We are fighting for wind.
Who would have thought that 500 miles west of San Francisco, 800 miles south east of Cape Flattery and 1600 miles from Hawaii there would be no wind. The seas are flat, undulating, mesmerizing – but wind-less.
The decision was made late last night to turn the engine on and motor when the winds died off early this morning. We knew they were going to die off because we have been regularly pulling down GRIB** files from Predict Wind. It’s a weather routing/forecast service that provides highly accurate weather charts and forecasts. I’m really happy with how it’s performing, we’ve been able to use it with a large degree of accuracy.
We are moving south, under motor, at about 4-5 knots, in flat seas with a west swell. No wind. Just diesel exhaust and engine noise. Besides Willy kicking my ass in cribbage, todays big math exercise was calculating how far we could get with the amount of fuel on board and what time we would arrive there which would tell us if/when we will find wind. We have about enough fuel on board to make it 200 miles which puts us on the same latitude as Santa Barbara…the forecast predicts there will be wind. We shall see. If there is no wind between here and there, then we will have to wait until about Saturday for the wind to fill in. Once we hit the trade winds we should start crank out the miles again.
The quiet conditions gave us time to do some cleaning of the boat (one small head + four dudes = …well, you get it) and ourselves, sleep, read, play a few games of cribbage. We even flew the drone! Got some fun practice in launching and recovering, Willy nearly fell off the bow of the boat with the drone in his hands. Don’t worry, we got the whole event on Ryder’s phone. Willy scrapped his knee up, I tried to give him stitches but he insisted a bandaid would be fine. I was hoping to break out the suture kit.
The boat is holding up well. Having Willy onboard to help with maintenance and repair of small things has been awesome. We re-enforced the backstay today with some awesome teamwork across the board. Beau drove the boat like a seasoned pro and Willy and Ryder and I put our collective brains together to figure out how to get more tension into the backstay so the forestay wouldn’t sag so much. It’s easier to explain in person. In any case we used winches, pulleys, block and tackles and tons of webbing, shackles, lines and wire rope to shore up the backstay so the rig won’t fall down when we hit the trades. Sounds much more dramatic than it really is. As Willy has said multiple times: “We won’t lose the rig”. I believe him.
I would like to take a moment of silence for Willy’s iPhone. It’s been committed to the deep, forever locked away with Davey Jones. Unceremoniously I might add…nevertheless, never to be seen again. Slipped out of his shirt pocket as he leaned over the rail to do something.
I have to give a shout out to Beau. I woke up early this morning, around 2am, to the sails swinging back and forth, no wind to fill them and figured Beau might need some help. He was up on deck, solo, at night, in the middle of the Pacific. You can hear the water, but you can’t see it. There are no lights up on deck except the compass light which only serves to show you the course you’re on. No lights anywhere else, pitch black. The water is hissing past the boat, you can’t see the horizon, you have to trust your compass and the wind indicator at the top of the mast. This is about his 8th day sailing. Ever. That alone takes some courage. Beau has it spades. I make my way up on deck and find he’s intently staring at the compass doing his best to stay on course. In this case, the wind had shifted and the current course wouldn’t work for how our sails were trimmed.
I helped Beau trim the sails but could tell he was frustrated. I totally get it. Slatting sails in a swell take the power away from the “engine” and are super annoying to boot. You feel powerless. But, Beau, in his good nature was grinding it out. Not annoyed or frustrated, he was doing his best to support the team, complete the task assigned and with courage to take a solo night watch even.
Sailing, alone, at night in the middle of the Pacific can be overwhelming but Beau has taken everything this adventure has thrown him and turned into something positive. The first night we were slogging our way west through the Straits of Juan de Fuca; we had 20 knot winds on the nose, motoring against 4-6 foot wind waves that were 3-5 seconds apart (the boat was WET, cold and rocking like crazy). Beau took a night watch then and nailed it.
He has no shortage of courage and his good nature desire to learn is contagious. Beau Knows that he doesn’t know but he wants to learn. I’m really happy how this crew has turned out. We are all working together, gelling and having a blast.
The past few days the weather has been overcast, even when we had wind. I was hoping to get a chance to see the stars with no light pollution, but it hasn’t happened yet. Oh, from one Chief to another…a big shoutout to Phil Ryder for the heads up on Tropical Storm Eugene, we have been tracking it via our GRIB downloads and it seems to have died out. Tropical storms aren’t such a huge concern right now, due to the time of year and how far north we will be but we are keeping an eye out. However, we really appreciate the heads up as I had no idea it had become a named storm.
If all goes well and we can crank out some miles in the trade winds, we should be arriving in Hawaii on July 25th, plus or minus a day. I want to make at least one 190 mile day…that’s an average of 8 knots, sustained over the full 24 hours.
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Stay Gold and her Crew
**Gridded Binary Files are computer generated wind charts that we can use to forecast location, direction and strength of the wind. Crucial for success.