Thursday, 6 November 2014

Underway Again

Our time in Indonesia drew to a close and we reluctantly said our goodbyes, hugged our friends hard and returned to Carina. Well, almost. While we were on shore at Tahuna, the rising tide and large swell conspired with a stern anchor fast on an unseen rock, to nearly swamp the dinghy. We stood on the city breakwater and pulled but Bacio would come up short on the anchor and ship water. Finally, Leslie removed her hat and glasses, jumped in the water, swam two strokes and hoisted herself aboard. Releasing some line on the anchor and then bailing rapidly, the dinghy was finally stable and able to close the shore to pick up Philip.

We departed yesterday at 1034 local time riding an outgoing tide onto a calm sea. Sangihe's volcano was covered in a storm cloud as we were warmed by the tropical sun. Not expecting wind we settled into a slow motor-sail north. Later, the sun set amongst a sky filled with squally patches bearing ominous grey underpinnings as the nearly full moon rose early.

Thankfully it was a quiet night, though our peace was not complete as the little diesel hummed and vibrated a bit with ever-changing currents. Jake spent the evening accompanying us on watch outdoors, snoozing but ever-alert for small songbirds who would visit to roost and rest. The catamaran Emma Peel moved silently a few miles off on our starboard stern quarter, her shadow steady on our radar screen.

This morning finds us just west of the very top of Indonesia, the diminutive islands of Marore, Kawio and Kemboling. As the sky began to brighten, their navigation lights faded and a north swell and southbound current slowed our progress. There is no hope of making the Philippines by nightfall now.

Still, we'll push on and arrive tomorrow or creep our way in later. Everything now is dictated by currents, predicted to strengthen even more as we head north.

So far, so good.

At 11/5/2014 and 21:05 UTC (GMT) our position was: 04°38.26'N / 125°17.39'E.
We were traveling 016T dpegrees e at 2.3 knots.

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Tuesday, 16 September 2014

Groggy is as Groggy Does

Our previous post was concerning leaving Sangihe (Sang GHEE heh) Indonesia for Morotai. The frustrating part of this passage (still underway, thus my muddled mind) were the confusing seas and contrary currents and winds on the west coast of Sangihe, not Morotai.

Since clearing Sangihe, we've been sailing hard to weather but it has been mostly quite pleasant. Just in the last coule of hours, winds have begun to veer towards the SW and soon we should be sailing on a beam reach or even a broad reach. Something to look forward to as evening approaches. We hope to make landfall tomorrow.

At 9/16/2014 and 07:47 UTC (GMT) our position was: 02°38.33'N / 127°19.86'E.
We were traveling 119T degrees true at 4.4 knots.

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Monday, 15 September 2014

South from Sangihe

It had been a rolly night and as the tide began to flood, swell came into Tahuna Bay, slapping our large mooring float into the anchor on its bow roller. Groggily we made preparations to get underway as other boats in our small flotilla began to leave for Morotai.

Getting south along the coast of Morotai was frustrating but by 2 pm, we tacked and headed due east out into the Gulf of Halmahera. Holding Carina as tight to weather as we could, we sailed through a glorious night with a late rising moon, smiling down.

This morning, winds have calmed and it is more difficult to maintain a rhumb line but the day is young...

At 9/15/2014 and 21:39 UTC (GMT) our position was: 02°57.71'N / 126°40.25'E.
We were traveling 115T degrees true at 4.2 knots.

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Saturday, 6 September 2014

Carina Heading South to Indonesia

We left Samal Island 3 days ago for a "short" hop of 230 miles as part of the 15 boats participating in the rally, Samal Island Philippines to Sangihe, Indonesia. Most of the other boats left the day before we did and enjoyed light winds in which they were able to get good southing while motor-sailing.

We still had some chores to do and so left the next day and we "enjoyed" 20 to 35 knots of wind, large seas and contrary current. We didn't get very far. Last night we finally gave in to the lousy conditions and anchored off a fishing village called Lawa on the west side of the Davao gulf. Locals came out to gawk and stare and tried to chat but, except for one young lady in a canoe with 6 of her kin, no one could speak English. We liken their reaction to our arriving in their midst as the sort one would get if a Martian spacecraft landed. Lawa was not quite the "snug" anchorage we were hoping for, it was windy and rolly and at times we felt we were still at sea. Still, the holding was good and we were able to get a tasty supper and a good night's sleep.

We are now motor-sailing in 8-10 knots of southwest wind, almost on our nose. The day is sunny with a bright blue sky and shimmering seas. Ever optimistic, we hope to make Sangihe in two days.

Philip and Leslie
s/v Carina

At 9/5/2014 and 02:41 UTC (GMT) our position was: 06°11.14'N / 125°42.39'E.
We were traveling 354T degrees true at 0.0 knots.

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Monday, 4 August 2014

Rough Weather

When we left Palau, it was supposed to be in the wake of a developing low called Halong. Winds were SSW almost S and the sailing was easy. Skies were clear and squall free. Perfect. Or so we thought. Our buddy Halong, now Jose, had different ideas and stalled to the north, intensifying and then going south of a high pressure ridge instead of north and proceeding WNW instead of NNW. By the time it was 500 miles to our north, it was a super typhoon and sucking into itself the monsoon winds from the Philippine Sea, where our perfect weather window evaporated into 30+ knots and ugly confused 3 m seas.

Last evening, sea-soaked and cranky, we gave in and hove-to rather than running for the coast with a press of sail to make port tomorrow. Better to sleep well and let the storm rage outside while the crew slept soundly. Today, refreshed, we'll look outside, read the weather and decide how to proceed.

We are only ~75 nm from the coast but between us and there is a veritable armada of shipping traffic and hundreds of unlit FADS just waiting to be bumped. When we go, we'll go cautiously. Meanwhile we're happier and safer parked at sea.

At 8/4/2014 and 21:21 UTC (GMT) our position was: 07°47.94'N / 127°48.23'E.
We were traveling 106T degrees true at 1.8 knots.

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Friday, 1 August 2014

Carina Underway to the Philippines

It's very early morning and the muted lights from the instruments and the soft glow of the red cabin light down below barely illuminates the cockpit as we sail gently on a close reach towards the Philippines.

Late this night, long after the moon had set, we watched an electrical storm form on the radar screen and move inexplicably against the wind towards Carina; it's undulating amorphous shape on radar looked sinister. Somehow we managed to avoid this storm cell and its attendant flashes of lightening that turned an inky black night into day. Now, even though the radar screen shows no targets at all, lightning continues to strobe far away, so far that we can't hear the thunder and it is even sometimes hard to tell from which direction it is coming.

This is our third day of beating hard to weather in ideal conditions: wind between 10 and 14 knots and seas of only one and half meters. We're hoping our luck continues as we take advantage of this unusual weather window.

At 8/1/2014 and 21:07 UTC (GMT) our position was: 07°37.40'N / 130°43.43'E.
We were traveling 276T degrees true at 4.2 knots.

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Thursday, 31 July 2014

Pleasant Sailing

We checked of Palau on July 30th and after two mini crises - a clogged fuel filter and a alternator circuit breaker accidentally tripped - we were on our way by 1130 local. Catching the outgoing tide, we rode it out the west pass at over six knots into a confused but manageable swell.

We've had a day and a half of nearly perfect sailing to weather. Dry skies, light winds and only a little adverse current. Everyone is well; even Jake is reveling in the cool breezes, visiting often in the cockpit for a belly rub and a nap.

Ahead of us are Helena and Soggy Paws, though they continue to pull further away as they are much bigger than wee Carina.

We are getting hints of the Perseid meteor showers to come with occasional bursts of light on the starlit skie. A claire de lune hung low, glowing, over the masthead light of Helena last evening and slowly sank into the dusky ground fog. Tonight there was no moon.

We've switched to Philippines time, so the dawn is slow to come and the horizon aft is dark with convective clouds over Palau, though a morning star shines bright. Our sky overhead is still star studded above the sea level morning fog.

At 7/31/2014 and 07:26 UTC (GMT) our position was: 07°28.20'N / 133°01.45'E.
We were traveling 281T degrees true at 2.9 knots.

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Tuesday, 22 April 2014

Underway for Palau

We are underway. A squall earlier sucked away the tradewinds and we flopped around a bit anxious to put miles between us and Yap's reef. Now the sun is out and we are (slowly) moving in the direction we want to travel. Always a plus.

Last evening we had dinner on the Mnuw (an Indonesian sailing ship that's now a restaurant at the posh Manta Ray Bay Resort) with friends Glen and Marie. Winds were light and the rain held off so we were able to sit on the upper deck above the mozzie line and gab. We couldn't have asked for a nicer evening to remember Yap by.

We have been in Yap for two months and in the FSM for almost sixteen months; continuously busy. We loved nearly every minute, but it was time to leave. While cruising you continuously uproot yourself from places you have begun to know your way around and from people who have become friends. It isn't ever easy to go and we always say we may someday return, but we know not when or if. But move we must as there are new anchorages over the horizon and people who we have yet to meet and know.

At 4/22/2014 and 05:52 UTC (GMT) our position was: 09°19.15'N / 137°57.73'E.
We were traveling 247T degrees true at 2.5 knots.

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Thursday, 20 February 2014

Fluky Winds near the Yap Trench

Our chart tells us there is approximately 4400 meters of water below. This depth is unimaginable. As we approach the island of Wa'ab, or Yap, the depth plunges further to 7500 meters!

Two days ago we decided to set sail from Woleai, an atoll in Yap State, for the main island. A tropical low is expected to deepen near Chuuk and head across Micronesia over the weekend. We should be in port a day or two ahead of the low approaching.

Feeling the low "bearing" down, we are anxious to make progress. The first day wind cooperated and we did a 138 nm day on a close to beam reach. Now we sail between squalls and it makes managing our sails (and our progress) challenging.

Squalls have mostly masked the waning moon, though last night in the wake of a squall, the cockpit was suddenly filled with light and my body cast a shadow on the companionway. It was as if a someone behind bearing a search light had found little Carina in the middle of the ocean and said "ah ha, gotcha!"

At 2/19/2014 and 22:41 UTC (GMT) our position was: 08°38.99'N / 140°26.51'E.
We were traveling 300T degrees true at 4.4 knots.

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Wednesday, 12 February 2014

Hove To

A dry soft NE wind blows across the water, bright from the three quarter moon as we sit, parked, about 13 nm from the pass at Woleai. It is 4 am and we've been hove to since about 11 pm after reaching a point north and east of our line of travel beyond which we dare not go in the dark. Carina bobs in the swell and to her stern is the moon; her port side to Ursa Major and Polaris and her starboard to a magnificent South Cross sitting upright. The GPS reads zero for speed over ground but our track over the last three hours shows a perceptible drift. All is well as I sip tea and try to wake up for my watch.


At 2/12/2014 and 18:09 UTC (GMT) our position was: 07°17.33'N / 144°07.81'E.

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Saturday, 1 February 2014


Yesterday at about 3 pm local a squall line appeared behind that stretched towards the NE for as far as we could see. We reefed down and the front passed just behind us, dumping little rain. Behind the front the trades were enhanced and it became clear we were in for a bit of a blow. Adding another reef to the main, effectively a "third" reef, Carina went flying into deep darkness on a beam reach with her rigging screeching.

As dawn brightens the horizon on Sunday Feb 2, 2014, winds are beginning to clock back to their normal direction and moderating, and it appears our downwind sailing is returning.

At 2/1/2014 and 19:22 UTC (GMT) our position was: 06°52.52'N / 147°28.65'E.
We were traveling 298T degrees true at 4.7 knots.

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Friday, 31 January 2014

Just before the Dawn

As last night progressed, our tradewinds diminished. This is not unusual and we expect them to return as the sun rises. When this phenomenon occurs, there is a period between moonlight and sunlight when ground fog accumulates and the night seems very black indeed. Though there remained stars above, just above the surface of the sea all around Carina was an impenetrable black that allowed me to imagine for a second the inside of a black hole.

Hope now comes as Venus rises, the cloak fades and the horizon brightens.

At 1/31/2014 and 18:39 UTC (GMT) our position was: 06°13.36'N / 149°08.65'E.
We were traveling 297T degrees true at 2.5 knots.

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Thursday, 30 January 2014

Carina Crossing the western North Pacific

We are now moving west in Micronesia, having left Pohnpei on January 11, 2104 after 13 months resident. Our first stop was magnificent Ant Atoll, and then friendly Lukunor, known by the locals as Lekinioch, in Chuuk State.

Today is Friday January 30. As dawn is beginning to brighten the horizon, the stars are fading. There is a blush of pink in the mares tail clouds to windward at the horizon. It has been a perfect night of sailing. NE tradewinds, 2 m seas and brilliant stars with constellations Carina, the Southern Cross, Orion and the Big Dipper obvious amongst the navigational stars and the Milky Way. Lightning could be seen to the south and west but none found us. The occasional thin cloud would pass overhead but none disturbed Carina's brilliant jaunt across the sea.

We have been at sea for 46 hours and we have not yet reached the stage where sleep comes easily, so we are both tired.

We are now less than 300 nm from Lamotrek but, though tradewinds are promised, we will unlikely make landfall on Sunday February 2 and will have to slow down for a Monday morning entrance to the atoll when we would have plenty of time and ample light to navigate the narrow south entrance to the reef.

At 1/30/2014 and 19:54 UTC (GMT) our position was: 05°52.34'N / 150°55.42'E
We were traveling 275T degrees true at 5.5 knots.

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