Thursday, June 26, 2008

5:58 PDT 33 25.5 N 154 48.8 W. 1616 Nautical miles to Neah Bay

From Captain Brad:
Things are really settling in now. We have all done a rotation on the evening watch schedule, most the kinks have been worked out of operating the boat (for now anyway) and now we are sailing the boat as the time and miles pass by. Yesterday, just after I sent my update to the log. Eric (the fish slayer) landed another Mahi Mahi. He kept this one, quickly dispatching it and cutting it into nice looking fillets. With the exception of a stop for a swim and a brief sail last night, we had been motoring for over 48 hours straight. That came to and end today at 2:15pm PDT. The engine was turned off and the spinnaker went up. Though a bit sketchy, the wind has been hanging in there and we have been able to make about the same speed that we were making under motor. Life is good. The constant drone of the engine has stopped. The sun is out what more can I say.
As for weather......well it is interesting. There is very little continuity between weather maps and I am suppressing the urge to constantly gather weather data, since each file I get will cost money in satellite phone air time. Basically, the Pacific High is going to go hiding for a while and westerly flow will dominate. The most recent GRIB shows a small low crossing directly over us creating wind from many different directions and speeds. This won't be storm by any stretch and we are not expecting wind above 20 knots. Actually, the main worry is light air again. I am almost certain this forecast will change because it has changed with every weather file I download. We are trying right now to sail the shortest course to home and currently the wind is cooperating. If we were to average 150 mile days in the direction we want to go (which actually is quite doable with this boat) we would arrive at Neah bay early on the 7th of July. It is a bit early to make predictions, but there you go, I've just done it. If the wind blows strong enough from the right direction we could shave a day maybe a day and a half off that. If it's light or on the nose and heavy then add a day or day and a half.
One bit of technology which I'm glad I brought along is AIS. We've crossed paths with 2 freighter and actually have one just over the horizon right now as I type. Each time AIS has allowed us to "see" the vessel on the computer before it actually came over the horizon. Also, the computer lets us how close we are going to pass and when that CPA (closes point of contact) is going to occur. It works great for vessels transmitting an AIS signal. If we were to come across a vessel that doesn't transmit, we still have to rely on radar and our own sight to spot it, especially at night.
Since we have had kinks to work out and little projects here and there I have been putting off starting THE LIST. The list being the To-Do List. It will not be short. I'm going to have to figure out what is important and prioritize. One good thing about taking the boat on a crossing to Seattle right off the bat is that you discover most of the things that need you work fine. I do have to say that overall I am very pleased with Capaz. She really is a perfect and safe platform to take the family voyaging on.
Well, I really don't have much to report, the wind is building our speed is often above 7 knots, heading straight to where we want to go. Life is good.

From PJ:
While I would love to explain a GRIB file to you, I can't. I tried to check out the NOAA website and see if I could point you all to what Brad shows me and I am familiar with when he talks about "GRIBS", but there is some sort of decoding program in between that makes the GRIB data into this cool map with which Brad has made me familiar. The models that I can make sense of have little arrows on them that indicate wind direction and speed. When you look at the big picture you can really see the shapes and directions of the high and lows and other weather patterns like the jet stream. They are very cool.
What I can tell you is that the formation of a small low and not the Pacific High is good news. High pressure areas circulate clockwise which is why in the 2006 Vic-Maui, the Voodoo Child was going downwind all the way to Hawaii as we circled clockwise around the edge of a high. The low, that I have to assume is a little north of Capaz for this to work out right, goes the opposite direction and if they can catch the bottom of it and then head kind of up the eastern side, they should have a nice downwind run.
Downwind, upwind, who cares as long as there is wind. I was trying to think of how to explain this point between dropping the kids off at soccer camp and getting into that crazy place we call Swiftsure Yachts. So, when I boat goes upwind (not straight upwind, but a few degrees to one side or the other) it is using its main and genoa or jib like an airplane wing taking advantage of lift. (Bryce can explain all this to anyone who wants more info) Anyway, where I am going with this line of thought is that the wind experienced on the deck of the boat is the apparent wind. When going upwind, the apparent wind is the true wind that is blowing basically at the boat plus the wind created by the speed of the boat. So, the wind is more or less amplified. When, the boat is going downwind, it uses a spinnaker (also referred to as a kite or a chute). It works more like a kite that pulls along. In this case, the true wind is coming from behind, but the boat is moving in the same direction as the wind so what is felt on deck is the true wind less the wind created by the speed of the boat. One may be going close the same speeds up or downwind, but what the sailor experiences on the deck is very different - either a constantly windy day (going upwind) or still moving but feeling little or almost no wind (going downwind, when the true wind and boat's progress almost cancel each other out). So that's why the crew of Capaz (and most sailors in general) get all excited about going downwind. There are actually quite a few other factors: wave direction, boat's motion, heel, and more that also change and I would find more favorable on downwind legs, but I don't want to bore everyone to tears.

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