Random Thoughts (Passage to the Marquesas)

May 14, 2012

Ice Limit: for centuries, sailors have been concerned about the “ice limit.” This is the line beyond which ice bergs are very unlikely to be seen. “Wait a minute Betty, he’s gone mad… he’s in the tropics and he’s talking about the ice limit!” No, this is actually a different kind of ice limit that we crossed today. It’s the point at which the air outside and the water in our tank are both warm enough to take a shower outside in the cockpit. We just barely crossed it today! It was cool and very refreshing but only just warm enough. Yesterday would have definitely been on the wrong side of the ice limit.

Seven Seas Core Fitness Program: A new late-night infomercial product. Act now and we’ll put you on a boat in the middle of the Pacific and let you try to sit up straight and type while the boat pitches and rolls. The next 7 callers will also get as an added bonus the “confused seas” package, normally a $129.99 value, absolutely free. As you may gather, it’s been a rough ride for a couple of days. The wind’s been around 17 knots but there are swells coming from at least three or four different directions that account for this discomfort.

Birds: One of the things on our to-do list was to remove our bird and fish identification books and try to get them on the kindle to save weight and space. Well, we did the first part, the removal part, but didn’t quite get to the second part. Because of that, I’m only 60% sure the fish we caught was a skipjack and I have no idea what these incredible birds around us are. I used to know but I used that bit of brain storage to hold the Bank of America customer service phone number. They are wonderful. They’ve been flying around the boat for about three or four days now. They are about the size of a small, slender seagull but very pointy and streamlined. And what incredible pilots! We thought the swallows we had in Fallbrook were good but these guys take it to a whole new level. The are both maneuverable and fast. Though with all the flying around we’ve seen them do, presumably in search of food, we’ve never seen them eat anything.

Fish that Fly: We are at times pelted with flying fish. Legacy will sail through a school of them and they’ll all take to the air at once. The school becomes a flock for about 100 feet or so and then back to a school. Some unlucky ones end up on our deck. We try to catch them in time and return them to the water, but we don’t always make it. Sometimes we find a little petrified one in some hidden corner of the deck. We are also getting some small squid on deck. We’ve gone from the rust stains of Wilmington to the ink stains of the Pacific.

Statistics: We’ve been out here 11 days so far, I think (kind of losing track). We’re now 1430 miles from Catalina. We have 780 miles to go to get to the equator and then 625 miles after that to get to Hiva Oa. We’re making about 120 miles a day on average and that’s about what we expected. We’re now about at the half way point as it’s 2865 miles from Avalon to Hiva Oa. -Rich

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First Fish! (Passage to the Marquesas)

May 2012

We caught our first fish today – a skipjack over 30cm long! (Sorry, but it sounds so much better in centimeters. If you must know how long it was in feet, type this into your Google search box, without the quotes: “30cm in feet”.) OK, so now you’re not so impressed, are you? Yea, it was small, but it was good. We had fish and eggs for breakfast. It all went in one meal.

It didn’t take long to catch. Today was our first serious attempt at fishing on this passage. I put the lines out this morning after the sun came up and had a fish within a half an hour. Not bad. We caught this on a bare cedar plug. I’m really starting to like those.

It’s been a little down hill the rest of the day. There is a swell from several directions and light winds again today. The combination is making for an uncomfortable ride. It’s been overcast all day but it’s a really nice temperature. Not too hot, not too cold. (You know me, I’ll whine about the temperature given the slightest cause.)

We’re making slower progress the past few days. Yesterday we made 100 miles and the day before that just 114 miles. We’d like to average 120 miles a day. We have 1185 miles to go right now to get to the equator or about 10 days at 120 miles a day. We may slow down quite a bit when we hit the unsettled winds around the equator, called the inter-tropical convergence zone or ITCZ. It’s an area where the northeast trade winds in the northern hemisphere meet the southeast trade winds of the southern hemisphere. Their conflict can bring thunder storms and light winds and squalls. It’ll be interesting.

In general, all’s well aboard Legacy, with the boat and with her crew. We’re having a nice time out here. The days are starting to pass magically and we’re settling into life at sea. We hope all’s well with our shoreside family.

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Another Day in Paradise (Passage to the Marquesas)

May 9, 2012

We are now in the tropics – that is we’re south of the Tropic of Cancer. That’s the line on the surface of the earth that the sun is directly over during the northern hemisphere’s summer. There is a corresponding line in the south called the Tropic of Capricorn. Between those lines is the tropics. And now that we’re in the tropics, it’s getting a little warmer. Today, sitting in the sun, putting out the fishing lines for the first time during this passage, I was actually a little hot. I love it! It’s still pretty cool at night but we don’t think we need the long underwear any longer.

The wind is light and it makes for hard sailing conditions. The seas are still a bit large with swells that are about 6 feet. They tend to dump the air out of our sails. This results in a lot of loud banging from the sails and a rolly ride. Last night was really bad and it’s been gradually getting better all day long as the swells get smaller and smaller. Right now, we’re moving along at almost 6 knots (about 6.6 miles per hour). It will be a lower mileage day but not too bad and generally, we’re making progress in the direction we want to go.

The last avocado was devoured today. I’d stop to get more but I can’t seem to get Google maps to work on my phone – can’t find a Ralphs without it. Oh well. Our supplies are holding up very well though. Cyndi did an incredible job of provisioning. We have still plenty of good food on board.

I don’t think I mentioned it before but we’re not alone out here. We’re sailing this course with another boat named Local Talent with skipper and single-hander, Dean Jones. He left Catalina about an hour after us. He’s now about 45 miles ahead of us. We talk on the radio about three times a day. It’s been nice to have Dean nearby. He’s also sailing through the South Pacific with an itinerary very similar to ours. His girl friend will fly down to meet him at Hiva Oa for the trip through the islands to New Zealand.

We’re seeing about one large ship a day. Early this morning, one passed about two miles behind us. It was coming from the Panama Canal and heading to Hawaii. Our new electronics are great as it allows us to see these ships early, tells us who they are and exactly where they’re headed and how close they’ll pass to us. I would guess we’ll see less and less ships as we head further south. That’s fine by us.

That’s all the news for today from the crew of Legacy. -Rich

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We Hate Eric Loss! (Passage to the Marquesas)

May 7, 2012

I didn’t know something could be taken from us this far away from land and people but it was. We started to notice it’s absence gradually at first but after Cyndi and I discussed it, it turns out we are both feeling the devastating effects of this affront.

Who’s Eric Loss? He’s an incredible, 26 year old young man sailing a 36 foot boat around the world, mostly non-stop, alone. We met him at Yacht Haven marina and have been keeping up with his adventure through his blog. (http://svodyssey.blogspot.com)

What did he take from us? Our ability, and natural right, to feel sorry for ourselves!

This has been a pretty good passage so far but there have been discomforts that we’d very much like to whine about. We’ve had a pretty big swell – maybe 10 feet – from a direction that pushes the boat around and makes life aboard somewhat uncomfortable. Nope, as soon as we start to feel sorry for ourselves, we think about Eric in seas too large to describe. Today, the wind is a bit light, maybe 10 knots or so, and we’d sure take pleasure in a little self pity about this, but no, thanks Eric! Every time we even start to think we have it rough, we think about you becalmed for days at a time, not moving at all. At least we’re moving along at about 5 knots.

In writing this, I guess, even without Eric’s thievery, we really have very little to complain about. I think this is about as good as sailing away from the California coast gets. The water is starting to turn that incredible cobalt blue color that it gets in the tropics. Tomorrow afternoon, we should be at about the same latitude as Cabo San Lucas and we are hoping the sun and air start to feel warmer each day. Everything on the boat is working well, most everything at least, but those things that are not working aren’t important. (Besides, how can we complain with what Eric’s been through – curses Eric!)

If it stays like this tomorrow, I think we’ll let the fishing begin. Wish us luck. With a little luck, the sushi eating will begin! Also the fish stew, grilled fish, marinated fish, broiled fish…

By the way, or friends Larry and Nelda are making landfall tomorrow in the Marquesas. They must be so excited. Hopefully, that’ll be us in another two weeks or so. They have a great blog at www.sailblogs.com/member/diamondgirl


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Routine (Passage to the Marquesas)

May 5, 2012

We’re kind of falling into our at-sea routine already. Normally, it takes about three days but I think it’s coming back to use more quickly this time. I take watch from 3PM until 9PM and I check in on the Pacific Seafarers net at about 8PM. Cyndi takes watch from 9PM until 3AM – good thing she’s a night owl. I’m on again from 3AM until 9AM. Cyndi takes 9AM until 3PM and then it starts all over again. We’re doing really well at getting some sleep when we’re off watch. So well that I’m already really missing Cyndi’s company.

It looks like we might get some sun today as the sky is clearing – it’s about sunrise now. It would be nice to have a little warmer day. The swells are supposed to be a little smaller today and that would also be nice. We’re making pretty good time but we’re deliberately going a little slower to make the ride more comfortable. We made about 136 miles in 24 hours yesterday. We’re 75 miles west of Guadalupe Island off of Mexico right now.

This is less than the most creative email I’ve ever written. Sorry. I hope they get more entertaining as we settle in more. -Rich

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First Night Out (Passage to the Marquesas)

May 3, 2012

Cold, cold, cold! I should just leave this post at that but I’ll go on. It was a pretty nice night. The winds were steady and from a good direction. The swell is a little too large and not from such a good direction as we’re rolling quite a bit. As I tried to type that sentence, my seat, with me in it, went sliding across the chart table bench. You really can’t ask for better conditions leaving the California coast but wow, is it cold! We’re wearing long underwear, sweatshirts and parkas. If it gets any colder, I’ll have to resort to socks. Oh well. Soon we’ll be complaining about the heat. I can’t wait. -Rich

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We’re off – and this is why! (Catalina, California)

May 3, 2012

We’re finally getting underway. There are just a few last-minute things to do and we’ll sail away from Catalina Island, California, the United States, North America. Out across a big chunk of the Pacific Ocean and hopefully, end up like one of the boats in this picture. More in a few days.

(By the way, don’t worry about us if these posts stop. You know computers. There are vast complexities between us on the boat and the resulting blog post. If any one piece fails, no posts. We have an emergency signaling device on the boat called an EPIRB and if anything were truly wrong, we’d activate it.)


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Sorry, No Pics!

May 1, 2012

Sorry to say, We won’t be able to post pictures while we’re underway – just text. After all day of messing with this issue, it seems that the system we use for email over HAM radio changes the images in such a way that the posting software doesn’t recognize the image. There are several posts on the internet discussing this issue but no resolution.

So here’s what we’ll do: We’ll save up all the pictures until we find a wifi connection in French Polynesia and post a whole bunch of pictures then. We’ll just have to do our best to describe the trip in words until then. -Rich

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Avalon (Catalina, California)

May 1, 2012

Here we sit in beautiful Avalon, our first stop. Although only 26 miles from Redondo Beach, it might turn out to be the hardest leg of the trip. So much planning, so much preparation. Was it enough? We’ll find out. Only time will tell if we brought enough Cheeze-Wiz and Oreo’s!

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Departure Day! (Redondo Beach, California)

April 29, 2012

We did it! We left the dock! Sunday afternoon about 1:00 we got away. It was quite an event for us. I’ve never seen Cyndi with a bigger smile and mine was ear to ear as well. The harbor patrol and life guards gave us send off at the harbor entrance with the siren blaring and the fire hose streaming water. Then it all fell apart. We got all of our bad luck out of the way in the first 3 minutes of our cruise.

I pushed the throttle levers up to leave the harbor and the engine started to slow down. There we were with the prospect of having no power while heading for the jetty. I’d changed the fuel filters the day before and I guess I didn’t get all the air out of the system. I flicked on the auxiliary fuel pump and the engine powered back up.

Then I went take down the little video camera I’d had set up to record our departure. It was stuck. I got it unstuck just as the boom swung over and hit me in the back of the head. Not too hard. I’m still alive.

OK, now all the problems were behind us. I pointed us to the point and set the electronic autopilot. All appeared to be working. Seconds later, the boat started a big u-turn and an error message came on the chart plotter with words to the effect that some idiot forgot to turn on the autopilot computer. Oops! That was a quick fix and all was really well from that point on.

Six hours later, we were sitting in beautiful Avalon bay on Catalina Island where we will spend the next few days. Depending on weather, and a small remaining to-do list, we should get underway for the next 2850 mile leg on Wednesday or Thursday. -Rich

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