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ISS-RapidScat? Finding the hidden cycles of wind from space

Posted on Sunday Sep 21, 2014

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In attempt to take my mind off current events, I'm going to geek out and talk about something exciting to me, RapidScat.  First off, RapidScat isn't something an animal does on the run.  It refers to scatterometry where radio waves are scattered on the surface of something then the result is measured.  In this case, scattering microwaves on the ocean reveals the wind direction and strength at the surface.

Back in 2009 the old QuickScat satellite antennas stopped rotating.  This means that it stopped sending data consistently back to Earth.  Well, most of the ocean is not monitored with surface instruments and QuickScat was absolutely the best space based tool for measuring the winds in critical places where dangerous winds can form (think hurricanes or Tehuantepec).

So in 2009 the ocean wind forecast accuracy took a punch to the gut and NASA scrambled to find a way to fix it.  In just too years they cobbled together a great idea.  They took QuickScat gear and found a way to mount it to the ISS and the ISS-RapidScat was born.


The RapidScat system launched today, 9/21/14 (along with the much hyped 3-d printer).  Soon this instrument, the first pointed at the Earth from the ISS, will be spewing data to help calibrate and measure winds in all those remote parts of the world that are critical to sailors and people who model world-wide weather (NOAA).

We can expect to finally get highly accurate data on katabatic, thermal and storm generated winds.  With this new accuracy NOAA is going to start a new study of the diurnal and semi-diurnal winds in the open ocean.  Something many sailors experience but hard to believe.  Thermal winds in the middle of the ocean?!  Where's the land to heat it up?

It is well know from buoy observations that winds in the tropics can exhibit strong diurnal and semi-diurnal cycles, forced by solar heating or tidal effects respectively (Deser and Smith, 1998; Dai and Deser, 1999; Ueyama and Deser, 2008). In the tropical Pacific, semi-diurnal variations account for 68% of the mean daily variance of the zonal wind component, while diurnal variations account for 82% of the mean daily variance of the meridional wind component (Deser and Smith, 1998). These cyclic processes are known to be important in influencing the diurnal cycle of cloud formation and precipitation in the tropics, a key component of the Earth's water and energy cycles.

RapidScat will collect data over the course of years and this will be used to look at daily, weekly, monthly, and yearly wind patterns.  Surprisingly this has never been done before and sailors rely on "Pilot Charts" which are averages from ships traveling the ocean averaged over decades.  RapidScat will measure the entire planet every 2 days instead of just a point.  It will reveal many hidden patterns of weather and winds.

This will be a revolution in understanding wind patterns and hopefully we can all through out those old Pilot Charts and update them with a much more accurate understanding of surface winds.

Further reading:
http://www.jpl.nasa.gov/news/news.php?release=2014-223
https://winds.jpl.nasa.gov/missions/RapidScat/

Oahu, Sunsets, Life

Posted on Saturday Sep 20, 2014

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Overdue for updates...I know.  Now that Sherrell has fully recovered from her broken knee we've been doing more hiking and biking.  I've started playing some basketball, which I haven't done in probably 20 years and it makes me feel old and very sore.  But hopefully it will get easier.

One of our family members is succumbing to cancer after a long battle and Sherrell traveled back to the mainland to be there.  Unfortunately, we can't both go because someone has to tend the boat and watch our kitty.  During my alone time here I took some photos of where the boat is.


I've also been working on some of the little projects that require a lot of disruption...new plumbing and electrical stuff.  It's a lot easier to make big messes if there is one less person tripping over everything.  She'll be back next week just in time to see how clean everything is.

I'm sad I can't be there to help out, but it's good Sherrell was able to make it.  I find it hard not to second guess the treatments or the options.  That is the thing. You never get used to it, the idea of someone being gone. Just when you think it's reconciled, accepted, someone points it out to you, and it just hits you all over again.

Hurricanes Suck -- Odile included

Posted on Saturday Sep 20, 2014

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Here in Hawaii we were pretty lucky.  Normally these tropical revolving storms weaken before they hit the islands, assuming the rare case happens when they make it all the way out here.  However, Mexico is often not so lucky.

September was always the month that made us most nervous in Mexico.  Hurricanes forming in the Gulf of Mexico tend to follow a retrograde path back into Mexico.  And with the warm waters they rarely weaken.

It seems that Baja tends to play the role of a barrier island for much of northern Mexico.  This year Baja took a pounding.  I've been surprised at the lack of news coverage.  We know many people on boats in these areas and there's been a lot of damage including severe power outages.


 (© 2015 iTravelCabo.com)

(La Paz Airport.  © 2014 Merry Colins)

I don't know what the death toll will be once they fully restore communications and power, but we've already heard of several deaths from boaters who went down with their sinking boats.

There was widespread damage to the marina areas of Cabo, La Paz, Puerto Escondido and even San Carlos had some damage.

(© 2014 Jim Cochran)

During an El Nino year there are more storms and they tend to be more powerful.  In fact a followup storm Polo is headed just to the west of Baja right now.  Hopefully this keeps going west.

We hear there are around 50 boats that have been damaged in various areas and they have our sympathies.  Hopefully they're able to get their lives back on track along with all the locals who've had their homes damaged too.

The text at the end of this video translates to:
Southern Baja needs your help
The looting was done by those affected by the hurricane, people who had little and were left with nothing and by criminals who do not represent the honest people and workers around South Baja
Do not judge
Donate
Do it

Broken Bones and Building Boats

Posted on Monday Jul 7, 2014

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Since getting the boat listed we've been busy having fun.  We started hiking and biking.  All was good until Sherrell took a spill and landed on the edge of a curb right on her knee.  It turned into a cantaloupe and we took her to the ER (after she somehow managed to bike 1.5 miles back to the car).

Ouch!  Completely fractured patella (knee cap).  The image on the right is the ER and the one on the left (poor quality) after 5 weeks where it has fused to about 70%.  It took about 8 weeks and now Sherrell is back on the bike and building up her muscles again.

The tough part was we had to abandon our home immediately because she could not get on or off the boat at all.  So we rented a fully furnished vacation condo (with hot tub) down town.  It was actually about the same price as renting a run down 1 bedroom with no furniture.

Now we are back on the boat and have moved to another harbor.  We started a project to build ourselves a large rowing dinghy that we didn't mind getting dinged up because this harbor is a bit rough.  We didn't want Sarana's main dinghy to get banged up after all the work we did on it for listing the boat.

We started with plywood and some free plans off the internet.  Here's basic structure with floor, walls, transom and the stations in place.  Still needs the seams fiberglassed and the joints glued and filled.



And this is what it looked like after it was glassed and the temporary stations removed.  We just set the seat in there for the photo.  The darker color of the wood is due to the 3 coats of epoxy we rolled on it to seal the surfaces and the white you see is the epoxy fills to even out the edges for fiber glassing.


And here it is all painted with the hardware installed.


Rowing it is fun because it is so light!


Now we own 3 boats!  And I'm sure the people on the dock are glad the project is done...no more sounds of power tools and shop vacs!

Sarana is for sale

Posted on Thursday Apr 3, 2014

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Wow!  It's been a great ride, literately.  We gave it a lot of thought and we decided 11 years of living aboard and traveling can't be beat. There's really no way to top it.  Life however has conspired to push us in another direction and we decided perhaps we'll try to sell the boat here in Hawaii, a beautiful tropical spot that is central to all things in the Pacific.

Sarana looks great and is ready to sail!  Check out our photos and info that we put up on Yacht World.

The loss of Switchblade in Thailand

Posted on Sunday Dec 1, 2013

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I was busy procrastinating on the computer and went to sailinganarchy.com  to see if there were any interesting stories when I got punched in the gut by their main photo.


I immediately recognized Switchblade in the photo.  Not many boats are painted with the exact same paint as a Ferrari.  In hopes they saved the boat, I searched the internet for information.

This was when I learned the newest owners have been chartering the boat in Thailand for races.  And there were some nice photos and they had added some tacky sponsor stickers to the hull.


We had some great races on that boat.  But what happened?!   Is the boat ok?  Sherrell managed to track down the story.  Apparently a squall rolled through and brought a lot of large waves that in 10 minutes pushed all of Mike Downard's "Sail in Asia" sailing school boats, which included two the region's famous sailboats Switchblade and Tag.

From the sounds of it they were all anchored and the owner raced down to check on them only to find them all up on the beach.  Switchblade had the keel ripped off.  I have to warn you the next photo is distrubing.

 
It really brought me down.  We had a lot of fun on that boat and admittedly I hadn't thought about it for years until I was gut-punched by its loss.

What did you do on Thanksgiving and Black Friday?

Posted on Friday Nov 29, 2013

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This is the first time in many years we've been in the US for the holidays and I was totally perplexed by all this conversation about "Black Friday".  I kept reminding myself to check the stock market and see what everyone is talking about.  Then I saw a Daily Show where they were making fun of the "news" coverage of Black Friday and what stores were open...oh yeah, shopping.

We spent our holiday low-key as usual.  A sailboat was pulled off a reef last week and limped into the spot next to us with some bottom damage.  I spent Thanksgiving helping him and another guy prepare to extract his big spade rudder so he could repair it.  Then on Black Friday (stupid name if you ask me, perhaps accountants like the sound of it) we extracted it from his boat.

It's a big heavy rudder and naturally it leaves a big empty hole in the bottom, so it's a job you have to take your time with and be very careful.  There is a real chance you could hurt someone and/or sink the boat.

I'm happy to report it all went well -- no injuries no sunken boat -- and is off to get repaired.   Sherrell heard all the commotion while we were trying to keep the rudder under control and load it into the dinghy and snapped a couple photos.   Perhaps we'll use them for holiday cards.



What did you do on Thanksgiving and Black Friday?2

Posted on Friday Nov 29, 2013

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This is the first time we've been in the US for the holidays and I was totally perplexed by all this conversation about "Black Friday".  I kept reminding myself to check the stock market and see what everyone is talking about.  Then I saw a Daily Show where they were making fun of the "news" coverage of Black Friday and what stores were open...oh yeah, shopping.

We spent our holiday low-key as usual.  A sailboat was pulled off a reef last week and limped into the spot next to us with some bottom damage.  I spent Thanksgiving helping him and another guy prepare to extract his big spade rudder so he could repair it.  Then on Black Friday (stupid name if you ask me) we extracted it from his boat.

It's a big heavy rudder and naturally it leaves a big empty hole in the bottom, so it's a job you have to take your time with and be very careful.  There is a real chance you could hurt someone and/or sink the boat.

I'm happy to report it all went well -- no injuries no sunken boat -- and is off to get repaired.   Sherrell heard all the commotion while we were trying to keep the rudder under control and load it into the dinghy and snapped a couple photos.   Perhaps we'll use them for holiday cards.



Brewing Beer on a Boat

Posted on Saturday Nov 23, 2013

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Often on a boat there's too many things to fix.  Sometimes the only solution is procrastination.  A great way to do this is by making beer!  Something we've been trying to perfect for a while on our boat.  By no means whatsoever are we experts, but we have a system now that works for us, so I thought I'd share it.

I don't go into how to brew beer, but rather how to do it on a boat where space and water are a tough to compromise.   Give it a read.

People!

Posted on Thursday Nov 7, 2013

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This post contains a GPS location. Click here to see it on the map.

That was the first thing I noticed after rounding the famous Diamond Head point. There were people! After a month of touring the Hawaiian Islands we haven't seen any other cruising boats and we only met a handful of people. We came out of the ocean swell and wind to the leeward side of Oahu and BOOM! Parasailors, tour boats, sail boats, motor boats, submarines, surfers, kayaks, Coast Guard...it was like Maui times 10 or Molokai times 10 million.

photo of passing by Diamond Head to Waikiki and Honolulu
(photo of passing by Diamond Head to Waikiki and Honolulu)

We are still trying to get a med-moor style slip and get our paperwork approved, so they stuck us at a public loading dock. We should get a spot assigned soon. But it has been a long long time since we were in a real city with the boat...and we are really IN the city.

In Molokai

We haven't written much because we've been having fun. We visited the Big Island, Molokini, parts of Maui and now we are anchored in Molokai! It's been hot with the temperatures near 90 and there's no sign of fall approaching, much less winter.

Today is Sherrell's B-day! We made her some cupcakes...chocolate of course. Tomorrow we are going to "borrow" a car and do a tour of the island for a couple of days. Molokai has been a very friendly place and there are many things here that remind us of Mexico. (I should probably clarify that this is a good thing because I understand that many people have the wrong impression of Mexico based solely on news coverage.)

The trades are expected to pickup this week so we might be here for a while waiting for a window to get to Oahu, but that's ok because the anchorage is calm and we aren't in a hurry to start working on the boat and rushing around the big city of Honolulu just yet.

In Molokai2

We haven't written much because we've been having fun. We visited the Big Island, Molokini, parts of Maui and now we are anchored in Molokai! It's been hot in the 90's and there's no sign of fall approaching, much less winter. Today is Sherrell's B-day we made her some cupcakes...chocolate of course. Tomorrow we are going to "borrow" a car and do a tour of the island for a couple of days. Molokai has been a very friendly place and there are many things here that remind us of Mexico. (I should probably clarify that this is a good thing because I understand that many people have the wrong impression of Mexico based solely on news coverage.) The trades are expected to pickup this week so we might be here for a while waiting for a window to get to Oahu, but that's ok because the anchorage is calm and we aren't in a hurry to start working on the boat and rushing around the big city of Honolulu just yet.

Leaving the Big Island

Posted on Monday Oct 14, 2013

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The Frog King, the Fishing Lady and many others will be missed but NOT the ice machine.  Our past couple of months inside the Wailoa Harbor (which is really just a tiny boat basin) hasn't been dull.  When your boat is parked curb-side and open to the  public 24/7 you get to meet everyone.  Really the only downside with this very public spot is the ice machine that is about 50 feet from our bow that dumps out about 100 pounds of ice every hour and has a motor that won't quit along with a work crew that starts around 3am with lots of shouting and music.  Other than that it has been interesting seeing the world go by and floating in what amounts to a fresh water river that keeps the bottom of our boat super clean.

We've enjoyed our time here on the Big Island but it is time for us to sail on to Maui and the other islands.  Friends are going to ship our car to us on Oahu once we get there so we'll have transportation again which will be fun.

We are both a bit anxious to get moving again.  Three must be something wrong with us. 

Here's a parting shot of our boat in the basin with big-ol' Mauna Kea with its telescopes in the background.  Awesome.


Brewing beer and 40 bottles of beer on the boat

Posted on Wednesday Jul 31, 2013

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UPDATE: Check out our guide to brewing beer on a boat.

What do you get when you combine some starches, Hilo rain water and yeast?  Vog Head IPA!  Vog is volcanic fog and it drifts around the islands Volcanoes depending on the wind direction.  It's toxic and can be quite a pest sometimes.  Since we were using rain water we thought it might make a subtle difference to the beer.  Ok, we also thought it makes a great name for a beer.  Vog is a very unique feature to the Big Island of Hawai'i and even the WikiPedia page for Vog features Hilo.

The past year or so we've been experimenting with brewing our own beer.  We've learned a few things about it and how to do it best on the boat.  Now we've refined our technique and upped the brew size to almost 4 gallons.

In this picture you'll see our white fermentation bucket (food grade) with a spigot and a vapor lock.  Then we have our 16qt. stainless pot for brewing.  And since we are beer snobs, we have to have some fresh grains.  We use a "mash extract" technique where we crack the grains (for best freshness) with the grinder you see on the stove, and then we soak them in a bag we made out of bridal vale material.  We also use some dry and liquid malt extract just to make the ingredients more portable.


Then we cooked it with the malt, grains and hops, which is a hot job in the tropics!


This is our biggest batch of brown sugary stuff yet!  Hard to believe that turns into beer, but add some bacteria and it does the work.  It takes about 10 days to ferment in our warmer climate we can't keep it at the proper temperature so we have to be careful not to let it sit too long.
We were a bit worried how our 4 gallons of bubbling beer would do during the tropical storm that came through, but fortunately we didn't get bounced around too much and the beer looks and smells good.
When it's done fermenting it's time to break out the freshly sterilized bottles, bottle caps and priming sugar!
Now the hardest part is letting them "bottle condition" for weeks.  Agh!
Some of the tricks we've worked on refining is using minimal water for sterilization and cleaning.  We've also have a system the eliminates the need for a bottling bucket, siphon, and a second fermenter.  It's a work in progress so we'll see how Vog Head turns out when the bottles are ready to be cracked open.  I hope it's good!

Mauna Kea Biggest Mountain in the World

Posted on Tuesday Jul 9, 2013

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Sure it's only 13,796 feet above sea level, but measured from it's oceanic base it stands 33,500 feet (more than twice the base-to-peak height of Everest).  No sherpas or clamp-ons for us -- we drove to the top

I've always been a big Astronomy fan and ever since playing around in the University Observatory many years ago I've wanted to see the best facility this side of our atmosphere for a long time.  I wasn't dissappointed.

On a rare clear day you can even see some of the large telescopes perched on top.


From the visitors center at 9,000 feet we climbed a small hill to try to acclimated as we both felt the altitude.


At the dizzying top we were freezing cold, the wind was cranking and the views were stunning.  (Yes that's me in foul weather gear)



While it was pretty cool to drive up to 13,700 feet.  It was even cooler to see the tools we as a species have built here just to look at the sky and search for answers.








My personal favorite was the Submillimeter Array (see the photo with Sherrell and one of the big dishes).   And I also liked the James Clerk Maxwell submillimeter telescope.  We were going to sneak in on a tour that was looking at it, but we were spotted so we just stayed outside...bummer.

In the cheesiest sort of ways seeing this massive investment in pure science research from countries all around the world gives me hope for the future.   Learn about the 12 Observatories here or check out some live webcams of the mountain top.

It's not so much the mountain top that is spectacular, but rather the things you can see from it.  I'll leave you with one amazing image from Mauna Kea:  Interacting Galaxies NGC474 (Canada-France-Hawaii Telescope).


Over 260 Days at sea

Posted on Sunday Jul 7, 2013

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When we crossed from Mexico to Hawaii each evening we listened to other sailors checking into the long range radio network.  At the top of the list (goes by longest number of days at sea to least number of days) was Jeanne Socrates on Nereida.  She was doing a non-stop solo round the world sail (not her first attempt either).  We listened as she sailed around New Zealand and started working her final leg back to Victoria, Canada.

An amazing story in itself.  But long after we arrived in Hawaii and during our time of climbing volcanoes and hiking jungles she has continued on day after day.  Now she is less than 60 miles from the end and there is no wind.  There's been little or no wind for some time on her leg home.  Once she reported in 24 hours later that she had managed to go backwards.

Now on about day 260 I decided to see how she's doing.  She's in range of the US/Canada coastal AIS tracking system so you can see live updates of her position with her track history.  I was surprised to see her still struggling to get home.


Can you image the intense frustration to be able to see your destination yet, be going backwards?    260 days at sea.  That's 6,240 hours of sailing.  Compare that to your average 40 hour work week and that's almost 3 years of being "on the job".  With only 60 miles to go you can bet she wants a vacation.

Hilo and More -- June Photos

Posted on Thursday Jul 4, 2013

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We've been having so much fun here.  But we are leery of the strict laws regarding boats in Hawaii.  Sometimes the only solution for living on your boat can be to move it on land.  We helped Dan and Sylvie move Ustupu onto a flat bed which they trucked to a nice plot of land about 25 miles from the bay.  Why?  Well getting a permanent mooring is almost impossible and you can't live on your boat for more than 90 days before you have to leave.  So out came the boat!


And down the road USTUPU goes:



There are some fun aspects of Hilo we 've been enjoying a lot.  There is a farmer's market right down town run mostly by Philipinas.  Much of the produce is from the Island and the variety is incredible.  It's a lot like being in Latin America but the produce is often pesticide free or organic.



And there are parks about every 100 feet with Banyan Trees expertly maximizing their photosynthesis and providing shade for us.


We've also hiked to some of the local waterfalls and lava tubes.

 

We took an amazing hike to Pu'u O'o Crater which is very active right now.  While this trail is officially closed, we read the reports and tried it out.  There was a 4 mile tropical rain forest hike, which took us up to edge of the lava flow.  We were surprised to see that when we emerged from the forest the heat waves across the rocks were distorting everything.  The lava has moved well past the boundary it reached during a large flow in '86 to '89.  So far in fact it was in the process of burning all the vegetation around us.  We could hear trees crackling and burning and there were areas of rock that would just suddenly start smoking!  Good to know we could be airlifted out in an emergency...or was this just a cruel joke?




Let me tell you this stuff was HOT and fresh.  Fortunately the wind was blowing in the right direction to keep the toxic gas and smoke away from us.  After seeing how the world around us was burning we didn't linger long.


We were LAVA struck!  So we took another hike to the area where it pours into the ocean were the gods Pele (lava) and Poli`ahu (water) do constant battle.  This is the same lava flowing underground from the Pu'u O'o crater which was several miles up the hill from this location by the sea.






We also made a mesmerizing video of the lava in the "Burn baby burn" post.  Incredible isn't it?

Aloha from the Big Island - May Photos

Posted on Thursday Jul 4, 2013

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Happy Independence Day!  Last year we watched fireworks over New York City and this year it's going  to be over the top of our boat.  However Hilo's $20,000 budget is probably about 200x less than the NYC show.  Nonetheless we'll have ring side seat.


I'm catching up on our May photos!  So let's rewind!

How did our kitty Jordan do on the trip?  We were anxious to know, but she didn't seem to really notice.  Once in a while she'd slide of a table or along the floor and seem confused, but for the most part this during picture shows her crashed in our bunk wedged in:


And here she is the day after we arrived stretched out in the bed.  Not much difference.


Kate came to meet Michael and they rented a place on the other side of the island and a giant car to tour with.  They took us to see waterfalls!


The amazing Waipio Valley!

 They showed us where lava comes from:


And how to stop it from spreading over the road:

And at night we watched the center of the Earth leak out of Kilauea Crater.

 
We swam in hot pools warmed by the this molten stuff too:

And saw some reptiles relaxing on the beach too.

We also swam with dolphins (I posted a the video in a blog post a few posts back) and we celebrated my birthday (Eric) with "Chocolate Lava Cake".  Best time anyone could ever have!

Burn baby burn

Posted on Sunday Jun 23, 2013

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Lava is hot.  2800 degrees F hot.  Hot enough to glow.  Hot enough to instantly evaporate sea water.  And hot enough to remove your leg hairs when you stand too close to it.

We hiked out across the black rock fields to a billowing cloud of steam and were amazed at the power pouring out from deep inside the Earth.  And of course we did what any normal primate would do:  we poked at it with sticks and stuff.


Hilo is Heaven

Posted on Thursday Jun 20, 2013

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I can't say we are enjoying Hilo.  It just isn't enough.  We love it here.  There I said it.  Will Hilo will say it back?  These things can take time, I know.  There are a lot of restrictions on boats and for people living on their boats in Hawaii which makes the politics of just hanging out here complicated.  But with some luck we'll overcome them.  So far only the politics have been the downside.

Hilo has a lot going for it.  It's a low key working town with few tourists.  The weather is perfect for us:  daily sun and rain.  The mooring we are on is behind a protected breakwater and just off a pretty public park where we can land our dinghy.  People paddle their kayaks and paddle boards by us everyday from the park where they also picnic and fish (often both at the same time).  There are no less than 4 parks within a mile of us.  We can walk down town and never have to worry about surf landings with the dinghy.

Literately from the minute our feet first touched the soil people have gone out of their way to help us out.  They've been AMAZINGLY friendly.  After being here almost 7 weeks now I keep waiting to see the other side of the coin, but it's all good.

When Kate and Michael were here we toured a lot of the island.  We even swam with dolphins:


If you're thinking it can't get any better -- it does.  We bought a great little car and now we are hitting the hiking trails.  We've hiked lava tubes, waterfalls, near very active lava craters, tropical rain forests, and taken tons of photos which we haven't even begun to sort through (sorry).

We've been behind on our slog updates as internet is a bit patchy and we've been busy getting settled.  We'll get some photos up soon.

Day 28 - Booyah!

Posted on Friday May 3, 2013

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This post contains a GPS location. Click here to see it on the map.

6:30 am -- anchored in Hilo.



Cat cleared all her rabis free requirements (no small or cheap task).  Crew also rabis free and resting comfortably in calm water.

I can't wait to see Sherrell tomorrow.  Did we time that perfectly or what?

Day 27 -- Last push to Hawaii

A bit of a wild night last night. The rain clouds were out causing havok. Everytime a cloud snuck up behind us the wind would increase sharply and then the rain drizzeled down. After the shower, the cloud would move on taking the wind with it. That would leave us wallowing in the super sloppy seas when our speed dropped from 6+ knots to 3.5 or worse. Repeat that multiple times.

On my watch the rain came down so hard I had to hide below. The extra wind however was a boon for making miles. 129 in the last 24 (only counting westward miles). As I write this we are less than 80 miles away. My best guess is we'll get near the bay around 3/4 am. and at the enterance around 4 or 5. This will be our last full day and night at sea.

We can already hear the USCG and NOAA weather on the VHF. This is the first VHF traffic we've heard in at least 10 days if not more.

We're both pretty excited and it's going to be hard to sleep off-watch. I'm a bit bummed we'll be approaching in the dark because I wanted to see the land rise up out of the ocean after 27/28 days. There's probably going to be more rain tonight but the winds are expected to be a bit lighter. Then later tomorrow the trade winds are going to shut down for several days! Looks like we got lucky with the timing on that one.

What I'm really looking forward to is SEEING SHERRELL! She flys in the day after we arrive. What good timing, eh? After having sailed so many miles with her at my side it was really hard to adjust to not having her with me. Not to mention we are hardly ever apart, so this month has been tough. I'm going to try to call her when we get close to the island because I'm so excited to see her again and talk to her. My sister also flys in on the same day, but she'll be in Kona the other side of the island. So Michael is going to meet her over there and they will probably stay there for a while as they have friends coming to Kona too. They'll be here long enough to help me celibrate my birthday in Hawaii!

(I've been unable to get an email connection for 2 days so these slog posts might appear out of order when they finally get through).

Day 26 - Sail. Repeat.

Posted on Wednesday May 1, 2013

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We have more wind today and I expect it to continue tomorrow which has been nice but a little rolly. Michael is already taking about how he'll miss the deep blue sea and watching the waves. He'll have another day or two to burn them into his brain along with all the video he's shot to keep him going.

He was just talking about how for the past 25 days the only thing that told us we are going anywhere is the fact that the sunset and sunrise times keep changing. The electronics help, but there's no external clues around us that we are actually going anywhere. Waves, water, wind. Repeat. Repeat. Repeat. It seems pretty strange that there is even an end to all this after almost a month. It's become such a central part of our daily lives that there is a weird longing for it not to end. Yeah, I can't believe I'm saying that either.

With only about 180 miles or less left we should see land soon. Just 2 more nights at sea and we will be arriving early Friday on the 3rd.

Day 25 -- Getting closer

This evening at about 7pm PST we are about 275 miles from Hilo. We can almost taste it. We've had a good sailng day making over 5 most of the afternoon. We're slowing down a little now but it appears we are on track for getting in the morning of the 3rd.

Email has been really difficult still and this email editor keeps mangling my messages and doubling up paragraphs when it sends them out (really it's not me making those errors I swear).

Day 24 - The beat goes on

Another sunny day on the brilliant blueberry sea. We've had some really relaxed sailing weather. About 10 knots out of the East. Right now it is down a little to about 7 or 8 knots and we're only doing about 3.6 knots. And we aren't headed in the ideal direction, but we're heading WSW and then we'll turn back WNW later. I think we managed about 111 miles towards Hilo in the past 24 hours but we also dropped about 30 miles south. A bit more wind would be nice, but we'll take some mellow weather too.

Right now we are 420 miles from Hilo, which is about 4 more days away. We are almost out of tomatoes (yes they lasted 24+ days without refrigeration). And we still have bread, tortillas, Mexican cheese (for Michael), potatoes, onions, cabbage, carrots all doing ok without refrigeration. The colder weather really helped keep our produce from rotting. We've eaten all the apples. I bought less than planned because Michael didn't really think he'd eat many, but then once he tasted how good they were we mowed through them.

We are doing great on fresh water. Day 24 and we are still on the main tank of 38 gallons. I expected this to run out around 4-5 days ago. We've been very careful with it. We cook some dishes with a little salt water and we wash everything with salt water too.

Yesterday we had some popcorn as a treat, but we were foiled. The package must have sat on the shelf forever because it didn't pop well and was chewy. It was like having tiny little bits of cardboard with some salt and brewer's yeast.

Due to our distance from any email stations and the noise levels, getting our email messages out has become extremely difficult. It's been taking me hours of trying/retrying to send messages. I have decided to not spend so much time fighting it. I'll try once in the morning and once in the evening no more than 30 minutes each. Our HF radio needs some fine tuning so I can use it on other bands. This is the first time we've used our new antenna setup so I've been finding some issues while on this passage and it's only just now started to limit our email connectivity. I'll have to work on it in Hawaii.



Right now we are probably about 420 miles from Hilo, which is about 4 more days away. We are almost out of tomatoes (yes they lasted 24+ days without refrigeration). And we still have bread, tortillas, Mexican cheese (for Michael), potatoes, onions, cabbage, carrots all doing ok without refrigeration. The colder weather really helped keep our produce from rotting. We've eaten all the apples. I bought less than planned because Michael didn't really think he'd eat many, but then once he tasted how good they were we mowed through them.

We are doing great on fresh water. Day 24 and we are still on the main tank of 38 gallons. I expected this to run out around 4-5 days ago. We've been very careful with it. We cook some dishes with a little salt water and we wash everything with salt water too.

Yesterday we had some popcorn as a treat, but we were foiled. The package must have sat on the shelf forever because it didn't pop well and was chewy.

Due to our distance from any email stations and the noise levels, getting our email messages out has become extremely difficult. It's been taking me hours of trying/retrying to send messages. I have decided to not spend so much time fighting it. I'll try once in the morning and once in the evening no more than 30 minutes each. Our HF radio needs some fine tuning so I can use it on other bands. This is the first time we've used our new antenna setup so I've been finding some issues while on this passage and it's only just now started to limit our email connectivity. I'll have to work on it in Hawaii.

Day 23 Sunshine

We had a little be slower night last 24 hours. We ran about 108 miles, but only 88 was towards Hilo which are the only miles that really count and the only ones I've been counting. This afternoon however brought us some clear skys and sunshine! We've had a little sun, but usually only in very short doses. Now it's out in full glory and the wind is a brisk 15 knots from the East.

Yesterday Michael saw a large school of flying fish, flying. He's been facinated by them showing up magically on our decks during the night. (Usually dead and stinky by the time I find them.) He was excited to see them out in action soaring over the waves.

We are about 500 miles from Hilo now. That's about 5 days away and Mexico is quickly falling into memory. As a token, I'll keep the Mexican flag flying until we reach Hilo.

I think we've shot some cool video with Michael's water proof camera. I'm excited to see the final footage, expecially the part where we make landfall.

Day 21 - The rolly option

Posted on Saturday Apr 27, 2013

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(Friday 26th)
We've been slowly creeping north of Hawaii. I would really like to be headed a bit more south, but the E winds that are supposed to be out here have remained NE. So to take a jibe south means we would be heading more south than I really want.

Today I sucked it up and set the boat up to go dead down wind just to keep from creeping north and as a stop gap until the east winds arrive when I could ease a little south without loosing my speed to the west.

I say sucked it up, because going dead down wind sucks. Boats love to roll in this condition and thus we roll and roll and roll. But we are heading on a better course. This is really the position I've been struggling to avoid. If you could see our track you would see a crazy series of creep north for a few days and then creep south again. All the while I refused to jibe south because I didn't want to give up any speed to the west. I keep hoping the easterly winds will return which make getting a little south easier.

I know I could just jibe south for a half a day and be done with it, but if I'm not heading west I'm not happy. So I'd rather roll. So if you're wondering what I'm complaining about because it's my own stuborn fault. You'd be absolutely right.

Day 20 - Boat wash

Posted on Thursday Apr 25, 2013

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Still about 800 miles to go. We are averaging about 110 miles a day which is pretty good considering all the light winds. I had another night watch with very little wind. I struggled with the big drifter to squeak out 3 knots during most of my watch. The afternoon winds are always a bit stronger and we're doing about 5.5 to 6.0 now.

I've been having lots of problems connecting to the email system lately so I haven't been able to check the weather in a while. I think it is supposed to remain light again tonight, but beyond that I'm not sure what's in store.

We haven't seen any more ships or any wildlife other than a few flying fish on deck and the ocassional visits from sea birds. The sun has been trying to burn through a light cloud layer all day so things are warmer. We had our first "rain" of sorts. It was strong enough to wash all the crusty chunks of salt off the boat and I was able to wipe all the windows clean. It's nice to get the salt off the decks.

Day 19 - Less than 1000

Posted on Wednesday Apr 24, 2013

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My night shift usually sucks. It seems that the 3am to 11am tends to be the lightest wind everyday. Last night however I was treated to a nice 8-10 NE breeze which lasted all morning. I think I managed over 5 knots most of the night and our 24 hour average was about 115 miles. It's so nice just to sail rather than spend my time tweaking, adjusting, changing course, cursing the wind.

When I checked our distance to Hilo, I was surprised to see it about 950 nautical miles. Yeah! 3 Digits! The sad thing is NOAA is telling us to expect 6-8 knots for at least the next 24 hours, and they got it right. We've got the big guns out and we are lucky to push 3.5 to 3.8 knots.
(While writing this we hit 2.4 at one point).

The weather has warmed up and Michael was happily complaining about finally feeling hot. It still remains pretty cloudy which has put a damper on our star gazing plans, but each day the clouds seem thinner. Who knows maybe we'll get a clear night yet. The moon has been out and is almost full which is nice for sail changes or just hanging out.

Amazingly we had a ship pass us last night. I wouldn't have known about it without AIS because I was never able to see it. It was about 12 nm to the south of us and seemed to be on a course for Panama. This is the first traffic we've encountered in 14 days. Perhaps there is civilization out there after all. Sometimes we feel like we've entered some kind of twilight zone of endless sea.

Day 18 sailing again

The calm, impossible to sail times have been few fortunately. We made pretty good mileage in the past 24 hours in spite of my painful watch where I only managed 7 miles in 4 hours. I think we did about 122 miles overall. Michael had a great watch with plenty of wind hitting high 5's and low 6's often. Fortunately I had the foresight to take down our large drifter sail before I went off watch last night as the wind kicked up. Taking it down when it is dark and windy can be difficult. We turn downwind and put the large sail behind the main, then I blow the tack's shackle and gather the base together like a mad-man while Michael lowers the halyard trying to lower it fast, but not too fast so it doesn't hit the water -- a sailing faux pas.

I had another slow watch in the morning and I put the drifter back up around 10am and we've been flying it since. I don't think I will take it down this evening though as the winds have been lighter and less gusty. The light winds means we are only running between 4 and 5 knots, but there are hardly any waves and the motion is calm.

I've been having problems making HF radio connections to send out our email all day today, so I don't know if this will make it out today or not.

Day 17 -- becalmed

As I feared the wind dissapeared. This has been a weird year for the weather patterns, normally the trades are strong NE where we are.

Since we orginally stocked up with a lot of fuel, I opted to burn some more rather than drift. From 5am to 9am I tried to sail in almost no wind and only managed 7 miles. We'll probably go a few hours then shut it down again.

Tomorrow's weather looks more promising.

Day 15 Light Winds

The winds have been light out of the east, making sailing pretty slow. Gone are the blistering 6+ knots of speed. We are usually running between 4 and 5 knots. Having calmer seas is a nice break from getting tossed and slammed. I have mixed feelings about it because I like the solid strong winds because you can just trim the boat and hold on. The lighter winds are usually more work and I'm paranoid that they'll die.

Nonetheless, we've been making steady progress, but due to the wind angle we've been creaping northward. The forecast shows that the wind might build more out of the north, which would allow us to reach faster and head a bit back south for a good approach into Hilo. We'll just have to wait and see. So far NOAA's forecasts have been accurate.

I do wish we could stop somewhere and hike around or do some walking. Sitting/living in a small boat for long periods of time turns your legs into toothpicks. There's a solo woman sailor going around the world non-stop. I believe she's from the North West and she checks into the Pacific Seafarer's net every night. I have to wonder what it must be like for her, day after day, alone on her boat for months. She just passed under Australia and is working her way east. That's got to be a long and lonely trip.

Day 15 -- Middle of Nowhere

Posted on Saturday Apr 20, 2013

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Time really is a blur. I somehow convinced myself that I counted the days wrong yesterday. Now I've convinced myself that I was wrong again. Not that I'm really paying that much attention to time. The only thing we've been watching is 130W because that it about the middle point in the passage. I'm happy to report we are well past the midpoint at 131W.

Whoo hoo! I saved two cold beers to mark the progress. It's all downhill now, right? Right?!

I could rapture you with more stories of dumped food items, cold weather and getting sprayed with salt water, but I won't. The fact is I managed not to spill anything yesterday or today, the weather has warmed up a few degrees and the winds are down out of the upper teens to 20's and blowing at a nice 12-15. So not much in the ocean spray report either. In fact we are able to fly a little more sail with the gusts being lower and we're keeping a good 5.5 to 6+ knot speed on a MUCH smoother sea.

I've already been browsing restaurants in Hilo on the GPS. Too soon? Probably, but Thai Kitchen is saving a table.

Day 14


I think I miscounted my days in the last post. I'm a bit groggy I guess.

Now that we are in some consistant winds and not having to constantly change course/sails or beat upwind time has sort of gone into a warp of sorts. The days are blending and boat keeps on moving. We've had to put up a weather cloth to keep the sea out of the cockpit and we are still taking waves occasionally. The brillant blue water looks amazing like an electric blueberry color, but it's cold.

And it's been cold for days. There's been no sun for almost a week now and the night watches require multiple layers. I'm probably repeating myself in these posts, but dman it's cold.

In about 72 miles we will reach the half way point to Hilo. All this time I've been a bit worried about Jordan's paperwork for the 5 day or less quarenteen procedure for rabis free Hawaii. It turns out I had reason to be worried. Apparently a few days after we left PV Sherrell was informed by Hawaii that Jordan didn't qualify. She almost told us to turn around.

One of our 2 proofs of rabis said "Macho" and didn't have all the proper names filled in, so they rejected our application. All this in spite of the passing labratory test results and other proof of vaccine. Sherrell then spent the past week trying to track down the vet and get a letter to correct the vaccine information. This vet was in Oxacca, so you can imagine how hard it was for Sherrell to track her down, explain the situation, and get the letter faxed (no fax machine around). Needless to say Sherrell pulled it off and got Jordan back on the approved list.

Day 13

Posted on Thursday Apr 18, 2013

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The wind is still blowing and the seas are a washing machine mix of NW and NE with some E and some SW just for fun. With a double reefed main and the staysail we are managing 5.5 knots through the slop. Last night Michael got doused by a wave that came into the cockpit. He was wearing waterproof gear fortunately but it's never fun taking a night time salt water shower.

We are closing in our half way point and currently we are west of the contential United States.

I made chili last night but not without some difficulty. Everything was rolling and bouncing around. My bowl full of dried beans took a tumble, sending beans everywhere inside the boat. I think we'll be finding them for months. Then as I was working on the seasoning, the entire bottle chili powder tipped over and dumped out. That was a huge mess. And if that's not enough, when I served my bowl, I turned to put the lid back on the pot as we rolled really hard the bowl which was on a non skid pad didn't slide, but rather just tipped over and dumped out my chili. Great. The chili turned out good and it's nice for this cold weather.

And it is cold. I'm wearing nylon layer with polor fleace and then full foul weather gear on top with a winter hat. I was finally able to do my night shift without shivering. There's been no sun for days making things cold, gloomy and damp.

Day 12 -- Wind Full Tilt Crazy

Posted on Wednesday Apr 17, 2013

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We did 130 miles in the last 24 hours and are on target to repeat that again. The down side it is very uncomfortable and COLD. Freezing cold. I'm in full foul weather gear and we had a light cold sprinkle to top off our 20-25 knots of NE wind.

It's a bumpy ride and we're hanging on tight.

Day 11

We've finally picked up some more wind and have been moving nicely for a while now. We are officially further west than Seattle now (a personal goal). In this trip though we still have many miles to go. In fact we are not even half way there yet. Theoretically the winds should be better and better as we get further out into the ocean. They are starting to turn NE slowly which is a good sign. The forecast shows 10-18 knots for the next couple of days. Hopefully we'll be able to settle in and make some miles.

We're experimenting with our watch schedule so we're doing something like a 8/8/4/4 for longer sleeping intervals. That is 7pm-3am, 3am-11am, 11am-3pm, 3pm-7pm. I've found that every boat does something different when it comes to watches because it all depends on the crew and often the conditions. We need a nother day or two to adjust to the new schedule to see how it goes.

So far the food is holding up well. We no longer have: bananas, grapefruit. Everything else is still fresh because the weather has been cold and cloudy. Mid day temperature is 71F...burr.

Day 10

The last couple of days the winds have been really light. I think we've only managed about 75 miles a day. However we got some wind last night and this afternoon so we are moving again. The forecast shows more wind tomorrow from the NE! This will be nice change from NW. When it does blow we've been walking on the walls due to the healing. No complaints though.

We've been completely becalmed several times to the point where the ocean turns glassy and that is worse than "climbing" round the bucking boat when it blows.

It really is hard to believe how much water is out here until you try crossing it at walking speed. It seems endless and the depth beneith us right now is about 13,952 feet.

D8 -- no trades

Posted on Saturday Apr 13, 2013

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We are manging to make at least about 100 miles a day even though the wind is terribly light. Right now we are doing only 2.8 to 3.3 knots. However at times the wind picks up and wisks us along at 5.1 knots like it is right at this instant.

We have our tow generator out, but it doesn't seem to be producing much power for some reason. It's a bit hard to separate because it is wired into the solar right now. It would be nice if we could produce some extra power during the night so we have extra to spare for watching movies, etc. I'll look at it closer once it is dark and the solar power isn't mixed in with the numbers.

Mostly we have been reading and playing a few games while we watch the endless ocean pass under us. The days are starting to blend together just like the view. I saw a massive meteor last night that lit up the sky and exploded into dust. It crossed most of the visable sky in less than 3 seconds so it must have been moving at an incredible speed, unlike us. One day at a time, right?

The ocean is beautiful and clear blue out here. Ocassionaly we see a bird or two and wonder what they are doing out here. It feels like the middle of the middle of nowhere, but then a ship shows up and tries to run us down. In fact just when I thought we had escaped most of civilization, the VHF crackled to life with "This is Vessel Assist. Are you in an emergency situation?" And the garbled answer followed. This could only have orginated from California which is about 800 miles north of us. A 25W signal going 800 miles is pretty impressive and rare. We haven't heard any other blips since that one.

Day 7

The winds continue to be light, but there has been enough for us to make about 108 miles in the last 24 hours. So we are doing ok. Right now we are going between 3 knots and 5 knots with the nylon drifter up in place of the genoa. The winds continue their pattern of surging and then abating just they are pretty week between 5knots and 9 or 10.

Fortunately we've been able to keep the boat moving without use of the engine. However the drifter is making a strange sound in the bow sprit which I've been unable to figure out. That always makes me a bit nervous. With about 2200 miles to go to Hilo we are slowly approaching the 1/3rd mark, perhaps tomorrow we'll hit it.

The forcast continues to be for light winds for several days :(

Day 6

Posted on Thursday Apr 11, 2013

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So what's the deal? 450 miles off shore and a ship comes from a bearing of 30 degrees off our stern and is crossing within 0.2 nm of our position. We haven't seen anything for almost 2 days and this guy shows up and tries to run us down. We tried hailing them (Northern Pola) on the radio with no response. Then we had to drive off course for about 2 miles before we were sure he would miss us. I thought we would be alone out here away from those guys.

On the plus side we have been making good progress and keeping good speed. However at about 4pm today we completely lost the wind and after flogging for some time I did a fuel count and decided we can still motor some more.
Nothings worse than when you are ripping along at 6+ knots and then the wind dies.

The winds have been quite weird. They seem to surge up and down rythmically. I started timing them and found a regular interval of 2.5 minutes weaker and 3.5 minutes stronger. This seems to be most dramatic at night. During the surges we hit 5.7 to 6.3 knots. The tempo changes throughout the day and night with the day getting longer weak times. Pretty odd.

Day Cinco

Posted on Wednesday Apr 10, 2013

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We broke through. It's been over 24 hours since we've had to use the engine. We have a nice N wind now at about 15 knots and we are soring (5+ kts). Last night Michael rode a sleigh ride over 6 knots for several hours before I got up and switched sails to slow us down. It sure beats the WNW and NW winds we've been experiencing.

Hopefully we'll stay in the grove now and keep moving along. I'm really tired because the wind was up and down from 10 knots to 20 knots all night long and I kept trying to switch sails. Finally I just gave up and we went with the 20 knot configuration and just slowed way down when it was only blowing 10.

Day 4 to HI

We have been struggling to get away from the Mexico coast. There isn't much wind and what wind we've had has been out of the West or North West, which makes going west difficult. So we've been going SW. After a lot of frustration we have finally started to get some wind. In fact we've been sailing since 7 am this morning and right now are doing 5.1 knots at 253 degrees true.

The wind has finally become more favorable, but is still quite variable. As we move further offshore we expect to see more consistant winds with some more northerly component.

Michael my crew mate has been doing a great job and his spirits are high -- a very key item. Jordan too is doing well. She sleeps with us on our off watch and she has even been playing a little.

Hopefully we are out of the worst part of the no wind zone. Best of all we are finally out of all the giant shipping vessels. Having AIS on board for the first time has taken the horror of dodging ships in the dark. It's something we should have splurged for long ago.

Day 1 -- Leaving PV

Posted on Saturday Apr 6, 2013

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We are starting our multi-week trip to Hawaii today. Wish us fair winds and following seas. We'll try to report from time to time as we travel with our position. We will also be reporting into pacific seafarer's net as we head along.

Finally Free

Posted on Wednesday Feb 27, 2013

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After two years in the marina we are back on the loose.  We did a lot of traveling, hiking, biking, and boat work during that time.  But we never felt the stress leave until we started sailing again, knowing that the dock was behind us.  Sure unlimited power, water and internet are nice, but they chain you down too.

We were both surprised at how quickly we fell back into our routines during our passage.  After only a few hours we were in the groove again.  The seas were really churned up from a week long blow up north making the trip a sloppy ride.  But the boat did great.  When you make as many changes as we have to all the systems on the boat we were worried what wouldn't work or what would break.  But it was a good test and everything went very well.

Now we are in the Puerto Vallarta Area (La Cruz) and naturally there are things we still need to cross off the list, but it feels like we are free.

Here's us at anchor...can you see Jordan peaking out?





One side done

Posted on Monday Dec 3, 2012

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It's hard to believe how much you have to destroy when rebuilding. We've been crawling in tight spaces and scraping our knuckles in order to replace and reseal all the hardware we took off. Now we have one side of the boat done with new chain plates, 3 new shrouds (wires that hold up the mast) and a new paint job.

Ta-da:

 

Now we need to do the other side, 5 more shrouds, and 5 more chain plates.   Tomorrow we are going to remove the hardest parts the aft chain plates and the stern pulpit.

After that we are going to send them out for fabrication and switch gears to work on the RV so we can get the process of selling it started.

All pretty boring stuff.  One exciting thing is the beer that we made turned out FANTASTIC.  Something so good has never come from a Pacifico Bottle before (we used Pacifico Bottles to bottle it).

Slow progress

Posted on Saturday Nov 17, 2012

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Wasps, bees, water pumps, what else? Progress seems glacial at times and weird things keep interrupting us like a plague of wasps, then a broken water pump and this morning a swarm of bees tried to invade our boat. What's the deal?

We replaced the lifelines and have now started on the standing rigging piece by piece. We decided to get new chain plates fabricated to replace the 35 year old originals. While a few of them are getting fabricated we are working on refinishing the cap rail (clean, sand, seal, varnish) and then painting the whale stripe (the large brown stripe in the photo) and cap rail with paint. Turn the boat around and repeat.

After a week of chasing down machinists I finally got someone started on the parts. You can see two of the missing straps of metal on the side of our boat in the photo.

Why are there strips of blue tape on the hull? It was shockingly unnerving having light shining through the walls of our boat on the inside, so I put blue tape over them to give the illusion of normality.

Repairs in progress.

Hopefully the locusts stay away long enough for us to finish.

NYC to Colorado

Posted on Wednesday Nov 14, 2012

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We're getting caught up on our photos. Here's what happened in NY, WV, KY, MO, and CO!

We had a fabulous time visiting Eric's sister Kate and her husband Michael and exploring NYC and it's multitude of museums, often times by bicycle. But alas, after a month, it was time for us to start our Southwest-ward trek back to the boat.



After 2 months of urban exploring (Maryland to NY), we were ready to lose ourselves once again in trees and mountains, so we hightailed it to the Appalachians of West Virginia. Enroute, we crossed paths with a large thunderstorm making it's way to the east coast – the horizontal rain brought visibility down to about 2 feet so we had to pull to the side, along with thousands of other motorists. Since we were heading the opposite direction from the storm, the worst of it was relatively short lived, and we were back on the road after about 1/2 hour. Unfortunately though, this was just the start of about a week of stormy weather plaguing the entire eastern section of the country. And boy did it rain in the mountains of West Virginia making our hikes quite soggy (trails turning into raging creeks), and difficult to take many photos. Which was really too bad, as the Cranberry Wilderness area is quite beautiful. But, we made the most of the sunny breaks and managed to take some photos of our camping area and it's adjacent river.

On our way to the Wilderness, we passed by the National Radio Astronomy Observatory, home to the Robert C. Byrd Green Bank Telescope, with a 2.3 acre (7854 sq. meters) dish area, making it the largest fully steerable dish in the world (see photo). We just had to stop and check out the museum, and take the tour thru the lush property which holds over 30 different radio telescopes. It was an unexpected and fascinating diversion, literally out in the middle of nowhere (hence the reason it's located there, with little noise interference).

Leaving the Appalachians of WV, we decided to drive through the New River Gorge National River on our way into Kentucky. This was an area heavily mined for coal at the turn of the century, and preserved for it's natural beauty once the mines were abandoned. Once thru this park, we ended up on a winding narrow road that led past small coal mining towns butted up against steep lush hills with a beautiful rushing river on the other side. We really had no idea how picturesque this coal mining area would be – alas, it was pouring rain, so there's no photos.

We started feeling the heat more and more as we descended out of the mountains. By the time we made it into Kentucky, our top priorities for camping sites became shade, and a cool place to swim. We found them in the Daniel Boone National Forest, where we biked a great single track trail thru the forest for a refreshing dip in Laurel River Lake, and the Land Between the Lakes National Recreation Area on the Tennessee border. Due to the hot weather and lack of interesting and maintained trails, we didn't linger long in Kentucky and decided to try our luck in the Missouri Ozarks. We were also disappointed in the selection of trails available in the Mark Twain National Forest, and with temps over 100F, decided to explore the Ozark Nat'l Scenic Riverway instead. It turned out to be a good choice with beautiful river scenery, and most importantly easy access to cool slow moving water.

After several days of river soaking, we'd had enough of the extreme heat and decided to make a beeline for the Rockies. Our first stop in Colorado was Ft. Collins to visit our old cruising friend, Ryan, who used to sail on “Godspeed” and later “Sonrisa”. Upon sailing his boat back to Seattle, he enrolled in a culinary school, and to make a long story short, sold his boat and moved back to CO where he converted an old Avion trailer into an Asian Mobile Eatery called “Umami”. Ryan serves up some very tasty Asian fusion treats, and is doing well in a city that has just started to embrace the food truck culture (especially at the craft breweries in the area). We hiked our first Rockies' trail with Ryan in the Horsetooth Mountain State Park right behind his house.

From Ft. Collins, we drove thru the Roosevelt National Forest, which was heavily hit by fires this summer, along the Poudre Canyon Road. A forest ranger recommended the Rawah Wilderness area for good hiking and dispersed camping which we thoroughly enjoyed with spectacular mountain views and even a couple river crossings. We also discovered why this area is famous for moose with several moose sightings including the rambunctious calf Eric was able to capture on video and photo.

Next up, our month long travels on the West side of the Rockies, starting in Steamboat Springs.

The moose is loose video

Posted on Monday Oct 8, 2012

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We captured a rare moment between a mother and her calf while travelling in Colorado. Like teens everywhere, they want to do their own thing.

Rocky Mountain High

Posted on Monday Sep 10, 2012

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We went MIA in Colorado for the past month. Did you know Colorado has over 54 peaks over 14,000 feet? It makes our Mt. Rainier seem a bit lonely. We hiked over 100 miles in the past month and most of that at elevations between 8,500 and 12,000 feet. Access to the internet has been scarce in these wild places and we've collected hundreds of photos and videos we want to post. (Not to mention all the photos from places we went after New York and before Colorado). Perhaps we'll find good internet access in a few weeks and get it all sorted out. Until then, yes moms we are still alive. We are in Moab, UT where we plan to do a lot of mountain biking on their famous slick-rock trails. Then we are going to hike the Arches and Canyon Lands parks. Stay tuned.