Marquesas to Hawaii – not our dream sail

 

At 08:00 Friday November 15, 2019 we haul the anchor and sail out of the bay at Nuku Hiva and set a course for Hawaii.  We could have sailed for Hawaii directly from Bora Bora, but that would have meant it would have been an “uphill” sail all the way to Hawaii.  Not many boats make this run and we’ve decided to do what almost everyone else does.  Sail the first 1200nm directly north from Nuku Hiva, cross the equator and the doldrums, then turn northwest and run the last thousand nm straight to the big island of Hawaii.  If everything goes as planned, this means we will have the wind and swells coming in mid-ships (a “beam reach”) the first part of the trip and have the wind and waves coming from the back the last half (a “broad reach”).

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Good-bye Nuku Hiva

But why are we sailing to Hawaii – it wasn’t part of our original plan.  As we’ve mentioned in previous posts, Kim, the skipper on Gwendolyn (who recently sank out near Niue) told us that they had sailed to Hawaii for two hurricane seasons since they enjoyed the islands so much.  They took nineteen days for their first passage.  Gwendolyn is a 50 foot boat and Capri is only 40 so we’re thinking it will take us three weeks – We’re also very conservative sailors and usually reef well down.  We’re assuming that Gwendolyn had an easy passage their first time – otherwise they wouldn’t have made the run twice.

Unfortunately, since this is Vinni and Carsten sailing, we won’t have an easy passage.  We sailed the 2,200 nm in just fifteen days, our toughest passage so far.  It wasn’t our dream passage, as you will see from reading below.

We were delayed a couple of weeks from our planned start when Carsten checked our rig (as we always do before making a passage) and found a small crack in one of the swaged ends on an inner shroud.  We spent the next week or so checking to see if we could source a new Dyform shroud from Tahiti.  No way – it would have to come all the way from either the states or Europe.

Help appeared in the form of a newly arrived boat that had a sign on the side that said “rigger”.  We hired him and he climbed up in the rigging like a monkey, checking everything.  He also gave us the bad news that he had found a broken thread on one of the inner shrouds, on the lee side.  We’ve had three riggers look at our rig over the past four years and every one of them has said that we shouldn’t worry about the rig since it is Dyform steel.  Dyform, according to them, never breaks.  But as usual, when it is Vinni and Carsten, we fall outside the statistics.  This rigger also said he had been a professional rigger for more than 15 years and this was the first time he had seen a broken thread on a Dyform rig.

What do we do now?  Is it safe to sail all the way to Hawaii?  Sailing westover is not a better choice since we can’t get the rig repaired before we get to Australia.  In other words- shit.  The French rigger tells us that the little crack Carsten found is not a problem, although it should be changed as soon as we can.  The broken thread is a bigger problem, but since it is on the lee side and will be on the lee side the whole way to Hawaii, it shouldn’t cause us any problems.

“Just don’t sail upwind with all your sails fully up!” he said.  We really don’t have a choice – Hawaii is our best answer – but that didn’t mean we weren’t concerned when we set sail.

Another concern is that this passage is NOT the Coconut Milk Run.  It is an empty stretch of water.  There will be no other boats sailing here and few, if any, freighters.  If anything happens, such as what happened to Gwendolyn, then we will just be out of luck.  That would mean spending perhaps a long time in a life raft before anyone gets to us.  So we’re relieved when we meet the Canadians, Margaret and David on their boat Heart & Soul.  They are also going to Hawaii, so that means we can “buddy boat”.

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Our “buddy boat” Heart&Soul

Mags and David have paid $400 to be advised by a Weather Router from Hawaii.  He will send daily briefings, advice on the weather and where to sail to avoid the worst of it.  Here, at the start, he’s advised them to wait until November 15 to leave, since there will be a good weather window for the run from Nuku Hiva to the Doldrums.  He says that once we reach the Doldrums, the winds will die for two days and thereafter we will have a broad reach all the way to the islands.  We decide to follow his advice.

Day 1

The last couple of days before sailing, we do some chores on Capri and spend a fair bit of time enjoying Mags and David’s company.  They don’t think they can keep up with Capri, since their boat is classified as a motorsailer and certainly slower than Capri.  Heart & Soul has a modified fin keel and is not as flat-bottomed as us.  But we tell them that, first of all, we stay reefed down most of the time and certainly will this time since we have a weakened rig.

We’ll sail with our main in the second reef and full genua all day.  H&S sets full sail and keeps up with us without any problems.  Our first day we have a dream sail, 10 to 12 knots of winds just forward of the beam, only 6 foot swells and lots of sunshine.  It doesn’t get any better than this and we enjoy every minute of it.  The night is spent under a star-studded sky with both sails in the second reef.  H&S also reefed down for the night and by dawn we are five nm ahead of them.  During the night, we can see them on the AIS on our chartplotter and also see their lanterns against the night sky.  Good, comforting feeling knowing they are nearby.

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Carsten starting the long process of snaking a new line through the boom

When I come up for the (very) early morning watch, Carsten gives me the bad news that the reefing line for the second reef has chafed almost all the way through.  Bad, bad news.  We’ve rigged Capri so we can reef the sails from the cockpit, meaning we don’t have to go on deck.  Now we have to snake a new line through the boom and because this will be shorter, we will have to rig it so we will need to go on deck if we want to reef or shake out a reef.  That really is bad news because when you want to reef – it is always bad weather.  Exactly the time when you don’t want to be on deck.

 

Nothing for it but to get started.  Carsten puts on a jackline to keep from falling overboard and goes up on deck to start the process of snaking a new line.  This isn’t an easy task and it takes three attempts before our efforts are crowned with success.  Three attempts and three hours of work in high seas.  Capri sails along just on the genua while we are working.  I’m comforted to see H&S catching up.

Distance sailed – 145nm

 

Day 2

H&S come storming up to us under full sail, while we are still in our second reef, both the main and genua.  The wind is running 10-12 knots from east-northeast and the swells are 6 feet from the east – only now we have a half knot of current running against us. Another beautiful day for sailing and Carsten cranks up the stereo and has Dire Straits roaring full blast.  Mags calls on the VHF and Carsten fumbles around trying to find the mute button.  Mags is calling to hear what in the world in going on over on Capri?  We tell her that we are celebrating getting the second reef working again.

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I can only agree with Carsten – this is the sexiest man on board – notice the wildly sexy new shorts!

We’ve agreed with H&S to check in with each other every day at noon on the radio.  Either the VHF or the Shortwave if we get separated.  We give each other our position, weather, problems, if any, and just how we’re doing.  Nice to talk with someone else once per day.

 

Distance sailed – 149nm

 

Day 3

We still have a comfortable trade winds passage with the wind blowing 10 knots from the east/northeast and 6 foot swells from the east.  The current is now running 1 knot against us.  The clouds are building up in the distance and by nightfall, the winds have died down to 5 to 8 knots while the squalls roll over us, one after the other.  There is lightning in the distance and we pack our telephones, radios and computers away in the oven where they, hopefully, will be protected if we get hit.

My cursing is loud and continuing when the flashlight I’m using dies just when I’m trying to reef in the genua in the middle of a squall.  We have several headlamps, but they are all adjusted to the skippers (enormous) head.  He claims his head so big because he has so many brains.  The lamps just fall down around my ears (ok, I’ll admit it – we have several and I could just have made sure one was adjusted to fit me – but why didn’t Carsten do that for me?).

As usual, the wind dies completely after a squall and now our two boats are wallowing in the swells, drifting down on each other.  I feel we’re getting closer than necessary and start the engine so we can get one nm between us.

At midnight, the wind comes back – 14 to 18 knots and this time it is right in our faces.  Carsten reefs the genua down to the 4th reef (it is now just a small handkerchief out there).  We’ve already reefed the mainsail down to the 3rd reef – our storm reef.  The swells are running 10 feet or so, choppy seas, right in our noses.  Despite our reefs, we sail away from H&S, leaving them 5nm behind.

The next morning, the winds have calmed down and we decide to rearrange our 3rd reef lines so we also have to go on deck to reef the 3rd reef.  We don’t want to take the chance that we will chafe the 3rd reef line over while underway.  Better to be safe than sorry out here.  The knocks are bigger and harder out here than back in the Baltic.

Some of you will wonder why we reef down so early and so far.  Baltic sailors don’t do that.  There is a huge difference between sailing these long distances and the typical day-sailing practiced in the Baltic.  The Baltic is a protected area of water.  The swells out here are generally 6-10 feet, but then the wind generated waves come on top of that.  They rise like chop, perhaps 5-6 feet on top of the swells and can come from 2-3 directions at the same time.  It feels like sailing in a Jacuzzi and Capri gets tossed around in the swells and waves like a beach ball.  If the weather report says 10-foot waves, it means that is the average size.  You can be damned sure that every wave “number 100” will be at least 60% and more likely 100% higher (up to 20 feet).  Frequently, they come in pairs and the second “sister” will only be a couple of seconds behind the first.  Since we need to have life on board while all this is going on, we reef down, so life on board is a bit more comfortable.  We Baltic sailors need to experience this before we understand it and the motto out here is: “Prepare for the worst and hope for the best”.

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Full Scottish Bikini – we’re in the tropics friends!

The seas are still unruly and now I’m in the galley cursing up another storm (I can curse in more than one language and I was using all of them).  I had just finished making chicken salad and the bowl, which was standing on a rubber mat (supposedly one that stops things from sliding) slid into the sink, landing, of course, bottom up.  I’m pissed and while fighting with that, I forget that I’ve left carsten coffee thermos just standing on the counter.  A freak wave hits and – BANG!- there goes the thermos, hitting the deck and smashing into a few thousand little pieces and now there is coffee all over the salon.  So I curse some more and I’m really upset that I’ve smashed Carsten coffee thermos.  I immediately offer to let him use my tea thermos as a coffee thermos, but he takes it all calmly, says “no thanks” and digs out the plastic thermos we use for making yoghurt.  All in all, a bad day for me.

Distance sailed – 129nm

 

Day 4

The winds have freshened to 16-18 knots, still coming from the east.  We still have a half knot of current running against us, but the 10-foot waves are getting more and more unruly.  We don’t understand.  We’re closing in on the equator where the weather is normally calmer.  We are at 1 degree south.  David sees a low water area on his charts and we alter course to go around it.  For some reason we can’t see this area on our charts.  We turn a bit further west than H&S so now the boats are further from each other.

We pass the area during the night.  H&S decide to head back east to get on the original course of sailing along 140 degree longitude.  We can’t quite understand why they want to fight the waves and wind and we continue straight north.  David is, according to Mags, a perfectionist and we suspect that they are going eastward so he can stick to his original plan.  Daytime finds us more than 10nm apart.  We can see them on the AIS, but for some reason they can’t see us.  We’ve also lost our VHF contact, but can still talk on the short-wave.  The past couple of nights we have observed that their navigation lights have blinked on and off and joked that either David has turned on the TV or else Mags is using the microwave oven.  But it is disconcerting that we are losing both AIS and VHF contact.

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We cross the equator!

At 11:00a.m. we cross the equator and are now back home in the northern hemisphere.  We haven’t forgotten to please King Neptune.  We’re ready with a glass of rum, one small sip for each of us – the rest for the King in the hope that he will be appeased and send us good weather and a fair crossing.

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A tiny sip for us and the rest for the KING!

 

Distance sailed – 143nm

 

Day 5

Wind, current and swells unchanged.  Despite the unruly sea which makes it difficult to move around on the boat (not least Carsten in the galley), our Aries wind vane is making the passage fairly comfortable.  It is steering us through the squalls, winds and swells perfectly.  We haven’t touched our sails or the vane for two days – Capri and the Aries are doing all the work.  Out here, you really need to trust your boat and your vane.

In an energetic mood, I clean Capri, change the sheets on the bunk and our towels – true luxury out here.

At noon, H&S has fallen more than 16nm behind us and we now lose their AIS signal.  Still no VHF, but the shortwave is working OK.  In the middle of the afternoon, I get a minor shock – a green triangle suddenly appears on our chartplotter screen – a freighter is passing some distance in front of us.  We call them on the radio and ask for an AIS and VHF check – they both see us and hear us just fine – whatever the fault is – it must be with H&S’s instruments.

We still see birds out here and I continue wonder where they sleep.  I guess they simply set down on the water and sleep there.

Distance sailed – 144nm

 

Day 6

 

The wind has freshened, now blowing 16 to 20 knots from the east, swells are running 6-10 feet and we have 1 knot of current against us.  Why do we have so much wind?  We are almost in the Doldrums where there is supposed to be zero wind.  Well, we’re certainly not complaining, wonderful comfortable sailing, sun during the day, stars at night only some spread out clouds.  The only discordant note are the squalls (sigh).  We can see high thin stratus clouds and cirrus clouds beginning to appear on the horizon and we know we are approaching the Doldrums.  Just before dusk, we see the cumulus clouds in the sky – they look like upside down mushrooms.  A fascinating sight.  Also an omen – what kind of weather are they bringing?

Distance sailed – 147nm

 

Day 7

For some unexplained reason, we’ve now also lost contact with H&S over the shortwave.  Damn.  So now we’re keeping in contact via the sat phone.  Email once per day.

We’ve just received a mail from David with their weather guru’s latest advice attached.  H&S are close to the 140 longitude – we are closer to 142 degrees.  The news is not good.  This is Thursday morning and the guru tells H&S that directly in front of them, between latitude 6 and 8 degrees north (in the Doldrums) there is a very aggressive weather area.  Thunder, lightning and winds over 40 knots (storm) and they need to get further east to at least longitude 138 to avoid it.  Thereafter they should make all the speed they can to cross the Doldrums, since there is even more nasty weather on the way.

Well, so much for the Doldrums with no wind.  When we crossed the last time, going south, we didn’t even notice it.  What can we do?  We are close to longitude 142 and there is no way we can sail 4 degrees east against the wind and swells.  Carsten talks about trying, but I disagree.  Trying that means sailing 240nm uphill in the next 30 hours – not on.   Instead, we agree that the best answer for us is to put the pedal to the metal and make all the speed we can to get across the Doldrums before the nasties hit us.  With a little luck, we can get across by Friday evening and thereby be ahead of the nasties by 12 hours or so – it is supposed to come roaring in Saturday morning.  We call that a plan and tell H&S that we’re making all speed now.  They decide to follow the guru’s advice.

At midnight, we cross into the Doldrums at 6 degrees north and the wind dies completely (only blowing 4 knots).  We crank up the engine and run at 2100 rpm to make as much speed as possible.  So we’re burning diesel, lots of it, but we have enough.

The guru also noted that when we were safe across the Doldrums, we would run into some hard weather, 25+ knot winds, for a few days.

Wonderful.  There are no chances to regret out here – you have to step up and take your medicine.

Distance sailed – 145nm

 

Day 8

 

We’ve reached Lat. 7 north and are now half way across the Doldrums.  It rains constantly and squalls hit us with precise regularity – every half hour.  Some of them are carrying winds of gale force.  Our plan is holding, we cross 8 degrees north in the middle of the night and the relief is palatable on board.  At least we’ve avoided the truly nasty weather he predicted.  We make the turn and head directly for Hawaii – we still have 1000nm to go.  The winds are 16 knots from the east.  Once again, both our sails are in the 3rd reef (storm reef).  We expect the winds to freshen up to the promised 25+ knots.

A freak wave knocks Carsten off his feet in the galley, causing a slight sprain in his right foot.  He spends the rest of the day with his foot elevated.  There is always something happening out here.

 

Distance sailed – 140nm

 

Day 9

The promised weather front, or whatever it is, now makes its appearance.  It looks like a warm front with constant rain coming in over us, but the frontal systems should be coming from the west, from Japan where these systems are formed.  This one is coming from the east.  We simply don’t understand the weather out here.  Rain, rain, rain, – oh did I mention it was raining?  The winds have turned northeast, now 25-26 knots and we are having difficulty holding our course for Hawaii, even though we’re as close-hauled as we can be.  The swells and waves are not, as expected from the east, but from the northeast, growing to 10-14 feet and pounding directly into the side of Capri.  The cockpit is regularly awash in seawater as the waves break in over us.

Are we having fun yet?

Damn right, we are having fun!

Or so Carsten likes to say.

Our Aries is fighting hard with the combination of wind and swells.  Wind vanes steer a boat in long “S” patterns, as much as 20 degrees from the straight course, all depending on how well you have trimmed your sails.  We’re surfing down the front of the waves and Capri is struggling.  If we turn sideways, we’ll broach and risk mega damage to the boat.

It is cold and it continues to rain constantly.  Noah would have felt right at home here.  We expect to see the flying fish lining up two by two to get on board and wait out the deluge.  Even our heavy sailing gear, our “foulies”, are soaked completely though.  In his watches, Carsten hides under the sprayhood, while I sit in my little “cave” at the companionway.

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Capri is heeling right over and Carsten hangs on as he checks our course

 

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During my watches, I wedge myself into my little “cave” so I don’t go flying around the cockpit

During my watch I see a monster wave rise alongside Capri and before I can do anything, it has tossed Capri into a 15 foot high wall of water that crashes down into the cockpit.  Fortunately, our cockpit is built to get rid of the water quickly.  The wave, however, takes our horseshoe shaped life preserver and our Danbuoy with it.  I can see them floating out in the water as we speed away.

Unbelievable that it can take the Danbuoy, which is a buoy about 6 feet long with a heavy metal knob at the bottom to keep it upright in the water.  The whole thing weighs something like 25 pounds.  You are supposed to throw it out into the water if someone falls overboard.  It has a flag and flashing light so you have a chance to find the person.  The other hope is that the man overboard is still conscious and can swim over the buoy and the attached life preserver and be found.  There is no chance to see a person in the water in these swells.  We have a MOB (man overboard) button on our chartplotter that sets a mark on the chart when we push it and both of us have individual AIS and Epirb (radio signals) units on our lifevests so we think there is a chance we will be found.  But finding the person is one thing – getting them back on board is another.  In reality – you probably can’t get the person back on board.  The rule on Capri is firm – DON’T FALL OVERBOARD!  We wear our lifelines and are attached to eyebolts in the cockpit both at night and in hard weather.  We never go deck unless the other person is awake and in the cockpit.

As I watch the Danbuoy and the life preserver with Capri’s name on it floating away, I have to fight the tears back.  I can only think that it might have been Carsten out there and I would need to turn Capri in these 12-15 foot waves and go back and find him.  A terrible scenario that I can only hope never becomes reality.

Distance sailed – 152nm

 

Days 10+11+12

 

In this hard weather and uncomfortable sailing, the days are impossible to delineate.   We have no life on board.  We switched to 2-3 hour watches, we are unable to stand a 4 hour watch.  At the worst times, even two hours is a hardship.  The weather guru had said a day or maximum two days of hard weather.  Our grib files we pull down tell us that we’ll be in this for at least the next three days, maybe more.

After yesterday’s loss of the Danbuoy and the horseshoe (which will end their days in the “plastic ocean” north of Hawaii) we don’t feel we can continue on the Aries and switch to our autopilot.  It reacts faster than the Aires.  We’ve never done that before.  On our Galapagos-Marquesas run the vane steered us the entire way perfectly.  But the high waves came from astern, not on the beam.

Our radar has started giving us an alarm that it has lost contact with the steering computer.  We don’t know why and can’t repair it out here.  It is irritating and a cause for concern – what might be next?  The chartplotter?  If the worst happens, we do have charts on our computer and a GPS we can plug in so we won’t be completely lost.  We also do have a sextant and we both know how to use it – but the sky is completely overcast so the sextant is of little use.

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It simply isn’t fair. Carsten can sleep anytime, anywhere. Grrrr!

Sleep is difficult and Capri’s abrupt movements means that even lying in the seabunk is not relaxing as you get tossed around.  Life on board is difficult, she’s heeling far over and “dancing the jitterbug”.  Well, as they say – no rest for the wicked.

Since Saturday we have survived on yoghurt in the morning and Rykrisp for dinner.  A hot meal is a dream.  Carsten could make one, but it is impossible to eat, even with a spoon.  My appetite is gone anyway.  The atmosphere on board and my mood are “under the deck”.  We each sit in our accustomed places and try to get through our watch.

Our personal hygiene is also suffering – it isn’t possible to shower out on the bathing platform.  But you say, you have a perfectly good shower in the head – why don’t you just use that?  As much as Capri is heeling, the drain pump can’t empty the stall and that would mean we would be sitting in ankle deep water whenever we used the toilet.

On the 4th day of this weather, Carsten comes down in the salon to get out of his foulies while I’m donning mine, preparing to go on watch.  In Denmark there is a concept called “caveman sex”.  Supposedly, all women want to be grabbed by the hair, dragged back to the cave and have sex with a muscular and very sweaty man.

I’m not sure who those women are – but supposedly we all do.

Carsten sniffs a bit as he takes off the jacket and says, “Christ I smell like a caveman!” as he points his nose at his armpits.  The deodorant isn’t working as well as the manufacturer claims it does.  Then he opens his overall sailing pants, wrinkles his nose a bit, smiles and says – “Hey honey –   how about some caveman sex – you women all want it – here’s your chance”. We both burst out laughing – but it doesn’t result in sex.

We get a mail from Mags and David and they to our surprise they write that this is “Great Sailing”.  Great Sailing?  We’re not at all in agreement – do we think they are joking?  They aren’t.  We get the same message a few hours later.  Are they experiencing different weather than we are?  They’ve set out a drogue twice to slow down and they hove to for 6 hours as the weather worsened, so it is difficult to understand they think this is “Great Sailing”.

We also get a mail from another Canadian boat we know, that left Bora Bora for Hawaii.  The skipper on that boat writes it is “really shitty sailing”.  He spent 30 years as a skipper on an icebreaker in the Artic so when he says “shitty sailing” – it is shitty sailing.  We feel a bit better after getting his mail – we were beginning to doubt our abilities as blue ocean sailors or maybe we were just a couple of pansies.

During my nightwatch, on the 4th day of this misery, I decide to call King Neptune.  I lean out over the water and yell “King Neptune – where are you?”.  Suddenly his head comes up through the water and he looks like a sour grumpy old man.  “Dear King Neptune,” I ask, “Why are you sending this lousy weather against us?”  He laughs and replies, “With the terrible rum you tried to buy me off with – what do you expect?  If, on the other hand you had given me champagne – then you would right now be sailing in sunshine.  When you crossed the Doldrums going south – you gave me champagne and I gave you great weather.”  I tried to excuse ourselves by telling him that we couldn’t get champagne on Nuku Hiva but he knows better and laughs at me as he sinks back down in the waters.  No help there.

Distance sailed day 10 – 131nm

Distance sailed day 11 – 159nm

Distance sailed day 12 – 140nm

 

Day 13

The wind is still close to 20 knots but has now turned towards the southeast and is thankfully is coming over our stern.  The waves have dampened a bit and are only 10 feet and less choppy.  Now we are able to reset our course directly for Hawaii.  We’d been worried that we would simply miss the islands by not being able to get far enough north.  The other two boats have the same challenge.

Our wind instrument that measures wind force and direction crapped out on us this morning.  Out sat phone crapped out also.  All this expensive electronic gear is crapping out.  Now we are unable to contact H&S, but worse, we are also unable to get weather data – so we’ll be sailing blind insofar as the weather is concerned.  Fortunately, we should make landfall in 3 days.

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Carsten celebrates by making a pizza. But Capri is acting like a rubber ducky and we have to eat it with a spoon off the board on the deck

We can no longer stand to smell ourselves and since the weather has eased, a bath on the rear platform is now a possibility.  Between a couple of squalls, we wash down.  It is a cold, cold wash because of the wind chill factor.  I change the bedsheets and we get fresh towels – so now we feel like human beings again.  Carsten has an appetite and chomps down on a burrito – but I stick to Rykrisp.  We have both lost weight on this trip – which is great, but we know we will put most of it back on when we start eating American food on the islands.  Carsten is dreaming of a cheeseburger and fries and a pickle.  Yummy.

Distance sailed – 144nm

 

Day 14

Winds and waves unchanged, except the wind has turned back in the north.  We are still able to keep our course for the islands.  Man – we can hardly wait to get into a harbor, drop the hook and lie quietly behind a breakwater for a change.

Capri is encrusted with salt – even down below.  These hard waves have shaken every piece of dust off the walls and from behind the cushions so she is dirty beyond belief.  Our cockpit cushions are soaked with salt water and hard as stone.  We are both getting sores from sitting in soaked clothes.  Carsten has one on his butt and claims it is a pain in the ass (pun intended).  Everything on the boat is wet, even the walls have some mildew.  We’ll need to spend a couple of days cleaning and drying everything out.

Distance sailed – 144nm

 

Day 15

 

06:30 – LAND HO!!!!!  I can just see a bit of Hawaii through the morning mist and the rain and clouds.  Uuuhh – this is Hawaii?  I thought there was supposed to be never ending sunshine?  We left the Marquesas in great sunshine – did we miss Hawaii and end up in Scotland?  I’ve been wearing my Scottish bikini for 10 days now.

Our last challenge comes 10nm from Hilo harbor.  A loud tapping suddenly comes from under the boat.  Carsten crawls down into the lazarette (also known as the isolation jail) and checks the rudder.  Everything is as it is supposed to be.  The autopilot has been giving some strange sounds the last couple of days and we have been unable to find the cause.

These sounds are from below the boat – so there is no other way than to go down and see what it is.  Carsten ties a rope around his chest, dons his snorkel and diving mask and climbs over the windvane and down our stern ladder to have a look.  In the meantime, we’ve turned Capri up into the wind to get her to lie still.  We’re sure he’ll find that there is something wrapped around either our keel or the rudder or the propeller.  Wonder of wonders, there is nothing and when we turn Capri and start making way again, the sounds have disappeared.  Whatever there was that made the noises, it must have gotten loose when we turned.

Before we can enter the harbor, we have to call the Coast Guard and ask for clearance to enter.  No problem with that and at the same time we tell them we have lost our buoy and lifepreserver, both with our name on them.  This is so if someone else finds them and calls it in – they won’t start a search.  We also ask them to send a mail to H&S telling them we have arrived safely.  We haven’t been able to communicate with them for 3 days and don’t want them to worry.

Radio Bay in Hilo is not a marina, even though you can tie up at the wall.  Most don’t because of the risk of getting rats or cockroaches climbing over to the boat on the lines.  We drop the hook in the middle of the harbor (which is allowed) and for the first time in 15 days, Capri lies still.

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The hook is down and Capri finally lies still

After a complete cleaning of Capri and dismounting the Aries and getting the dinghy inflated and in the water and checking in with the harbor authorities, it is time for a G&T.  We’ve made sure that we have ice and a cold tonic so we thoroughly enjoy this well-deserved sundowner.  The only thing missing is the sun.  It is still raining and gray.  The rainy season has started here and we are on the windy side of the islands – where it rains the most.

Bill and Mary, an American couple are tied to the wall in their catamaran.  They got here two weeks ago and it took them 18 days following the same route we did.  They come out in their dinghy and when they find out that we have neither beer nor wine – they immediately come back with a six- pack and a couple of bottles of red wine.

 

Thank You!!!!!!

 

It is weekend and Customs and Immigration is closed so we cannot clear in until Monday.  We’re ecstatic that we’re here.  We expected the passage to take 3 weeks, but we did it in exactly (almost to the hour) in 15 days, averaging 145nm per day and just shy of 6.5 knots per hour.  A fast passage indeed.  We can’t thank Capri enough for getting us here in one piece.

So here we are, with a G&T in our hand after the toughest sailing we’ve had so far during the past three and half years.  Have we done the right thing by leaving the “Coconut Milk Run” and coming north?  Will we regret this decision?  Hopefully not.  The next year visiting Hawaii and Alaska should be an unforgettable experience and we are looking forward to it.

Despite the rainy weather, we’ll stay here in Hilo until after New Years and then sail north to the other Hawaiian islands.  Stay tuned for more to come as we sail further.

And lest we forget – Have a MERRY CHRISTMAS AND A HAPPY NEW YEAR!  We haven’t quite gotten in the holiday spirit yet – but it will come.

 

Just for information – H&S came in two days after us.  They got a bit of a shock when we told them that we could see that they had broken a bolt on their wind vane and it was in danger of falling off.  They hadn’t seen that and were happy they made it in before they lost it.  They still thought they had a wonderful sail.  They also think we have a rocket for a boat.  Their boat is slower than ours and their bottom is shaped differently – so they probably didn’t have the same jouncing around we did.  They also are able to steer the boat from below – so they did not spend hours soaking wet in the cockpit.

The other Canadian boat gave up trying to reach Hilo and made for Oahu and arrived safely in Honolulu.

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