Days 13- 16 from Hawaii... Sightings of whales .... and birds...

Wednesday 11 Aug - sunset....

A pair of fast-flying, prettily-marked prions flew around just before sunset - I got dizzy trying to follow one of them to get a good look at it, they flew so fast, circling the boat, around & around.... Maybe these were the birds I've been seeing circling & hearing twittering overnight? Far more likely than Leach's petrels to be behaving in that way...

And then, as I looked around at the sea, as a vivid deep orange sun sank out of sight, the spout of a whale caught my eye - then a broad grey back at the surface... and then another spout - but from a short distance away from the first - TWO whales were cruising south, not far away!

And all the time, we've been sailing along nicely - at around six knots ... It's been a good day!

I nearly missed my 'sched' with the Pacific Seafarers Net - and was glad I hadn't when I was relayed a message from a friend of a friend that the said friend had been taken in to hospital - I just hope he'll be well enough to be out soon. A kindly 'ham' in Alabama ending up relaying between the two of us to pass messages, since we couldn't hear each other too well - the HF radio can be very useful at times and there are a lot of helpful people out there!! I also got an emailed message via yet another mutual friend to let me know - it's a small world, with Kauai connecting via "Nereida" with Port Townsend!!

Thursday 12 Aug
A whale surfaced just two boat lengths away!! I heard it blowing when I was in the galley - and came up in time to see its broad grey back come up to the surface, heading the same way as us, really close by.... I rushed for my camera - but it must have decided to dive deep and head away - nothing more was seen of it... but I kept a look out for ages, just in case. Exciting!

Another good sailing day - so nice not to have to turn on the motor over the entire day! I studied the latest weather info overnight - and decided to change course before dawn to get further East while that was possible in the S-SSE winds - heading for the entrance to the Strait of Juan de Fuca. I hope that tactic works! The idea is that in a day or so, I'll be forced to sail more north anyway in more E winds because the High is moving north with me so I'll be keeping winds from the SE quadrant for some time yet.... until the High dissipates and then I'll be in light winds for a time.... That's if the forecasts are correct!

While it was still fairly calm, I transferred a lot of fuel from jerrycans into the main tank, using a little 12V pump to make it easy. It's so nice to have the filler cap right beside the cockpit locker - one of my many changes on this boat. I didn't want any chance of repeating seawater getting into the fuel from a leaky cap on the side deck, as happened to me on a similar journey (to Sitka from Kauai) in '06! (Another change was adding a sight-glass to the main tank, showing exactly where the fuel level is - very reassuring to be able to see exactly how much fuel is in the tank.)

Near sunset, there was a big flock of fast-flying prions around... and a sky full of nasty-looking dark grey clouds - a big change from the clear sky earlier!

Fri 13th Aug
Overnight, the wind died right down to just 6 knots - so on seeing under 3 knots SOG showing around midnight, we began motor-sailing - and had to keep on for the rest of the day, with occasional hopeful stops - but never for long. The wind was highly variable with some big clouds around. By midday they cleared to give nice sunshine - but the air feels COLD, especially in the breeze! Air temp: 22C, sea temp: just 17C - and going down... (to 15C on Saturday, with air temp 19C).

Saturday 14th Aug
Another frustrating day of being forced to head NNE-NE, motor-sailing, when our rhumb-line course is due East. The fact that this was expected doesn't make it any the less frustrating!! As usual, I've been spending a lot of time downloading, and poring over, weather info - gribs and weatherfaxes... We're still struggling to make sensible headway.... heading close-hauled into winds and swell from a generally E direction - but there's finally light at the end of the tunnel - it does look as though by late tomorrow, at least, after increasingly light winds until then, we might actually have good wind allowing us to lay our course under sail alone directly to the Strait of Juan de Fuca - and, most importantly, the wind looks set to continue that way, with this frustrating H finally moving to where it's meant to have been!! In fact, the 4-day forecast is showing a massive H centred south of the Aleutians, giving a nice Northerly airflow to help me to get East. Presently, it looks as though landfall in Port Townsend might be around 20th August .... we'll see!

As I'm about to post this, around local midday, I'm seeing the wind varying ... just saw it die down to ESE 3 knots for a while .... so maybe that wind change is on its way...

24 hr noon-to-noon DMG: Thurs: 133 n.ml. Fri: 133 n.ml. Sat: 104 n.ml.

Written by : Mike

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