Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Day 8- wildlife and guesstimates

Time: 1700 Zulu (noon PV time)
Position: 17-deg 19-min N 116-deg 11-min W
Wind: N 12-knots Seas: NW 2-ft
Course: 277 T Speed: 5.6-knots
Rig: single-reefed main, 100% jib
24-hr distance traveled/miles made good to Hilo: 114-nm/112-nm

We've been eating well with garlic-chicken-bell-pepper-quinoa for dinner last night and stick to your ribs hot Red River cereal (Thanks Mum!) for breakfast this morning. Sleep schedules are also working quite well. However, we're trying to figure out where Chris can take an extra hour of watch since Shawn's responsibilities above and beyond standing watch (feeding all of us, dishes, radio net checkins, blogging) seem to be taking up more of her sleep time than Chris' additional tasks (SPOT, GRIB file, kitty litter cleaning, trash dumping). Today we tried the sunrise hour which was great for Shawn's sleep, but Chris had trouble falling asleep once daylight and was further tempted to listen in on the Amigo Net. So maybe tomorrow instead, he'll come onto the graveyard shift an hour earlier...

This morning dawned with 2 boobies stubbornly resting on our front pulpit. After chasing off four others earlier in the night, Chris let these two hitchhikers stick around and they didn't take flight until after a photo shoot with Shawn. Speaking of wildlife, yesterday just before sunset, we were joined by a pod of cetaceans. We didn't actively see them at first, but we heard their echo-location clearly from inside the cabin. Dolphins? We went on deck and strained to see them. Finally, what looked like round-nosed-triple-sized dolphins were spotted swimming sleekly below our keel. Not too many surfaced, but when they did, definitely cetaceans but unlikely dolphins. Our book confirmed, 25-30 pilot whales were surrounding our boat. All of a sudden we heard a thump and our hull shook as one of the starboard side whales bumped our boat. Thump, and then again, thump. Each time felt like Tao was slamming into a steep wave. Being so far off shore and surrounded by these creatures half the size of our boat demonstrating what might be aggressive behavior was quite a disconcerting feeling. What to do? Are there recommended protocols for situations like this- like what you do if you come across a bear in the wilderness? Chris took control of the helm from Moni, Shawn put on her life vest. Do we turn around? Heave to to stop our momentum? Turn on the engine? Another thump. Shawn could hear the underwater communication loudly down below and remembered reading something about the sonar from depth sounders disturbing whales so she flicked it on. Soon after, whether due to the sonar or just disinterest, the echo-locating ceased and the pod turned southward leaving us, adrenaline pumping, to continue on our way.

There has definitely been a diurnal pattern we've noted with winds abating during the nights and strengthening during the morning/afternoon (and sometimes sunset) shifts. At these times, we're constantly putting in and shaking out reefs in our mainsail. This is the first time we've spent so many miles sailing on a beam reach in which we really need our main, and we're very grateful to have put in that 3rd reef (thanks Sweetie). We're making our way into the N winds and are still gaining westing (and even some northing back). Last night we past 115-deg W so only 40-deg of longitude left to go. As this is a daunting thought we've been looking at it in much more manageable chunks to avoid getting overwhelmed. Still, we did place our guesstimates about time from Isla Soccoro to Hilo. Trying not to go over, Chris' bet is on 23 days and Shawn's a mere day later. What do you think?


  1. I think you're about 25% of the way there from where you started. Sounds like some interesting wildlife adventures today. And the menu sounds great. Remember to laugh some every day. Love you lots, Mum

  2. wow. exciting! i'm closely following your route and adventures, thanks for the updates everyday!

  3. I guess my first attempt didn't go through. Good thing they were pilot whales. I had fishing customers in Kona who used their 1,000 watt Westmar scanning sonars to ward off pesky dolphins, around schools of Ahi. Ahi good, Flipper bad. It worked.
    Len Withihgton, Jr. Toni/Ty off the S/V Sundowner brother On FaceBood

  4. Oh yes. My guess is 20 days. An old Transpac race official. Think fast
    Len Withington, Jr. FaceBook

  5. that whale scenario sounds SO scary!!! and so beautiful at the same time!! it's what we in the biz call "sublime," yo. Awesome, beautiful, terrifying. I wish I were a fly on the wall. I'd say "I wish I were there," but that'd be too close for comfort, given my ocean fears. But majestic, so wish I could've seen it!! Nice work on the echo-location instincts Shawn!! wonder what kinds of pilot whale stories you'll hear about from all your adventuring friends.... what's the worse that could happen, I wonder??? So glad you're all still upright. love sarah