The fifth week started with us becalmed. When we checked the surface analysis we were stuck between two very weak low pressure centers – who knew you could get becalmed between lows? Because they were so small and weak and our spot forecast reported wind soon, we started to motor when we lost steerage. Losing steerage is the time we check the weather and fuel to see if motoring makes sense – when the wind dies completely the waves stick around for a while, leaving us rolling around while we drift. Not very comfortable and pretty noisy. Fortunately we have used little fuel and can afford the occasional motor-sail.
The wind since has been variable. Predominately from the south, we’ve been able to make good time along our preferred course. And of course today, the end of our fifth week, we are becalmed again. Not unexpectedly. We are directly above the center of the North Pacific High. Since we need to make a couple of degrees east to get out of it we are once again motor-sailing, more motor than sail. Certainly by the time we get to 140W we should have good wind.
Today was the first sunny day we’ve had since leaving Japan. It’s peeked out for an hour or less a couple of times but today we actually had sun all afternoon. The temp in the boat this evening is still 70, warmest it’s been in a long time. The solar controller is claiming a whopping 116 amp hours of charging today; normally not great but for this passage we’ll take it.
On the 1st of August the Seattle based ‘Swan’ with Dave and Rhonda aboard reported the 43rd day of their voyage from Majuro, Republic of Marshall Islands to Seattle. They were almost to the Dateline when we left Japan and we’ve been slowly gaining, we are now 600 miles behind them after starting at a deficit of over 2000 miles. They should make landfall in the next day or two. They started at the edge of the North Pacific High and sailed around it, finding themselves becalmed many days. As you know, we’ve been dodging lows the whole time, I sometimes feel like the Peanuts character “Pigpen” except ours isn’t a dust cloud, its our own personal low pressure system. Dave actually told us on the PacSea net one day they were waiting to see our sails on the horizon; I wish – to pass them we would eventually have to sail in the same weather and Yohelah simply isn’t fast enough to make up the miles.
We met them in Majuro during our stopover there. Very nice folks. Like a lot of cruisers they decided to go light on the amenities aboard, no refrigeration or water maker or energy consuming appliances. This makes the electrical burden so much lighter that the boat can carry much less charging equipment. Dave spends a lot less time and money working on his boat than I do working on mine. However, the biggest issue on a passage like this is water. We’ve had very few water-catching opportunities and it’s probably similar on Swan. We cruised in Panama with a Canadian boat who used salt water for nearly everything and reckoned they went through 50 gallons of fresh water every two months. While it’s doable, my hat is off to Dave and Rhonda for a tough light air voyage. Bet that first shower ashore will feel good.
We are at our last ‘hill’ – the top of the North Pacific High. We were all set to sail right over the top of it until it formed another high pressure center dead ahead of us. It should move south over the next couple of days, giving us light but sail-able winds. Another 200 miles east and we’ll be on the downhill side of things with north winds and an east-southeasterly course. Swan is there now and reported 25+ knots of wind yesterday, 15 knots today. Looking forward to it.
Today on Yohelah it’s the end of day 35 with less than 800 miles to Port Angeles and we are getting the diesel heater ready…