Saturday, June 30, 2007

Latest word from Cirrus 4:30PM HST

Received via e-mail:
"Hello everyone,

I just wanted to let you know that we have lost our engine. We are sailing along fine, and we have lots of wind, but we have decided to eliminate all unnecessary electronics to conserve our batteries. So this is our last email for now. We expect to be in cell phone range by about 6:00 pm PDT tomorrow, so we'll try and resume normal communication then. We may also try the satphone again before then.

In the meantime, with no engine, our fuel shortage is not an issue and we will not be putting in to Two Harbors, but going on directly to Long Beach, Rainbow Marina. Once we are close, we'll call TowBoatUS for help getting unto our slip. We are leaving our VHF on, monitoring channel 16.

Current position at 4:15 pm HST: 33N24.362 121W30.420, Course: 085 true at 6 knots
Distance to the west end of Catalina Island: 145 Nm
Distance to Long Beach: 166 Nm"

I will update blog as soon as I hear anything new.

Navigator Bill sensing the position of the planets

I always wondered how you measure interaction of celestial bodies with simple earthly tools - now I know!

That's what I'm talkin' about!

Last night, during my watch before midnight, we saw a peak boat speed of 8.5 knots. The true wind had built to 12 knots and was heading for 16. So, when Bill came on watch, we did an "all hands" exercise to furl the jib and put a reef in the main. Even with this drastically reduced sail, we were still doing over 6 knots in fairly smooth seas. This morning, it's more of the same, still doing 6+ knots, but the seas have gotten lumpy. The weather conditions are gorgeous, clear skies, bright full moon last night, and sunny skies today. At sunset, Donna saw TWO green flashes.

Bill spent much of the night chasing a stray engine alarm signal. It's a very weak buzz, probably not indicative of an engine problem; more likely a chafed or corroded sensor wire. He continues to puzzle over it, investigating various ideas as they come to him.

Position at 7:45 AM HST: 33N24.4 122W29.9, course 080 true at 6.5 knots. Distance to go to West End of Catalina 195 N miles.
- Chris

Friday, June 29, 2007

Thank you, wind dancers.

I awoke this morning to find the other members of the crew discussing the fact that the wind was freshening and moving forward, so it was time to switch from the spinnaker to the big jib. But first, run the engine to charge the batteries and clean the barnacles off the propeller. I was gonna say cobwebs, but what sense would that make?

But yes, the wind has freshened, to about 8 knots, and clocked to the NW. After we turned off the engine, we were able to make a steady 5 knots, with bursts to 6, with full main and full jib. So, a big thank you to Valerie, and the other members of this worldwide virtual wind-dancing coven, for all your help.

In case Bill didn't mention it, we have used up all of our bottled water and are now drinking from the big blue jerry cans. Not literally; we pour a jerry can, about 6 gallons, into the fresh water tank, and then use that until it's gone. And we have lots more jerry cans. But the jerry cans contain hose water, eminently drinkable, but not as tasty is the bottled stuff. So we really appreciate the fact that Donna provided a huge stash of orange Crystal Light, specifically for the purpose of masking the "tank water" taste. That's about all we drink now.

Trash report: We passed a huge kelp stalk and root, about 3 inches in diameter and about 12 feet long. It was hanging down in the water and you could clearly see the entire length. The water is that clear here.

We have now decided that our first planned port of call in California will be Two Harbors, Catalina Island, rather than Long Beach. We expect to be able to refuel there, possible get a burger and a beer, and (in Bill's fantasy) a shower. It also allows us to time our arrival into the LB shipping channel during daylight hours. The idea is to hang out at Two Harbors and then depart at the right time so as to arrive in the shipping channels with daylight to spare. We are specifically not discussing ETA because of the possible negative karma. However, you can draw your own conclusions from our position report which follows below.

Current position at 1300 HST: 33N21.3 124W58.6, Course 085 true at 5.5 knots, 324 miles to go to Two Harbors.

That's all for now. -Chris

Status report

When I spoke with Bill this morning his spirits seem to have lifted a bit. They do not feel that Richard's friend would need to come out to provide fuel but they are going to contact Richard and find out how to communicate with this person directly so they can get information if not fuel. He also said food was not a problem either now or for re-provisioning as Donna and Lindsey are magicians.
I have been looking at the Geostationary Satellite wind maps (thank you Agnes) and, as usual, it looks like they should be experiencing 15-20 kn. winds where they are but in actual fact the wind is not there. They anticipate another 2-3 days for ETA. I think we will all be relieved when that happens!


Sliding along with the 1/2 oz. spinnaker up. Did a couple jibes during the night just for fun. Wanted to get some practice jibing in the pitch dark, and ,oh yes, did I mention the fog and misty rain. Anyway it is morning and 351 miles to go to Catalina, where we may try to refuel.

The Friday, 29 June 2007, 0600 HST position is, 33N24, 125W38. Course at the moment is 090M, speed 3.3 knots. Spinnaker on port pole.

That's it for now. Got to rush. So many things to do.


Thursday, June 28, 2007

Cirrus under sail - straining to get to Long Beach

A couple of pictures of optimism in action: Bill standing in the cockpit demonstrating one method of getting some knots out of the zephyrs - flying the main and jib "wing and wing". Next they tried the 1/2 ounce spinnaker and managed to eke out another knot of boat speed. Tenacity! You can judge how long this trip is taking by the length of Bill's beard! He was clean shaved when he left Hawai'i.

lindsey girls first blog

this is my first blog. i would like to start by thanking my mom for braving the fore peak and getting out the 1/2 OZ. once we we put it up, the boat went a whole knot faster, that really is saying a lot in these conditions. i would also like to give her a pat on the back for all the wonderful cooking she has done. in all my 22 years of life i can honestly say this is by far the most i have ever seen my mother cook, and it tastes really good too.
i would also like to thank Chris for doing all the radio stuff, and for teaching me some new things, ( like how to do this blog). also for taking time out of his life for coming out on this nice sail with us.
bill does a lot too, but ill save all of that for another blog.
i cant remember why i sat down to do this blog so im going to come to a close now. we have 401.9 miles to go till we get to long beach (or some way point off of long beach), we are out of fresh and frozen food but have LOTS of delicious can food and rice, to hold us over till we get to long beach and then some. fresh water is of no concern. we are very low on fuel, but we have enough fuel to charge the battery's, making it possible for the boys to chit-chat on the radio and blog to there hearts content, as well as allow for my mom and i to keep our drinks cool in the fridge. the wind is out of my control, but we are very happy that it is coming from behind, and if you are one to believe in weather maps, well hey boy we'll have more wind then we need in just a few miles. the wind we have now is thanks to Valerie and Christin. thats my summery of the situation as of now.
HI D MAN AND MR. O'OPU. i miss you guys i hope all is well, my mom and i are really enjoying the news reports!!! i have decided that we are going to take up spear fishing when i get home. oh and my mom and i saw 2 satellites, and now on my watch i get to see Venus and Saturn set. olives, give O'opu a big hug from me, say hi to everyone. LG

Lemons ...

The Cirrus version of "When life deals you a lemon, make lemonade," seems to be "If the fluky puffs go aft, its time to break out the 1/2 oz." So now we are cooking along at 3.5 knots (1.8 knots of apparent wind) and chasing down debris piles to see if we can find another glass ball.

In the meantime, we saw a ship, the container vessel Hanjin Parma (sp?) out of Korea. He steamed (dieseled?) within 1.5 miles of us. Lindsey talked to him on the radio and mentioned we were low on diesel. He seemed sympathetic. He said "That's too bad. Have a nice day."

Current position at 1200 noon HST: 33N23 126W58 420 Nm to go.

Sunny, Warm, Beautiful

Sunny, warm, beautiful. That's what it is like in the middle if a High pressure area. Probably a lot like that in the middle of a black hole. No clouds or rippled breezes to spoil the symmetric serenity.

These are the kind of thoughts I was having on my (0000-0300) watch last night. I was composing a sort of last will and testament for Cirrus and it's crew. The wind was 3, boat speed 2 and the distance to go 480 miles. Let's do the math. That would be 240 hours (more or less, depending on the weather). That would be 10 days. Making our arrival in Long Beach simultaneous with the start of the race. (Could some kind hearted soul please bring us the instructions from the Skipper/Navigator's Meeting to the starting line.) A couple cases of Cup-of-Soup and some bottled water would also be nice.

Seriously though, a couple jerry cans of diesel, and/or a tow from Catalina Island would be a gift from heaven.

The Thursday, 28 June 2007, 0600 HST position is 33N22, 127W23. We are motoring at the moment to charge the batteries. Course is 070M, speed 6 knots. (About 15 gallons of diesel remain and about 3/day are required for the batteries.)

Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Support crew slipping too?

What's with us? We mustered up a bit of wind and gave up on our efforts? Historically we have been able to create near gale force winds. More dancing. More burnt offerings. More voodoo like you do so well ..... please!
Bill says that if they weren't in a hurry they would be really enjoying the mellow sail. Although it is cold on deck it is pleasant below. If they get in Monday they should still have 6 prep days which is ok - but they would like as much time as possible. Did I already tell you that Joel is on dry ice patrol? Anyone else in the area planning to help?
Sorry about Agnes having to manage her house guests without Chris. I know how it feels having had 2 (family - might not count) last week, one this week and two next week.
Back to main subject - BLOW BABY BLOW - vent, vent, tout est le vent! (can't remember if wind is masculine or feminine, sorry.)


Looks like our arrival might be slipping to Monday. We see 10-15 knot winds just ahead on the weather charts but they are only 6-8 when we get there. Slow and smooth that's us.

Wednesday, 27 June 2007, 0600 HST position report is 33N21, 129W12. Course is 080M, speed (motoring at the moment) 6.6 knots.

It is 530 miles to the tip of Catalina Island (Our current reference point.) and something like 20 more miles to go after that.

Steady breeze yesterday afternoon so we decided to skip our usual Trivial Pursuit game. Bill

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

You're probably tired of reading this . . .

Light winds. In the last hour, it has picked up some and we are now averaging 5 knots, with spurts to 6, but it has been mostly 3 knots with sessions of much less. When it gets really light, we pole out the jib. Two reasons: one, it keeps the jib from flapping and driving everyone crazy. And two, it keeps us busy for a while. The skies are 100% overcast and when the sea is calm, it looks like lead cellulite. Not a trace of wind ripples.

Trash flash: This morning we passed a red ball that had a five-foot mast on it, and a five foot beard. The water was so clear we could see the beard very distinctly hanging down in the water. Other than that, no ships, no icebergs, no space ships.

Agnes reports that she thinks she has successfully vanquished the skunk from under our house. You go girl! It does a sailor man's heart good to know that things are under control at home. For anyone interested in reading more about the topic, I highly recommend the book "Ahab's Wife". Speaking about books, another top item on the Cirrus book club list is "Ghost Ship" about the recovery of the Marie Celeste. I haven't read it yet but Bill says it's fascinating. And if I haven't already mentioned it ten times, you gotta read "Gales of November" about the sinking of the Edmund Fitzgerald. And, of course, listen to the Gordon Lightfoot song of the same title.

In other news, Donna saw the most amazing thing this morning; a sunrise green flash, very rare.

Time for my nap. See you tomorrow.
- Chris

Ghosting Along

Hope some of our NOAA friends are watching. We are at Latitude 33N40 and sliding along a ridge that extends eastward out of a high pressure area towards Los Angles, which is our goal. We are 666 miles out and have been on this ridge for days. The GRIB charts we have been consulting show good solid winds from the north increasing from 5-10, 10-15, maybe even 20 knots as we move toward the mainland. The reality is 3-5 knots and sometimes nothing at all for extended periods. Our GPS has a feature that predicts our time of arrival based on the distance and our boat speed. it is a little discouraging to sit here and note that after each hour the arrival time has receded two hours. Of course, the worst example of this phenomenon occurred on the second day of the 1998 Pacific Cup race. On that occasion the GPS predicted that we were likely to cross the finish line in Hawaii on Christmas Day.

It is Tuesday, 26 June 2007, 0600 HST, and it feels like Long Beach is just over the horizon. Actually, we are at 33N37, 131W35 and our course is 090M, speed 3 knots. True wind is about 300M, 3-4 knots.

Lacking anything better to do with my time let me give a little lecture about relative and true wind. Yesterday we made the interesting observation that the boat speed was 6, the relative wind was 6 and the true wind that we had calculated was also 6. Here is how it works. The true wind was actually hitting the boat 60 degrees from aft on the port side. That's 30 degrees "abaft the beam" for you sailor types. The 6 knot forward motion of the boat that resulted created a wind that appeared to move the apparent wind direction forward so that the wind appeared to be coming from 30 degrees ahead of the beam on the port side. The wind vectors formed a perfect isosceles triangle where an extension of the port beam would be a symmetry axis for the triangle.

Cirrus is great in light air, but there is a limit.

Monday, June 25, 2007

Joe Cool the Navigator

Getting ready for Long Beach?

Yes, But . . .

As Bill reported earlier today, it is truly wonderful to be aboard Cirrus when she squeezes six knots of boat speed out of six knots of wind on a flat sea. During my watch, we were charging the batteries and motor-sailing at about six knots when a puff came up and gave us 7.5 knots of boat speed for about ten minutes. Sweet! However, as I write this, we have sailed into another hole. And worse, we are being headed by about 30 degrees. But the surface chart sort of predicts all this. We are on the eastern fringe of the high and it is all very oddly-shaped and disorganized. We will probably have sub-ten-knots winds, from an interesting variety of directions, for another day or so.

Meanwhile, we are enjoying your reports of various world news events. Like the Honolulu stabbings (was it stabbings? or stubbings?), and the America's Cup, and Alakai's progress. So, keep them coming.

Today's trash patrol report: two miniature sargasso seas about six feet in diameter: one composed of a snarl of one-inch sisal rope with a beard of green nets; the other a large wad of fine netting, like a giant yellow cheesecloth.

Talked to Lou last night on the 7085 kHz amateur band and it was surprisingly low in static noise. Surprising, because right next door, marine SSB 8B, 8297 kHz, was extremely noisy. I can't really explain it except to speculate that 8B has a lot of distant traffic on it that adds up to a lot of static here. We're going to try 7085 again tonight at 1930 HST.

It's 1400, time for my nap; PacSea up at 1730. See you later . . .

And some newer ones

Three more pictures. Lindsey, ever the optimist, is keeping her bikini ready for...the return trip maybe? A picture of the PCC of yesterday's blog fame. And a picture titled "Message" - fantastic!

Some older photos

Several photos have been struggling to come through. These are the latest although they are not exactly current. Bill and Donna --clearly it is cold! And a pictorial representation of why, occasionally, they needed to motor! If you look you will notice one of the black floats that Chris suggested mark the path to Long Beach.

Support crew does it again

Bill said he was going to post "Valerie's coven does it again" -- not sure what we do is really witchcraft but I assured him that we will always do what we can. In other words, the wind is back - not much yet (5+ kn.) but steadily building. Very calm seas and mellow sailing.
Support in Long Beach is being sought for dry ice and laundry. So far our good friend and fellow sailor Joel Gober seems to be stepping up to the plate. Since I am not going to be there it is a relief to me to know we have auxiliary support "staff".
Based on experience at the seminar in April, Cirrus has requested to be seated with the team from Mexico at the send-off banquet "because they seemed like the most fun." Sounds right to me!
On the home stretch now - wahooo. More tomorrow.

Happy Boat

Cirrus is one happy boat. Crew doing well also. We are close reaching in about 5-6 knots of true wind from 300M. The course is 076M, 6 knots, and the motion of the boat carries the wind forward. Luckily the sea is smooth. Cirrus just leans 10-15 degrees to leeward and is absolutely cooking. Not unusual for her to have a boat speed bigger than the wind speed in conditions like this.

Monday, 25 June 2007, 0600 HST position is 33N45, 134W07. We have about 790 miles to go, and a rough ETA would be next. Saturday or Sunday.

Got to hit the books. Figure out if that red spot in Scorpio is Mars or (more likely) a star. Also it looks a lot like Mercury coming up just before the sun.

Sunday, June 24, 2007

Keeping busy . . .

The main feature of this morning's weather was the wind speed: zero. But, because we are sailors, we chose to play with the sails anyway. We poled out the jib and tweaked the main until we saw 1.5, then 2.2 on the knotmeter. Then we settled down to a rousing game of Trivial Pursuits to while away the watch. At one point we got a nice puff and sailed at 5+ knots for a while, hitting 7 at one point, but overall, it continues to be very light.

Just around noon today we spotted a ship heading our way. Lindsey spoke to them and they said they were a PCC, bound for Panama. Does anyone have any idea what a PCC is? We can see that it's a pretty big ship, but nothing else sticks out. Speaking of ships, yesterday Lindsey talked to an officer on a container ship bound for XingDao in China. This guy told us he was Filipino and he was very chatty. He rattled off all the stats about his ship and all the ports it had been to and where it was destined. He discussed the TransPac at length with Lindsey. At one point, we were all listening to this very lengthy exchange go on and on and we were all betting that he was going to ask her for her number. Alas, no.

Current position: 33N55 135W37, course 080 M at 2.7 knots. Winds from the north at 2 knots. Sky is mostly overcast, but it's very warm and bright out there.


Those of you have followed my postings over the years already know the drill. It is time for a wind dance, wind chant or whatever wind voodoo you know. Let's give these guys some help! I asked the Navigator for permission to put out the word...he said it certainly couldn't hurt. I suggested that those not driving the boat go overboard and takers.
I hope those of you who don't know Bill well appreciate the poetry of his post this morning. A Renaissance man, my husband - plumber, electrician, carpenter, roofer, sailor, philosopher, poet, artist and, oh yes, theoretical nuclear astrophysicist! Sigh.
Hope we have better news tomorrow.


There is a good reason it is called the Pacific Ocean. At midnight last night the weather quit fooling around with little spurts of wind here and there. It just went to a good solid, unchanging, cast in concrete, zero wind speed. Boat speed went to zero and the autopilot lost the ability to steer. So start the engine we did. When you want the force to be with you, sometimes you need to turn it on. The center of a high is a beautiful thing (When you are not on a sailboat and in a hurry.) It is sunny, crystal clear, blue sky and (oh yes) did I mention, no wind.

As I type it is 0400 HST and Donna reports a hint of green flash as the bright, hard, orange ball of the morning sun leaped from the sea. We are still motoring. It is an interesting navigation problem. Motor too much and run out of gas, too little and run out of food.

Sunday, 24 June 2007, 0600 HST position is 33N58, 136W06. Course is 071M and speed 4.7 knots. Motoring.

Beauty of crisp clear moonless night sky is hard to express. There are so many stars that is hard to pick out the familiar ones that you know. The milky way glows like a continuation into the sky of the phosphorescent trail that the boat leaves in the sea.

Saturday, June 23, 2007

Compass light? we don't need no ...

Well, actually, it would be nice to know what the course is, even though Otto is doing a superb job at the helm. Last night, at dusk, we were going through the ritual of turning on the various lights and, when everything was on, Lindsey (on watch) hollered below, Hey, could we have a compass light please. We checked the obvious stuff like switches and fuses with no joy, so we got a flashlight out for the night watch. The good news is that Bill was able to repair it quite easily this morning. We think it was a Martian prank. Or maybe a slightly corroded light socket.

Speaking of corrosion, the barometer is working again. I had gotten it working earlier by throwing out the old leaky batteries and using an emery board to clean the green gunk off the battery holders, but it quit again a couple of days ago. So, today's project was to clean it a few more times, and if necessary, threaten it with a soldering iron. Several cleanings did not seem to work, but I guess the threat was sufficient because it finally blinked back to life.

During the voyage, I've had occasion to glance at the new boom, a very nice piece of work from Ballenger Spars of Watsonville California, just down the road from my home port. So today, I took a picture of it and maybe we can get it posted sometime soon. The thing that strikes me is how uncluttered it is; no cleats, no winches, etc. Just a couple of reefing line anchor knots. I like Bill's approach of running the forward end of the furling lines to sheet stoppers on the deck, rather than cleats on the boom. And a real full-sized winch on the deck to grind on them.

Agnes pointed out to me that today is June 23rd, the official last day of Catholic school in Quebec. Tomorrow is the feast of St. John the Baptist, a major French-Canadian holiday. Agnes did not mention this, but I'll bet if the 23rd comes on a Saturday, like today, school gets out a day earlier. You'd have to grow up Catholic in Quebec to appreciate any of this. Or you could rent a movie. Either "Mon Oncle Antoine" or "Kamouraska" should do the trick.

As Bill mentioned earlier, we have sailed into a hole. Winds have been generally from the north, blowing from 2 - 5 knots. It's a real struggle to keep the sails filled an d the boat moving. But we remain optimistic that the 15-knot stuff is getting closer and closer. To be followed by the 25-knot stuff.

Current position at 1300 HST: 34N04.0 137W23.3, course approximately 090 M at 1.5 knots. Winds are from the north at 2.5 knots. See you tomorrow. - Chris

Smooth sailing.

Actually. A little too smooth.

About 960 miles to go with very light winds from the north for the first half and then ramping up near the end. Our problem is that we are both eager to be there and low on fuel. So, we just have to poke along and wait for things to pickup.

The Saturday, 23 June 2007, 0600 HST position is 34N10, 138W00. The course is 090M, speed 6 knots, wind NNW at 5 knots. There are no waves or swells to speak of, just a few little bumps here and there.


Swingin' Halfway Party Caught on Video

Apparently they all dressed up for the occasion in colorful clothing, masquerading with caps and scarves and all. How beautiful! And all four are on camera.

Wait a minute - aren't there only 4 people on the boat? Who is holding the camera?

I think it is time to admit it: it's Otto. Yeah, I know, you all thought Otto Helm is only the autohelm, some mechanical gear down below. But no. Bill did not want to talk about it because of the high expenses involved, you know, but he had invested into a real robot, who is now assisting on board. Bill told me it is quite a relief from the routine duties. You can here the robot's "ribiddibiddibit" voice sound faintly in the background. It's faint, but when you listen to the video often enough, you will here it for sure! Of course, Bill had to cut down on other things, like navigational lights, propane gear, and why do you think weren't the waterpump and generator not replaced in time? See!

But isn't it great that they can now send us such videos? Bill said that Otto had served champagne to the crew, but the captain had to do with sparkling apple cider. Otto can be so tough; I think I need to reprogram him, he is really going too far on some essentials.

By the way, this great video was transmitted using Sailmail over the Marlink Iridium Data Link.

Don't wait any longer - call the local newspapers, TV stations, call the sponsors, call Iridium, call CNN for goodness sake, and point them to this site. This is a big moment for this Hawaiian boat to open a new chapter in boat to shore communication. You have not seen it before anywhere!

Aloha from the other side of the globe,

Friday, June 22, 2007

Another day in paradise, and on trash patrol

Big news: this morning an albatross followed us for a while and then I saw him land about a hundred yards behind us. It's the first time I've ever seen an albatross land. OK, so it's not the space shuttle, but I thought it was captivating.

And in trash news, I saw a rust-colored "milk crate" go by, but this crate looked big enough to hold 12 1.5 liter bottles of, you know, cheap wine. And it must have been a recent arrival in the sea; no beard, no crabs, no mollusks. Glass balls sighted today: none.

In sailing news, not much to report. We are close-hauled on a steady course of 105 true in a band of variable northerlies and the result is boat speeds of from 4 to 6 knots with occasional bursts of 6.5 to 7.0 knots.

Yesterday, we shot a six-second video which we emailed to our pal Ulli. If all goes well, it should appear here in the blob soon. Thanks Ulli, for all your support.

Oh, and speaking of thanks, I forgot to mention my T-shirt sponsor, Pacific Yachting and Sailing of Santa Cruz. The owner, Marc Kraft, just gave me two new PY&S T-shirts recently. Thanks Marc. And remember folks: if you're ever looking for the best sailboat charter experience in Santa Cruz, be sure to call Marc at 831-423-SAIL (7245).

For the second year in a row, during my night watch, I reported a ship on the horizon, only to later realize that it was the setting moon, albeit in heavy cloud cover. But, just prior to my "ship sighting" there was some legitimate excitement on deck when I looked up and realized that I could not see the three bright red flags of the masthead fly. Nothing but a pitch black sky. At some point my caffeine-starved brain started to formulate the realization that the masthead navigation light was out. OK, so I dropped below in full-cold-weather gear to look for the blown fuse or breaker. Nope, it's apparently the bulb itself, and we still have seven dark nights or so to go. The good news is that Cirrus also has a conventional deck-level running lights setup, so I switched them on and we were again visible and legal. The bad news is that the ScanMar wind-vane-autopilot sits behind the stern light and is constructed of a mass of brightly polished stainless tubes which are highly reflective and it just flooded the cockpit with a bright white light. Sure makes it hard to see those "ships".

Last night, I had a tough time hearing Lou on the radio and then, suddenly, he started coming in much more clearly. I think we have identified another local source of interference, the refrigerator. However, Donna put me on notice that there will be no turning off of the fridge until we have an absolutely bulletproof system for ensuring that we turn it back on again afterwards. So I'm working on that.

Right now, we're barely ghosting along, doing about 3 knots. This is a violation of the well-known 4-knot policy, so it might be a great time to charge them batteries. Current position at 1430 HST: 34N23.7 139W26.6. We have not calculated an updated ETA today, so still shooting for Friday morning, the 29th. Thanks for all your comments. Please keep them coming.

Fair winds,

Day 12 Valerie's report.

A good long chat last evening with Bill from the Ickler's base of operations. The half (quarter)-way party occurred at about 4PM HST (if I recall correctly - we had a wonderful dinner and evening after the call) with much celebration, making it a 5-C event when you add in the champagne, chicken, cookies and corn. To top it all off, they had their best day yet...156 miles made good.
Another nice visit mid day today. Evidently he took some grief from the crew on his night watch because he was "following the wind" and the sail adjustments make a lot of noise. On the other hand, if he didn't make the adjustments the boat would slow down and then speed up and heel over...everything is some sort of compromise! When he came on watch this morning it was sunny and beautiful but 10 minutes later it was completely overcast. But seas are calm with wind at 8-10 knots and the weather forecasts look like they are almost "on rails" to Long Beach with tweaking (sorry about the noise, crew) to accommodate shifts.
Bill has been in touch with the Port Captain at Long Beach and their arrival for some time at the end of next week is being anticipated.
All is as it should be and we look forward to each report.
Aloha for now. Valerie

All is Image

Does the phrase "Going for a sail." bring up an image for you? Sun and sea? Chicks in bikinis? Maybe a cool brew in the shade of the main'sl?

That's just what its like. Honest!

Friday, 22 June 2007, 0600 HST, position is 34N27, 140W14. Course is 080M, 5 knots, and it is really bumpy. The wind is from the north at about 10 knots. Conditions are good and getting better, it's just a little hard to take proper advantage of them because it is so bumpy. That probably isn't going to get any better. Distance to go is 1078 miles, total overcast, occasional light rain.

Thursday, June 21, 2007

Pacific Spirit

As most of you know, I left Santa Cruz rather suddenly ten days ago, so I didn't have a chance to say goodbye to a bunch of my sailing buddies. So here's a shout-out to the crews of Pacific Spirit and True North. Diana, Valerie, Jo, Kathy, Fred, Karen, Shelley, Kris, DJ, Bi-Bi, and Mike. And of course, my honorary first mate aboard True North, Agnes. Oh, and the crew of Reachable Star Too, Steve, Edd and Deb. Fair winds to you all. And to Diana: I sure missed sailing with you guys in the last two Tuesday night Catalina fleet races. I hope you kicked butt.

Now that we, Cirrus, are more-or-less on a straight path to Long beach, with fairly strong winds forecast for the foreseeable future, it might be reasonable to start discussing our estimated time of arrival. Here are three likely scenarios based on projected average speed over the remaining 1,175 miles to go:

Spd Day Time
7.5 Thu 0800
6.5 Fri 0800 (*)
5.5 Sat 1700

Spd is average speed in knots; Thu is Thursday, June 28th, and Time is Pacific Daylight Time. (*) indicates the most likely ETA. I can revise and republish this as we get closer.

I spent most of my watch this morning working in the rain, continuously adjusting the sails for the light variable winds. Some times we were blasting along smoothly at 7+ knots, occasionally starting to round up, other times we could barely make 5 knots. However, during my last hour, the winds built steadily until I took in half the jib. Then, when Bill came on watch, we assembled the entire crew and put the reef back in the main. It all went very smoothly and we even took a minute to videotape some of the action.

The worst part of all this action was the incredible roasting effect on my body. Before each watch, the person going on watch suits up with all the thermal and foulie gear required to withstand three hours sitting still in the cold wind. And even then, you're just barely warm enough to be comfortable. But 30 seconds of winch-grinding in this get-up and you suddenly feel like you're in a sauna. Whew, get me outta these clothes.

Anyway, that's enough for now. Current position at 1430 HST: 34N48 142W03, course 100 true at 6.7 knots. We are sailing a little below our desired track to fill the sails and maintain our speed. We are expecting a huge lift later in the week when the 25-knot northerlies kick in. Stay tuned.


June 21 - Summer Solstice

When I reminded Bill that today is the Summer Solstice he noted that they had not seen the sun for a couple of days and probably would not for the rest of the trip so it was somewhat irrelevant. Being Hawai'i born and raised, I don't think I could stand that! Yet another reason I don't have any desire to make the crossing!
And again - no horror stories, no big problems. Just another day of good sailing heading in the right direction. Hurrah!
Aloha, Valerie

It's About Time

Best current estimate for the halfway point is 1300 today.

Thursday, 21 June 2007, 0600 HST, position is 34N55, 143W10. Course (sailing under full jib and main) is 081M and speed 7.5 knots. The wind has been 330T at 8 knots, but it seems to be picking up at the moment.

Glad to hear the video on the blog was such a big hit. Of course, now the boat is going to want its own You Tube.


Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Update on the jib.

First, a correction from yesterday, or whenever (it all runs together): By the way, Donna mentioned that she SAW some spinner dolphins on her watch this morning.

Today's trash report: a white cooler lid.

OK, here's the jib situation: several days ago, we reported that our jib furling line had chafed through and that we had locked the furling drum down to prevent a runaway jib. Well, after installing a new furling line, (and removing the lock-down!), Bill determined that the forward-most fairlead block was chafing the line, so he added a big snatch block to the system to straighten the lead. This was successful except that he then noticed that the line could rub on the drum flanges. Obviously, this is not a problem when the jib is fully deployed in light winds, or when it's fully furled in heavy winds. But we have been using it partially deployed in intermediate winds and the sail tends to "breath" as the pressure on it varies, causing the drum to oscillate, and the line to chafe if it touches the top or bottom flange. So here's the final solution. After each sail adjustment, Bill goes forward to inspect the position of the line coming off the drum. If it's OK, we're done. But if it's touching the drum, Bill yells back to the cockpit to ease the furling line and he feeds it onto the drum in the correct position. This has served us extremely well so far. We spent an entire night blasting along with a 25% jib, and another night with a 50% setup. Every few hours, Bill or Lindsey would conduct a "chafe patrol" to ensure that nothing had shifted.

However, today we are fully jibbed, so no chafe patrol required.

Bill said something memorable to me a few days ago. I was on watch and was thinking that I wanted to adjust the jib from 25% to something more aggressive. So I called Bill and said something about how I know it's a pain to adjust the jib with the current furling situation, but what did he think. He came on deck immediately and said, "We are sailors. Adjusting the sails is our "raison d'etre". Exactly!

Also, I think I still owe you an update on the autopilot remote. Needless to say, the oven treatment did not fix it, but we plugged it back in anyway because the auto/standby buttons were still working apparently. However, a few hours later, the autopilot alarm went again, the system went to standby (hand-steering), and this time the message on the below-decks display was "STLK FAIL". We had no idea what the problem was, thinking it was an autopilot overheat lockup. But when we unplugged the remote, everything returned to sweetness and light. Bill later read the manual and determined that STLK means SeaTalk, the Raymarine word for the NMEA 0183 network. So the dead remote is in the chart table and we are confined to adjusting the course from below. Good for us we have a "below"; otherwise, no Otto to drive for us. However, switching to or from hand-steering requires coordination between the on-deck helmsman and the below-decks button-pusher.

Speaking of the course, we are now "on-course" to Long Beach. We came upon a bright orange buoy this morning and immediately turned right.

Current position and course at 2:10 pm HST:
34N56 145W13 085 T @ 7.0 kts
Winds: NNW @ 8 kts

Fair winds . . .


Wow - I just watched the videos which I almost missed because of the newer posts above them. DON'T MISS THEM - THEY ARE 2 BELOW THIS ONE! Ulli did a fantastic job of getting these on the blog. Kudos, Ulli!

Wed June 20 - Day 9

Wonderfully clear connection this morning. Bill reported that they are sailing but in marginally light winds coming pretty much from behind them. He suggested putting up the spinnaker but the grumbles from the crew went something like "it's too cold and we're too tired." What a bunch of wimps (says she sitting in Honolulu on yet another beautifully perfect day.) He said the transmission was slow this morning but will send pictures along later so I will post as soon as I get them.
I heard from the Long Beach people and they will be able to accommodate Cirrus when she arrives - the emails said they would have room after July 6! That news was a relief to the crew.
No drama, no fantastic stories...wonderful!
Aloha all, Valerie

Underway Videos from Cirrus!

... and once again, Cirrus is proving herself as not only a reliable offshore vessel, but also as one at the forefront of communication technology. Deemed to be impossible as recently as last year, it has become a reality today: videos taken on the boat yesterday, some 1000 miles away from land, and now posted on the blog.

This is anything but trivial: The information is transmitted via radio, which is a very slow connection, about only as fast as land based connections were in ca. 1990. Modern technology, such as that also used by Youtube, allows to condense the video information to bring video transmissions in reach. Even then, as you see, resolution is limited, and picture size has to be small. And the Google blogs are not prepared to host videos, so some further tricks were needed.

However, I am not aware of any other sailboat on the Pacific ever having sent videos by email; I believe this a first! Coming from Cirrus, of course.

Now that Cirrus is travelling into arctic waters ;-), maybe they can warm up to more videos?

Aloha to all, from an almost tropical Germany

What a Difference a Day Makes

Man-Oh-Man is it ever cold. Readers in Hawaii will find it hard to believe but we actually tour the boat every hour or so to see if it is icing up. You get a lot of ice in the rig it could roll the boat over. (Just kidding.)

Wednesday, 20 June 2007,0600 HST position is 34N52, 146W01. The (light air) sailing course is 067M, 5.2 knots and the relative wind is 250, 6.6 knots. That would be a true wind of about 305T, 10 knots. It is 100% light overcast and the barometer is 1022.7, holding.

Another thing that sailors and non-sailors will find amazing is that the ideal course from Hawaii to Long Beach has black plastic floating ball markers located about 10 miles apart for the entire distance. We have also seen similar markers along the course to San Francisco. People have told me that they have seen the same thing on the way to Seattle.

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Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Today's projects

The winds are so light today that we took the reef out of the main. So we are now sailing on a full main and full jib. But the winds are from a better direction, so we are turning towards a more direct course for Long Beach.

My project today was to replace the AAA batteries in four flashlights. Bill and I each carry one or two small Pelican red-lens flashlights and today was the day to face the fact that we were down to one functioning unit. No big deal, but when the boat is heeled at 25-30 degrees, and jumping around a little, it's always a challenge to move around the boat and get stuff out of cupboards without getting hurt. And it can be tricky to handle stuff (like a box of batteries) while you're always holding on tight to the boat with at least one hand.

In fact, even typing on a laptop keyboard can be interesting because the keys don't stay in the same place from moment to moment. And don't even get me started about going to the bathroom.

By the way, Donna mentioned that she some some spinner dolphins on her watch this morning. But today's trash patrol came up empty; just a few plastic floats. Nothing worth rescuing.

Since today is a light news day, I'd like to take the opportunity to mention Donna's provisioning and cooking. She has served us outstanding grub from day one. For dinners, we've had pot roast, pizza, and ribs, with salads and all the fixin's. And there are lots of snacks: chips, granola bars, cookies, dried fruit, etc, and even fresh grapefruit. For lunch, we've had a variety of salads and sandwiches, including my favorite, tuna salad sandwich. And of course, every sailor's favorite night watch food, cup-o-noodles.

Current position: 34N32 147W50, currently motoring (to charge batteries) at 7.3 knots steering 055M.

That's all for now. Keep your comments coming.


A Message from Donna

This is a shout-out to my boyz @ sb, via Patrick, aka the sheriff.

We had a couple of false starts, but on June 11th, we shoved off again, and all is on track now. I'll try and send a picture from somewhere in the middle of the Pacific, maybe our half-way point. I do miss you guyz, and I think of you every day at 3:00 am when I get up to do my watch.


Day 8 - Valerie's post

Frustrating call this morning because satellite kept dropping the connection. But the gang on Cirrus is very happy today - despite dire predictions of no wind they actually have a good wind filling in from the North and they were able to turn off the engine last night and are sailing at 6 kn. pointing a little north of Long Beach. Prediction is for another 11 days. Bill will post positions soon.
Richard made it safely back to Waikiki - unfortunately I missed hearing the 5:30 check in at which time he was reported to be just off Koko Head. Sorry I missed the greeting but very happy that he is home safely.
That's if for me today - Aloha, Valerie

Evening of Day 8

We are well and truly in the north pacific high. The winds have gone from 15 knot easterlies to 3 knot westerlies. We are motoring on a course of 040 magnetic at 6.8 knots across a glass-smooth ocean. The sun is setting and the temperature is mercifully starting to drop. Earlier, we spent about a half-hour drifting in the blazing sun while Bill and Lindsey swapped the fuel tanks. This is a standard mid-voyage operation for Cirrus because she has two 45-gallon tanks but only one set of fuel lines.

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Now it is Official

We are well and truly entering the "Over the Hump." phase of the trip. Not only did we finish off one fuel tank and switch to the other but then the wind started filling in from the north (cold) just like is supposed to and we are sailing again. But the real clincher is that the (Island Girl) Skipper showed up for her watch this morning wearing shoes for the first time.

Our Tuesday, 19 June 2007, 0600 HST, position is 34N16, 148W42. We are sailing with a 1/2 unfurled jib and one reef in the main. Pretty conservative rig, but we are reminded from time to time that "This isn't the race guys. It's the delivery. Let's not break anything." We are even using the running backs to stiffen the rig.

Our course is 050M and speed 5.5 knots. Wind is at 300 relative and 10 knots. That's a true wind of about 330T, 9 knots. The barometer is 1022 down from 1026 a day ago. Less than 1500 miles to go with about 1000 behind us.

That's it for now. Bill

Monday, June 18, 2007

A message from LG . . .

D-man: check your email. Olives.

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Is it already day 7?

The kind of call I really like to get - no major events to report! Cirrus is motoring into very light winds that are right on her nose. Looks like another day of motoring and they should be to the other side of the high. While we were talking they thought they saw another glass ball and were off on the hunt. Sounds like they are having a wonderful time out there now that the beating has abated.
We hope to hear from Richard at 1730 HST and I am still planning to try to get down to the dock to greet them. Will keep you posted.
Off to Haunama Bay with my son and daughter-in-law. Life is good.
Aloha, Valerie


New World

Not so long after Lindsey gave us a lecture on the rules of glass ball hunting she proceeded to score the biggest ball I've ever seen. It is a beauty. Must be more than a foot in diameter. Came with enough net and line that it was a little tough to get it aboard. When it hit the deck there were little fish, crabs, clams, barnacles, etc. all over the place.

That was only minutes after we had two freighter encounters in a row. This is getting to be a busy place out here.

Over night the wind died completely and I thought we would have glassy swells by morning. But the wind shifted a little and we have tacked o'er to port for the first time on the trip. It is 1600 miles to Long Beach. An optimistic arrival time would be in 10-11 days. The Monday, June 18, 2007, 0600HST position is 33N18,151W01. We are motoring on a course of 050M at a speed of 6.7 knots. The relative wind is all generated by the motion of the boat. The jib is furled and we still have one reef in the main.


Sunday, June 17, 2007

A little bit to add - Valerie Day 6

Just as Bill called this morning they had completely unfurled the head sail and were making 7 kn. at 30 deg. True. The sound was so good - that of the boat sailing through, rather than crashing through the water that I couldn't stop smiling.
Word from Richard is that he is doing well and doesn't anticipate needing help. His plan at the moment is to sail in to the fuel dock at Ala Wai and get a dinghy tow when he is ready to move. I plan to try to be there with fresh food and cold drinks and will let you all know as soon as I do when that is anticipated to be.
That's it for today - Happy Father's Day to those to whom it applies!
Aloha, Valerie


Wet !
It's certainly not yet the "Beginning of the End" or for that matter, it's not even the "End of the Beginning", but something is going on none the less. Latitude wise we will be in Long beach by this time tomorrow. A cold snap last night sent everyone below to put some clothes on. Who knows, if this keeps up the Skipper might even begin wearing shoes. another tell tale sign is the fact that our heading is starting to shift eastward. First 010, then 020 and ,at the moment, 035M.

Lindsey is starting to think about a half way party (and has pointed out that it's really a 1/4 way party) that we are all looking forward to. The GPS says that we've come 662 miles and have 1730 to go. It also says that it will take us another 12-13 days to get there. I think that might be close but a little pessimistic.

Our Sunday, June 17, 2007,0600HST position is 31N29, 152W46. Our course over the ground is 032M at a speed of 6.7 knots. We are close hauled and motoring into relatively light ENE breezes.

Yesterday we all had a Natural History observational first. We saw a rainbow. The geometry and the location of the afternoon sun all guaranteed that it was a real rainbow, located in the right place. However, there were no colors, just a narrow band of cloud arching up into the sky. "Cloud Rainbow" Sounds like a ship name. Maybe I'll reserve the name for my first PO (Personal Orbiter).


Cirrus CloudsCloud Rainbow

Note from Ulli & Valerie: the pictures were sent from Cirrus today, and we posted them manually, as this still can't be done via email

Saturday, June 16, 2007

Less hectic today, but ...

Hi everyone.

The good news about the shredded dodger is that the gash over the right-hand window lets in a nice strong flow of cool fresh air while keeping out the direct air blast and most of the spray. On the other hand, if you see green water coming, it's "Duck yer haid Charlie!". How's that for a gratuitous literary reference (from the 50's?) that most of you will be too young to understand?

We spoke to Richard yesterday at 1730 and got the news that they had already turned back. Apparently they got knocked down again and blew out their last useful upwind jib. Aloha Richard, and fair winds. Funny, Bill said afterward, that once you make the decision to turn back, all turns to sweetness and light. The cacophony and chaos of beating upwind is replaced by the serenity and silence of the downwind romp. The dark skies lighten, and the angels sing. Instead of going over Niagara in a barrel, it's like Sunday morning on the porch. Good point.

Lindsey claims that she was the first to spot the albatross following us. We haven't seen much trash so far. But we remain optimistic.

I called Lou on 4B last night as scheduled, but did not hear him. He sent me an email today saying that he heard me loud and clear but I did not wait long enough for him to get his transmitter tuned before switching to a new channel. Sorry Lou. I look forward to trying again tonight.

Last night, just before dinner time, Donna noticed that the propane breaker was off. This was bad news, because she had put the ribs in the oven an hour or two earlier and now the oven was off. Upon investigation, she determined that the ribs were done, and hot, and the rice was done, but the stove would not light, and the breaker would not stay on; when she tried to switch it on, it would pop off immediately. So we ate our ribs and rice (yummy), but no green beans, and we discussed this propane situation more fully. You see, this is not the first time this has happened on Cirrus.

This problem is caused by a defective solenoid actuator, located in the propane locker, that is supposed to open the gas valve and allow propane to flow from the tank to the stove. But over time, apparently, these solenoids overheat and short out. In fact, the solenoid that failed last night was brand new last year; Bill installed a brand new valve after last year's Pacific Cup because the same thing happened to the previous solenoid during the race. Of course, this solenoid valve is an important safety feature designed to keep raw propane out of the boat, a very dangerous possibility. However, it needs to be more reliable. Hot food and beverage are critical components of a safe and successful ocean crossing. Can you imagine the night watch with no coffee? Talk about a dangerous possibility.

So you think it's ironic that the same failure occurred on Cirrus two years in a row? How about this: I have had the exact same failure on my boat, and she was only five years old at the time. What makes it hard to diagnose is that the problem can be extremely intermittent, and sometimes you think it's an empty tank or a clogged line. Fortunately for me, once I decided to take action on my boat, True North was sitting at the dock in Santa Cruz and the nearest West Marine store was only two miles away. The parts were in stock (I replaced the regulator at the same time), and after a few hours working scrunched up in the lazarette, I was good to go. But, wait, there's more. Since my boat is in a charter fleet, I always keep the charter company owner apprised about problems and solutions. When I mentioned what I had done, he exclaimed, "No ****?! We have three other boats in the fleet with the exact same problem but we did not know how to fix it!"

So, next morning, back on Cirrus with no gas, after a night with no coffee, what did we do? Well, when this happened during the race last year, Bill modified the valve to make it work without electricity. Using his electric (twist) drill, he drilled the center of the valve out from top to bottom, bypassing the actual valve path completely. Basically, he converted the valve into a straight piece of pipe, but with the correct fittings to go into the system. Then, when he got back to Honolulu, and replaced his drilled-out gizmo with a new valve, what did he do with his magic adapter? Did he throw it away? Negative! He put it in the spare parts box on the boat. Where he found it this morning.

So, picture this: Bill and Lindsey sitting facing each other in the cockpit, with the propane locker open between them, with Bill reaching down into the locker and Lindsey holding an aluminum foil casserole pan full of tools and parts. Like a scene from ER, Lindsey hands an instrument to Bill and Bill removes a part. And so on until the magic gas adapter is installed and Bill calls down for me to light the stove. Woo-hoo! Fire in the hole! And we didn't have to get the drill out. After all the tools and parts are put away, Bill says, "Anyone want coffee?"

I have lots more to tell you about today, but that's enough for now. Stay tuned.

Our position at 1620 HST: 30N33, 153W26. Course 010 M at 6.0 knots.

Fair winds ...

Day 5 from Valerie

Bill became engrossed in fixing the solenoid (still a work in progress) and didn't call me until about 8:30HST. I knew he was ok but hate the waiting for the phone to ring. One certainly does become spoiled by technology. I'd have never made it in the 18th century with a seaman for a husband!
We are sad to report that Richard has decided to turn back and drop out of the race. He had chosen a more easterly course and was really getting pounded. Should be back in Hawaii in 2-3 days. I'll keep you posted.
Cirrus could also be taking a more easterly course but has opted for a little more conservative course in the interest of comfort for the boat and the crew. Weather systems look like the wind will become lighter tomorrow and somewhat confused. They should be able to point more towards Long Beach but may have to motor for a day or two. That makes it noisy and hot but worth it to get going in the right direction.
Absent any more excitement, that's it for today. Aloha!

Let's see this must be Day ???

After fixing the chafed thru furling line we let the jib out 10-12 feet. That combined with a reefed main is letting us make about 5 knots at 015M. That seems to be ok in these bumpy seas. Our 0600 HST position is 29N43, 153W50. We are reaching northward with a relative wind 10 knots at 70 degrees relative. Next item on the fix list is the propane solenoid, which has failed. So nothing hot until we figure it out.


Friday, June 15, 2007

It's been a busy day.

First off, Captain Lindsey sends this note to Gabby:

Gabby, I would love to see you in Long Beach. Keep your eye on the blog so you'll know when we're coming in. My race starts on the 9th of July. Give my love to Bunny. LG

Yesterday, Donna noticed that the halyard on the radar reflector was chafing badly. So that led to an all-hands exercise to get the reflector down and replace the halyard. It took a little work with the boat hook for Bill to get it unsnarled. My contribution was to notice that the reflector apparently has a pair of circular guides (like smooth washers) in the middle, perhaps to lead the halyard through the middle of the reflector with no danger of chafing. As opposed to most installations I've seen, including my own boat, where the halyard goes down beside the reflector, leading almost inevitably to chafe.

Today, the dodger took a direct hit from a huge wave. The wave came through the front right corner, blowing the whole window inwards, destroying the two big zippers and tearing a gash along the upper edge. Then, like a giant wet cannonball, it blasted away the left side panel too. That panel disappeared overboard and out of sight before anyone knew what had happened. In the process, this wave filled the cockpit to overflowing, leading to some wetness below. The computer was completely spared, but my bunk got sprayed a little. It's OK, I wasn't in it, and I was already wet anyway. Since the dodger frame is normally supported by the tension of the fabric, and the fabric is now shredded, the whole thing was a limp mess. So Bill and Lindsey rigged some guys from the dodger frame to the traveler anchors. The shredded dodger continues to provide some protection from wind and spray, but anything solid comes right through. I'm afraid we'll be wearing our foulie tops on deck pretty much all the time from now on, especially if we plan to spend any time under the dodger.

But things could be much more uncomfortable. Take Richard for example. We talked to him again today. He's about 80 miles ESE of us, aboard his J-35 Addiction en route to Long Beach, without any dodger at all. Oh, and a total crew of two. Oh, and his cutlass bearing just went out. So, they're very wet and extremely tired, and cannot propel the boat with the engine. The good news is that they can run the engine to charge batteries, and there's lots (!!) of wind to keep his boat moving fast. We think he's actually slightly closer to Long Beach than we are. His 0900 position was: 28N16 152W42. He was moving north at about 7 knots.

Back here on Cirrus, Lindsey happened to look at the jib furling line and notice that, holy cow, it was almost completely chafed through. Fortunately, due to the strong winds, we had the jib completely furled at the time, so there wasn't much pressure on the line. But a loose jib would be a disaster, so something had to be done quickly. So she and Bill found a way to use a sail tie to lock the furler drum down until we could replace the line. Later in the day, Bill found a brand new chunk of line and got it installed pretty easily. I say easily because all I had to do was pus buttons on the autopilot; he's the one who had to crawl up to the bow and kneel in the pulpit with the boat flying over big swells like a blue whale. Most importantly, he remembered to remove the sail tie locking the drum. The next time we use the jib, which should be in a few minutes now, we intend to keep a close eye on the furling line to see what's causing the chafe.

What else? Oh yeah, one of the hinges (plastic) on the toilet seat broke on one of the previous deliveries. I guess that happens when the boat inverts with someone on the head. Anyway, we had been living with it, being extremely ginger. Then Bill mentioned today that he had fixed it with duct tape and cable ties. I had a tough time believing it, but after a close inspection, I have to agree that it's probably better than new now. Still, that's a critical part, so I think somebody needs to go shopping for spares in Long Beach.

Oh yeah, speaking of the autopilot, while Bill was changing out the furling line, I was driving the boat downwind to keep her somewhat flat when the autopilot remote control screen went blank. All the buttons still work, but it's pretty tricky to do anything complex with no display. We do not know what the problem is, but since we had pizza for lunch (thanks Donna), the oven was on anyway, so the remote is now in the oven. If the problem was water infiltration, it might come back. Otherwise, hello Raymarine.

I don't know what will happen tomorrow.

Current position at 1415 HST;
Lat: 28N21
Lon: 154W17

fair winds, ...

It's never dull no matter what they say! Valerie - day 4

Bill's call this morning came with another wonderful description of being out in the deep ocean. There is no moon right now and he described the almost primitive sense of being in the dark with the large waves and lurching vessel, overcast skies and the amazing solitude and ancient aloneness (if there is such a word) one can feel out there.
Then, drama on the high seas! Bill was reporting the same position, the same conditions, the same course as they were struggling to gain headway to California. They had been talking with Richard who was doing well under even more difficult circumstances (he has a smaller boat, more open cockpit, less freeboard) but was having some difficulty with his cutlass bearing (the apparatus that keeps the water out of the boat at the junction where the shaft of the propeller enters the boat to connect to the engine). He may decide to turn back and they will let us all know after they talk with him. At this point the transmission crackled loudly and squealed and went dead. I assumed the satellites had gone out of alignment or some such and went about my business.
An hour later a brief, business-like call from Bill. "We were really creamed. Almost ripped the dodger off. Everyone is ok. The boat is ok. We are putting things back together and will try to email later." Wow!! Check the blog again in a couple of hours. I'm sure they will have tales to tell. Aloha for now.

Day Four (Really!)

Seems like we've been out here for ever. Ploughing along into 10-15 foot high swells, 15-20 knot winds. Reefed main, furled jib. Position at 0600, Friday, 15 June 2007 is 27N46, 154W24. Course is 017, speed 4 knots. Still kind of stormy looking as the sun comes out and the day brightens up. It is 1874 miles to Long Beach and 425 miles back to Oahu. Just got up but already thinking about a nap.


Valerie - day 3

Managed a quick visit with Bill while on my way to the Flint, MI airport (Flint to Chicago to LA to, finally at 11:30 PM HST, Honolulu). When I asked why they were only making 2-3 knots headway in a 20 knot wind I was told that they could, easily, go faster but would be headed straight for Japan. If they want to get to Long Beach they have to put up with the banging into waves and slow but seady progress. All were well. I suspect that this is going to feel like a very long trip.
I already miss the Dunkel-Jones clan but we had a wonderful visit and it was great to be picked up by Nicholas, here on a business/pleasure trip. And it is always good to be home. Aloha for now.

Thursday, June 14, 2007


Yesterday I mentioned that our position-reporting software was called Explorer. Well no, that's not right. It's called Reporter and it's part of the YOTREPS "Offshore Toolkit".

And Lindsey says olives, and wants a certain person to know that she saw four satellites last night.

If you checked our YOTREPS position report web page, you probably thought our track looked a little strange. The explanation is that all of our position reports from last year's delivery are in the same database, so the plotting software just strings them all together and it looks like we already went to Point Richmond and then zoomed back to Hawaii. It would be somewhat complex to try and get it changed from where we are, so hopefully you can just ignore the extraneous positions and enjoy this year's story.

By the way, it may surprise you to know that one of the issues we deal with daily aboard Cirrus is radio interference. We have an Icom IC-M710 marine radio transceiver that we use for contacting the Pacific Seafarers net, as well as Richard aboard Addiction, and Lou and Kim ashore in Kaneohe Bay. If you think about it, you realize that this radio has to listen for tiny radio signals from thousands of miles away, so it's pretty sensitive, and any local interference would make it very hard to hear those tiny signals.

We have at least three sources of interference: the alternator, the inverter, and the autopilot. Obviously, we use the alternator to charge the boat batteries, including the "house" battery that powers the radio. But it creates a tremendously loud buzz in the radio, rendering it (the radio) useless. So, if we want to have a fully charged house battery in time to call Richard at 5:30, we have to plan ahead so that we can run the engine, charge up the batteries completely, and then shut it down so that we can use the radio without alternator interference.

We use the inverter to charge the computer battery. Again, causing tremendous static in the radio. So, same deal. We use the computer to prepare our position reports, but we can't run the inverter during the reporting session starting around 6:00. So we plan ahead and run the inverter long enough to charge the computer, and then shut it down before our 5:30 call to Richard.

But wait! You say the autopilot also causes interference? Yes, and apparently lots of boats have this same problem. Since joining Cirrus last year, I have seen lots of references to this problem on the internet, but no solution until recently. Every time the autopilot controller commands the rudder servo to move, every second or so, we get a loud BEEE-EEE-EEP in the radio, but only on certain frequencies. Guess what frequencies. Well, for one, 14.300 MHz, the exact frequency of the Pacific Seafarers net. So what's the solution? Turn off the autopilot when you want to use the radio. No, not seriously. That's what we do because we have no option. Whoever is on watch gets to hand-steer the boat for about a half-hour while I play radio operator.

But the real solution involves changing the way autopilots are installed. I recently saw an online installation manual that states specifically, but in the fine print at the back of the book, that the autopilot controller and certain related cables must be installed at least seven feet away from radios and certain radio cables. Now they tell us. I think our autopilot cable goes through the same hole as the antenna cable under Bill's bunk. The two cables might even be taped together with a gigantic bundle of other miscellaneous cables.

So now you know the finely-tuned ballet we go through every day to be able to use the radio.

Just an update on the sailing. We are reaching off a little in strong winds and steep seas. The plan is to keep the boat moving north even if we lose some of our easting. We are seeing gusts to 20 knots and the occasional 12-foot seas. Lots of blowing foam. Current position: 26N23, 154W38. Course 340M at 4.5 knots. That's all for now. Please keep your comments coming. Fair winds ...


Day Three

Dawn to stormy seas, 6-8 foot swells, white caps everywhere, and really bumpy. Wind 16-18 and gusting over 20. We just took it easy last night. Reefed main and furled jib. Made a little more headway when we ran the engine for an hour or so to charge the batteries.
Our 0600 HST position is 25N54, 154w43 and we are going north 010M at about 5.4 knots. It is overcast but seems to be clearing.
Venus is quite a light in the evening sky these days. Super bright. Lights up the landscape just like the moon often does. No moon just now and for a few more days.
We still have 1930 miles to go. Plugging along. Spoke to Richard Blackburn again last night on 8A at 1730 HST. He seems to be quite a bit south and east of us. We will check his position again this evening when we talk to him. We also have been talking to Lou Ickler, mostly on 4B and 8B. We are also connected to the Pacific Seafarer's Net, so our position data should start showing up on the Pangolin, YOTREPS website.


Wednesday, June 13, 2007

MySpace? We don't need no MySpace.

Greetings, friends of Cirrus. The reason we don't need no MySpace is that we have YOTREPS, the ocean navigator's equivalent. Through the miracle of the Internet and ham radio, and a bunch of neat people, you can read about our daily position and other personal details on a web site called YOTREPS. Here's how it works. Every day around 5:00 pm HST (8:00 pm PDT), we run a program called Explorer. It prompts us to fill in a bunch of information in a NOAA standard format. Information like our position, course and speed, plus wind and sea conditions, plus cloud cover and visibility, plus barometric pressure and trend. Then we save the info in a file that includes the UTC date and time.

Later, around 5:25, we turn on the radio and tune to the Pacific Seafarers' Net on 14.300 MHz. It's hard to believe, but there are ham radio operators who monitor this frequency 24 hours a day, ready to help sailors all over the Pacific. But at 5:25, they bring in a few more guys so that they can get radio coverage of the entire Pacific, North and South. The main guy, the net control operator, could be as far away as Minnesota, but they also have stations in California, Hawaii, and various other places, including, I think, Montreal. At about 5:25, net control announces the start of the roll-call of reporting vessels. Since we are the most recent addition to the list, we are last, around number 15. One by one, vessels are called and, if they can respond, they read out their entire formatted position report to the net control operator, or one of the other operators. Then the operator reads it back in its entirety to check for errors. Then the reporting vessel is given the option to talk to other stations, on land or sea, and the net control will help them make their calls. Once the smoke clears, they move on to the next vessel. If you are listening, you will here them call us around 6:15 HST. Our call sign is KG6SKO (kilo golf six sierra kilo oscar). After the last vessel reports, if all goes well, the net operators finish off the daily net activities by emailing every position report to YOTREPS where they appear within a few hours. Note that last year's track is already there. Hopefully there will be no confusion.

By the way, we have lots of cool technology here on the boat, but we do not have normal Internet access, so we can't see our own blog. However, if you write a comment on the blog, the text of your comment is automatically sent to us as a radio email. We can usually access our email account once or twice a day. So, please, feel free.

Last night, we talked to Donna's husband Richard on the radio. He is aboard Addiction, not far from us, and sailing to Long Beach too, but double-handed. He is fine, but extremely sleepy. Later on, we talked to Lou Ickler back in Kaneohe. He was clear as a bell and we gave him our position and news.

Now, it's Wednesday morning, and it's another beautiful day in paradise. According to the GPS, we are sailing at over 6 knots (for some reason, the knotmeter has been hitting 9.5; maybe it was the rain squalls we blasted through last night - woo hoo!). We get the occasional big swell, but mostly it's pretty mellow out here. We are still heading mostly north, heading for the top edge of the Pacific high where she should be able to turn east. It's been really warm at night; we wear foulies on night watch because it can be wet, but no thermal underwear underneath; just shorts and a t-shirt. Sweet.

Current position:
Lat: 24d 52.893' N
Lon: 155d 20.370' W

Miles to go: 1984
By for now.

Valerie's report - day 2

7 AM HST. Bill reported a "beautiful day" - blue skies with just a fringe of clouds. No motoring with the exception of turning engine on to charge batteries. It is pretty mellow out there.
They were able to communicate with Richard again and finally had success communicating with Lou Ickler. It is a great feeling to be 200 miles from land and be able to touch base with friends both on land and at sea. They are going to post latitude and longitude on YOTREPS ( and that should start showing up in the next day or two.
Lindsey's bunk is "getting better" (guess that means it is still wet) and they have another 2000 miles to go.
I will be traveling tomorrow - sadly leaving Brian, Kimmerie and Nicholas Edward but it will also be good to be home. I'll post again in a couple of days.

Day Two

As of 0600 this morning we have come about 213 miles,but there are still more than 2000 to go. We are still just getting started. We still have a reef in the main, and we sailed very conservatively during the night, with the jib partly furled. It's not as stormy as the last time out. Our 0600 position was 24N24, 155W47 and we are doing 5.4 knots at 020M. The wind is 9 knots at 045 relative. It was mostly clear last night, no moon, with a beautiful Milky Way. During my whole watch this morning (0000-0300) there was a glow lighting up the horizon to the north. It is some sort of fishing operation that we have seen out here before. Bill

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Surprise, we're leaving today

From Chris Doutre: To all my friends in Santa Cruz who wondered why I left town so suddenly, here's an update. When Captain Lindsey called me in LA on Friday afternoon, I got the idea that she had a crew spot open for some vague future date and wanted to know if I knew anyone available. Well, one thing about me, I'm usually pretty slow, so I told her no, sorry, but I'll ask around, goodbye. After a few minutes of mentally re-decoding her message, I saw the light and I called her back and said I was available, but for when? Bottom line: Agnes and I drove home from LA on Sunday, a day sooner than planned, and I flew out to Honolulu early on Monday morning. At this point I was still thinking Cirrus might depart for Long Beach on Tuesday or Wednesday. Nope; my plane touched down at 11:00, Lindsey and Donna picked me up and we left the airport at 12:00, Lindsey's boyfriend Derrick Ontiveros met us at the boat with takeout Chinese for lunch at 1:00, and after some brief goodbye's with Derrick, and Kim and Lou Ickler, and race-crew Caroline Heinrich, plus Mister O'opu (black beast) we shoved off before 2:00. My cell phone log shows that I talked to Agnes at 1:58 pm and that was from the middle of Kaneohe Bay. There's lots more to the story, but that's enough for now. Fair winds ...

Valerie - Day 1

Two missed calls and finally connected with Bill at 9 AM HST. The engine has been turned off, sailing under main with single reef and jib. It is a little bumpy but "not bad" and the skies are beautifully blue. Although the GPS is now telling them they could make it in 13 days we aren't holding that thought too tightly as they may, given weather predictions, have to turn more north over the next two days or so.
Unfortunately, it is really too wet to leave the dorade vents in. They lost one, flooded Lindsey's bunk and decided to put the covers on. Too bad because it makes it stuffier below decks but it makes sense to do this.
All crew doing very well and appreciate the well wishers.
More tomorrow.

Day One

As of 0600, this morning, Tuesday, June 12th, 2007, we are about 100 miles out, with 2123 miles more to go. Our position is 22N50, 157W04. Course is 040M. Not aimed at Long Beach exactly, but better than going to the North Pole. Speed 5.8 knots. We are motor sailing, with only a reefed main up. We are close hauled into the wind at 040 relative and about 10 knots.

It was a beautiful night, clear most of the time. Looking aft, the constellation Scorpio fills the whole sky, with the "Teapot" right behind. Bright object in Scorpio must be Jupiter (can someone check that). The wispy cloud up over the top, from horizon to horizon, turned out to be the Milky Way.

We spoke to Richard, also underway, on 8A at 1730, but were unable to raise Lou Ickler a little later.

Sun just popped up. Donna and Lindsey just unfurled the jib and the boat speed went up to 6.9 knots. At this rate we should be in Long Beach in 14 days.

(Photos - Donna, Lindsey, Chris and Bill and the Cirrus leaving Makani Kai to, with any luck at all, make it to Long Beach - courtesy of Kim Ickler)

Thursday, June 7, 2007

I think we've got all the bugs out.

Well, we have successfully completed our second shakedown cruise and other than the alternator that went up in a puff of smoke, most of the things that need to be fixed are rather minor. Of course, we did not think it was a shakedown cruise when we set out. We thought we were on our way to Long Beach. But alternator failure is serious. So, we are back at the dock for the second time. Replaced the alternator yesterday and now we're topping off the tanks, adding some provisions and getting underway, yet again, for Long Beach on Saturday. Wish us luck this time.

(This time with a new alternator and a spare.)

FLASH!! JUST IN!!! - Nancy will not be able to do the delivery with us because of the delay and additional time involved . Chris Doutre from Santa Cruz, who handled communications for us last year during the delivery to San Francisco, is flying in to take her place. That will delay our departure until Monday. It's getting a little close.

Tuesday, June 5, 2007

Tuesday, June 5

8 AM HST Report from Bill via Valerie. Latitude 24, 27. Longitude 156, 53
Cirrus is well under way in 13-15 kn of wind. They are not motoring any more and are sailing with one reef and a portion of the jib unfurled. Course is still, essentially, North and seas are still very bumpy. The weather system appears to be very stable so they will probably be on this course "for days" with the trip taking a good 3 weeks.
I chided Bill about thinking about the book, the beer and the cat and he made a gracious recovery. I asked if they were fishing and the report is that they have enough excitement and aren't looking for more...basically in survival mode. Your intrepid reporter can't imagine being at sea in those conditions and Bill laughed and said "You couldn't pay me to do this, it has to be a volunteer activity!"
There is some seasickness still among the women but all are coping and doing well.
More tomorrow. Aloha - Valerie

Monday, June 4, 2007

Not what we expected

What with all the advance planning we were not surprised at the 10-15 knot winds from the west. What we didn't expect was the huge squalls during the first night and bumpy confused seas. We are pushing our way north through 10-14 ft. waves, mostly from ahead, but from all directions. A wave goes over the boat every 5 minutes.

We started out just motoring when the wind was lighter, then motor sailing to get through the bumps, now on reefed main and partly furled jib. Our heading isn't as good, but it sure is nice to have some quiet.

When I think I could be home with a cold beer, a good book and the cat snuggled up beside me!!!!!!!!

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Monday, June 4

As we had arranged, Bill called me (Valerie) via Satellite phone at 8AM HST. Their position is Lat. 22 deg. 40 min. N, Lon. 157 deg. 18 min W. Motor-sailing virtually straight north in very rough and bumpy seas, launching off the top of waves and crashing down the other side. In order to stabilize the boat, they put up the main sail. The wind then went up to 17 kn. and they have just finished putting in a reef. ("Thank God for an all women crew. They are 10 times tougher than I am." - Bill Myers) By keeping the course due north for now, they anticipate getting to somewhat lighter winds which will make sailing "up wind" a lot more comfortable.
Last night around sunset, the motor alarm started to "chirp" - Upon opening the engine compartment all systems (water, oil etc.) seemed to be in order. Bill proceeded to check the wiring diagram and found a single wire that didn't serve any purpose. This wire went into a cable and over the motor mount and he found that vibration had caused it to wear a microscopic hole in the insulation. This has now been taped and the chirp silenced.
During the night they saw (but were not directly hit by) several squalls. In the moonlight Bill was reminded of the pictures of the A-Bomb tests where there was a huge tower of water and enormous clouds glowing in the light. Except, of course, the water was coming down instead of going up. Very dramatic. The squalls set up very large waves and kept everyone on their toes. All are well and happy.
That's the report for today.
Valerie (still in Michigan until 6/14)

Sunday, June 3, 2007

On our way (again).

SO far so good. It is about 1830 HST, on Sunday the 3rd of June. Sunset is not too far away. We are about 25 miles out, at 21N50, 157w34. We are motoring into 3-4 knots of wind with no sails up, on a course of 025M and making about 5.2 knots over the ground. It is slowly getting more bumpy as the wind speed creeps up.

It was great good luck that we found a new water pump on Sunday morning. Mike Rush and Charlie Bellman at the Ali Wai Marine actually dropped what they were doing and opened up the store to search for the pump in their stock. There apparently was one in "Will Call" that had not yet been picked up. Awesum! . The two old pumps will serve as spares.

That's about it for today. Everyone is pretty wiped out from the rush to get underway. Lots of naps going on. Hope the news remains good and maybe we'll have more to say as the trip progresses.


Another beautiful day, another start!

Donna was successful at finding a brand new water pump which has been installed and the trusty delivery gang is off again. Bill called when they had cleared the Sampan channel and reported beautiful clear skies, a little more breeze than yesterday and lots of positive feelings all around. They left again at about 2PM HST.
Weather reports suggest that they will have to go North for awhile before they can pick up more wind and head for Long Beach.
(submitted by Valerie from Michigan)
(Picture credit: Kim Ickler)

Saturday, June 2, 2007

Delivery commenced on schedule but...

Cirrus departed for Long Beach as scheduled at about 2PM HST. A cheerful group of supporters saw Lindsey, Donna, Nancy and Bill off under sunny skies, light winds and calm seas.
Unfortunately, they had not cleared the channel by much more than an hour when the cooling alarm sounded. The water pump had failed and, given the light winds, motor-sailing was a necessity. Bill was pleased that he had a replacement pump on board and that was quickly installed. Nope - it was faulty. So, they are turning back to Kaneohe while the land support "crew" scrambles to find another pump. As soon as one is found, it will be installed and they will be off again.
More information as updates available!
(Posted by Valerie in Michigan---6 hours later than HST)
(Photo credit Dana Ritchie Fujikake)

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