updated 2/25/16

First Mate's Journal  

Sailing North to Alaska   
Days 8-15

Sat. July 7, 2012 - Day 8

After supper we made the joint decision to keep the main up for the evening. Usually bites us in the butt, but we'll see....It does mean we will make better distance during the night. Sunset was gorgeous with lots of red. Winds have been very consistant this trip, such a pleasant change from the previous passages. We have over 1800 miles left so there is plenty of time for them to get fickle on us. The boat has sailed well. The ability to deep reef the main has added a whole new dimension to the boat's capabilities, comfort and speed. Tomorrow I will have to forcibly move the cat from her locker to her new "Q" zone. Does she even remember she has a box? It is still remarkably warm. I have on my fleece pants and flannel shirt but no socks. The fleeces are almost too warm. It has been a wonderfully relaxing day.

Bree just came out of her hole to issue a verbal complaint, take a drink and then squirm back into her hole. Chuck said she came out twice while he was on watch. Ship spotted at 3am on the horizon to the East. Winds have remained constant through the night and so far it looks like another sunny day.

31.45 N 161.06W

Hit the high this afternoon. We ran the engine for 4 hours today charging all batteries, the boat's and the cameras. Spotted a lot of trash while we were motoring. A large blue water barrel was the first, then it seemed every 10-15 minutes we saw something else. A laundry basket, bits of yellow poly rope, two large fishing floats, one fairly new and the other so heavily crusted with growth is was barely visible. Crab net, blue Delo oil container, and many tiny bits to numerous to mention or count. It is much easier to spot trash when the water is smooth but still difficult to get photo's since you generally see the object when it is immediately alongside and already floating past. We decided to put up our new genoa this afternoon-sweet! Wind speeds 3.2-6.4 knots. Boat speed 2.5-3 knots. 1853 miles to Sitka. Beautiful day! Sun was partially out but it was still very warm so we also took the opportunity to wash our hair and bathe. Breakfast this morning was late and rather odd. Left over potato, onion and corn pan fried with tinned beef then served over scrambled eggs on a tortilla with a dollop of salsa. Not bad. Late lunch of steamed carrots and sweet potato with some grilled flatbread. Bree came out of her hole as I was making lunch. She is sleeping in her hammock now but I need to see her use her box or she will be living in her new quarters this evening.

Sun. July 8, 2012   Day 9
32.13N 161.03W
Course 0 degrees Speed <1kt
Seas calm E. swell 4', glassy


Ship spotted by its lights off in the distance to the NW. (Phillipines Great Circle Route) It is a beautiful evening with very light winds of 3-6 knots. We left the genoa up for the night. There was a clear sky 360 degrees before sunset and nothing on the horizon looked like possible squalls. Leaving the genoa up will help our overall daily numbers even at 2.5 knots. I looked up our first crossing and we are already a full week ahead. Still in fleece pants and flannel shirt which is a bit too warm sometimes. Still barefoot. Steamed veggies for supper and canned peaches for dessert with a cup of instant coffee and a few ginger snaps. I keep threatening but Bree still resides in her hole. She has been out much more today and spent some time sleeping in her hammock


Moving again! Made slow progress through the morning. 1-1.5 knots slowing to nothing around noon. We had lunch of bean and cheese burrito with avacado and salsa then went on deck and made a few adjustmest to the genoa. Note to self: Small bolin at the head. Chuck also reran the jib sheets end for end as there was some wear beginning to show. Pulled in the fishing line which was out since 6:30am (no luck again) and hammered the socket back in for the tiller pilot. We had a good amount of sun today so no power worries. We are now on the port tack.

Mon. July 9, 2012 - Day 10
32.55N 160.31W
Course 300 degrees Speed 5 knots
Winds NE 15-20
Seas 5-6' with a combined NE wave and swell 8-10'
reefed main - working jib
Baro - 30.0
Temp - 80 degrees
1778 miles to Sitka

Weather started picking up last night and around 2am we decided to pull the genoa. Luckily the moon was bright and visibility on the foredeck was good. Stuffed the Genoa down the forward hatch as it was impossible to secure the monster on deck. Being brand new it is still slick and slippery and does not fold down well. Like wrestling a greased bear on deck. We had the number three up in not to bad of time depending, of course, on whose watch it was. Winds have changed from due East to North East, our current heading of WNW has Chuck a bit bummed. Chuck has not been sleeping much so after sail change last night I let him have an extra hour. Dinner last night sauted onions, carrots and corn over fried noodles. Lunch yesterday Bean and Cheese burrito with guacamole and salsa. Breakfast this morning of oatmeal with blueberries and pine nuts.

Yesterday-didn't write much. Pancakes for breakfast since the seas were flat. We spent the whole day on maintenance. Chuck went through the halyards and took off any chafed ends. The tiller pilot cover I am making is almost finished. Deck check this morning found the large bolt for the mast step out slightly and the nut was barely hand tight. Pin on the boom has remained secure since Chick appplied the loktite. Weather still pleasant. It was a bit cool and damp this morning but for now we are both still in shorts.

We had a two hour period of beating into a NE wind with 6-8 foot seas. It has now mellowed out and the seas are flatter but our direction of sail brings us no closer to Sitka. To tack or not to tack...asked several times today. Lunch of canned tuna with diced onion and tomato on crackers. Bree will not be coaxed out of her hole even for tuna. I am starting to doubt if she will still be with us by the end of this trip.

Tues. July 10, 2012 -  Day 11

32.55N 160.51W
Course 300 degreees Speed 2-3 knots
Winds NE at 3-5 knots
Seas - flat
1786 miles to Sitka

Hove to last night at 6pm. We spent all day beating and only made a few miles progress. Supper of canned chili and grilled flatbread shared out of the pan followed with a square of chocolate and a cup of coffee for dessert. The lanterns were lit and we have had a very relaxing evening. Both of us slept well. Will have coffee and breakfast first before getting underway this morning. Bree came out several times last night and even used her box, woohoo!

Finished breakfast, oatmeal with cranberries, pine nuts and a tablespoon of peanut butter then got to work. Put up the main, took down the number 3 jib and stuffed the genoa back on deck then raised it. It took both of us to get the genoa back out the forward hatch and on deck because it is so large and slippery. Winds are 5-7 mph NE. We decided to shake the deep reefs out of the main but it still has roller reef in and the boat is currently making 2-3 knots. Sun is shining, the tiller pilot is on duty and I am in bathing suit top and sarong. Temp is 82 degrees. We lost nearly 10 miles last night-tough after spending all day beating for a mere three miles.

Tacked at 5:15 after changing our heading from 330 to 60 degrees. Over all today we have made little, if any, progress toward Sitka. (1783 miles) and 272 miles off our track to the West. Sunny day has allowed for solar panels to get a charge. Turned the tiller pilot off at noon while using the watermaker (2hrs-25 min) and we have continued to hand steer. Lunch turned out pretty good,considering, one onion, 1/2 can corn and a can of tuna that needed to be used. I sauteed the onion first then added corn and tuna plus 2 tbsp sweet chili sauce. Added as a side to a cheese quesedilla. Nummy. Must use the rest of the carrots by tomorrow as they are starting to get mushy. Still have three Kamuela tomatoes and two roma. I had to toss the last avacado yesterday. It was soft and somewhat black which is normally O.K but it tasted so bad I had to spit it out. We have 18 apples and 9 oranges left. The oranges have sure been a disappointment. It looks like they have been previously frozen and they are hard and tastless. Using more instant coffee than I had planned on. It much easier to make and tastes very good (Starbucks). We've had some issues of boline's coming undone. I would give myself a hard time but not all have been mine. We talked last night and again this morning of using buntline hitches to secure the halyards, now if either of us could just figure out how to tie them.... So far the weather continues to be extremely pleasant, I am still barefoot. Trash situation is sad and onerous. We spent the afternoon counting the larger bits but didn't bother with anything smaller than about 4". The smaller stuff is just to numerous to count. Just counting the larger stuff we got 62 items in just four hours.

Wed. July 11, 2012 - Day 12

33.40N 160.52W
Course 350 degrees Speed 2 knots
Seas - flat
Winds light and Easterly
Full main - Genoa
Baro - 30.0
Temp - 82 degrees
1747 miles to Sitka

Red sky in the morning...well it was more pink than red.....really.....
Chuck's first watch was one of frustration. Winds fickle and uncooperative. He woke me at 11 saying we were going to tack. For the last two days any tack we made gave us a 90 degree change of direction rather than 45 (!?!) We don't want to go West or South. After we tacked we were finally able to attain a course of 0 degrees. As soon as we did the winds increased and we were moving along well. We had passed 1776 in about three hours, more of a gain than the last two days. Spotted a vessel around midnight. I think it was the same fishing boat we saw a few days ago. Beautiful night on watch. Only a quarter moon but it is still very bright. We passed through a couple small squalls who's wind gave us a welcome boost. This morning brings relatively flat water and 10-14 mph winds. The tiller pilot was on all last night starting after we tacked. Looks like we will have plenty of sun again today. Bree was out of her hole this morning and had a few bites of food. We broke open a new bag of her food yesterday. I kept thinking "What if her food is tainted?". We will see if this makes any difference. In fleeces and a flannel shirt but still sockless. I seem to have mis-placed my watch.

Put up the genoa after breakfast and shook out all the reefs in the main. Seas are calm and flat with very light Easterly winds, still, we are making two knots. Very glad we invested in the new sail or we would have been sitting here for a while. And yet... we are 1749 miles from Sitka taking three days to make 100 miles. Breakfast of sweet potato hash and eggs. Was hoping to add some of the carrots but they were to far gone. I peeled them but they still had a rotten flavor. Daily maintenance, change camera batteries, sweep. Round ring(cotter pin) pulled out of the main sheet and had to be replaced.. New sheets and thump mats need to be made. Bree used her box this morning twice and had a nibble of food. She has gotten extremely thin and is drinking lots of water. Forward hatch is open providing a nice little breeze the boat would be warm without. Had the handline in the water all day yesterday but another "no catch" day. I put it out again this morning...we'll see.

Made very little progress today but we had such a nice evening-who cares? Tiller pilot has been on all day. It's attention span has kept us on course all day, mostly at 1-2 knots but at least in the right direction. Another sunny, hot afternoon. We decided it was shower time and took turns tossing buckets of water on each other. Beef burrito for lunch today with re-hydrated beans, chopped onion and a tomato with cheese and tinned beef. Lunch was around four so "supper " was a can of peaches with a few ginger snaps. Chuck has actually climbed into the v-berth to sleep tonight. Seas are flat calm with just a breath of wind. Phosphoresence is strong tonight and I can see the shape of a couple of Mahi Mahi shadowing us. Thinking of running the engine tomorrow depending on how much sunshine we get and we need to run the water maker. Batteries and solar panels have been working well so far. Our power drains are minimal and seem to be easily replaced. That will, of course change as we get farther North. Did not catch anything on the handline today, our guests swimmimng beside us are no doubt laughing at us. Thought I caught a glimpse of a light off our port quarter but have not seen it again. Stars are out and bright now that they are no longer washed out by the moon. Hoping I can get some work done on the tiller pilot cover tomorrow. Where did the day go? Busy...but not... Got lots of small stuff accomplished. Put the deep reef back in the main just before sunset but left the genoa up. Clear skies all around and no sign of wind. Still very pleasantly warm. Not looking forward to the cold but we are much better prepared this time.

Thurs. July 12, 2012 - Day 13

34.06N 160.24W
Course 17 degrees magnetic - 23 degrees true
Speed 4-5 knots (under power)
Sea state glassy
Winds dead calm
Baro - 29.5

Woohoo! 1700 miles to Sitka. Four days, 100 miles averaging 1 knot. Still no wind in sight. We motored for four hours today. Charging camera batteries, computer and using the water maker. All these cameras are getting to be a bit much and it takes a lot to meke them happy. Logged garbage while motoreing, increasing daily but most all the big stuff has been fishing net floats. Quick hand burrito for lunch with some of the tinned beef, tomato, onion and cheese. Had a bit of a scare shortly after starting the motor. We felt and heard the engine go thump. Chuck immediately put the gear into neutral. Looking over the stern rail the first thing I saw was a big Mahi Mahi. Chuck put the boat into gear again and a huge cloud of black smoke came out of the exdhaust and we could feel the prop vibrate. First thought was that we had blown something in the engine (vibration and black smoke) but a quick survey showed nothing wrong. Chuck put the engine in reverse, then forward and then again into reverse. Looking over the stern rail again I saw some small bits emerge and I called to Chuck to reverse again. This time a big piece of black plastic (inner tube?) came floating up. The Mahi Mahi immediately surfaced again on his side as if to say "got it Dude!. Tiller pilot has been on for several days now, lifesaver in these light winds as there is now way Chuck or I could do a better job of hand steering. Seeing the return of our jellyfish friends.

Beautiful sunset accentuated by the perfectly calm water. Dinner in the cockpit. Beef burrito, I sauteed half an onion with the beef (third meal from the one tin of beef). Re-hydrated beans and cheese on a tortilla and the whole thing lightly fried in olive oil topped with a spoonful of salsa. No dessert tonight, just a cup of tea. Chuck is in the cockpit as even the tiller pilot is unable to hold a course. The bed is made, I'll finish my tea then it's time to sleep in it. Very warm tonight. The barometer dropped slightly, temp is 80 degrees. Bree has only emerged from her hole to use her box earlier today. We have an abundance of small fish using the boat as a FAD.

Fri. July 13, 2012 - Day 14

Course 020 degrees Speed <2 knots
Winds <5 knots Easterly
Seas flat
Baro - 29.9
Temp - 86 degrees
1684 miles to Sitka

34.26N 160.15W

We have wind! Not much, but enough to have us moving at two knots. Chuck's 9-11 watch was frustrating. There was not enough wind to keep us pointed in the right direction even with the tiller pilot. I came out at 11 and at 12:30 we passed a cloud formation which gave us enough wind to sail beautifully at four knots until Chuck came on watch again. Poor Chuck, hand steering again from 2am on. We passed a fully inflated car tire including the rim, at least I managed to get a pic. Charging the Nikon battery again, it sure seems to use up the batteries.... The kettle is almost ready for a second cup of coffee. Will shake out the reef in the main and see if we can make any progress today. The sun is shining so the solar panels are charging and we are still in t-shirts and shorts. Barometer holding steady, temperature is still in the 80's


Shook out all reefs. We have a 5 knot wind out of the East, our course is 0 degrees at three knots.

Winds are fickle and have died again. Water is glass smooth. We are drifting along at one knot or less. We passed a clump of fishing net with floats and lots of growth. As we passed dozens of small fish left their pad to check out the new one passing by. Saw two large Mahi Mahi, not sure if they are the same that have been hanging with us all along or not. Chuck brought out the GoPro and put it down on the boat pole. Breakfast of oatmeal with pine nuts, cranberries, spoonfull of peanut butter and a splash of maple syrup. Lunch of canned minnestrone soup and chips(two tortillas cut up and fried lightly in olive oil sprinkled with salt and parmesan cheese). Sun is hot and cabin temp is 86 degrees. Whew! We are jumping on deck it is so hot on the feet. Bree remains in her hole except for coming out twice last night. Worried about her, she is getting awfully thin.

Sat. July 14, 2012 - Day 15

37.12 N 158.21W
Course 020 degrees Speed 5 knots
Seas 4-6' SE 
Baro - 30.3
Temp 80 degrees
Reefed main - Genoa
1500 miles to Sitka

The sun is up and it is another beautiful day. We are cruising along with genoa and rolled reefing (x3) and averaging 3.5-4 knots. Very casual night. I slept up forward in the v-berth until Chuck woke me at 4am. What a luxury. It is amazing how much stuff we had crammed up there coming over the first time. Just made a cup of instant coffee to drink on the step and begin trash watch. Chuck said we bounced off something earlier but it must have been small since he didn't see anything off the stern. I'll let Chuck sleep as long as he likes this morning and we'll shake out the reefs after breakfast. The cover for the tiller pilot is almost done. I got it mostly finished yesterday but just need to work on the button covers. Bree came out last night and spent some time with us hanging in her hammock. I have a feeling she has been chewing on bad things the whole time she has been in her hole, Dork! Dinner last night of spaghetti. No wine. We could have easily been tied up at the dock considering how smooth it was. Lanterns lit and we had a cup of instant coffee and a square of chocolate for desert then I crawled forward to sleep in the v-berth around 10:30. Hoping we will have some consistant wind through the afternoon. Winds picked up yesterday around 6 and blew 6-8mph consistantly through the night. We'll see at noon what kind of mileage we made yesterday. Go North two weeks then turn right. It should almost be time to start getting some Westerlies. The boat is still nice and dry, we havent really had any rain to speak of and no "Mist of Doom" this trip. New set up for the water tank is working well. Will need to run the watermaker again today. Tiller pilot on and happy. It would be nice to complete this trip without it breaking. On the "things to get and things to do list"; I need to remake my bungee holders for the halyards. Make them a bit bigger next time. I filled the stove yesterday and should check and re-fill the lanterns today. Time to get my shades...still comfy in shorts and barefoot.


Dang! Had to toss two oranges before finding one that hadn't been previously frozen, yuk. That makes a total of six that were no good. Finished our orange and unrolled the main. The wind dropped slightly after but we are still making three knots.

10:10 am
Woohoo, found my watch. Watermaker on at 10:05. Breakfast this morning a disappointment. Two yams were very spongy and needed to be used. I cut out all the black but the whole meal tasted moldy to me. I used our last egg mixed in with powdered eggs. Scrambled eggs on top of sauteed yams with half an onion then added pine nuts, heavy with salt ,pepper and dill topped with a spoonful of salsa,barely edible. Pulled out another bag of oatmeal and filled the container. Replenished green tea supply from deep storage. We have four oranges and seventeen apples left. Had to toss one more orange as it went soft and wasstarting to mold. Two Kamuela tomatoes , still very nice, one sweet potato and four onions left.

Dolphins! 15-20 of them. I was up forward having a nap so Chuck got the best view. They were obviously on a mission and didn't even stop by for a look.

Change of watch. Need to get a red light that I can write by. This white light is not good for night vision. Slept in the v-berth, so very comfy. Spaghetti again for supper. Tea and cookies with two squares of chocolate for desert. It has been such a pleasant day. Boat seems to be well trimmed. Seas are fairly flat with the occasional swell and we are moving along at 4-5 knots. Lunch turned out pretty good. Flat bread pizza. Naan bread cut to shape, heat and crisp in a pan, turn over and crisp other side. Spread marinara sauce , add a thin slice of cheese and top with sauteed onion and pine nuts. Served dessert in the cockpit, remainder of Naan bread fried lightly in olive oil, topped with sauteeed figs that were carmalized with a bit of maple and drizzled lightly with peanut butter.

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