monday, I think there is one more:-)) one, Greg chose Raspberry and Lycee over Macadamia Nut ice cream and I chose raspberry and vanilla over Macadamia Nut ice cream. We think they are both winners.

So, s/v Anna (Rich and Cat) are going to be leaving from Nawiliwili Harbor on Monday for the Northwest - so I'm sure you'll here us speak of them over the crossing. They had wanted to leave from Hanalei, but took a little exploration around the island and got stuck there. The trades have been really honking (as Don from Mexico would say) over the past couple of weeks so everyone's been hunkered down. We're really glad it lightened when we wanted to take off.

Well, I don't think there is much more to say, I'll send a note when we are off. As in the last passage, you can click on the "where are we now?' link on our web page (www.queserasailing.com) to see where we are (we send in reports daily). We'll try to update frequently during the trip, but really it will depend on weather and how we are feeling. Another place to check on us would be the Pacific Seafarer's Net which is at: http://www.pangolin.co.nz/yotreps/pacseanet.php. You would see our last report under our call sign of KI6EWS and it lists the conditions we are having. We'll show up on this list as soon as we are underway.

Also, as in the last time, email will be a big part of our day, so if you want to send us an email we would LOVE it, just be sure there are NO attachments (they can end our email exchanges for everyone!!!). Our address is XXXXX@xxxxx.xxx - we'll be sure to get back to you and you'll be providing welcome entertainment for us.

We'll talk again soon,

Melissa, Greg and Matey

DAY 2

s/v Pacifica

24 53' N

159 05' W

001 T

6.3 Kts

2037 miles to Berkeley

Last 24 hour mileage: 144 nautical miles

Ahoy there,

We took off from Hanalei yesterday morning around 8:30am. Most of yesterday was a bumpy windy ride with the bumpiness smoothing out later in the day (but still bumpy). The wind lightened a little today and the seas have smoothed out nicely. Yesterday we had a triple reefed main and Cecil (the staysail) most of the day. Cecil might get another go, but this morning we took him down and rolled out the Genoa (Greg is now pulling in a little bit of it). Of course SAL is steering.

We're doing okay. Greg and I both felt queasy yesterday. He's better but I still have waves of queasiness. It's been a long time since we've done extended upwind sailing. Matey seems to be adjusting also. She's not her perky talking to us self yet, but she is eating and taking care of bodily functions. I think just like us, she needs a few days to adjust to life at sea.

Pacifica though is in her element and doing her thing. She is such a great upwind sailor.

One scary thing is that I am already dreaming of sailing underneath the Golden Gate - or checking into the Seafarer's Net one last time to say we've arrived. I remember from last time during the crossing, it was always a festive feel when someone completed their passage. Believe me, after 21 days or so - it's a big deal. I just wish I wasn't thinking about it on day 2.

We had a hitchhiker last night, a red footed booby. He was so amazingly beautiful and it was fantastic to have him here over the evening. I got a couple of good pictures of him standing in our cockpit, but it'll have to wait till landfall for me to share. So he started off landing on our rolled up bimini which is in it's stowed position (imagine a big piece of fabric rolled up on a horizontal tube like an arch). Around 5am the bungee holding the arch broke free and our new friend came tumbling down into the cockpit (it literally scared the poop out of him and made a big mess). After frantically making sure he was okay and securing the bimini again, things settled down. Until he decided to jump on the bottom of the steering wheel to ease his way onto the cockpit seats. I was really worried about him swinging wildly hanging onto the wheel while his wings were flapping and he was trying to step through the spokes to the seat. Now through all this swinging there is a steering pedestal that he has to keep pulling his head away from. It was quite the show. He made it and relaxed sitting about 2 feet away from me staring at me with his cute little booby face. So I did what any hostess would do with a weary traveler : tried to talk a bit to him and offered him some water. He wasn't too keen on either, but he did seem to enjoy looking at me. Until a big wave came and he slid back to the floor once again. Then he settled on Matey's astroturf toilet, tucked his head back in his wings and took another nap. Boy was I jealous!!! Eventually as the morning wore on, I knew my little miss Matey would be needing to use the toilet, so I slowly approached our friend (by this time we was letting me pet him and even touch his bright red feet) picked him up and put him on the back seat. From here he was either startled by my picking him up, or just wanted to get moving because he flew away. And Matey quickly came out to use her toilet.

That's about it, there are 2 other boats doing the crossing and we've set up a morning net with them. The are s/v Anna a Tayana 37 with Rich and Cat aboard and s/v Hesperus, a modified Kirby 23 with Paul aboard (who is a singlehander). Both are heading to Seattle. We're really looking forward to seeing how Anna and Hesperus compare because although they are very different, they have the exact same PHRF rating. We are a little bummed to miss the America's Cup because it sounds like a great race this year, but we are thinking maybe this is our own America's Cup.

Well, time for my meatloaf sandwich so I better be going...

Melissa, Greg and Matey

DAY 4

s/v Pacifica

29 00' N

159 13' W

359 T

5.8 Kts

1924 miles to Berkeley

Last 24 hour mileage: 118 nautical miles

Aloha Everyone!!!

Things are much better aboard Pacific. Matey has resumed her 'talking' to us. So far this ride is turning out more comfortable that the Mexico to Hawaii trip - mainly because of the lack of rolling. We're just on a gentle heel, if it gets too much, we reef and it gets better. Much easier to cook and take care of necessary daily tasks. I'm not as queasy as on day 2, but I haven't tried reading again since day 1 (that's something that can lead me down the dark path), I think I'll wait a couple of more days. Greg is into his groove already, though he would be better if I would stop waking him for sail changes (he just seems to know what Pacific needs better than I do). We've been going through some fluky winds the past day or so, we head NW, then veer NE, main up, main down, Cecil up, Cecil down, jib rolled out, oops, make that rolled in a scooch (might be misspelled, I don't have access to dictionary.com right now). But that was all expected.

Yesterday the winds got very light at times (it's still only maybe 10 kts now and this is a high wind moment), and that with all the flukiness, we only made a straight line distance of 118 miles, our slowest day at sea (and hopefully to always be our slowest day).

We're not bored and eating well (lots of ready made stuff from Costco in the fridge and lots of yummy snacks). Greg has already gone through 2 books and is on his 3rd. I went through an audio book and am on my second and have enjoyed a number of podcasts. The ipod is our friend, we both love our ipods.

Oh, the status of our little Pacific High Cup, Hesperus is taking a more easterly attack, and we are suspicious our numbers from Anna yesterday were off - so it's too close to tell if one is gaining on the other. Just for clarity, the Pacific High Cup is just between Anna and Hesperus since the have the same PHRF rating. It would be unfair to include us in there. Pacifica is just too great of a sailing boat (our PHRF is much lower), we are steadily pulling away from both of them.

I've stopped focusing on sailing under the Gate and am now focused on getting to the 30 degree line. Since we're almost there, it's looking like we might get some spinnaker time in the next week or so as we start to turn East. Forecasts are showing that the wind will start to back around to come out of the SE by this evening. Then we'll be boogieing North while making some Easting between the high and the low. We don't know yet if we'll motor through the high or continue around it - it depends on where it is when we get closer.

Thank you sooo much for all of your emails!!! We really love hearing from you!!!

That's it from the s/v Pacifica,

Melissa, Greg and Matey

DAY 5

s/v Pacifica

30 44' N

158 31' W

35 T

6.4 Kts

1850 miles to Berkeley

Last 24 hour mileage: 125 nautical miles

HI, Just wanted to drop a quick note to let you know how we are doing since this is turning out to be such a fabulous day (and it's only 8am). The sky is sunny, the light breeze we had throughout the night backed slightly so we are able to make some nice easting. In fact, we have put up our spinnaker and are moving along at about 6.3 kts in about 9 kts of wind - man, Pacifica is GOOD....

It looks like we will be in following winds for possibly the rest of the trip with the other side of the high being mostly broad reaching, maybe some beam reaching.

Oh, I should also mention we have about a 4 ft SE swell that is running with a very long period. So the boat is very comfortable allowing Greg to whip up some wonderful scrambled eggs with veggies and ham (and I'm able to do the dishes). A little sidenote, we've made a point of stocking up at Costco (before we left Hawaii) for a good bit of easy ready made meals. The reason for this is s/v Adagio. You might remember them from the Mexico to Hawaii crossing. Well, they tormented us throughout the passage of wonderful meals while we were mostly eating whatever was easiest (though to keep the record straight, they didn't do it the easy Costco way, Pam just worked her little heart out - and later said she wouldn't do that again ;-)). So thanks, Adagio - you've had a good influence on us.

Another exciting event is this afternoon we'll have our 'crossing the 500 mile mark celebration' (which we did in the dark hours of the morning). We highly recommend them for a long passage. We just have little surprises that I picked up, then wrapped. Greg will have to go in and choose one of the packages for us to enjoy. It helps to mark the milestones of the passage (kinda so we don't focus on the end, but the little baby steps along the way). This go around, I picked them all out. Next time and our recommended procedure would be to have each of us pick out a couple so everyone has an equal chance to be surprised. But this way also works, since they are wrapped and I purchased them about 2 months ago when we first got to Hawaii, I only have a vague recollection of what they are.

So, if we can just order up the same type of fabulous sailing we've had so far for the rest of the trip - we'll be happy sailors.

Oh...Oh... another interesting tidbit - power.... We have been using a towing generator along with our solar panels and haven't had to turn on the engine once since leaving Hanalei (and that was just to steer us out of the anchorage). In fact, we've been generating so much power that we've had to turn off the solar panels for a couple of hours on some days. That's definitely a good position to be in out here. It conserves our fuel for moving us if we need it since we only have enough fuel for about 2.5 days of motoring.

 

Melissa, Greg and Matey

DAY 7

s/v Pacifica

35 04' N

154 19' W

45 T

6.7 Kts

1551 miles to Berkeley

Last 24 hour mileage: 155 nautical miles

 

Hi Everybody,

Melissa is now asleep off watch, so I'm taking over her computer. While I hate to jinx things by even bringing this up, so far this passage back home has been the most pleasant ocean sailing I have ever done. Now just hold on a sec while I reach over to knock on this wood bulkhead. For the last few days we have been beam to broad reaching in winds generally 10 to 15 knots. For the most part the seas have been very comfortable. I can remember one evening in particular that I was laying in my berth off watch and it felt like the wind machine must have turned off completely - there was almost no sensation of movement. It turns out we were actually moving along at a brisk 7 knots in almost totally flat seas. Last night it was a but bumpier, but the day before that we had a spinnaker run of about 30 hours where not a single sail adjustment needed to be made. Sal, our Sailomat windvane, has been admirably performing all steering duties without a single complaint.

Every day has been a beautiful sunny affair with puffy white clouds here and there. All of this sun, and our good boat speed turning the trolling generator, means we have an embarrassment of riches in the power department. We are now in Day 7 and have not even come close to having to run the engine to charge the batteries. This is the longest period of time since we left Berkeley last August that we have not needed to run the engine for power (not counting the two weeks at the Kaneohe Yacht Club with plug-in power). As a matter of fact we sometimes need to turn off the output of the solar panels to keep the batteries from getting overcharged. Now if only we had purchased that ice cream maker before we left...

Everyone is totally in the groove now. Melissa's bit of queasiness is history, and Matey is quick to tell us when she feels it's time to play. The only downside is watching the water temp noticeable drop in a daily basis. We started around 80 degrees in Hawaii and the latest reading is 69.4. So much for my vision of a mid-ocean swimming stop. Last night was the first evening of noticing it is definitely getting cool and damp for the night watch. We will certainly be missing the warm evenings and water that begs to be dived in.

Two more boats are joining our Pacific High ssb radio net. AKA with Ed and Fran left Hawaii Thursday en route to Emeryville. Sea Star is en route to Vancouver also from Hawaii.

Here's a little note on the spec we give for distance to Berkeley. That is measured in a straight line from our current position, which is not what we are actually sailing. Due to the way the pressure systems work out here, we first need to sail a fair distance north of Berkeley before turning to more of a straight run for home. Berkeley is just shy of Latitude 38 and we will most likely head up to about 40 degrees (120 nautical miles further north) before we even allow ourselves to look for the barn. About 1 day from now we should hit our 1,000 mile mark from Hanalei Bay. All of the weather info we are able to get our hands on shows no real concern for us hitting any heavy weather. If anything, we may have a few days that will be a bit lighter than we prefer.

Other than Melissa's Booby, we have not had any wildlife encounters out here. Pretty quiet on that front. s/v Anna about 150 miles behind us did have a scare when they sailed within about 30 feet of a floating 55 gallon steel drum. That sort of thing definitely gives me the willies. While we can easily enough avoid other boating traffic, we really depend upon the grace of God to keep serious flotsam out of our path. Particularly at night there is no way you could avoid that sort of thing. Luckily it's a big ocean and the chance of Pacifica and a floating steel container being in the same place at the same time is barely worth worrying about - which of course does not stop us from worrying abut it.

Cheers,

Greg, Melissa and Matey

DAY 9

s/v Pacifica

37 41' N

149 48' W

89 T

6.8 Kts

1302 miles to Berkeley

Last 24 hour mileage: 157 nautical miles

 

OK, Join in with me -- Happy Birthday to you.....(Come on, you know the song) Happy Birthday to you.... Happy Birthday to GREEEEGGGG...Happy Birthday to you.

Yep, it's Greg's Birthday today. And if I know him, this is exactly the way he would dream to spend his birthday (minus the cold, overcast, drizzle and 63 degree water). He's snoozin and I'm in charge -- HAH!!!!! If you are plotting our course or checking our position on the charting link, you might notice that we've made the BIG RIGHT into San Francisco. Last night I was pouring over the GRIB files plotting where we would be so many days out and trying to guess our weather. When I woke Greg at 4 am for his watch I gave him a little taste of his own medicine....

Pause for background....

I am a bit of a planner (not as extreme as some), but when a plan is in place I'm most comfortable proceeding with the plan and I get uncomfortable with changes (I usually need my adjustment time). Greg on the other hand happily jumps in with two feet (though I'm sure he contemplates on his own for a bit). An example of this happened as we were leaving Muertos for Frailes (we were piggy backing on a Norther that had just gone through so we would have good wind). The plan was to leave at about 6am, well Greg woke me at 1am saying, 'Let's go now...' He had all his ducks in a row justifying his reasons, I begrudgingly got out of bed and we left at 1 am and had the most fabulous crossing.

Now, where was I.... Yes, I woke him this morning and pleaded my case for turning right now instead of waiting two days. He got a new GRIB file, looked over it and agreed, so by the time I woke for my 7am shift, we were heading due EAST for the GATE.

You see, there is this low that we've been riding since around 30 degrees that is changing it's course and heading due East (over us). If we turn now, we stand a good chance to ride it in a not so windy zone, but if we kept heading North, there was a good chance it would snocker us with high winds then blow over us, then leave us in an area of fickle winds. We're hoping to ride this one for a bit, then catch a ride on the next one between us and SF. This plan will only work if the HIGH really does flake out and weaken. Of course we can't see too far out, it seems anything past 2 days is GRIB file creater's best guess and likely to change. But at least you can see possible trends.

So, yesterday we had our 1000 mile celebration, today we will have Greg's Birthday celebration and in a couple of days we'll have our halfway celebration -- whew we're having lots of celebrations this go around!!!!

Matey is still doing well, playful as ever. She's gotten into the habit of greeting the new watch person at the wake up time by stuffing her nose in the half awake person's face. It's really cute in a love your doggie kinda way. When she wants a treat she's started going through the bathroom motions - minus the actual bathroom product, what a little trickster.... She's in the phase of going outside to check if we are there yet. She went through this last time where she goes outside and sniffs into the wind. What's really cute is when Greg or I join her.

An interesting tidbit is to learn just how many boats are out here. When we left, we knew of 2 other boats, but along the way our little net has grown from 3 boats to 7 boats. Today was the first time for a lot of them so I had to act as net control so we weren't all talking on top of each other and everyone could have their questions answered. It's interesting that we are all within 500 miles of each other, all having left Hawaii for the Northwest, Canada or California and all deciding their own departure date. But I guess since there are so many of us out here, we better keep a closer eye out, we still haven't seen any traffic.

Last night we had a wonderful big chicken salad for dinner and some steamed potatoes. Since our lettuce is going, besides for a side salad tonight, it'll be cabbage salads from now on. Most of our fresh veggies are gone also. And sadly we only have half a loaf of bread -- I know, I know, I could make that, but I'm not....

 

Until next time, Melissa, Greg and Matey

DAY 11

s/v Pacifica

37 44' N

143 06' W

95 T

6.8 Kts

984.7 miles to Berkeley (south entrance of marina)

Last 24 hour mileage: 150 nautical miles

 

Still alive.... but a bit rough around the edges. Last night was pay back time. Up until now we've been sending you a series of reports about how fantastic the sailing conditions have been on this passage. This one's gonna be a little different.

We had been tracking a fairly strong low pressure system that was to the northwest of us, and we knew that we would be coming under it's influence starting late yesterday afternoon. According to the grib files it did not look like it would be too bad for us. Maybe 20 knots from the beam (later shifting to behind us) with some rain and cold temps. The first hint that maybe it would be a bit more was from s/v Anna who is well to the west of us and so got hit first. Their radio report told us they were experiencing winds around 27 knots and fairly big, steep seas. Hmmmm.

As late afternoon came upon us, so did the first signs of rain and a gradually building wind. By sometime around midnight we were in it up to our ears. The very cold wind was now at least a solid 30 knots with higher gusts. Of course the wind is rarely the big problem in these situations, it's always the waves. These freshly brewed up waves were big, steep and kinda mean. By "big" I don't mean huge, maybe 8 to 9 feet tops, but by "steep" I do mean STEEP. They can pack quite a wallop when they slam into the hull at just the right intersecting angle. BOOM! Matey is sooo not a fan. Of course all of this has to happen in middle-of-the-night-pitch-black conditions. I'm not sure if it's good or bad not to see the waves.

It is now morning and the worst has definitely passed. We've got about 20 knots and are making good time with a double reefed main and Cecil (the staysail) up front. We are on a course due East to Berkeley. Wind is from the North. There are even a couple of tiny holes in the cloud cover with blue sky poking through.

Greg, Melissa and Matey

DAY 13

s/v Pacifica

37 30' N

136 38' W

100 T

6.5 Kts

680.5 miles to Berkeley (south entrance of marina)

Last 24 hour mileage: 142 nautical miles

Whew! I think this morning I finally feel comfortable saying and thinking that the LOW Pressure experience is really behind us. It was pretty uncomfortable, and I do have to admit of being pretty scared that first night. It was mostly of the unknown about what type of system was going to come over us and what it had in store for us. Pacifica handled it so well, she kept us as comfortable as I believe possible and she kept us moving in really good time so we were still clicking off miles to head home. s/v Anna was the only other boat in our little group to get caught in it. Luckily Hesperus was just outside of the LOW - I don't want to imagine going through it in his 23 foot boat.

Everyone else in our little group is fighting the light winds, so I guess the fact that we are still moving along nicely wing and wing in about 20 kts is our reward for withstanding the pounding. Though the mood aboard is still a little raw as we recover from the past couple of days. Even Matey has a look on her face wondering when this madness is going to end. We keep promising her play sessions in the park and walks on land and seeing her friends in her old play group, I wish there was some way to get her to understand. But surprisingly through all of it she made regular trips to the bathroom and food/water bowl - though we did do our best to flatten the boat out as much as possible when she was taking care of business.

Last night we moved the dinghy which had been on the cabin top (right next to the chimney) to the cockpit so we could light the heater. We had a cozy night huddled up below while monitoring the radar. We saw 2 ships yesterday - one in the late afternoon and another in the wee hours of the night. The first one didn't answer us on the radio, but Greg talked to the second. Unfortunately they can't see us on their radar even with our radar reflector up. We are having to be much more diligent as we approach San Francisco, basically we are a straight line due West out of the Gate about 700 miles.

So, we're expecting an arrival of late night Wednesday to afternoon on Thursday. We'll be happy with whatever we get, we are pretty focused on looking forward to standing under the hot shower for a LONG LONG time. So notice Berkeley marina residents, get your showers in before we get there....

Greg, Melissa and Matey

DAY 16

s/v Pacifica

37 50' N

128 53' W

90 T

6.3 Kts

311 miles to Berkeley (south entrance of marina)

Last 24 hour mileage: 124 nautical miles

 

The past 3 days have been basically slowish, we're making miles in the 125 mile day. Though yesterday we did have a few hours of 15 kts as another cold front passed over us (this one much weaker than that LOW Pressure system a few days ago). It made for some nice fun sailing (a few hours of over 7 kts), then literally within about 15 minutes it totally died, it was the weirdest thing how it shut off so suddenly. I would have totally thought systems need some ramp down time, but now, one minute we're walking around like monkeys (hanging on as the boat is heeled over), the next looking at each other saying, "I think it's dying down", then the next thing we know sails are flogging in the sloppy seas. Then we spend the next 12 hours flopping around. Sound fun? Wanna be here? We still enjoy it, don't get me wrong, we aren't at all about to move onto land or turn in the sailing life. But after 16 days at sea, we're ready for a nice walk around the marina and some nice land activities.

We've been enjoying a few radio conversations with Todd Townsend (BYC again) over our SSB/HAM radio. He monitors us when we check into the Pacific Seafarer's Net and we usually go to another frequency for some chatting afterwards. It's been interesting to notice that our conversations which earlier in the trip we could hear fine on the higher frequencies, now as we are closing in on SF, we need to chat on lower frequencies. Just another sign we are getting closer.

So, other than that brief bit of wind we've been struggling along at about 4-5.5 kts with the jib alone (since the main makes so much noise flopping around we can't stand to have it up). This morning our speed dropped to the 3 kt range, we turned on the engine and ended our dreams of sailing the entire way. It would have been nice, but we aren't gluttons for punishment - and hey, Pacific isn't a fuel barge, it's okay to use it. Matey is loving the light conditions, the sun has come out a bit and now that the seas are flatter she's planted herself out on the stern seat in the cockpit to watch the waves go by (or look out for land, whatever you choose to believe). Today will also give us some time to make a yummy dinner which includes chopping (one thing we haven't been motivated about in the rolly conditions) and maybe even a batch of brownies.

We are still seeing our arrival as about Thursday afternoonish for those of you interested.

Later,

Melissa, Greg and Matey