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Saturday, 26 May 2018

About our Pacifc Ocean Trip : May 2016-May 2018

'New things are always presented for the delight of (our) curiosity, lest the threadbare common objects should make him weary.'

Linnaeus the great Swedish biologist expressed this thought - which also suits Traversay III and us - her crew - very well. We're getting weary (so is Traversay) and we're looking forward to being in the familiar waters of home. It has made us happy to have been able to share some of the delights and curiosities which we've encountered by writing this blog. Thank you for reading. After a few more entries we'll be saying farewell - it's been our custom to stop writing the blog once we're in home waters. All the best in finding your own delights and curiosities!

While Larry has been busy fixing the 'fridge and identifying what was wrong with the generator, I've been looking over our files and have assembled the following 'specifics' about our trip. Please note sums are as accurate as I can make them. At times, our days were partitioned and I did not account for fractions!

# of days altogether: 759
# days on passage: 171
# different anchorages: 95
# days anchored out: 185
# days tied to a dock: 389
# different Marinas: 13 so far
1) Breakwater Marina Townsville AUS
2) Keppel Bay Marina Rosslyn Bay AUS
3) Mooloolaba Marina AUS
4) Raby Bay Marina AUS
5) Horizon Shores Marina AUS
6) Nelson Bay Marina AUS
7) Bobbinhead Marina AUS
8) Nelson Bay Marina New Zealand
9) Waikawa Marina NZ
10) Picton Marina NZ
11) Club de Yates Valdivia Chile
12) Marina Quinched Chile
13) Ala Wai Marina Oahu, Hawaii USA
14) Either Neah Bay Marina or Port Angeles, WA USA
15) Causeway Marina Victoria BC Canada

# scuba dives: 52 total : 27 warm (Aus); 5 moderate : N.Z. (18C) ; 20 cold : Chile (9-10C)
# scuba photos taken (approx. 2600), edited and species identification: (approx.) 1680
# land photos taken - v approx. 30% edited and good: AUS :1,000 N.Z. : 600 Chile: 2,000 Hawaii: 8
# of nautical miles : 25,000 (46,000 km)
NB statute miles are smaller than nautical miles at a ratio of about 6:7
Distance around the world at the equator: 21,600 nautical miles
Our average speed : 10 km/hr
Sailing: 95% on all lengthy passages 5% on inshore passages … we motored many miles along the coasts of Patagonia, New Zealand and Australia. We often attain faster speeds in sailing than the motored vessels we pass (not that we EVER race!)

At 2018-05-26 15:16 (utc) our position was 47°29.61'N 132°08.58'W

Sunday, 20 May 2018


In a world of only two people, an enormous ocean and nowhere to go for a walk, we create little ceremonies aboard Traversay III to brighten our passage.

Mary Anne tends to produce elaborate and extremely tasty dinner dishes on her cooking days notwithstanding that the extreme motion causes the task to approach the impossible. My somewhat lesser contribution - my dinners being mundane - is the "noon announcement". We get very excited at the recital of the day's statistics - position, miles sailed in the last twenty-four hours, water temperature, miles to go and the location and distance of the nearest land.

For the last eight days that nearest land has been in the Hawaiian chain, typically Kauai. Today, though, we had a special treat: the nearest land was Chernabura in Alaska. This foggy, windy rocky outlier of the Shumagin group was 1040 nautical miles distant to our north-northwest at noon!

There is no possibility of visiting that distant place on this trip, but we passed nearby twice as we cruised amongst the Shumagin Islands on earlier voyages. We stopped in 2013 at the end of our Northwest Passage from London to Victoria and again in 2014 while touring the Alaska Peninsula at a more leisurely pace.

Long ago, before we had daily access to detailed weather forecasts, Chernabura was briefly featured as the nearest terra firma on three returns from Hawaii on Traversay II. The climatological information we did have suggested that we must go north for a long way from Hawaii before turning east and that we must reach our destination latitude well off the Vancouver Island coast. Our somewhat naive choice of route was in each case remarkably similar to the carefully planned route we are following now.

From here on, the land gets closer. Tomorrow at noon, the nearest land will be Chirikof Island just southwest of Kodiak Island, Alaska followed Cape St. James at the south end of Haida Gwaii BC a day later. At this moment, Cape St. James is 1120 miles to our northeast and shrinking by over six nautical miles every hour. In the days that follow, that nearest place will shift daily to various points on the west coast of Vancouver Island as we approach the Strait of Juan de Fuca.

Those Alaskan names speak of the long Russian occupation of Alaska before it was purchased by the US. The curious, by consulting Google, will discover far more about the history and geography of these place names than I could possibly include in a blog posting.

At 2018-05-20 02:21 (utc) our position was 38°51.05'N 150°08.90'W

Friday, 18 May 2018

Between Worlds

Leaving beautiful Hawaii was not as great a wrench and 'reality check' as it was on my previous three departures. For one thing, I knew we were returning to our home base in what we familiarly call "The Pacific Northwest" (… it's not really if you check a globe … it's truly the Pacific Northeast!) For another, we'd scheduled this trip as a 24-month hiatus from the Retirement Mecca of Victoria BC and we were going to be away for 25 months. So it was time to get back to our own 'reality'.

However - within a few days of leaving Hawaii Traversay was behaving as if she hated the prospect of returning 'home'. Even with fairly strong winds and the sails at optimum settings, it felt as if she was resenting our careful planning and was determined to be 'laggardly'. If you've ever maintained the forward position on a bicycle-built-for-two and have been pedalling your heart out, it felt exactly as if your partner in the rear was dragging their feet along the ground. I tried to explain it to the Captain using airplane terminology. I thought it was as if we'd instructed Trav to expedite 'flaps down', slats, spoilers and speed brakes but he quickly shot down my airplane terminology by insisting that only the speed brakes act directly to slow the airplane in flight - the flaps and slats are used for perfecting the arc of the wing to ALLOW the airplane to be flown more slowly for landing. Since he's a retired airline pilot I gave in far more reluctantly than I usually do when I tend to argue for the 'senses' rather than for the 'science'.

Larry suggested that a contrary current was acting against our forward progress, thus slowing us. But I decided that the many tropical organisms growing on our hull still remaining after his hull-cleaning expedition were fighting for their lives and the lives of their many progeny (barnacles, bryozoans etc) As we were leaving Hawaii, the temperature of the water was a lovely 26C (79F) and within days it had dropped to 14C (57F). If I were a Baby Barnacle (or even a Baby Human born in Hawaii) I would also have my siphons, spines, setae, flagellae, arms and legs out fighting any effort to transplant me to the Mainland!

It seems whenever I state a (to me obvious) conclusion about events as they appear out here in this vast landscape of waves and clouds I can be proven wrong. Yesterday we saw another ship! That in itself was an unusual and exciting event on this trip. A large Norwegian vessel carrying a large number of freight-bearing cranes on the superstructure appeared and stayed on the horizon. The world from our cockpit looks as if we're sitting in the middle of a soup-bowl with the horizon etched in a smooth line all around us like the edge of the bowl. As I watched the ship, it continued on along the horizon and seemed to pass directly south of us. I made the mistake of saying this to the Captain. He instantly assured me that the ship had not changed heading at all within the last hour. The Norwegians had been stolidly and steadily following a course of exactly 291 degrees for the entire time. I knew he could easily prove this to me so I (again) had to shut up. Oh those serious and sturdy Norwegians - how I love them - but why couldn't they bear me up just this once?!

The platform under our feet (the boat SOLE as "we who know the sea" call the FLOOR) has been very unsteady and un-floor-like. Even when we don't have large wind issues, left-over waves from somewhere across the broad Pacific have continued to bombard us. The Captain claims these are probably a result of turbulent weather coming down from Alaska. How good it is to charge the U.S. for our bad weather when normally we hear them blaming "cold weather coming down from Canada" in their broadcasts! At any rate, people have asked me if I practice my piano when we're offshore. I can categorically say "Never!" When we're heading into the wind, it is all we can manage to do our jobs. These include standing watch, cooking and dishes when it's our turn. We try to sleep as much as we can off-watch just to build up strength in case we need it in the heavy weather once it's our turn again. If a mechanical problem arises, Larry (who is the Technical Advisor) fixes it (I'm the Artistic Advisor but I have been known to choose exceptionally buoyant music - mostly favoring the Three Tenors to help the Captain keep his spirits up). I sometimes also assist by handing him the appropriate-sized tools. Of course, I also take over his watches and kitchen duties.

Whenever the motion seems to settle even a little we read books. We aim for gently amusing books (no emotional turmoil or murder, please). I find cookbooks and thinking about food a great solace and I often become overly excited about a recipe I want to try. Of course, recipe books seldom include emotion or murder (unless you count fishing and we don't!). I have built up a store of cook books to read during heavy weather. So yesterday with slightly gentler motion I made the Cherry Chipotle Pulled Chicken in my 'Great Big Pressure Cooker Cookbook' (Weinstein & Scarbrough p.246). It was a great success and I only had to make one substitution - dried cherries instead of the cherry jam which the recipe called for. It will be a great favorite with the grandkids when they come sailing with us. We can serve it in the cockpit - with lots of relishes and on big buns. They will eat it wearing their swimsuits and the entire area (including children) will be thoroughly hosed down with seawater afterwards. The problem is that I made too much Cherry Chipotle for two people so we'll now have to eat it on my next cooking day. I was looking forward to making 'Lamb Stew with East Indian Spices' p.225.

At 2018-05-18 18:19 (utc) our position was 36°39.61'N 152°46.07'W

Wednesday, 16 May 2018

North of the Trades

In the North Pacific Ocean, north of the trade wind belt is a varying collection of high pressure areas with light and variable - sometimes non-existent - winds. North of that, an endless series of low pressure cells and attendant frontal systems march from west to east across the ocean. These are typically accompanied by rain and gale, sometimes storm, force winds.

The trick, after the banging and crashing of the northbound trade wind passage stopped, has been to find a path that threads the perfect winds between the calms of the high to the south and the very unpleasant conditions near the centers of the lows to our north - all moving daily.

The lows and fronts pass every two to three days until we get close to the coast where a vaguely stationary summertime high blocks the storms and sends them out of our way off to the northeast. The southern reaches of the first of the lows passed us last night with ten minutes of torrential rain and with the wind suddenly veering and ramping up to thirty knots. One hundred miles to the north of us, the winds would have reached a very unpleasant fifty knots! Mercifully, it is all behind us now as we reach northeastward at over seven knots in perfect sailing conditions. We are now shaping a course to avoid the worst of the next blow in a couple of days.

Ah, but beyond all that there is another navigational gate to pass through: That semi permanent summer high off the mainland coast often leads to strong and sometimes gale north-westerlies and northerlies over the last few hundred miles of our route. We must get up to the latitude of the Strait of Juan de Fuca, roughly 48 north, well off the coast to avoid struggling against wind and current at the end of our passage.

But enough of challenges! It is great finally to be making swift progress under sunny skies after the off-course struggle against the trade winds of our first four days.

1650 miles to go to sheltered water at Cape Flattery.

At 2018-05-16 19:31 (utc) our position was 33°25.92'N 156°46.72'W

Saturday, 12 May 2018

Heading home ...

May was the month we had selected in which winter would have loosed its grip on the North Pacific sufficiently for us to make a safe and (relatively) comfortable passage back to British Columbia. The intervening time in Honolulu following our March arrival from Chile was mostly spent on boat maintenance tasks. (I hear other cruisers whisper "This all sounds familiar!").

Before maintenance could even start, bureaucracy had to be addressed: Bureaucratic tasks ran the gamut from customs (clear into the US and obtain permit to cruise in US waters), agriculture (arrange an official galley inspection and the secure disposal of "international trash") through positively silly (the marina required that the recently arrived from far away boat be taken one mile out of the harbor and back to show that it could be sailed).

The maintenance tasks that followed ranged from the essential (get the alternator working) through simple (lighting repairs) to cosmetic (varnishing) and many others. One job, thought simple, turned out to demand much more time than expected. I took our mainsail to a sailmaker to have some small tears repaired. Another tear suddenly and strangely appeared as I removed the sail from the boom. The full bad news came at the sail loft when it turned out I could tear the normally tough sailcloth easily with my hands. It was un-repairable and unusable and a new mainsail would take a month to make! At that point, it seemed it would just fit into our schedule without producing a delay - and, in fact, the sail was delivered and installed exactly one day before our planned departure.

Mary Anne thought the (rather typical) complete list of repairs I accomplished would be interesting so I have included it at the end of this posting.

On the 8th of May, we set out for Ko Olina, a marina at the south west tip of Oahu to fill our fuel tanks. We would then go on to Makua anchorage, just under the north west tip of the island, for two nights in the "wilderness" to relax before the real departure on the 10th. Somewhere during this six hour trip, our enjoyment of the view of the scenic Oahu coast was shattered by the very loud bilge water alarm. A hurried check revealed that we were not in imminent danger of sinking. A more detailed check showed the culprit was a leaking seal in the generator seawater pump. - so much for my imagined day of relaxation at Makua! Closing a valve stopped the immediate leak but 3 hours of work was extracted out of our leisure day to install a spare pump. The removed leaky pump will get new seals and bearings when we get to Canada and take over the role of spare.

* * *

The stiff northeast trade winds blowing almost continually in Hawaii prevent a direct route to British Columbia lying almost exactly northeast of Hawaii. The sailboat solution to this is to head north, as close to the wind as possible, until a latitude of 30 to 35 is reached. At this point, the wind shifts to a more favorable direction and a more direct course can be shaped. The first five days of the passage are always into the wind and waves with an attendant discomfort felt all the more strongly because everyone aboard has yet to attain their "sea legs".

We are now a day and a half into this minor ordeal, nonetheless making good progress north. The water temperature has dropped 4 degrees C since our departure and temperatures in the cabin are starting to become bearable as the tropical heat fades. Forecasts show we will be able to start to ease our course towards the northeast in about two more days as the wind clocks around to the east and then southeast.

Our last passage, Valdivia, Chile to Honolulu, Hawaii was over 6000 nautical miles. We can take comfort in the knowledge that Cape Flattery at the western end of the Strait of Juan de Fuca lies only 2000 nautical miles ahead "as the crow flies". And the dolphins visited today!

* * *

replace port aft engine foot due fracture 20-Mar-18
replace rigging screw and reattach inner forestay 21-Mar-18
change primary fuel filter check fuel pump strainer (was clean)22-Mar-18
test gas detectors with butane wand - both OK 22-Mar-18
check and adjust shaft alignment and coupling bolts 23-Mar-18
replace used spare genset drive belt 23-Mar-18
dusted inside of inverter re overheating problem 23-Mar-18
repair spare rigging screw from inner forestay 23-Mar-18
replaced worn mainsail clew shackle 24-Mar-18
failed step light (boarding light) replaced 24-Mar-18
wire outhaul on mainsail replaced (wire and thimbles broken) 26-Mar-18
replace failed watermaker rinse valve 26-Mar-18
stove sparker failed on various burners … repaired 27-Mar-18
ball bearing stove gimbals replace pins (always worn offshore) 27-Mar-18
lower rigging inspection complete including under furler 28-Mar-18
replaced clevis and cotter pins at bottom of forestay 29-Mar-18
compass bubble removed with new fluid - rim of bellows smoothed 29-Mar-18
replace depleted prop and shaft zincs & grease propeller 30-Mar-18
dinghy keel tube leak patched 4-Apr-18
dinghy strake re-glued 5-Apr-18
boom support repaired with Forespar parts 6-Apr-18
replace jury rigged negative terminal on anchor windlass 7-Apr-18
new display screen and cabling for helm position installed 15-Apr-18
varnish port half bulkhead cap, nav station cap completed 16-Apr-18
new mounting for alternator machined 16-Apr-18
warranty repaired alternator installed and tested 17-Apr-18
clean & waterproof tape on wind sensor connection top of mast 26-Apr-18
inspection aloft 26-Apr-18
clean boat bottom again 29-Apr-18
repair wood rot at dinghy transom drain valve 6-May-18
sun damaged mainsail replaced 7-May-18
replace leaking genset water pump 9-May-18

At 2018-05-12 18:19 (utc) our position was 25°49.82'N 158°08.04'W

Monday, 19 March 2018


At 11am we tied into our berth at Ala Wai Marina, Waikiki, Honolulu after 45 days at sea!

At 2018-03-19 21:31 (utc) our position was 21°17.01'N 157°50.58'W

Saturday, 17 March 2018


When we arrive in Honolulu we will have so much to do that we will immediately lose interest in writing this blog. Mindful of this, I put fingers to keyboard and record some thoughts now.

The only calm of this trip has just appeared. Two days of uncharacteristically light winds have settled to the east of the Big Island (Hawaii) and, to prevent abysmally slow progress, we are motoring across the rippled swell. Interestingly, we have known about this for some days from computer projections but the calms only appeared in the official forecasts as we started to experience them. For some days now we have allowed our course to drift a bit north to allow the sails to better harness the remaining winds (while they were there) and thus maintain a good speed under sail while we could.

Yesterday (Friday) was the day I was supposed to tell US Customs our exact arrival time on Monday. While customs service is, of course, available weekends, that particular office is not open on weekends to schedule it. Since the bulk of our passage-making is under sail, it is extremely difficult to predict an arrival time even one day in advance. I will call Monday morning to give a Monday afternoon arrival time with some certainty in it. I expect immediately after I call, the wind will start moving us in such a way to give lie as to whatever time I predict.

Added to this is an uncertain interval - perhaps an hour or more - between when we enter the harbor and when we are secured enough to entertain officials. Marinas vary wildly in their physical infrastructure. Our favorite is a well sheltered floating dock (moves up and down with the tide) that you simply approach and tie alongside. Our least favorite is what we fear we will encounter at Ala Wai in Honolulu: a floating buoy or two for one end of the boat and a fixed concrete pier for the other. This is sort of like parallel parking but with a bobbing-around vehicle - there's nothing secure to give you a firm grip on the parking spot like a car has with its tires. To add to that, the constant (except today) trade winds, so convenient for moving a boat across an ocean, have a propensity to moving you sideways as you approach your parking spot. No car does that! We would have preferred today's calm on arrival day rather than now!

An additional issue is that we HATE entering strange harbors at night. Thus for the last few days we have calculated and re-calculated speed, distance, wind forecasts and engine use to juggle our arrival time to fit into the hours when it's light. It is fairly clear that any voyage of uncertain length headed for the tropics has a fifty-fifty chance of arriving in the hours of darkness if you don't play with your speed in the latter stages of the voyage. In this, the current interval of motoring-in-the-calm is convenient as it is much easier to increase and reduce speed under power than when sailing. Under sail the speed mostly varies as it wishes between excessively placid and excessively exhilarating. We are now fairly certain of an afternoon arrival on Monday the 19th.

As I write, we have 285 miles to sail to Honolulu. The nearest land is, as it has been for over a week, Cape Kumukahi - the easternmost point on the island of Hawaii. For those who confuse the island of Hawaii with the state of Hawaii, Honolulu, the capital and biggest city, is on the much smaller island of Oahu.

At 2018-03-17 21:23 (utc) our position was 20°42.81'N 152°51.27'W