Friday, June 22, 2018

Friday, June 22 - Day 9

35.09 N
145.58 W

83 NM - 1403 to go
(We moved to Alaska summer time today)

We have experienced another 24 hours of very light winds and we enjoyed every minute of them. Yesterday afternoon was a glorious one - warm and sunny - and we spent most of it in the cockpit. However, soon after sunset the drizzly cloud moved in again and we had no stars or moon to watch in the night. We woke this morning to similar conditions, but by lunchtime the winds had shifted to the southwest and we are now on a port broad reach gliding along at 5 knots.

The next four days are going to bring challenges as we pass under a front, then experience a high establishing itself to the west of us. We will likely be sailing every which way in a variety of conditions until we can get on the western side of the high and re-establish our northerly direction to Sitka. As Doug says, sailing is like playing cards: if you are dealt a difficult hand, the skill is to make the best of what you have been dealt. To take the metaphor one step further, the probability of being dealt an better hand is likely to follow. I hope so.

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Thursday, June 21, 2018

Thursday, June 21 - Day 8

33.46 N
146.39 W

81 NM made good - 1486 to go to Sitka

Although 81 miles doesn't seem like a very long way, we got a lot accomplished in the last 24 hours. To begin with, although we made 81 miles to our destination, we actually sailed a further distance as we wanted to make easting to get past that pesky front that was dogging us. And we did that! Yesterday at lunch we shut down the engine and were able to sail in light south east winds (about 10 knots) and relatively calm seas all through the afternoon and night. This morning the wind picked up another five knots and we are able to sail wing on wing directly on a track to Sitka. Long may it continue! Doug suggests that the weather predictions indicate we may be able to continue in this manner for the next few days. We aren't going fast - 4.5 knots - but we are going, and we are going in the right direction.

We both got good rest last night and are refreshed and positive today. A good washing up with hot water from the engine running was icing on the cake. We are enjoying sitting in the cockpit as the air is still warm, the sun is shining and the seas are still turquoise. Last night I watched a half moon set into the misty distant clouds and the stars were bright enough to sparkle across the water - very special moments.

Unfortunately, this spectacular natural beauty is marred by the amazing amount of plastic and trash we continue to see floating by. This morning Doug saw a mess of fishing lines, floats and plastic all balled up and almost the size of Ka'sala. Most of the time it is a continual progression of water bottles, jerry cans, plastic floats, bits and pieces of coloured plastic from who knows what origin. It is so terrible to see and makes me really question my use of any kind of plastic. I know it is a necessary evil - for example, Ka'sala is a plastic boat, our electronic equipment is made from plastic, etc. So maybe the point here is to be mindful of the plastic we use, how we use it and how we dispose of it. Okay, rant over, but I will be making my yoghurt in a crockpot when I get home! (Though I don't suppose I will tend a cow to avoid the plastic milk jug!)

Happy Solstice! May your summer be wonderful!

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Wednesday, June 20, 2018

Wednesday, June 20 - Day 7

32.34 N
148.44 W

76 NM to the good - 1567 to go to Sitka

We've been at sea a week now, though it seems to me like we have been here for a very long time. We started off with great winds and speeds and have slowed right down. We are motoring and have been doing so since yesterday afternoon. We found ourselves with no wind and decided to take the gamble to catch them where they were predicted to be. The seas have been rolly but not high. We have passed in and out of fog and sunshine. The water temperature has dropped to 20 degrees, but the air is warm, and we are beginning to pick up light winds coming from the southeast. These are what we need to sail north. Doug has decided we shall use the drifter to try to make as much northing as we can with 10 knots of wind or less behind us. We are fine to take it slower (though frustrating) because we have plenty of water and plenty of food. As for diesel consumption - we have about 5 days worth aboard and we will have used one of those days.

With the engine on we are enjoying things like totally charged batteries, which means, in turn, a cold fridge, being able to use all our electronic toys, watch movies, have hot water. On the negative side, our hearing has dulled with the consistent throb of the engine. Learning how to be patient may be good for us!

We are starting to notice more and more trash in the ocean. We can't stick our head out without seeing a piece of plastic float by. It may be the size of a quarter, or as big as a crate, or a pop bottle. I hate to think where all this stuff comes to rest because it sure doesn't sink!

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Tuesday, June 19, 2018

Tuesday, June 19 - Day 6

31 42 N
150 30 W

60 NM made good to Sitka - 1643 to go

We didn't do so well on Day 6. The rain we had the night before was our indication that the quasi stationary front that has been dogging us, passed over us. As a result, late yesterday morning we went from confused winds and seas to strong winds and seas coming at us from the north. We had no choice but to bear off on a heading of 90 true. Very soon we had rolled away the jib, hoisted the staysail and double reefed the main. We were relatively comfortable, but it was very noisy and we were quite frustrated that we would have to endure these conditions for little gain. However, as the night progressed, the winds gradually became quite light and by morning we found ourselves becalmed, bobbing around in a rolly sea. Then the sun broke through the fog.

What to do? Doug went back to his weather analysis using weather faxes from NOAA and grib files and postulated that if we were to motor ENE for the next 6 hours, we might actually be able to get back into the southern winds coming off the front in conjunction with the high to the east of us. If we could do that, there would be a very likely possibility of having those winds driving us in the northerly direction we needed to go. If we could not find those winds, we could be wallowing around in these unsettled conditions until the front disappates, or worse, be stuck in the middle of a windless high. (When you do a long passage like this one, no wind is actually worse than too much wind because it means you are going nowhere and using up your resources). We are crossing fingers and toes that the plan works.

Otherwise, the muffins I baked yesterday did take some of the dampness out of the inside of the boat and the little bit of sun we had this morning helped as well. We are in good spirits and comfortable and in the groove!

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Monday, June 18, 2018

Monday, June 18 - Day 5

31.25 N
152.05 W

114 NM, 637 made good and 1703 NM to go!

We've had a rainy night and experienced more rain in the last 24 hours than we have in the last year! I suppose we had better get used to it again as we are returning to the Pacific Northwest! It is a gentle introduction for, although it is wet, it is warm. Although I wear my wet weather gear on watch, I am in my bare feet. I don't think I will be able to that for much longer!

We continue with the wind from the southeast on our quarter. During the night it was quite gusty (15 - 25 knots) and we were up and down from the cockpit reefing/unreefing sails and adjusting the self steering device. It is fairly damp and humid in the cabin today so in a little while I will bake another pan of muffins to dry things out a bit. We don't actually have a wet locker, so we transfer jackets to drip in the head, then hang from the bar in the main salon. Not the tidy Ka'sala we are used to by far!

We seem to be stuck under the quasi stationary front which brings these wet conditions. We will likely be staying in them until it dissipates sometime over the next couple days. Then? We aren't sure, but hope we can connect with the western side of the high so we can go more northerly in dryer conditions.

Fresh stores seem to have stabilized. I have gotten rid of everything that spoiled quickly, but still have plenty of apples and oranges, as well as pineapple and a melon. When that's done we have a case of fruit cocktail and lots of dried fruit. My larder is stocked with tins of vegetables that I can easily add to anything I make. However, I was surprised to find some of my long life milk had solidified and there was a weevil or two in the whole wheat flour!! (more protein - haha!)

All is well with the soggy sailors!

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Sunday, June 17, 2018

Sunday, June 17 - Day 4

29.53N
154.38W

121 NM covered, 1817 to go!

Even though we have only completed day 4, the days are beginning to blend together and the routines are seeming normal. In the last 24 hours we have continued with 15 knots from the southeast, sailing on a beam reach on 045 true at 6 knots. That could change in the next 24 hours as a front coming from the west may overtake us, bringing lighter, more northerly winds. So far we have managed to stay ahead of the front but the barometer is slowly dropping which is not a good sign. We wish we could be a few degrees farther east at the moment so we could continue traveling northeast with the high. We will just take it one day at a time. So we download weather faxes and grib wind reports and trim the sails and wait to see the outcome. The last couple days have been overcast and humid, but cooler. The sky is grey and the seas are grey. We've had regular rain showers - all associated with the slow moving front.

Our spirits are good, we are comfortable and we are on our way home!

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Saturday, June 16, 2018

Saturday, June 16: Day 3

29.00 N
155.47 W

131 nautical miles on Day 3, for a total of 402 and 1938 to go!

We have been making good time and the conditions continue in our favour. We are making a bit more easting than we had at first planned, but because of a slow moving front to the west of us, have decided to stay to the east of our track and in the favourable winds. Right now we are beam reaching and averaging 6.5 knots in approximately 20 knots of wind from the south east. Based on weather information Doug has decided we should stay on this course, if we can, for the next several days.

I think we are into the passage making routine again. The watches seem to come naturally and I am feeling a little more relaxed. I'm reading a book now and last night I watched a film. I made a quiche yesterday and tonight I will try for pizza. We've decided muffins on night watch beat granola bars any day!

On Doug's watch this morning a good sized squall bore down on us bringing stronger winds and a good dousing of rain. A flying fish managed to get itself entangled in one of the mainsail reefs and couldn't be freed until later in the morning, poor thing. Other than that - no wild life, and no other boats.

I'm trying to concentrate on the passage on a day by day basis and not think too much of life once we arrive. Time seems to move quicker that way, though we have done exceedingly well for three days at sea!

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