Day 7, The Doldrums 6/25/21

Northern Star, 12:07, 25 Jun manually-typed check in. Jamie is alive and well with spirits high even though wind speed is not.

First true sunny day and it is hot. Full moon covered by clouds last night but some good shots of it coming up right after sundown.

Hope all is well with the fantastic race cmte.Keep the lights on in Hanalei Bay, going to get in later than I planned :)


Siren, 12:27
Siren is chillin on a gorgeus day out here.

Green Buffalo, 14:12
Slatting, slatting, slatting.
With an occasional sail change and tack.

Saw Mountain on the chartplotter on and off (not sure why most entrants keep turning their AIS transmitter off… what’s the point, its not like one is going to “cover them”… and two large ships have passed by in the last few days and I sure want them to see me).

Spinnaker hoisted and dropped 3 times last night as wind came, went, and came back again from a 90 degree different direction. So dousing chute in forehatch, waiting 10-15 minutes for wind to come in from other side, swapping spinny gear and poles, and rehoisting. Crazy? Yes crazy. Crazier yet, hoisted the #1 this morning beating to the southwest (had the #1 on deck for flaking so was pretty easy to just hoist it). But beating southwest going to Hawaii? Really?

Maybe another two days of this slatting/light variable winds to deal with before the High heads back north to where its “supposed to be”?

Finished last of tortellini for late breakfast, and then a sardine sandwich for lunch. Its getting warm in the afternoon… so maybe dinner tonight is cabbage salad with chicken (not use the stove)?

Chatted with Mary by sat phone… was good to hear her voice! And check how the tomatoes, peppers, and my “baby fern palm tree” are doing up in Napa (and what is up with the boys too). :-)

Green Buffalo

Hula, 15:33
The good news is my wife made a 600 song iPod for me. The bad news is if the wind doesn’t pick up, I may hear the same song twice!!

Shark On Bluegrass, 16:29
SHTP 2021 log Shark On Bluegrass
Transcription of my hand written notes.

Saturday 06/23
Nice send-off: Vanessa , Malina, Tom, Brian, Tibu thank you!
Windy sail to the start.
Light wind outside the gate, change to Genoa, moving at4-5kn.
Sleep in the evening to catch up on my sleep deficit from last week (a lot of work-work finishing and starting a project and the packing prep.)
Change down to #3, don’t want to get caught at night with the Genoa up. Expecting shift to north -which never came as the coastal south Eddie moved between me and the synoptic wind.
Saw a grey whale splashing his fin on the water. He must have been in love with the Shark. Crossing to the north of the north farallones. As predicted fleet split into north and south

Solar cells seem to have plenty of power
Figured out some menu items on the chart plotter. -finally.
Seems I am using the chart plotter as primary navigation tool. INavX app only as cross check. Also keep the chart plotter running most of the time ( despite power consumption)
Dodger: just the way to the start was worth the hassle of getting it. ( overtime, really LOVE the dodger, it allows to keep the companionway open and gives a holding point.) – Thanks Thomas, Brian, Aaron.
Better: dodger with handles on the side and stiffer front. Aaron was right, the natural tendency is to grab the higher point and not the handles on the deck.

Sunday 06/20
Somewhat cold during the night, lucky I brought the additional blanket. Gloomy day, calm. Worried that solar cells do not charge enough, but they do, even on overcast day.4.5-5 knin7-8 kn of wind.
Put the Genoa up. Fast but more stress. Autopilot can’t handle the puffs. Worried to get caught in big wind. Genoa requires a trip to the foredeck to get it down. Big heavy sail. Spin can be doused from the cockpit. ( after a few more days I am now convinced that hanks are the better option for this type of sailing. Jib / Genoa comes down by itself while staying attached without the need to go forward. It’s a Safety feature in heavy wind or seas… Can put up second sail without the need to take the first one off as well)
Decide to keep direct route northerly seems plenty of wind. Find out later that this was the wind circling the hole bringing me dead into the middle of the anti clock wise Eddie. Well second most west boat for tonight, did not last long so.
Still seasick, all the pasta with tomatoe sauce is coming out again. Together with all the water.
Still cold at night , need blanket and sleeping bag.

Additional light blanket (Delta ~ Westin business class blanket for the connoisseurs ) additional layer when needed or as light blanket for naps.
Sleep most of the time in the windward berth. Lee cloth work! Faster into the cockpit. Fore peak is for quiet nights w.o. Foulies, even has a proper sheet.

Monday 06/21
Sailed into the wind hole, the only way around is to gybe, go north and put the spin up.
Light winds, so mostly slept through Sunday and Sunday nights,still working off the sleep deficit. Turns out I don’t need the alarm to wake me up to check. I wake up when the noises change:
Bow wave splashing = speed
Trim = flogging sails
Balance = autopilot only working short bursts not long side to side moves
Overpowered = heel
Traffic – AIS beeping – this one works beautiful I am happy I installed the transponder after Long Pac
Well and once in a while take a peek around of course.
First sunny day

Buckets without flimsy handles. Took the handles off on both buckets and cut holes near the rim to pull string through.

Tue 6/22
Found the wind last night. Making 8kn on a beam reach with the spin up under autopilot, while sleeping!!!.
It got too windy so needed to take the spin down. Manage to shrimp it which tore one clew off the spin. That’s why you use old sails for this. This was a 2011 spin. RIP. Change to #3 as we finally got into the wind.
Slept 6 hrs straight, nice, woke up to a dead main battery. Switched to backup. Let’s see; over discharged li Ion batteries go into sleep mode, manual says solar charger will wake them up. Tried to “jump start’ with the second battery before …. bad idea cable got warm quick. Let the charger do it’s work. Measured the voltage as the battery , creeping up from 11,80 to 12,40 over two hours or so. Battery comes back to life. Nice to see theory in practice….
First sunny evening. Beam reaching, with cross waves. Not quite comfortable.

tool box with voltmeter.
Buying the autopilot one size up ( st 2000 tiller pilot) able to handle a lot. Thanks Rufus for the recommendation.
Less useful: mast instrument, boat speed, and digital compass. I sail mostly after COG and SOG. So take them off the MEMA network to save 0.4A in the power budget .
Useful: camomile tea, no appetite for any of the sodas or power drinks I brought. Drinking lots of water from then jar. The Lee cloth really work (not a common equipment on an Olson 25) allows me to sleep near the cockpit. Also noticed that I am very diligent to keep the cabin and cockpit orderly and clean.

We 06/23
Made 70 or so miles over night on a beam reach at7-8 kn. Slept from 9 pm to 7am with few interruptions.
One AIS alarm. Build into my dream. DCA 1.4 miles in 20 min. Hail the freighter that I see him amd change course slightly to pass his tern more clearly.
Main battery all well at 12.6V in the morning. Once the backup is charged combine both solar panels to charge the main. Getting 6-8A out of 150W solar. Compared to 2-3A use, depending on what is running. Very happy with the solar set up.
Decide against going to Genoa in the morning wind is about 12-13kn. It’s getting lighter rapidly…. I am about 50nm south of the rump line. So the calm of the High is in the way. Keep.going South_West around 215-220 on a beam reach under spin ( my other older spin, likely 20 years old, came with the boat – 1.5 oz cloth so this should hold.). Don’t want to go even more south. The gamble is how much distance to add to go south. I have a short light boat so Minimize additional distance while keeping moving in lighter winds vs the bigger boat. Well see…. from the standings I am in the middle of the field.

Washday, head to toe wet wiping and fresh cloth – very nice – spa experience

Not useful: not bringing hand soap. The bottle I grabbed is shampoo plus conditioner – too oily. Socks; I am basically barefoot all the time. Except when I go forward I put the boots on.
Useful: the Spinlock harness, comfortable, and less bulky than the inflatable. So much easier to keep on all the time.

Ahh, officially managed 1/4 of the to go distance. Let’s s celebrate – freeze dried pasta in tomato sauce, check, apple check, bell pepper check.

Thursday 06/24
Good spin run yesterday evening amd last night. Wind calmed down over night. 5-6kn under autopilot in 7-9kn of wind – autopilot is able to handle it. So go to bed.

Found the Pacific high! It’s where the weather models say it would be…. contemplating or the last two days . Running SW at 210-215 for three days now. Going more south? I am not going to make 200n, to get into the strongest trades. From the position reports none of the competitors went that far south staying north see,s risky as the high sits there. Same conclusion, keep reaching amd keep the boat moving. Making 5kn in little wind…

Have been keeping up with the family amd friends. Amazing that the Sattelite modem works re;active;y seamless even for casual calls. I also opened the first messages in the bottle. A jar full of wishes from friends amd family. Thank you Vanessa f-r organizing. Thanks to all who wrote so,etching. Today I found messages from Fran amd the cousins…

Knee pads – finally started wearing them all the time, who would have thought what a useful invention. Chafe control – probably a know. One to he experience sailor. Manage to nearly cut through a spin sheet rubbing on the life lines on Tuesday. Caught it early enough. Very careful now to keep everything separated

Despite the annoyingly slow progress, this is the first fully enjoyable and comfortable day. It’s warm. The boat does not roll and keeps a steady pace. Finally go to do some house keeping amd to type up my notes from the last days no promises I will keep that up….

Perplexity, 17:15
This is the first ‘race’ report from Perplexity. I hope others have wind – well, not really! I haven’t had it since I congratulated myself on having crossed the high without having to jibe south. Oops. I worked really hard to do that and then let my guard down when I thought I made it. Rookie mistake #12.

On the other hand, it is beautiful out here and I think I’ll go swimming this afternoon.

The race itself has been a real adventure. The sail out the gate was marvelous and the first couple of days were also intense with so many boats in contact. The next few days were great in terms of ideal reaching conditions with a blast reacher, storm jib and reefed main.

Getting used to going with little sleep and taking an hour to change a sail because of all of the back and forth crawling on the deck were also new adventures. The light wind conditions since then have been less great -except I am no longer crawling and getting lots of sleep. But – yesterday 10 days to finish, today 10 days to finish.
Just checked my fresh water…

Big thanks to all of the volunteers who make this ‘race’ possible!

S/V Perplexity

I really do wish that I could tell you today has been an eventful day of sailing, but sadly it really has not been, with that said, it has however been a good day aboard the good ship Aloha with some not particularly sailing related happenings to share.

The day started off rather early on in the evening as I was dragging the watt and sea hydrogenerator overnight, atop the power converter which convert the electricity to charge the batteries is a glowing pad which indicates the status of the incoming power when charging or when no charge is coming in it indicates the status of the batteries. If I recall correctly, the blue glow is used to indicate that between 100 and 200 watts is being fed into the batteries, however in my dazed status, I saw that the inside of the boat was glowing with a faint blue light and I thought “gee, it must be the morning, I feel like I just fell asleep, I can’t believe I slept through the whole night!” after getting out of bed and crawling over to my phone on the charging pad, i realized that it was not in fact morning, but rather it was 1130 at night and between the very bright full moon illuminating the outside and the blue light glowing the inside, i had been completely fooled. Luckily however it wasn’t long before i was able to resume my evening rest after a quick scan of the horizon and the chart plotter.

For those who may be wondering what the sleep/rest schedule in fact is, it’s not a whole lot different from that. I have generally been doing my absolute best to set the boat up under the helm of the autopilot for the conditions which we are in at the moment and the conditions I expect to be in within the next few hours, then I will scan the horizon for any signs of anything and also check the chart plotter for AIS targets. If none are present, and there have been very few, I will rack out as best I can usually with a quick check of the chart plotter for speed, heading and if there are any contacts every so often till I actually fall asleep.

With the size and weight of Aloha, nearly any change in trim, heel, speed (by the noise of the water on the hull, or the pitch of the watt & sea) I can feel in my light state of sleep and will get out of bed and at the very least check the plotter or check sails and helm if need be. If all is satisfactory then it’s back to bed. This process in not just exclusive to the night time, because rest is generally so short and interrupted at night time, I will try to extend this process after breakfast and in the early evening/late afternoon as well to maximize my rest hours.

Speaking of breakfast, this morning was consumed by Mountain House’s Southwest Spicy Breakfast Hash, which is quite good if not very sneakily spicy! lunch consisted of my very first PB&J onboard this crossing coupled with a Fuji apple which made me feel like I was straight out of elementary school setting my PB&J on my knee while I take a bite out of my apple and drink my bottled water, all I was missing was the dried mangoes which I had for an afternoon snack. With the progressing time change as I make my way west, I can’t quite say its dinner time nor do I have any idea what I will be getting after for dinner.

As far as the actual sailing has been today, it has been a mixed bag for sure. All night I had the trusty A2 spinnaker up and had done quite well with it for some time. Come about mid morning the wind had dropped some and shifted forward a bit and after heading down to a course lower than I want to be sailing, I dropped the A2 and put up the Code Zero for a few hours, this sail did phenomenal in the very light air which i have been dealing with all day and was generally able to keep the boat moving at very near the wind speed in much of the lighter 3 to 5 knot conditions when the wind was forward of about 130 degrees true wind angle. Then as of about an hour ago at 5 west coast time, the wind moved back aft and it was time to switch back to the A2. Not long after swapping to the A2 I decided it might finally be time to fold and bag the jib as I very much hope it won’t be seeing any more action for the remainder of the race.

Winds continue to be very light and boat speed is still sadly quite low although on the bright side we are pointing in the right Hawaiian direction and there should be better breeze in the days to come. With that small bit of optimism, I bid thee farewell from the trusty Aloha.