Saturday, June 4, 2011

Day 19- we found your lost piling...

Time: 1700 Zulu (noon PV time)
Position: 19-deg 12-min N 144-deg 22-min W
Wind: NE 11-knots Seas: NE 6-ft
Avg. Course: 273 T Avg. Speed: 5.2-knots
Rig: triple-reefed main, 80% jib
24-hr distance traveled: 125-nm
Distance to Hilo: 959-nm

We are extremely happy that Tao was built super tough. She takes a licking and keeps on ticking. Well, todays licking initially sounded like a wave stopping our boat, but was actually a barnacle covered piling. WTF? Yes, that's what we said too. It was during the sunset watch change and both of us happened to be down below. Shawn signing on, Chris ready for the bunk. We'd just finished our dinner (Kung Pao Chicken) and the sun hadn't quite set yet, when Smack! Tao stalled a second and continued on. "What the hell was that?" queried Shawn from the head. "Just another wave", assured Chris. In response we heard a thump, thump, thump. Chris sprang up on deck watched the tiller bounce up and down a couple times and then said, "it's a LOG". Shawn appeared on deck just behind him to see a 30-ft tall telephone pole sized, what we can only assume to be a piling, completely covered with barnacles bobbing horizontally, directly in our wake. Back down below Chris was pulling off all the bilge covers looking for inflow and Shawn was (clipped in) hanging over the bow to see below the waterline as the boat climbed up each wave. Nothing. Both of us found nothing.

Disconcerted, we waited. Still no water in the bilges, we discussed what we thought had happened. We decided that Tao must have t-boned the log floating horizontally at 5-knots, that was the first noise. Then it was pushed below water and as we continued sailing forward at a much reduced speed, it found our keel and was pushed down along the keels profile (the second set of noises), not coming back up until much past our rudder and wind vane blade. All of a sudden we were extra grateful that Tao has a full keel with a keel hung rudder. Still concerned, we decided to unload the V-berth and check more closely from inside. Chris passed all the fresh food items and several bins of canned goods, several sails, four 5-gallon jugs of water, yoga mats, backpacks etc. aft to Shawn. We both scrutinized the inside of the hull from the bow aft, nothing. Phew. We will continue to monitor and do a detailed assessment in the water when we reach Hilo unless it becomes necessary before that. We feel the Pacific has presented us with ample tastes of several dangers to be found in her waters and we would greatly appreciate getting to Hilo without experiencing any others...

Besides that excitement, we started the day with the previous evenings fresh dinner rolls slathered with cream cheese and topped with capers (thanks Cats Paw!) and lemon. (FYI lox and bagels are better without the bagels than without the lox...) The afternoon turned sunny and sailing was perfect with just the 80%, though at its lower wind range. It wasn't until post-log-experience and nightfall that the winds declined to below 10-knots and refused to return. Up went the triple-reefed-main for some attempted stabilization. The light winds shifted a little more easterly and we couldn't quite head where we wanted to without completely shadowing the jib. So, slowly we continued on heading a bit more northerly than 270-deg. Chris spotted yet another vessel off our port- this time it never got closer than 10-nm. With the amount of time we could see the glow of its lights and the AIS reporting that it was "limited in maneuverability", we think it was a fishing vessel quite far off shore.

As daylight slowly came, a fresh breath of wind filled in- though not as much as was expected. Shawn had her daily morning radio conversations with Don Anderson, the Amigo Net, heard Dream Keeper (but they couldn't hear her), and our "buddy" boat Commotion (who has been only a couple hundred miles behind us since repairing their auto-helm during their first attempt for Hawaii). When Chris awoke, Shawn filled him in on all the weather and updates she'd heard on the radio. Over chicken and kidney bean burritos, we discussed which option we should implement to increase sail area for the rest of what is turning into a light wind but gorgeous day.


  1. OUCH! Glad to hear all seems to be OK and hope it continues that way. It's Ithaca Festival weekend here, so it's rainy and chilly as always. Got 2 SPOTs from you today. Keep up your forward momentum and great positive attitudes. Love you lots, Mum

  2. THUD-WHAM-WHAP - Shades of old BatMan & Robin episodes. Here on the River in the 1000 Islands my friend Pete call's them "Wood Wolf's". Must run in the family since I hit my 2nd one this season while you guys were "Pole Vaulting" with TAO. Here our problem is caused by ultra high water, "harvesting" logs and boards from the shores. Glad you weren't in the 25-30mph range with a spinning prop when your phone pole piling appeared. Infinitesimal statistics do happen too, eh? Ultimately we all sail & cruise by grace. May it continue to be with us all - Dad