Monday, 26 June 2017

Update

Dear Friends;

NOTE: this update will be sent to our Dispatch List once we get a Sailmail connection...

Greetings from the Gulf of Alaska Seamount Province! Our GPS advises us that on our rhumb line, there are 499 nautical miles to our waypoint at Cape Edgecumbe at the entrance to Sitka Sound. As you may imagine, we are beginning to anticipate landfall after 40 days (so far) at sea. During our voyage we crossed the International Dateline and discovered the day we lost in Fiji eight years ago. We also gave back three hours borrowed while adventuring.

The sea around us is mostly a gun metal gray and the sky, completely overcast, the color of old pewter. We spot bits of giant kelp and logs that remind us we are no longer in the tropics where we would more likely see flotsam of bamboo and bobbing coconuts. The cold continues as we head north in spite of the emergence of summer in this beautiful corner of the world. It seems the high latitude trumps all. Yesterday, by contrast, we had almost perfect sailing - a broad reach with brilliant sunlight and a sparkling sea - and huddled under the dodger out of the wind and, like lizards on fLat rock, let the sun warm our faces as we watched the magnificent sea slip by.

The nights are short here where the earth's circumference is diminished, and there has been no true darkness - where the sea surface is invisible in an inky blackness - for days now. The north Pacific is cold, though the hull temperature is actually rising (up three degrees from a low of 41 F) and that's made a difference in the comfort level in the cabin. We are still bulging with layers and layers of undergarments and polarfleece and have piles of gloves in various stages of dryness hanging about the cabin, but getting out of the warm bunk to a mug of hot tea isn't quite as hard as it was 1,000 nm ago. We are sharing a hooded fleece-lined "great coat" and have a change of watch routine wherein we pass the coat, often in the red glow of the confined cabin. The off-watch then scampers for the bunk before it loses the warmth left behind by its previous occupant. Thus we are truly "hot-bunking".

We are STILL eating well, thanks to Philip's diligence, but we've probably shed a pound or two keeping warm despite our continuous eating. There is still a corner of red cabbage in the fridge, and a potato or two, but otherwise we're dependent on preserved food. We bake fresh bread every few days and look forward each morning to high-fat comfort-food peanut butter on toast. We have also become capable nappers, with skills rivaling those of cats or newborn babies.

With only a little under 500 nautical miles to our destination, you would think that we only have an additional 4 or 5 days or so until we reach Sitka. However, we hesitate to speculate given the fact we just discovered a tear in the belly of our much-beloved and hard-working genoa that's been on duty nearly non-stop for the entire passage. We can unfurl perhaps one third of the whole sail before the tear appears; this limits the effective sail area significantly. Coincidentally, we are just coming into the influence of a forecasted low pressure system that will give us stronger winds for at least two days, so we are running with staysail and reefed main and making about 4 - 4.5 knots. If we need a bit more headsail, we can still use the undamaged portion of the genoa, so there is no serious issue with making headway. Should we get calm or lighter winds before we reach Sitka, we can effect a repair or swap the sail out with our spare. If not, we'll do so in port.

So that is the latest issue to be dealt with. Other recent problems we have successfully tackled, during the daylight hours under benign conditions include: replacing a broken engine starter, exchanging a failing v-belt to the raw water pump, soldering a capricious radar power cable and replacing a sheared stainless steel bolt securing a padeye for a fairlead block at the port side of the coaming. Yesterday, we were completely surprised to discover damage to the SAME cotter pin holding the latch pin of the Monitor wind vane and had to replace it once again, though it only involved one of us hanging over the stern this time.

On the other hand, our KISS wind generator has been humming away, giving us ample power when the wind is blowing, a plus when the slanting sun is rarely visible through clouds or fog. Our AIS unit has also been a godsend, warning us of huge cargo ships that are passing nearby; ships with flags of convenience from Panama, Malta, Cyprus and Liberia bound for exotic west-bound destinations of Singapore, Japan, China and east bound to the considerably less exotic port of Everett, WA. One ship's mate actually called us on the VHF radio as we passed three miles away and inquired as to our well-being, indicating we were brethren of the sea. That brought a smile to our morning.

Our current position is 53 degrees 45 minutes north and 149 degrees 13 minutes west and we're heading 066 degrees true. Our best guess now as to when we might make landfall is this coming weekend, probably July 1st or 2nd. All this depends on the vagaries of the sea and weather.

Your friends of the yacht Carina,

Philip, Leslie and the spirit of the fat cat, Jake
website: www.sv-carina.org


At 6/26/2017 and 15:10 UTC (GMT) our position was: 53°53.90'N / 148°36.15'W.
We were traveling 069T degrees true at 4.4 knots.

Friday, 23 June 2017

Day 37 - 3754 nm Run

The summer soltice has come and gone but as we push north, the days are still, for us, getting longer and longer. Or perhaps I should say, the nights are getting shorter! As I write, we're inching towards 51N, hampered by NNE wind. Nights now aren't getting completely dark even with our continuously cloud-enshrouded sky. By 1 am (we're on GMT -11) there is a definite glow in the eastern sky though it has only been marginally dark a few hours.

We are now well east of Dutch Harbor and moving towards the Gulf of Alaska with about 878 nm to Sitka Sound. The water temperature has risen a couple of degrees and that's made a big difference in the comfort level in the cabin. It's still chilly but it doesn't feel as much like a walk-in refrigerated steam bath as it did 1000 nm ago.

For a few days we've been dealing with a high pressure system and its light winds. It has been a struggle to keep moving in the right direction sometimes. By this time tomorrow we expect to have better winds, but we will believe that when it happens. Meanwhile, we're dealing with maintaining our little vessel, getting sufficiently rested and well fed, and staying chipper.

On the list were a new V belt for the engine water pump, replacing the failed starting motor, and soldering a corroding shield wire line on the power cable of the radar.

With light winds at night we can hear the chittering nearby of a sea bird, perhaps a northern fulmar, whose stocky build we have seen in daylight hours. We were visiting again last night by a fur seal who frolicked in the shallow swell, zipping and reeling through the water like a torpedo, sending up a phosphorescent glow, and periodically surfacing and emitting a sharp POOF of air.

At 6/22/2017 and 18:04 UTC (GMT) our position was: 50°57.46'N / 158°30.14'W.
We were traveling 091T degrees true at 3.8 knots.

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Wednesday, 14 June 2017

//WL2K - Carina Dispatch - Update - Day 28

Dear Friends;

We continue to make progress though we had a few days stuck in a sunny high pressure system with very little wind resulting in runs less than three figures in 24 hours. We made up for that the following day with the best run of this passage so far: 128 nm. We paid for those miles though; close hauled on a starboard tack, wind gusting over 30 kts, 3+ meter seas, rain and cold, Carina driving through the seas and often falling off the peaks, landing with a gathump that jarred every molecule aboard. An uncomfortable night for sure.

We have seen few vessels on AIS but only one visually as we've mostly been engulfed in fog. This morning we had our first official gale, winds generated by a deep low passing west of us on its way to the Aleutians. The hull temp is 46F. Our GPS says we have less than ~1,650 nm to go but, as all sailors know, it lies.

The Laysan albatrosses are back with us, wheeling across the sky and skimming the waves. We had a couple of days in a row where dolphins and minke or pilot whales visited. Philip muttered "I sure hope he knows what he is doing" when one whale surfaced and blew 20' from Carina's starboard quarter. Eventually, they disappeared and we haven't seem them since. Another surprise visitor was an eared pinniped (fur seal?), ~4' long, that swam up to Carina's side and frolicked around for about an hour. We were shocked to see such an animal so far from shore (we thought they stayed close to land). He obviously wanted to come aboard - he kept rising from the water and examining the deck - but our freeboard was too high and our lifeline netting prevented access. Eventually he too went away.

We have had a few instances of "issues" with which we've had to deal. This is pretty much expected on such a long trip. A few days ago, Leslie was was making routine rounds of the cockpit when she looked down at the paddle of our self-steering Monitor wind vane and exclaimed "Holy #@$&^%! - the hinge pin on the Monitor paddle is about to come out!" So in a flash we took in our genoa and staysail, hove to, removed all the impediments from the stern: sliced the lashings of the half-high Phifertex weathercloths, untied fenders, lifted the Danforth stern anchor inboard, moved throw cushions, etc., in order to gain unimpeded access to the Monitor. Philip reached over the stern on the port side and Leslie snaked her body through the narrow opening on the starboard side, one time thinking she might get swept overboard as Carina rose up and over a 3 meter swell, tilting the stern sharply downward. (She was tethered in so if she'd gone overboard she would have at least still been attached to the boat). Leslie jammed a screwdriver into the hinge assembly to try to align the pin/spring combination which was under pressure. As she would get it aligned in the pitching sea, many times up to her elbows in cold seawater, she'd shout "pound it" (meaning the pin) over the shriek of the wind. Then "stop" as a wave and a twist of Carina's hull sent the whole affair off kilter again. Then jam, align and "pound", again. Philip finally hammered the pin home and Leslie slipped in a cotter pin and after nearly losing cotter pin and screwdriver to waves, secured it by spreading the legs so it would stay in place. Even though we were hove to, waves came crashing up immersing us as we tried to work. Eventually, we got everything secure, though for a seemingly simple job, it took us about an hour. Adrenaline coursed through our veins for hours afterwards. Should we have lost this pin and the hinge, we would have had to bring the paddle aboard, replace the parts with our spares (not an easy task to do even on a calm day in port) and try to align and replace the pin holding the paddle. As Philip said then "I don't even want to think about it". The alternative of course is to hand-steer, which is not an alternative at all. The good news was that we discovered this at 1000 hours local and we had plenty of daylight in which to work. I'm not sure how we would have dealt with it if happened at 0200 on a moonless night. The bad news was that it was blowing 25-30 kts and gusting higher; one of the reasons it took so long to fix.

The day before yesterday, we noticed that the genoa was chafed near the luff about 6' off the deck - from the cockpit Leslie could see daylight through a small area at a crease. Winds were light so we rolled in the sail to the area of chafe, cleaned the cloth with acetone and applied adhesive Dacron on both sides. We will stitch the patch when we reach port.

During our rough night of beating we lost the contents of one of our water jerry cans on the side deck. We still have the can but it's empty. Our watermaker has developed a leak in its cleaning valve, too, so we're being even more cautious about our water supply.

We're still eating well - pasta puttanesca and marinated artichokes for supper, fresh bread in the oven - and sleeping well in our cozy, warm dry bunk. The fresh breezes make it too cold to spend much time in the cockpit despite our thickly layered clothing and we're keeping the cabin warm by keeping the windowed companionway cover in place.

All is well.

Your friends of the yacht Carina,
Philip, Leslie and the spirit of the fat cat, Jake
website: www.sv-carina.org



At 6/14/2017 and 3:34 UTC (GMT) our position was: 43°35.79'N / 174°34.15'W

p.s. PLEASE, if you wish to respond to our emails, DO NOT hit the "reply" button as it sends our original message back to us.
We usually have limited bandwidth that makes it difficult to receive lengthly messages.

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Sunday, 11 June 2017

Morning Watch

Philip gently shakes me while saying "it's time". Dawn has come though it is just 0430 local time. The cabin is cool but because the wind is forward of Carina's beam, our dodger is deflecting it and the cabin temperature is moderate. Still, knowing I have to go out and face the wind, I begin to dress as I sip the warming tea that Philip has so kindly brewed. When I am done I am wearing: a polartec cap, long underwear, thick polartec pants and salopettes (rain bibs). Plus, an insulated top, a synthetic "Gap Kids" top, a "Jockey" light weight polartec jacket, a polartec vest and a magnificent long polartec-lined dive coat that extends below my knees. (Francesca, if you're reading this, your coat is amazing, thank you for letting me be its new owner!)

Finally, over all of this, I strap my Mustang Survival harness with its hydrostatically released floatation, clip onto a tether, and climb into the chilly cockpit. The sun is low and directly off our starboard bow. It sends warm rays through the dodger windows as it turns the beads of dew into sparkling gems. Directly in our wake, the bright waning moon is setting into powder grey cotton-candy clouds. A Laysan albatross, low to the water, glides towards us, then banks, exposing its creamy white underbody to the warm light of the rising sun.

Stepping back to admire the Monitor windvane perpetually on watch, the chill of the wind brushes my exposed cheeks. I quickly bring the vane towards the wind to adjust our course and duck back in the lee of the dodger.

At 6/11/2017 and 17:36 UTC (GMT) our position was: 40°47.66'N / 179°46.46'W.
We were traveling 050T degrees true at 4.4 knots.



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Time Travel

We've crossed the dateline into yesterday, going east into the west, from GMT+12 to GMT -12. We get to live Sunday June 11 all over again.

Since Philip refuses to play this game, let me ask you, if you had yesterday to live again, what might you do differently? (Not literally yesterday, but figuratively.) Would you... Read more poetry? Let fewer things/people cause you stress? Plant a bigger garden? Marry a different guy? Have a different career? Cuss less often? Donate more of your time to helping others? Adopt more pets?

Or would you just appreciate the extra time doing exactly as you have always done..

At 6/11/2017 and 17:22 UTC (GMT) our position was: 40°47.06'N / 179°47.49'W.
We were traveling 054T degrees true at 3.9 knots.



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Friday, 9 June 2017

By the Light of the Moon

June 9, 1127 UTC (2337 local). The barometer reads 1022 and the wind has dropped to about 5 knots; we've been engulfed by a promised high pressure system. The windvane silently pilots Carina oh-so-slowly ENE. Philip is cocooned in the warm bunk, only his sleeping face visible in the red glow from the navigation station. I bring my tea to the cockpit and sit to listen to the mesmerizing shooshing and gurgling of the hull as she gently pushes the sea, my mid-section swaying with the swell while my feet brace tightly against the roll. A cool breeze chills my face, the only part of me that's not covered in layers of fleece and foulies. The brilliance of the full moon makes the undulating swell shimmer as it rolls away to the south; silhouettes of small seabirds dart through the moonlight, their high pitched gossip complementing the soft squeaking of blocks. Saturn's glow penetrates the high thin cloud just below and left of the moon. To the right and down, Antares glows red, the only star of the constellation Scorpio visible tonight. Jupiter and Spica shine brightly above our wake. It's a rare peaceful watch and much too beautiful to be sitting in front of a computer screen...back top-sides for me with fresh warm tea to fight off grogginess...

At 6/9/2017 and 11:55 UTC (GMT) our position was: 38°52.94'N / 178°20.58'E.
We were traveling 063T degrees true at 2.6 knots.



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Tuesday, 6 June 2017

Dolphin Play

Overnight our winds returned and we have 25 knots from the SSW which propels us along our rhumb line at 5 knots. The sky is completely obscured and visibility at sea level is less than one half mile in fog. Still the dolphins play and we can hear their strobe-like squeaking through the hull. It's a great day to be a dolphin.

Late yesterday we had a small whale (or three) surface a number of times at less than one boat length! I guess these guys don't see too many sailboats out this way and were curious about us.

A Liberian registered deep draft vessel just passed 15 nm to our north.

At 6/6/2017 and 18:05 UTC (GMT) our position was: 36°58.51'N / 174°07.68'E.
We were traveling 048T degrees true at 4.5 knots.

Monday, 5 June 2017

//WL2K - Carina Underway - Update June 5

Dear Friends;

Day 19. Our GPS shows about 2,500 nm to go to get to Sitka; our trip log reads 2090 nautical miles, so we're not quite half way along the proposed route. At our current position of 36 degrees north and 171.5 east, days have been getting longer and decidedly cooler. Fog rolls by with the wind, misting the decks. And we still have to travel another 20 degrees north and about 62 degrees east so it's going to get a lot colder still. Our blood has gotten a lot thinner while we've been cruising in the tropics for 14 years, so we're bundled up even now as we approach the latitude of California's Big Sur.

We're long past the initial passage adjustment stage and have settled in to a routine that doesn't vary much from day to day. Our normal day starts when Philip wakes at ~0800 from his off watch. Meanwhile Leslie has been busy downloading emails and weather files using the radio and modem. No internet of course. This takes a bit of effort as she remains on watch so she's up and down the companionway managing the boat too. Once down, she must strip off her wet gloves and hover over the keyboard so as to not get it wet. The reason she's doing it at this time is this is the favorable time for radio propagation. Even with this, Sailmail connections have been difficult and some days we don't get Sailmail at all which means we also don't see what mail we have in the sv-carina.org inbox. For weather we're using the amateur radio network email called winlink; so far we've had reliable connections to winlink.

Philip, the foodie aboard, usually prepares meals: breakfast of some sort of creative egg concoction or what we euphemistically call "leaves and twigs": peanut butter toast or whole grain raw cereal (nuts, fruit) with homemade kefir. Lunch is pretty much catch-as-catch-can: snacking on sardines, almonds, dried fruit, cheese, etc. Dinner is an early (~1600) supper of a one-pot meal like beef stew, chicken soup, chili, pasta sauce and macaroni, Asian chicken in red curry paste.

We eat supper early in order to get a jump on our nighttime sleeping schedule: three hours on watch followed by three hours off. Our watch schedule does not depend on the clock, it depends on what's going on. Each off watch is however, 3 hours, from the time crew crawls in the bunk to the time he or she crawls out. Change of watch includes discussion of sailing and weather, position reporting, making a travel mug of tea and taking care of any chore requiring both of us, with a typical 25 minute turn-around time including the process of bundling up and unbundling foulies and bibs, warm pullovers, boots, harnesses,etc..

Before starting our schedule we get weather faxes and weather reports and download email again. Philip starts the first watch, usually at 1800. Leslie enjoys the last watch since she likes to see the sun come up in the morning (such as it is, it's been shrouded in clouds and fog for days now!). Throughout our routine, we try to find time to keep watch, read, answer emails, nap, bake bread, make repairs, adjust the sails and helm and monitor instruments.

At the risk of jinxing things, we've been pretty lucky so far; our "breakdowns" have been minimal: a leaking deck prism (temporarily repaired with duct tape during a rare calm spell), replacing a missing nut and lock washer and replacing a broken line on our Monitor windvane.

We have seen little wildlife though yesterday (and today again) we had dolphins buzz us whose chatter could be heard through the hull! Our earlier sighting of a tropic bird turns out to have been a Red-tailed Tropicbird. Black footed Albatross with their huge 7 foot wingspan and Sooty Shearwater are constantly about; earlier we saw one solitary Laysan Albatross!

On the first part of our trip, we spent most days beating to weather or close reaching. This point of sail is hard on both crew and boat; it puts a tremendous strain on the sails, standing and running rigging as well as our Monitor windvane steering device. For crew, the boat's motion can be quick and violent, requiring constant vigilance. Now, with wind more to the west or southwest, we are more or less running with the wind on either side of dead downwind which produces less pitching but significantly more rolling. The sea height has been between one and a half to three meters. Our daily average run is down to 109 nm in a 24 hour period due to some frustrating periods of calm.

Our weather resources have warned us on a few occasions of low pressure areas with concomitant gales and, so far, we've been able to alter course to try to mitigate the effort of these weather systems. We're also getting suggested routing in emails from a website called FastSeas.com . The direction of the wind, lots of sea room and lack of significant adverse current has helped, giving us options to sail either north, east or northeast and still maintain progress towards our goal. We've cleared the last geothermal hazard at the end of the chain emanating from Hawaii and now it's open water until we begin to close the coast of Alaska.

Your friends of the yacht Carina,
Philip, Leslie and the spirit of the fat cat, Jake
website: www.sv-carina.org



At 6/2/2017 and 21:17 UTC (GMT) our position was: 33°53.66'N / 168°40.43'E

p.s. PLEASE, if you wish to respond to our emails, DO NOT hit the "reply" button as it sends our original message back to us.
We usually have limited bandwidth that makes it difficult to receive lengthly messages.

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Friday, 2 June 2017

Morning

At 0430 local it is already dawn. When the sun rises behind the dark clouds, it sends radiating rays out onto the grey sea, changing its color from stainless steel grey to platinum grey. Looking behind Carina, the sea is a milky turquoise. Storm clouds behind descend and change the color to smoke grey and then to a deep battleship grey. Cherubic cumulus clouds to the east are powderpuff grey with a frosting of blue. An albatross glides by, dipping and banking and rising again.

Switching on the fishfinder, it reads a hull temperature of 62 F - about twenty degrees cooler than Pohnpei. We're bundled up now, looking a bit like a cross between ski bums and those poor guys in the world's most dangerous fishery. The off-watch bunk is a cozy refuge; difficult to quit after the requisite three hour snooze.

We've run out of store bought bread and tortillas so we made our first bread of the voyage yesterday. One of our Kindles went spastic presumably from exposure to sea spray but Philip heroically saved it with liberal doses of contact cleaner.

Philip also climbed out on the side deck and bandaged up a leaking deck prim that of course was completely dry during our long wet Pohnpei stay. Getting the deck clean and dry was a trick as Carina flew down the 2 meter swells. We're hoping soapy water, fresh water and acetone washings sufficiently rid the deck of salt for enough time to allow the super strength duct tape to adhere.

This morning we are ~350 nm to the theoretical half way point...trying to reach there on this tack before we have to jibe and move away from the next weather system. Later this morning we will enter into day 18; our average daily mileage over 17 days was 112 nm. We're running away from the wind, at least for now, squeezing out as broad a broad reach as we can towards the statistical NW corner of the north Pacific high.

At 6/2/2017 and 18:42 UTC (GMT) our position was: 33°53.66'N / 168°40.43'E.
We were traveling 021T degrees true at 4.5 knots.



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Tuesday, 30 May 2017

Gurgle Gurgle

We're "moving" again under sail! The gurgling sound of the windvane paddle as it glides through water and the shooshing sound of the sea running past Carina's hull bring smiles to our faces. After a day and a half of light and variables, which incorporated a long night of listening to the drone of the diesel engine, and a full day of the hull galumping ungracefully with mixed seas rolling in from afar as we ghosted along just barely maintaining steerage, we have once again sailable wind. Not great but adequate to move us in the right direction. Wind at this latitude means weather systems are moving and we're watching closely a low pressure system that's passing north and west and pulling these winds with it. Each weather report shows something different which doesn't give us confidence in the accuracy of the predictions.

30 degrees north!

At 5/30/2017 and 13:12 UTC (GMT) our position was: 30°00.00'N / 163°13.48'E.
We were traveling 041T degrees true at 4.0 knots.



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