Monday, 29 May 2017

Horse Latitudes

We were trying to remember if these "variables" are what the clipper ship guys called the horse latitudes. Doesn't really matter, we have no horses to put to sea to lighten our load. Wind predictions change with every iteration of the GRIBS so it's hard to tell what we'll get but I suspect it'll be a challenge to keep moving until we reach reliable westerlies.

Midday yesterday the wind evaporated. We motored all night towards our intermediate waypoint. At dawn a Taiwanese long liner passed 3.5 nm to our NW, the first vessel we've seen since the intrepid fishermen in the surf near Sokeh's Pass in Pohnpei.

The boat is covered in sweet dew and we in warm clothing...

At 5/29/2017 and 19:23 UTC (GMT) our position was: 29°35.73'N / 162°48.44'E.
We were traveling 039T degrees true at 5.0 knots.



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Sunday, 28 May 2017

Underwater What?

The big high to our NE has moved in and interrupted our tradewinds. By yesterday mid-day we were almost becalmed so we decided to run the engine for a couple of hours, heading NE in hopes of clearing the next blue smudge on the paper chart. As the sun began to side down (into a magnificent green flash for all you doubters!), sailable but light winds came up, but from the NE, which resulted in our hazard becoming a "lee shore". Our chart database (cm93) did have an object query which said: "underwater volcano, last eruption 1981" (!) It was pretty easy at that point to fall off NNW so as to sail, albeit slowly, to the west of the area. This morning finds us moving at a walking pace 7 nm to the west of the "position doubtful" mark.

The days are getting longer and the nights cooler. We've broken out gloves and socks and some of our cool weather clothing. Tonight we're adding a sleeping bag to the off-watch berth.

We're plowing through books and trying to keep up with emails (and naps). Sailmail connections have been difficult, so please bear with us. We've had no further maintenance items to deal with since our last report, though we're sure a few more tasks are planned by the gremlins to challenge us. The disgusting prehistoric creature is still MOB (missing on board).

At 5/28/2017 and 18:48 UTC (GMT) our position was: 28°07.89'N / 161°38.40'E.
We were traveling 354T degrees true at 2.1 knots.





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Turning the Corner

Philip gently nudged me from a cozy sleep and began preparing tea in our shared travel mug. He'd recently made a course change as we'd passed safely beyond a shoaly smudge shown, without any depth data, on the large scale paper chart in the area labeled "mapmaker's seamounts". This shoal did not show up on our vector charts - even when zoomed in - but we did not trust that it wasn't there. Emerging, groggy, into the cockpit and peeking up over the dodger, I could see that Carina now drove towards dawn, a peach blush on the horizon. The air hitting my face was crisp and dry, and the sea, was a deep blueberry blue with a grey-blue surface shimmer. Brilliant Venus, lonely in the sky, ascended sparkling to starboard. Weather reports suggest we're sailing into a high; which way it wobbles will determine whether we keep these favorable winds or lose them completely. For now, we relish the new feeling of pointing and moving towards Sitka, about 3200 nm away via a great circle route.

Just after changing watch, Philip sprung from the bunk and began attacking a large (flying) tropical cockroach; a stowaway apparently. Injured now - these prehistoric creatures move fast! - the creepy thing has gone back into hiding.

Breakfast will be raw mixed whole grain cereal with dried fruit, pecans and almonds, and kefir. And more honeyed tea.

At 5/27/2017 and 18:22 UTC (GMT) our position was: 26°46.07'N / 161°33.55'E.
We were traveling 030T degrees true at 4.2 knots.

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Wednesday, 24 May 2017

//WL2K - I Can See Clearly Now

Dear Friends;

.the rain has gone.

Dawn today brought the first true squalls we've had on this trip. The screeching-to-weather, momentarily-scary, deluge kind of squall. Just one of those buggers, but plenty of littler ones. The good news is Carina got a washing and she really needed that. Crystals of salt encrusted most surfaces and the deck was slippery. Now the sun is out, the trades have returned and we're beating towards Alaska once again.

As I write we're downloading a weatherfax using our radio modem. This is a passive process that takes little power. Fax weather pictures appropriate to our passage are broadcast from Japan, Kodiak AK, Pt. Reyes CA and Honolulu. The only drawback to these weather reports is you can't miss the broadcast time and sometimes you're just plain busy (or forgetful). Emailed weather reports are somewhat time independent and we dial in twice per day and request computer-generated wind files called GRIBs.

Just about the time we were getting rained on, our trip log ticked over onto 800 nm. We are north of the latitude of Wake Island and 2500 nm due west of the big island of Hawaii. Our speed has been good, we're averaging about 116 nm per day but have had 24 hour runs up to 127 nm (about 5.3 knots). (Yes, yes, we can hear our friends who have catamarans or larger boats snickering at our slow speed.)

Approaching day 8, we've had a few minor issues; thumping anchors from loosened tie-downs, a broken bolt on our bimini, a missing nut and lock washer on the hull mount bolt of the Monitor windvane (not so cool but fixable by hanging over the stern while praying you don't drop the box wrench), a frayed windvane steering line (at the wheel but during the darkest part of the night and during our change of watch) and a shifting dinghy on deck that interfered with the mainsheet traveler.

Still no sign of human life on earth, and few sightings of animals, save a few more tropic birds. At night, we can see the Southern Cross to our stern and Ursa Major (the Big Dipper) to our bow.

After Philip's rise from his off-watch this morning, we're going to have mushroom egg tortillas with (re-constituted dried) amazing black fungus (Chinese mushroom) that was a departure gift. Last evening we finished off left-over beef stew, made and preserved in our pressure cooker.

We're keeping up with water by generating 3-4 L of fresh water for cooking and drinking each day. This helps to preserve the precious resource held in our water tanks. Our wind generator has been humming away 24/7, keeping our batteries well topped up.

Thank you to all who dropped us notes; we love getting them and will try to respond to all.

All is well aboard. 3000 + miles to go. But who's counting?

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



At 5/23/2017 and 20:10 UTC (GMT) our position was: 19°32.11'N / 159°56.03'E
We were traveling 018T degrees true at 5.1 knots.

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, 21 May 2017

//WL2K - Carina Underway

Dear Friends;

We are now in day 5 of our journey to Alaska. Ever since we sank the land after leaving Pohhpei, we have seen no other ship traffic, no bird life except for a boobie or two and three tropic birds. All around Carina, 360 degrees, is an expanse of cobalt blue seas, foamy white caps, blue sky, and puffy white clouds. Now that the waning moon lifts her head so late in the evening, the night sky is inky black with an explosion of stars and planets. Carina's radar screen, reaching out its maximum 24 nautical miles, is totally blank. If not for the occasional rain cell which shows up as an indistinct smudge, one would wonder if the unit was working at all. Our AIS, which was so indispensable on our last journey from Palau to Papua New Guinea, warning us repeatedly of near collisions with large tankers and container ships, also shows only a blank screen. It is times like these when you sit in the cockpit, staring up at the night sky and wonder if the rest of the world has gone away; are we the only two people left on the planet?

But, no, we are not alone; our connection to the world does exist as our computer, radio and modem allow us to send and receive messages although our send and receive rate is VERY slow. We also check in daily with the Pac Sea Net, a group of ham radio operators who monitor our progress (14,300 USB at 0300 UTC). No TV or internet of course; in these tumultuous times, we wonder just what is happening in the news. In port in the morning, we were news junkies glued to the internet reading all the fake news: CNN, Washington Post, New York Times, etc. But maybe this is a good thing; our world has collapsed into just necessary functions like keeping Carina sailing efficiently, cooking and eating meals, reading, writing, 3-hour watches and catnap-sleeping when we can.

We are reasonably pleased with our progress in spite of beating to weather in short choppy, 2-meter waves. Perhaps we have passed the first 10% of our trip with only a few bruises to show for it. Only time will tell. We will try to keep updates coming as we are able.

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



At 5/20/2017 and 19:31 UTC (GMT) our position was: 14°02.27'N / 158°08.70'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 lengthy messages.

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Saturday, 20 May 2017

Pleasant Sailing

The last two days have been nearly perfect sailing to windward, though with a minor frustrations. The air is dry, the sun is bright with puffy white clouds and the sea is a beautiful blue jean color. The two squall lines we've seen have both missed us. At night we have only a few passing clouds, the most dense of which seem to steal our wind rather than accelerate it. Yesterday we shook out a reef and actually ran a full genoa for at least some of the day. Our average speed is down but life aboard is much more pleasant.

GRIBs (wind predictions) kept promising us easterlies but these never filled in until about latitude 13 north. With them, we can now point NNE towards our first "waypoint" at 21 N and 162 E. We have just passed into latitude 14 and at our current pace, this point is still over four days away. We are also a few hours away from regaining easterly longitude lost while beating north. Given all that, we have been blessed after our first (self-imposed) bashing.

All is well aboard. We're heeled to port on a starboard tack and our bodies are in constant motion. We're sleeping well, though in 3 hour blocks, and have begun reading now that boarding seas are rare: Leslie - No Mercy by Redmond O'Hanlon and Philip - Hiroshima Nagasaki by Paul Ham. We're slowly making our way through emails received before departure but will eventually respond to everyone who took the time to write.

Sailmail has been a bit of a disappointment in this part of the Pacific - when we can get a station to answer, the connection is slow even when propagation is "perfect" per the tables. If it weren't for the beloved Shadowmail....;-) Winlink stations in similar locations have been better with KH6UL being a standout, though there seems to be a lot of competition for it.

At 5/20/2017 and 19:30 UTC (GMT) our position was: 14°02.19'N / 158°08.66'E.
We were traveling 026T degrees true at 4.6 knots.



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Friday, 19 May 2017

Settling In For the Long Haul

47 hours into our journey...

Winds are down a few knots and a little more to the east, plus the seas are much more disciplined; there are fewer rogue waves boarding us now. Day 1 was rough with seawater finding its way into Carina even in places where we have no leaks. Water sloshed below onto the nav station and into our bunk at least three times. But despite the challenging sailing, the sun has been out and the nights have been starry with a waning moon joining us at near midnight. Day 2 has been easier, less wet, and we are still moving along well. Despite being reefed down, we have averaged well over five knots while surfing sometimes over ten. The sailing is fun, if salty, and Carina is in her element; neither the hull or the rig is complaining.

Midday yesterday, Philip emerged from mal-de-mer with a proclamation of "I am hungry". And so, we began to eat. Spicy Korean noodles with peppers and onions for supper and egg salad sandwiches for breakfast. Liters of hot, honeyed tea.

From our log: "1111 UTC 5/18/2017 Ursa Major to our port bow, dumping its celestial stew towards the horizon with Merak & Dubhe creating a pointer toward Polaris, just off Carina's starboard bow. Our starpath north! Behind us the Southern Cross is starting to set, while the "stern stars" of the constellation Carina are barely visible in the ground fog at the horizon."

Brilliant Venus is our morning star.

At 5/18/2017 and 22:31 UTC (GMT) our position was: 10°52.25'N / 157°36.60'E.
We were traveling 003T degrees true at 4.9 knots.


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Wednesday, 17 May 2017

Underway!

Allain stopped in last night and stayed for supper. His house was empty as he is leaving for good on a big metal bird today. This morning we got a selfie and a hug from Kumer and Antonia and departed just after 0815 local as gracefully as possible without snagging the lines the water on the buoy to our lee. It was gusting over twenty knots right inside the marina and pushing us towards that hazard. Arriving at the commercial dock fifteen minutes early for our appt. at nine o'clock, we waited until after 10 before being checked out. Immigration forgot to bring their stamps but since we were departing for the USA, they said we didn't need exit stamps. We hope they're right.
By 1050 we were out the pass and sailing with a triple reefed main 2/3 staysail and about 1/3 genoa.

The sun is out and we're going almost north at five knots. It's a wet ride but at least we are moving! The occasional wave slaps us pretty well and at least one so far has sloshed a bit below.

At 4/17/2017 and 01:23 UTC (GMT) our position was: 07°06'N / 158°09'E.
We were traveling 359T degrees true at 5.0 knots.

All is well aboard.





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Saturday, 13 May 2017

//WL2K - Departing Pohnpei. Soon.

Dear Friends;

Kaselehlie - kas eh LAY lee ah - or "hello" in Pohnpeian. The past months in Pohnpei have slipped blissfully by as we planned for our next journey, worked on projects, and just simply whiled away the days enjoying a gab with the eclectic collection of souls who live here or wash up on shore.

One such inspiring individual was Michael who has a literal floating dental clinic aboard his catamaran. A man of many careers, he ran a profitable dental clinic in Germany before deciding to sell it and use the proceeds to bring dental health care to the world. He and his partner, Birgit, spent nearly a year here in Pohnpei while Michael worked at the public hospital's dental clinic. In January they cast off their lines with 5,000 toothbrushes and ten or twenty pounds of toothpaste and floated downwind, stopping at remote atolls and treating hundreds of patients. For free. But not before Michael worked tirelessly to save the life of a Kapingamarangi girl with a kidney stone that would kill her within weeks. The local government used every possible deterrent to prevent her from obtaining care, but Michael would not give up. Records were "lost", promises made were forgotten, monies allocated dried up, but still he persisted, unearthed resources, made arrangements, and then personally put her on the plane to the US and followed her progress from afar. Happily, the young girl had the surgery on both kidneys and is now doing well. Michael and Birgit are an unusual couple - generous not only with their medical skills but with their culinary skills and we enjoyed many fine days on their boat sampling some great food and sharing a good laugh.

At Christmas a small race boat showed up packed with ebullient Italians. (We wondered where they all slept!) Passionate about pasta, they fretted over their offering at Christmas, calling everyone to start eating pronto because it was perfecto even though we hadn't yet returned from the house up the hill with the gravy and no one had yet cut into the turkey. Festive chaos! They subsequently floated downwind accompanied by a few boats and recently wrote saying they'd invented gnocchi made from breadfruit and would send the recipe along once they translated it. Fun!

Aboard Awenasa were Horst and his sausage dog mutt, Prince, with crew: sweet flower-child Judith and Fernando, a bearded Spaniard with a quick wide smile and a signature black cowboy hat. Another foodie, Fernando is cooking his way around the world. Unfortunately, Awenasa smacked a reef just after leaving the marina and damaged their rudder. They didn't realize the extent of the damage until they tried to anchor at a small atoll. The Italians aboard Kaitek came to the rescue. They unshipped the rudder and helped to do surgery ashore in the village at Lukunor in the Mortlock group.

Bruce and Laura of Pacific Highway floated in sometime in the late fall. They never intended to come here and never intended to stay. But they did and we are glad for it. Veterans of chartering their previous boat for others in the Virgin Islands, they are enjoying retirement entirely alone sailing leisurely around the world. They were a great help to us in our big series drogue project, sharing tips and showing us their ready-bag. Passionate about reading and sailing we had much in common - including friends.

Every once in awhile you really connect, as we did with John and Diane of Konami. They had actually contacted us by email years ago when they were still land-lubbers hoping to cruise. Our website and our insights helped them to get going - or so they said. It was great to finally meet them in the flesh here in Pohnpei and tip a glass or two while comparing and sharing resource and experiences. Cruisers have a lot of crazy stories.

In fact it was John and Diane, and the big hearted "nasty" woman Jeanine, who marched with us on the day of the Women's March. Atop of Sokeh's Ridge, Leslie in a pantsuit and all of us in pink ears, posed for photos to document our effort. It felt GOOD.

The magnificent cold-molded yacht La Cardinala visited here twice. With two owners and their guests, the crew is kept hopping. Carlo, Luisa and Frederico, the crew, were fine and funny and we shared with them intel on the Solomons and Papua New Guinea, two of their upcoming destinations. They even agreed to stow away gifts and letters for our friends in Ninigo. Such is the way of the cruising community - wacky, smart, and giving.

While here in Pohnpei, we also connected with friends from the College of Micronesia. Smart and perky Yen-ti & Ray Verg-in have led the most interesting life as educators in rural Alaska and also ran a purse seiner and a bush plane. Yen-ti still teaches at COMFSM where we were colleagues. It was great to see them again and spend time hiking and lunching together. THEY have lots of stories to tell. We also connected with Allain, a professor of oceanography at COMFSM who helped us by watching Carina when we flew off for a vacation in Thailand.

http://sv-carina.org/OurPicturesPages/OurPicturesThailandBangkok1.htm
http://sv-carina.org/OurPicturesPages/OurPicturesThailandChiangMai.htm

Through Yen-ti (who was born in Taipei), we met pretty, kind Helen who is the Chinese language instructor at the COM and then Eddy & Carol, he Korean and she Chinese. Carol and Eddy are also foodies and we spent a lovely Sunday in Kitti enjoying Ray & Yen-ti's view of the lagoon while Carol prepared a feast of cold noodles with all the trimmings. We came away with a package of green tea and fantastic dried mushrooms personally imported from Carol's home town.

Also spicing up our lives was the local March for Science that we organized. We only had twelve marchers but Rey and Emma Garcia and family, science instructors from the college who hail from the Philippines, joined us. This day we also met former Peace Corps volunteers Denise & Mark, she a passionate educator who earned her Ph.D. as a single Mom in her forties.

Most recently, yacht Deviant sailed in with our old friend Chuck aboard. He's parked Deviant in the adjacent slip and is flying out to Orcas Island WA where we hope to catch up and maybe meet his dog. Just down from Deviant aboard another Mason are Kathy and Noel and their daughter Saoirse. Leslie took over Kathy's chemistry classes when she went on maternity leave four years ago. It has been wonderful to watch Saoirse grow into a perky, happy beauty.

Our world is full of such interesting, and good, people!

Most of our escapades are captured in our photo journal at:

http://sv-carina.org/OurPicturesPages/OurPicturesMicronesiaPohnpeiRevisited.htm

But it sounds as if we do nothing but socialize. Most of our days are actually spent working - on Carina or for friends including John
Ranahan who's also starting Laidenki Divers, a laid back fun group whose snorkel trips we've joined.

The biggest projects we tackled here - other than fabricating and installing yet ANOTHER set of chainplates - were sewing projects: canvas, sail-repair and upholstery. Many of our projects were ones we'd dreaded - such as a cover for our very-oddly shaped anchor windlass, a Jordan series drogue and a mainsail cover - but could not be avoided any longer.

Pohnpei is a rainy place; a local band is called "Wetter than Seattle" and that name is apropos. This is why an offer by our gracious hosts Kumer and Antonia of Mangrove Bay Hotel/Marina/Bar & Sushi to relocate Barney (the Sailrite Sailmaker sewing machine) to their private gym made our project work possible. The gym gave us a cool dry space to work and a large floor for measuring and cutting. To move ourselves and our supplies to and from their home, we bought one of their little old employee cars that had been idle. Philip calls it "Silver Streak" or just Streak for short - it is a cosmetically-challenged, right hand drive Toyota Starlet and was just perfect for us.

As we write we are days away from departing for our longest crossing ever - about 4500 nautical miles - weather depending. Some of you may know - though others may not - that we plan on sailing from Pohnpei direct to Alaska. Our intended port of entry is Sitka but we will see how that goes. It's a bit daunting for us so we've been checking EVERYTHING that we can think of for soundness before we cast off the dock lines. Our list in now short but includes one critical thing that's in short supply, vegetables. Living on a lush volcanic island does not guarantee vegetables - ask frequently frustrated Saimon, of his namesake Saimon's Market, who, as head of the local farmer's organization, struggles to motivate his peers to produce veggies for sale locally. Today a container ship is promised, so tomorrow the shelves should once again be green. Given veggies, then it will just be goodbyes to many friends and at least one kitten. That's going to be hard.

To follow our trip, visit http://sv-carina.org and click one of the links next to WHERE ARE WE NOW? We plan to talk with the Pacific Seafarers Net each day on HF radio - http://pacseanet.com - there is a link to listen if you are interested.


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



At 4/17/2017 and 0:58 UTC (GMT) our position was: 06°57.51'N / 158°12.07'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, 24 March 2017

Thailand!

Photo journals now up on sv-carina.org
Click on What's New?



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