Thursday, 17 July 2014

Northbound for Alaska

Our departure from Makua Bay on the west coast of Oahu was a leisurely affair. The gentle breezes eddying around the Waianae mountain range would only deign to move us along at 3 or 4 knots.

Tourist experiences of gentle waves lapping Hawaiian shores stem from the location of most resorts on the lee shores where the climate is drier and the beaches are safe for swimming. Offshore seas in the tropics, absent any island to break the waves, are NOT gentle. They are typically driven by 20 knot trade winds stirring up the surface of the water over thousands of miles.

Thus our initial relaxed pace lasted only an hour or so before we emerged from the shelter of Kaena point at the northwest tip of Oahu into the full force of the trades. Traversay III immediately acquired a very enthusiastic motion and began galloping forward at seven to eight knots even with her mains'l shortened to the second reef and a much reduced headsail. Tarrying on the exposed deck or on any open part of the cockpit would, in a short time, lead to a thorough drenching from all the flying spray.

Now, two days later, we are some 350 miles north of the islands. The sea temperature has only dropped a single degree to 26C [79F]. With ventilation a bit constrained to keep spray out of the boat, interior daytime temperatures are a bit oppressive. Outside, on the other hand, is very pleasant day or night no matter how little is worn. The sun shines down through scattered clouds onto a sea of a blue almost impossible to believe real. Of course we know it WILL get colder and the sun WILL hide itself behind clouds and fog a week north of here.

Weather in this part of the world is dominated by a large stable high pressure area to the north of Hawaii. South of this high, the "trade winds" blow out of the east with great regularity, the high being located somewhat further north in the summer and further south in the winter. Thus these strong beam winds will move us rapidly along until we reach about 40 degrees of latitude in perhaps five days time.

North of the high, weather systems come and go and accurate forecasts are of shorter duration. In all likelihood though, the winds will come from some westerly direction and continue to move us towards our goal.

At 7/17/2014 18:01 (utc) our position was 26°58.30'N 159°08.34'W

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