170605, 0632 UTC,Carina Underway to Sitka - Update June 5 , 36-09 N / 171-43 E
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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