Prepping to cross the pacific ocean

Haven’t posted on the blog for while.. alas was not slacking with a passion fruit margaritas on the beach.. Been too busy prepping the boat for the pacific crossing from Mexico to the Marquesas islands in french polynesia. The passage, the longest ocean crossing is affectionately called the “puddle jump” ie the pacific is the "puddle", just like the Atlantic is the “pond”.. This puddle however is slighty bigger than your average puddle. It’s 3000 nautical miles to cross it!!

Since february we have been busting butt preparing the boat, from getting a rigger to check our rig and steering to giving the engine a full service, to installing fans, to buying tonnes of snickers bars to put in the grab bag.. The to do list was 156 items long, now down to less than 20, but probably won’t get everything done. At some stage you just have to go..

We have been attending many of the pacific puddle jump rally events and even got written up in the march issue of Latitude 38!

  Lat38_march

The full article can be downloaded here: http://www.latitude38.com/eBooks/2011/L38201103.pdf

Glenda our third crewmember joined the boat in early feb and we sailed down to Barra and Manzanillo (post coming soon). We used the opportunity to put up the storm jib, drogue, emergency steering, 3rd reef, heaving to etc. to be ready for anything Neptune throws at us. 

The master plan for the crossing..

Got to have a plan, but with sailing the plan is always expected to change..ie plan and then plan for the plan to change 🙂

Route

Here is the route with a GRIB overlay showing the current trade wind direction and strengths all the way to the Marquesas.

The trades typically start about two days out from the mexico mainland so we need a low pressure system in california to give us decent wind to get to trades. We don't want to use any our 60 gallons of diesel until we get to the convergence zone (doldrums) near the equator. Our solar panels and wind generator should give us enough juice to power the boat without using the engine alternator.

Once we reach the trades, we will be sailing on a broad reach probably gybing every few days, down to a target waypoint at 130°W and 5°N. We will be plotting the convergence zone coordinates every day from the high seas forecast so that we can find a good place to cross with minimal convection. Before 130°W we will turn down dead south to cross the convergence zone which should be no more than 150 miles wide, about 24 hours of motoring. And then when we find the south east trades we will be on the final leg, a beam reach to Nuku Hiva in the Marquesas!

Pp2_great_circle

Visual passage planner which uses Stop's data and historical wind and current pilot chart data to calculate the passage time says we will do it 21 days at average of 5 knots if we follow the great circle route between the waypoints.  

Passage Information:

General Information

Data

Calculated Great Circle Distance:

2789.0 NM

Calculated Rhumbline Distance:

2789.7 NM

Elapsed Time to Complete Passage:

21.4 Days

Fuel Consumption:

0.0 Units

Average Boat Speed:

5.4 Knots

Boat Speed Made Good:

5.4 Knots

   

Apparent Wind Angle Information:

Numbers indicate percent of leg sailed at that column's relative wind angle.  Relative wind angle given is the direction from which the wind comes.

Leg #

Beating (Apparent wind 0° to 45°)

Tight Reaching (Apparent wind 45° to 112.5°)

Broad Reaching (Apparent wind 112.6° to 157.5°)

Running (Apparent wind 157.6 to 180)

1

0% at 0 Knots

18% at 10.4 Knots

27% at 11.4 Knots

55% at 15.5 Knots

2

0% at 11.2 Knots

100% at 9.9 Knots

0% at 0 Knots

0% at 0 Knots

3

0% at 0 Knots

39% at 14.6 Knots

61% at 12.5 Knots

0% at 0 Knots

          

Leg 1 Wind and Storm Predictions (Mexico to convergence zone)

Wind angle provided is the direction from which the wind comes.

Wind and Storm Information

Data

Average Wind Speed:

13.5 Knots

Average Wind Direction from TRUE North:

026 Degrees

Average Percent Chance of Calms:

1.2

Average Percent Chance of Gales:

0.2

    

Leg 3 Wind and Storm Predictions (Convergence zone to the Marquesas)

Wind angle provided is the direction from which the wind comes.

Wind and Storm Information

Data

Average Wind Speed:

13.3 Knots

Average Wind Direction from TRUE North:

108 Degrees

Average Percent Chance of Calms:

1.0

Average Percent Chance of Gales:

0.0

Minimal chance of gales which is always a good thing! Since the wind directions on leg 1 won't allow us to broadreach straight down, we will be gybing every few days which means leg 1 will take a little longer. Here is a another prediction assuming a couple of gybes to keep us on a broad reach on leg 1.

General Information

Data

Calculated Great Circle Distance:

2998.1 NM

Elapsed Time to Complete Passage:

23.6 Days

Fuel Consumption:

0.0 Units

Average Boat Speed:

5.3 Knots

Boat Speed Made Good:

5.3 Knots

23.6 days to a wonderful landfall in Nuku Hiva! So hopefully we will do it between 21 and 24 days. This year is also a La Nina year with stronger trade winds predicted, so we may even do it in less.. 

Goodbyes

We left La Cruz on Sat, our home for the last few weeks and got a chance to say goodbye to our friends

With_liberty

Partying with Russ and Kaersten on Liberty at the St Patrick's day party in Bucerias. They gave us a equator crossing survival package which we can only open when we are at the equator.. Hope they didn't shove neptune in there, he won't be too happy when he comes out..

With touchrain

Goodbye to Michael and Jordy (the dog) on Touchrain who are making the jump to Hawaii with Michael's wife Jan. They are then heading all the way up to Alaska!

With noho'ana

Short farewell to Peter and Heather on Noho'ana who are making the jump as well, leaving a little later than us in April. Looking forward to seeing them in French polynesia.

Stops

The Sudden Stops Necessary dream team for the pacific crossing. Cyrille, Chet and Glenda sporting the latest and greatest fashion attire to hit the catwalks in Milan… Puddle Jump T-shirts!

Ok, time to get back to the prepping.. only a couple of days to go before we leave.. butterflies..

Bodega Bay Sail – Sept 25-27th

Left San Francisco on Fri afternoon in dense fog which later appeared again in Drakes Bay when we anchored at 9:30pm at night. We couldn't see anything, we had to rely on the radar chartplotter to avoid bouys and other boats. Gadgetry saves the day again!

James at Drakes Bay on Sat morning.. Reading the paper, waiting for the fog to clear.

P9260476

Jonathan not that impressed by Point Reyes Lighthouse as we motor in very little wind to Bodega Bay.

P9260487

Motoring up the long channel in Bodega Bay to Spud Point Marina, where we stayed for the night in the supposedly quietest marina on the coast (according the sailing guide). They must have been hard of hearing because the fog horns on the channel bouys kept us up all night..

P9260495

Leaving at 7:30am on Sunday morning for the long 60 mile sail to San Francisco. No wind, but no fog as well!  In the distance a boat that ran aground in the bay..

P9270500

Taking advantage of a land breeze just outside Bodega Bay. James depressed that we are leaving Spud Point Marina.. The wind would soon die until we got within a few miles of GG bridge.

P9270515

Spinnaker filled.. we cheated by running the engine in astern to fill it initially ;-)  Luckily the wind filled in a little and we were able to fly it for a bit

P9270520

Farallon Islands and Drakes Bay Sail – Aug 7-9th

Approaching the Farallon islands after motoring most of the 26 miles from the Golden gate in fog. We experienced a fog white out in the shipping convergence zone, which gave us a little scare. We were thankful for Radar! Saw some very big ocean swells as we got near the Farallones.

Farallones

As we anchored in Fisherman's bay in South Farallon island we saw a whale literally a few feet from the boat in the anchorage with us! That was pretty amazing sight.

Whale

We had perfect ocean sailing conditions from the Farallones to Drake's bay, some 20 miles north. 12-17 knots of wind, with moderate swells and blue skies! Munzie at the helm enjoying the sail.

Sailing

Eating like Kings in Drake's Bay. Jonathan (taking the photo) made some amazing 16 ounce steaks on the BBQ with a rich blue cheese sauce. Going ocean sailing is becoming an excuse to experience Jonathan's cooking!

Dinner

Jonathan and James enjoying breakfast in Drakes Bay. The morning started in thick fog but cleared up to blue skies and a beautiful summer's day. Unfortunately we had no wind until we reached SF bay.

Drakes

Caribbean Windward Islands – 2004 Bareboat charter

The caribbean windwards are some of the most wonderful and varied islands in the caribbean. In fact I would this is the best place to do a bareboat in the caribbean handsdown. You have islands like theTobago Keys, Mustique, Bequia, St Lucia, just to name a few.

In 2004 I organized a one way charter from St Lucia to Grenada over 14 days. Windward_saillog_4
We chartered a 43ft Dufour Gibsea from Moorings which turned out to be an excellent boat.

We were a crew of 6 and we plenty of space and having 2 heads prevented us from strangling each other especially when one got blocked towards the end of the trip ($70 to unblock it).

Most of my charters have been with Moorings and find them to be really good. It’s so hard to get the time and also get all your friend’s calendars in line that I don’t like taking chances going with a cheaper bareboat charter company. I was on a charter in the balearics from a small company and the engine problems ruined 3 days of charter. Not worth it my book.

Weather

The great thing about these carribean islands
is the trade winds, which give you consistent winds of 15-25 knots.
Depending on the time of the year they blow from NE to SE. So you want
to plan your route so that the wind is on the beam or on your quarter.
Beating into ocean rollers in 25knots is not fun especially since most
of the islands are well spaced out, no less than 30 miles separating
them.

A couple of things to watch out for are the swells
generated from storms up north near the US. Weather reports give this
information which can make western side anchorages untenable.

Squalls
are another thing to watch out for. They can come up pretty quickly.
Apparently they can sometimes carry 40knots+ winds, but I have never
experienced this on all my trips in the Caribbean.

Islands and Trip log

Day
1 – Got the boat at Marigot bay in St Lucia. Provisioned the boat
ourselves at the local supermarket. Was definitely a lot cheaper.

Day
2 – Sailed to the pitons and anchored right at the foot of the pitons. It was pretty cool to see them rise into the sky.

Day 3 – Next day we did a little sightseeing. There is a great restaurant with great views. Also saw some of the hot springs. That night we anchored at just outside Soufriere to pick up one of the crew.

Day 4 – Next day we sailed to right down St Vincent to young island spit. It is a nice anchorage, some good bars and restaurants. It was decent sail, leaving late morning getting there around 5pm.

Day 5 Next day we did the short to Bequia. The guide book warns of the Bequia blast and turn into the main anchorage. We reefed down, but it ended up being a whimper 🙂 We had to shake out the reefs to get boat speed back up. Bequia is a great place. Very laid back cool atmosphere. A yachtie heaven with lots of good bars and restaurants. We check into SVG here.

Day
6 – Next on christmas day we sailed to Mustique. They have mooring balls you can pick up at the main anchorage. Mustique was a wonderful island, the wonderful beaches were empty didn’t spot any of the famous residents. Ended up a firefly a very nice restuarant and mini hotel. Food was ok, but the cocktails were amazing.

Day 7 – Next day we sailed to Canouan island which has a brand new moorings base, with great showers! There are some good restaurants here.

Day 8 –Next day we sailed for Tobago Keys. This has to be one of the most beautiful places on earth. A huge horseshoe reef sounding 4 uninhabited islands with beautiful green water and sandy bottom. Snorkelling on the reef is amazing. We ended up having a beach barbeque the first night.

Day
9 –The second day we moved the boat to the other side of the reef and ventured via dinghy another unihabited island outside the reef which was used in Pirates of the Carribbean. This has some fantastic snorkelling as well.

Day
10 –Next day we sailed to Mayreau and anchored in the main anchorage. A low pressure system had formed changing the easterly trades to a westerly. It kept building, and we had to let more chain out because the waves were getting bigger. Had a rough night keeping watch of the boat. One cataraman got lose and hit another boat.

Day 11 –Next day the wind kept building so at day break we decided to get better shelter at Union Island. Union island town has a well protected anchorage. Ended up finding a spot to go stern to and then crashed to get some sleep.

Day 12 –Next day we sailed to Carricou for new year’s day. There is not real yacht anchorange and we ended up anchoring in a mangrove swamp of all places. Pretty cool. The town was dead even though it was new year’s eve. All restaurants and the local club was closed. We found out later everyone was in church!!

Day 13 – Next day we had a long sail to Grenada, St Georges. Explored the town which is really picturesque.

Day
14 –Nexy day dropped of 3 the crew who had flights back and sailed to the Moorings base at True Blue bay to return the boat.

Highlights and Lowlights

Highlights

–  Tobago Keys
–  Mustique
–  Bequia

Lowlights
-Carriacou