Friday, May 18, 2012

Day 8- Dolphins, pilot whales, and heavier weather

Time: 2200 Zulu (noon Hawaii time)
Position: 05-deg 13-min N 159-deg 10-min W
Wind: ENE 17+ Seas: E 5-8-ft
Avg. Course: 192 T
Avg. Speed: 4.9-knots
Rig: 80% jib
24-hr distance traveled: 118-nm
Distance to Fanning Island: 80.2-nm

First order of business, awning up to create a cockpit enclosure, our haven, free from much of the exposure (Thanks to Ivett from Stitch in Time in Puerto Vallarta). Second, hang wet cushions from recent leeward wave wash. Third, cut up pineapple for snacking pleasure. Following the pattern that we had seen over the past few days, fresh winds continued to lighten into the afternoon, and at 1330 Chris added triple-reefed main to the sail area for the afternoon.

Up from her afternoon nap, Shawn did a quick inventory of freshies and quickly changed dinner plans to veggie stirfry in order to use carrots and peppers that would hold no longer. How to feed the crew is never far from Shawn's mind and Chris says her Achilles heel is the fresh produce- always buying too much to use and then racing against time to use what we can. In terms of the fresh items, this passage has been more frustrating than others. It seems we are more frequently pulling items to use just a little too late. We could chalk this up to the fact that we did a bulk CostCo run a few days earlier than in a perfect world, or that we left 5 days later than planned. But after thinking about it, Shawn has decided that a big part of it is that all of the fresh vegetables one buys in Hawaii are pretty much on their way out already- very little is actually grown on the islands, everything else is shipped in from afar (often times Mexico and California but as frequently from Asia). We had no idea how good we had it provisioning in Mexico, where much of the food is actually grown!

Dinner was accompanied by another fabulous sunset, changing colors, and getting brighter with each moment. The highpoint of Shawn's night watch was being visited by a pod of dolphin at just past midnight. In the starless cloud filled sky, it was impossible to actually see the dolphin. However, the phosphorescent streaks marked where they were exactly. They were actually surfing the ocean waves into our bow waves. It was like watching masterful surfers catching the waves and performing cutbacks to stay on them. A great way to change watches! Chris' night watch was less exciting as winds were a bit fluky and cloud cover increased until reaching 100%. Light came just in time for him to see a squall envelop us, high winds on the leading edge and then buckets of rain after, lasting nearly an hour. The day was promising to be a cloudy one, and at the beginning of Shawn's watch we pulled the main down to prepare for obviously oncoming squalls. Several squalls marched past and the biggest (enough to overpower our 80% jib for us to need to turn more off the wind) stayed awhile. These squalls are packing more of a punch with leading edge winds in the 20-knot range followed by heavy rains.

Noon again, both of us on deck in the steamy rain, and a small pod of pilot whales chose this moment to join us in our decision making process. What is this weather? It is not on our weather gribs (of course according to Don Anderson, squalls are impossible to forecast, you forecast them with your eyes and your radar so, of course the weather models don't see this). Where did our idyllic trade wind weather go? Did the ITCZ expand since we last saw it forecast? We are rapidly approaching Fanning Island, and at this pace will have to heave to for part of the night to time reaching our outer waypoint by 0700ish. Send good weather thoughts our way for our (hopefully) last 24-hrs before landfall.


  1. Almost there! Darn squalls! Hope good weather accompanies your arrival. Looking forward to your next update . . . .

    Hugs and purrs,
    Mum and Griz

  2. Aloha Tao! Keep an eye out for our friends Chris & Lila on the Privateer, they should be arriving in Fanning within the week. Wish we were there to catch up and explore the island! Hope all is well- Keao & Iwa on Kainani(we met last May in Radio Bay)