Sunday, July 27, 2008

Three for Three

PJ Eating AND Driving
We have made three of three Elliot Bay Thursday Night Series races since the boat got to town. This week, we kept our crew busy as we only had two other sailors, Brian Trautman and Lydia Volberding. I got to drive most of the race. Capaz reaches like crazy. We had a great leg down the waterfront to almost the ferry dock. Going up wind frustrates Brad because we just couldn't point (I am sure it had nothing to do with my driving) and the wind was slowly dying. We started up the engine to make the last mark rounding (you can do that in this "race") and then reached back along the breakwater to the finish.
As planned, after Brian rode back to Shilshole with us (he lives there) and helped us put the boat away, we crawled into our bunks and spent the night on the boat. It was much better than waking Austin up, who falls asleep to the purr of the engine and loading everything up at 10:30 or 11:00 and driving that 10 minutes home, then unloading the car. Friday morning, Brad headed off to work and after breakfast and a little cleaning, the boys and I walked to the north end of the marina and up hill above Golden Gardens where we caught a bus to Greenwood. We are figuring this whole new facet to our lives out!

Brian and Brad on the Bow

Sunday, July 20, 2008

Eagle Harbor

Seattle Skyline from Eagle Harbor
I have taken to heart a comment from someone who was aboard last Thursday night. "It's all about perspective, our city is so different from the water." Everyone agreed that seeing something you see everyday from a little different angle, brings a freshness and new appreciation to it. The comment was made about the Seattle skyline from the water as we were racing.
This weekend we wanted to meet up somewhere with our friends, the Giffords, who are getting close to their departure time for heading . But being close to their departure time means that they are feverishly working on a to do list that must be "to-done" before they can leave. So instead of meeting them in one of our local destinations that we are trying to explore, we went to where they live on their boat, Eagle Harbor. I have been to Eagle Harbor many times, even via the water as the ferry terminal for Bainbridge Island is halfway into the harbor. We have also been to see the Giffords on their boat at their marina, but we have never come all the way into the harbor on a boat (avoiding the ferry was at the front of my mind). It definitely brings that new perspective to a somewhat familiar place.
On Saturday, after Brad spent some time at work and I gave the house some needed attention, we skirted around the edges of the Ballard Seafood Festival on our way down to the boat. The boys had lunch while Brad got fuel for the outboard and around 2:30 we headed out. I wanted to sail and Brad obliged me. As it became apparent that we would have pretty good wind all the to Eagle Harbor, Brad got into the spirit and quickly rigged the spinnaker. We had a beautiful run down the entrance buoy to Eagle Harbor (with a ferry headed our direction).
We figured out a dinner trying to use up some of the New Zealand provisions complimented by a quick walk to the local Town and Country Market. We had a cocktail with the Giffords and then proceeded to Capaz for dinner. The boys watched Atlantis. Behan and I did a little surfing centered around cruising sites, while the big boys played with the windlass (trying to figure if we indeed have anchorability - it calls for further inspection involving daylight and less wine). Behan and I were coaxed into the cockpit to watch a beautiful, just past full moon rise with a slice of the Seattle skyline visible through the mouth of the harbor. Good company and port made for an incredibly memorable evening, though we all agreed that once we are sweating in the tropics, we will look back blissfully on last night's need for fleece!
Waffles have been recommended to us by several people as a must aboard, so dusted off our waffle iron (since kids came on the scene, I must admit that waffles come in the frozen form in our lives) and tried it our for breakfast. I can definitely see where it could be a very social event.
More surfing and connections with all sorts of cruising info rounded out Behan's and my morning as Brad and Jamie worked on Totem's anchor chain (one of the last things in their garage needing to come to the boat) and then onto Capaz's windlass.
The Baker boys have begun some work on developing a logo for Capaz. As mentioned before, it means "capable" in both Spanish and Portuguese. That's kind of hard to work into a logo, but we are thinking something with a yin and yang using a shark and dolphin (or mahi-mahi). Please feel free to submit any ideas you might have!!!!!
Bryce sailing the RC Boat

Friday, July 18, 2008

Happy 10th Birthday, Bryce!

Zane, Jak, Bryce, Lex and Austin
Well, Capaz has been in Seattle for about 11days and we have really started to enjoy the boat. We have participated in two Elliot Bay Thursday Night Series races and a little overnight to Port Madison.
Last night’s adventure was our second Elliot Bay Race during which we celebrated Bryce’s 10th birthday.
We had some of Bryce’s buddies and their families out for the race. Kurt Hoehne (Hawaii delivery crew member) and his friend, Steve provided the sail support. Brian Trautman (also of Hawaii delivery fame) and Erin Russ had their Amel 53 out to “race” against. It was a beautiful evening and we even flew the spinnaker.

I think everyone had a nice evening. I may think twice about having that many non-sailor boys aboard again, but Bryce was so darn cute when he asked if we could go sailing for his birthday!

After dropping our guests off at Elliot Bay Marina, we took the boat around West Point back to Shilshole. Austin and I read a Pirate story about “Pugnacious Pete” and Bryce practiced his night watch skills. He is very excited about the prospect of standing watch in the ocean. Last night the moon was almost full and the city was beautiful. We have also decided that packing up and going home to sleep after these races is a little silly. Next week, we will try just sleeping on the boat.

Thank you to the Krober family, the Bork family, Kelly and Lex, G-pa, Kurt and Steve for helping us celebrate Bryce's 10th birthday at last night's Elliot Bay Race!!

Bryce drives Capaz "home"

Bryce blows out the candles on his birthday brownies

Sunday, July 13, 2008

A-Cruising We Will Go

Capaz at Port Madison
From PJ:
Saturday afternoon we decided to take off for Port Madison on our first overnight as a family on Capaz. We also called Jamie Gifford whose family is visiting relatives in the mid-west to join us for dinner once we arrived. There really wasn't enough wind to sail, so we motored across and arrived shortly after 5:00. There was a greenbox party just about to commence. We got a little side tracked on our way to hors d'oeuvre and ended spending the evening with the Lafites and the Williams. We started out with drinks on "Alchemist" and migrated up to barbeque on the gas grills at the clubhouse. Everyone on Capaz slept well. I got up and rode the bike to Poulsbo where I got a bunch of donuts for breakfast. I got most of my ride in before it got too hot. We spent some time working on boat jobs. The boys (all 3) got the outboard attached to the dinghy and took it for a spin. Yesterday, they started working on refinishing the oars. Little by little, I am getting the boat cleaned so that we can start putting our stuff aboard. The aft cabin is pretty much done for the boys. Around 2:00 we set off for home. There was pretty good wind/current and so Brad decided that I should have a lesson in tricky dock departures. It was textbook except for the line that almost got caught on a cleat right as I gave the boat some good throttle. It all ended OK. There was some good wind, so since Brad had put the headsail on the furler, we sailed across the Sound. The boys were riding in the dinghy and so Brad also decided it was a good time to practice rescues under sail. Once we were clear of the shipping lanes, he gave the boys the camera to keep them busy and cut them loose. It was then my job to come around back to them and have the boat almost stopped so that we could grab the painter and save them. It only took me three tries, but the boys were rescued!!! We continued on to Shilshole where we experienced a challenging docking with puffy wind and thankfully, helpful neighbors. All in all, our first "cruise" on Capaz as a family was a success!

A-OK in the Dinghy

Ah, Sailing Across Puget Sound

Saturday, July 12, 2008

Elliot Bay Thursday Night Series

Tod and Juli Cordill work the mast like pros
Well, the boat had been in the slip at Shilshole for two days and I posed the question: "Can we 'race' on Thursday night?" Whether Brad was still sleep deprived or really gung-ho when he answered I am not sure, but the answer was affirmative. So, we talked to the guys (and their families) who helped deliver the boat to Seattle and a neighbor on our dock, Ryan from work and the former owners from Portland. We had 17 people on board. We were trying to start in the cruising class but the committee scored us as a racing boat. I am sure that it had nothing to do with Captain Brad and the spinnaker being flown so professionally. You would think that big old heavy ketch is some sort of race boat. Anyway, fun was had by all. The Cordills claimed that it was very good for their closure process with letting go of Capaz to sail her one more time with everyone having such a good time. Ian was able to do some trimming with the electric winch. I finally got to drive my boat (though it was under power - Brad had the wheel while the sails were up). I am sure that I even saw Autumn smiling with that sheet in her hand. Ryan claimed it was because he had just told her that she never has to go sailing ever again, but I am pretty sure he was practicing his ever-drying sense of humor. So, that is how Capaz was re-introduced to Elliot Bay.

Both Ryan & Autumn are smiling

Bryce and Austin get in a little fishing at Elliot Marina

Monday, July 7, 2008

Monday, 8:51 am Foul Weather Bluff

Bryce and Austin watching a movie
From PJ:

I am aboard my boat, Capaz! The whole crew, Port Townsend additions included, are all smiles. The boys are sitting the main salon reading their Star Wars comic books, Brad is catching a well deserved nap and Eric is driving. Abby, Kurt and Ian are all getting re-acquainted and Erin and Brian seem to be enjoying the beautiful morning we have coming down Admiralty Inlet. There looks to be a pretty good fog bank over the Straits. Luckily, we are heading towards the clearing, we can even see Mt. Baker. Our rendez-vous at the Inn at Port Hadlock Marina went pretty much as planned. We delivered a fresh, hot pizza to our sailor boys. Then, we headed off. We expect it to take a total of about 5 hours to get back to Shilshole, putting us at the dock around noon. We will send out an email when we get to Point No Point.
Bryce just got a good lesson from Eric on how to read the radar and the AIS. They are tracking the Victoria Clipper. Anticipation was too much for me to get very much sleep, so I think I will go ahead and put my feet up for a few minutes.

Kurt, Abby and Ian leaving PT

Brad and PJ on THEIR boat

Sunday, July 6, 2008

1:30pm PDT 48 09.4N, 125 23.3W 29.8 Nautical Miles from Neah Bay

Shoreside report:
As Capaz nears the coast, we are springing into action. The women whose men are on Capaz and the crew members' sons are embarking on their own little adventure which should intersect with the path of Capaz somewhere in Port Townsend. We are setting out this afternoon over to Marrowstone Island to occupy the forward base camp (so graciously provided by Brad's mom and her husband) at Deer Meadow. We plan to have some dinner there and try to get a little rest before rendez-vousing with Capaz sometime tonight or early Monday morning. We will then all spend the last few hours of the boat's delivery getting reacquainted with our sailor men before reaching the dock at Shilshole (slip F-23) sometime Monday morning. I will try to at least email out a more precise landing time for Shilshole when we know it. Otherwise, we will see how the inevitable cleaning up goes and let everyone know when we will have our "Open Boat" party!

From Captain Brad:
Aloha! Getting close now. We should enter the Strait at about 5:30pm today. As we approach the coast, several things started to change. For one thing, we started to hear chatter over the VHF, mostly Coast Guard making broadcasts. We have a lot more commercial traffic showing up on AIS. Right now, I have three bogeys: one at 1 O'Clock, another at 4 O'Clock and a third at 11O'Clock. The one at 11 may pass fairly close. The AIS says our TCPA (target closest point of approach or something like that) is showing as about 1 mile in about 45 minutes. The waves are different as well. They are "feeling" land as the swell that is almost too subtle to tell is even there starts to lift. Right now, there is a long period, maybe 20 seconds between peaks with maybe only 6 or 7' seas, but with a long valley in between. It's almost like the rolling hills of a prairie. The albatross is still with us. In fact I'm going to go outside and attempt to get a picture of her/him, hold on, be right back..........OK, so I was gone longer then expected. I went up to snap a photo. During that time breakfast was finished, bacon and eggs thanks to Kurt's culinary skills. Next the wind shifted enough to precipitate taking down the spinnaker. So I've been gone for a good half an hour.
Here is the recap of events. A good part of yesterday was spent motoring. It's not that there was no wind (it was blowing perhaps 10 to 12 knots) It's just the wind was from dead aft, which would have made things painfully slow and we are getting so close. One of the biggest highlights was the arrival and accompaniment of a pod of dolphins. We had perhaps a dozen or so stick with us for a good 45 minutes. It's amazing how the creatures on the open ocean use the kinetic energy of the waves to propel themselves. The albatross uses the wave troughs to make flight upwind easier and must get a boost as the wave rises under it. The dolphins surf on the waves and when they get a particularly large wave will come fully airborne while going down the face of the wave. They also use the bow wave of the boat to help push themselves along. Watching the dolphins I can't help but think that they are as interested about us as we are of them. I sent photos of these guys yesterday. Later in the day, we were visited by a pair of Dahl's porpoises which hung out for 15 minutes or so. I am disappointed that we have not seen any whales. I guess it was not to be on this trip. Maybe, we will luck out and see some Orca in the Sound.
It's getting crowded out here. I just noticed a blip on the radar that was not on AIS. It's a fishing boat about 3 miles off the starboard bow.
I keep getting distracted with commercial traffic and talking with the boys. I'll keep things short. We motored most the day yesterday. I grew bored with 24 and ended up watching a couple episodes of the Simpsons. Later on we played another game of Hearts. The victorious crew member was Eric Rone with 49 points. I had 51. We shall play again! Dinner was spaghetti with a meat sauce and assorted steamed vegetables from Chef Brad. The movie of the evening was Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy. Last night, was spent motor sailing half the time and sailing. The weather yesterday was quite pleasant. The sun shown through the ocean misty haze.
That's it for now from the good ship Capaz. Once in cell phone internet range we will send a lot more photos. Until then Cheers!

Saturday, July 5, 2008

8:30am PDT, 46 34.4N, 129 29.8W 221.6 miles to Neah Bay

Dolphins Playing next to Capaz
From Captain Brad:
Good morning. Yes, it is a good morning. I'm on watch, the only person awake. This is the last watch of the rotation. We haven't altered the boat time for our changes in time zones, so even though the sun has been up for a while. I'm on watch from 3:30am to 6am HST which is 6:30am to 9am PDT for most the people reading this log (those on Pacific Daylight Time). I've said this before, but this is my favorite watch. For this watch you are well rested, get to enjoy the morning light and get time to yourself. On the first watch of the rotation, since many of the crew are night owls they stay up during the watch to read, watch movies or socialize. There is nothing wrong with that. We all get along wonderfully. I don't believe anyone is getting on each others nerves or anything like that. But, it is nice, for me at least, to spend a few hours in solitude. During this time, I often go on deck, listen to music or just enjoy the feel and sound of the living boat and ocean. At times like this, I can let my mind wander. It's almost a meditative state.
We made great time yesterday. The wind filled from a southerly direction and we beam reached for several hours. Even with the wind into the 20's at times, the seas never really amounted to much so the motion of the boat was not severe. Writers note: while I was typing here I caught movement out of the corner of my eye and spotted a low flying albatross, not more then 25 yards from the boat. These sightings are common place. Anyway, we spent the day blasting along right towards where we wanted to go. At some point, during the day I believe we all took naps. The weather was damp with a very dense marine layer, bordering on fog to light drizzle. We had cargo ship appear on the AIS heading for Dutch Harbor, Alaska. It passed about 15 miles astern so we never did see it on radar and certainly not with the naked eye. AIS is great.
The movie yesterday afternoon and evening was a DVD given to us by a friend of Scott's. I believe his name is Rick, but his last name escapes me at the moment. In any case, he is a surfing photographer and movie maker by profession. He burned a copy of his latest movie for us to watch, which was good fun. It concentrated on the huge break that can develop at Waimea Bay on Oahu and had interviews with many surfers. It was very cool. Once the movie was over, we broke out a deck of cards and played a game of Hearts. Kurt said he'd played before but needed a refresher on the rules. Brian was a Hearts virgin, but was a quick study. Card shark Kurt ended up winning the game handily. We all realized that Kurt was obviously some sort of card shark when next he said that he must have been lucky and wouldn't we all want to play for money? He probably has nick name in Vegas, like the "Hoenester "or something. Well, we all agreed to have re-match today which I eagerly await.
After card playing, it was getting dark and thus time for our fireworks display. Capaz has accumulated many flares most of which are expired, so we decided to "test" a few. I didn't want to alarm any other vessels that may have been nearby so checked the radar and AIS carefully. I also got on the VHF and sent out a broadcast to see if there was anyone else in VHF range. Then, the fireworks display commenced. First on the show was the pistol fired flares fired off by Eric Rone. Next I set off a rocket/parachute flare. It was actually good to set the flare of as I now know what is involved. The flare is in a plastic tube. You pull a safety bine and then switch a lever. The flare makes a very loud Swoosh and a fair amount of smoke as a rocket/mortar shoots into the sky to a respectable altitude. Once at altitude a flare ignites and some sort of parachute deploys. Those flares are very bright as they slowly float to the surface of the water. I believe we lit off 7 parachute flares total. Four of which we launched at the same time for the grand finale. Only two of the flares actually ignited for the finale. All four did launch. Safety tip learned from this is expired flares really do go bad, so keep up-to-date flares.
After the fireworks display, the looser of the card game got to make dinner. This was Brian. He cooked up steaks in a frying pan and boiled some corn on the cob. It was a delicious meal. We are considering making a cookbook. Since we don't have a working oven and the BBQ isn't all that reliable and the microwave decided to stop functioning, we are down to pretty much stove top cooking. As it turns out, you can do a lot on a stove top. So the cook book will be how to cook anything in frying pan.
The wind is blowing 15-20 from directly astern. Unfortunately, this makes it so we have to sail dead down wind if we want to go directly to the barn. However, while I've been typing the wind has been shifting and I believe it is time to throw in a jibe. Which I shall do now. So I'll sign off here. Cheers!

Friday, July 4, 2008

Happy Independence day! 11:20am PDT 45 09.7 N, 132 29.8W 372 nautical miles to Neah Bay

Brad Setting off "Fireworks"
From Brad:
I suppose not many people will be reading this log today as they will be out doing BBQ's or scoping their place to watch the fireworks this evening. However, we would like to invite everyone to a 4th of July celebration on Capaz. Meet us at 45 57.8N, 131 01.9W at 10pm tonight for a fireworks display and BBQ. I hope you all can make it. In all seriousness, Happy 4th Everyone!
Our latitude is now a little north of Salem, Oregon and we are under 400 miles to entering the Strait of Juan de Fuca. Capaz smells home and is pointing there, making excellent speed. The wind is currently blowing in the low 20's just aft of there beam, perfect conditions for Capaz to take advantage of her long waterline. Right now, we are probably averaging somewhere in the low 8 knots.
It hasn't always been this way. Yesterday evening, we took the spinnaker down at sundown and unrolled the headsail out on a pole going wing on wing. Our average speed was probably a little less than if we were to motor, but fast enough to keep sailing. At this point, we were on port gybe. As the watch system started, the wind had shifted enough that I elected to put in a gybe. We executed this maneuvers like the fine tuned racers that we are and 20 minutes later we had the boat on starboard jibe with the headsail on the pole. At first we had to sail to the right of a direct line to home. The navigator (that's me) said with confidence that the wind would shift and we would be able to point her at the barn later in the evening. This turned out to be the case. In fact the wind shifted so much that when I came on for my 2.5 hours on deck.....well, below deck, we took the pole off and let the jib fly on the leeward side, allowing us to steer up and directly towards home. For all you non-sailors out there who have no idea what I'm talking about, tough, I'm not going to explain. :-)
Another highlight since the last log entry is the watching of the movie 3:10 to Yuma, an entertaining western starring Russel Crow. We didn't do anything fancy for dinner, more or less fending for ourselves. It was a good night for sleeping. The boat motion was relatively calm the engine was off. I think we all had a good off watch sleeping experience. This morning, Eric made pancakes, giant pancakes that took up your whole plate. One pancake was more than enough to fill your gut. The weather outside has been the same for 2 or 3 days: low marine layer overcast, gray, gray, gray. This is not a very exciting weather pattern but is pretty much what you would expect to find at this latitude in the northeastern Pacific. One bit of trivia, once we passed Latitude 45N, we became closer to the North Pole than we are to the equator.
Kurt just commented that there is a lot to do once we get home and suggested that maybe we should just not go home. So we have decided to turn back and do the trip again......not.
We are all looking forward to completing the trip. At this point, it looks as though we should make landfall perhaps around 8pm on Sunday evening the 6th. It should take about 12 hours from there to get to Port Townsend, which puts us at PT at 8am. In PT, it sounds like we will pick up some passengers! From there it's another 5 hours or so to our dock at Shilshole which puts us home sometime the afternoon of the Monday the 7th. If anything this prediction will get quicker not slower. If the wind holds we could be several hours earlier.
OK, so now I've done it, I've given and ETA . Have a great 4th of July, be safe and we will report again soon.

Thursday, July 3, 2008

5:00pm PDT 43 47.8N, 134 37.2W 494.7 Nautical Miles to Neah Bay

Laundry Day on Capaz
From Brad:
First off, apologies for the delayed entry into this blog. We've had some computer issues that we have been working through. The bottom line, without naming names, an errant wave caused one of the crew, of this fine yacht Capaz, to loose their footing. Said crew and/or skipper slid across the salon emptied the contents of his or her carbonated high fructose beverage onto the computer at the nav station. The crew member then fell backwards into the pass through from the salon to the aft cabin. No worries, as the crew member was not permanently injured. This cannot be said of the computer, however. We do have a backup computer and certainly could have communicated earlier, but efforts have been geared towards trying to make the Dell computer (yes, Bryce and Austin, it's the one you use) work again. The computer itself works. In fact, I am typing on it right now. It's the screen that has taken the brunt of the soda pop attack (I believe the offending drink was a 7up). After hours of work by Brian (our version of McGyver), dismantling the machine to dry out (sorry we didn't think to take pictures) re-assembly, then when the screen still did not work we transferred email to the backup computer which required more troubleshooting. In the end, it looked like we could send and receive email using the other machine and in fact, did. We decided that it was going to be too cumbersome to use and went to plan C which is to use the Dell but have it hooked up to the flat screen at the chart table and rigged to a remote keyboard and mouse. This is working just fine for now. We can run the navigation software and email software all on the same machine and have removed all computers from the top of the chart table to help prevent further.......... "incidents".
Enough about computers. Yesterday was a grand day. We motor sailed for most daylight hours in little or no wind. Something strange happened. It all started when I decided to clean the floors. Next thing I see is that Brian has showered and done laundry and set it out to dry. I pulled everything out of the forward cabin. It had gotten damp up there with the days of beating and pulled out cushions, sails etc to dry. Everyone got into the spirit and we aired out the boat. I tested the heat, which worked and ran it for couple of hours which helped to dry out things below. Things just got a lot more civilized which was nice. It wasn't exactly sunny. There was low almost fog at water level. Occasionally, the sun would break through.
During the day, Eric worked on cooking a beef stew. After the big clean and dry out, we treated ourselves to a movie. Eric discovered that he had brought a copy of "Star Wars, The Empire Strikes Back" and we plugged it into the flat screen and piped it through the stereo. Kurt had never seen the movie. I didn't think this was possible. Hasn't everyone in the US, if not the world seen the Star Wars movies? Well, anyway it was fun to see his reaction to the movie, laughing at lines I have long since memorized and reacting to surprise situations, like when the minok's attack the Millennium Falcon when inside the cave that turns out to be a big space eel thing. After the movie, we had dinner. The stew was perfect. Eric cooks a killer beef stew. We all consumed copious amounts leaving sparse left overs that were quickly consumed today.
At some point late in the day the winds started to pick up again. We hoisted the spinnaker (I believe we paused the movie to do this) and sailed for a few hours under spinnaker. The wind died again and we motor sailed until I came on watch at 10:30pm HST (1:30am PDT). The wind had filled in on the beam so I unfurled the jib shut down the engine and we sailed through the night. Sometime in the morning, while I was sleeping, the spinnaker went up again and we have been sailing all day under spinnaker. Life is good.
In an email from PJ, she asked what it was were were craving. And....being on a boat in the middle of the ocean with no women aboard there is the obvious answer to this question. But since this is a family oriented BLOG, I will leave it at that. We really have been eating extremely well. We provisioned, or you might even say over provisioned well. So far, what we have come up with is mostly food related. Brian and I agree that pizza would be a very good thing right now. Kurt would like some chocolate ice cream. I am personally craving the company of my family the most.
That's the latest from Capaz. Thank you to all who are sending us email. It is great to hear from you!

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

10:35am PDT 41 34.2N, 137 54.3W 691 nautical Miles to Neah Bay

From Captain Brad:
The wind has blown itself out. Right now, it is blowing perhaps 4 knots of wind, not enough to sail in with any kind of speed, so we are now motoring. It has been relatively uneventful the last 24 hours or so. Shortly after typing and sending my blog entry for yesterday, the wind moderated considerably, giving us a break from life heeled at 20 degrees. The sun even poked through. For most of they day yesterday, it blew in the mid to high teens. We had to crack off and sail a bit low of the great circle route, but this too slowly changed and we lifted to where we wanted to go. Almost as if the weather gods had a plan for us, the wind started to kick up again just as the daylight was fading away.
I stood the first watch from 8am to 10:30pm. During this time, it blew about 30 knots. We had double reefed the main, single reefed the mizzen and partially rolled up the headsail to make things more comfortable. The point of sail was about 60 degrees apparent and we were charging at 8 to 9 knots. The weather was nasty outside with a constant hard drizzle. We weren't bothered by that though since we were all below watching "Basic Instinct". Since I was on watch I'd get up every 10 minutes or so, check the computer for AIS targets. Give the radar a look, and check the wind direction. I also occasionally would check the bilge, the battery status, the Autopilot heading etc. For those of you reading this who may be appalled that we didn't have a watch on deck, keep in mind that visibility was less than 100 yards. It was pitch black outside. Radar and AIS were our only eyes. Plus it was much more comfortable below.
After my watch I jumped into bed and Eric took over. The schedule last night was 8 to 10:30pm-Brad, 10:30pm to 1am-Eric, 1am-3:30am Kurt, 3:30am-6am- Brian. During the Switch over from Kurt to Brian, they turned on the engine and started motoring. On Kurt's watch the wind had started to die. Single handing things, Kurt shook out the reefs mid-watch. By the time Brian came on, our progress was slow, so they fired up the iron sail.
We seemed to have gotten a handle on the autopilot issues. The biggest thing that plagues us right now is the gray water system. All the gray water drains into a central holding tank, which is then pumped out using an electric pump. There is a problem from the pump to the through hull and only small amounts of gray water get pumped out, enough to keep the gray water from backing up into sinks but certainly not all of it. The problem is that as soon as someone starts to use the galley sink to wash dishes etc. If they don't turn on the pump the gray water backs up into the head sink, which is gross! Oh the joys of boat ownership. None of us is all that keen on dismantling the gray water plumbing and attempting to unclog what ever is clogged. It would be a pretty major, yucky job at the dock, let alone underway.
Brian on the back deck with his Ipod
I have to mention a few things about the crew. We are a harmonious lot and have gotten along famously. Everyone has pitched in to do their share and I couldn't have asked to do this trip with a better group. Right now, Brian is sitting on the aft deck staring out at the ocean content to listen to music on his Ipod and take in the scenery. Both Eric and Kurt are in the rack catching up on sleep. I, of course am sitting at the nav station typing on the computer, but I just can't help looking up after every sentence or so, scanning the horizon. I never seem to grow tired of this view. Some people just seem to have a connection with the ocean. All four of us on board seem to be those type of people.
PS, A huge thank you to all who sent Birthday wishes yesterday. It meant a lot to me to know that so many people were following our progress. THANK YOU!

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

8:00am PDT 39 49.4N, 141 07.5W 870.4 Nautical miles to Neah Bay

From Captain Brad:
There is a song that Bryce and Austin like to listen to on the Lego Bionicle website called "Gravity Hurts". Ain't that the truth! Living life on an angle definitely makes you respect gravity. moving around becomes 10 times as hard and if you slip gravity will quickly take you to the lowest point, which sometimes hurts.
Enough of that. The last 24 hours have been more of the same wind hovering around 30 knots, blasting along under reduced canvas. One very sad thing is I have missed playing my episodes of 24, I think for the last two days. I guess the thought of watching a screen in a pitching boat hasn't appealed to me. I think I going to give it a go today, though. The weather should start to moderate. The seas are smaller this morning even though the wind seems to be holding steady. Over the next 24 hours I expect we will start to shake the reefs out of the main and unroll the jib a bit. One really good thing about these conditions is we are making good time towards home.
Let's see? What has happened over the last 24 hours? The autopilot cut out again. I traced the problem to the wiring in the pod at the helm again. One of the connectors had filled with water. After cleaning this out, the autopilot started right back up and has been working flawlessly ever since. Brian decided to play around with the instruments to see if he could get the wind functions back, which he did. So, now we could confirm what we already knew. It was blowing hard! We have been spending the majority of our time below. When doing the night watch schedule, I like to get on deck for an extended time, get some fresh air and commune with the ocean. I just came back down from doing that. There is quite a marine layer and I bet visibility is less than a mile right now. No worries though, because we have the AIS and radar running. While on watch, we check these often to see if there is any traffic nearby. The AIS will register a commercial vessel long before the radar or naked eye will see it.
As I look out the window, I caught a glimpse of an albatross soaring along, swooping down between the waves not flapping its wings at all and yet still somehow managing to go upwind. This far out the only birds you see are albatross and some sort of smaller bird, that also swoops low between the waves and back up again. We haven't seen any yet but occasionally you will see a tern with a long V tail. In past crossings, we have had terns land on the mast head and take a rest.
As inconvenient as this weather is, we do have it pretty darn good. The boat is sea kindly, we are dry, warm and protected from the elements. I'm learning a lot about the boat as well and what will need to be done to make life even better. There is definitely places where water is making it below and that will have to be addressed. The storage spaces on the port side Salon need to have hinged cabinet doors with a locking clasp and we need a better system to get the cushions to stay in place stuff like that.
I've rambled on a bit but now it's time to go. I'll be sending less pictures because we are starting to run low on the prepaid minutes on the sat telephone. And pictures take a lot of minutes to send.

From Kurt Hoehne:
Brian said it best when he got up this morning, was thrown against a couple of hard objects and stumbled into the pilothouse: "What kind of cruise IS this?"
The days of sitting in lawn chairs, drinking Coronas and occasionally reeling in a pretty fish are officially behind us. While far from being in any kind of survival mode we're definitely in 'we hope this eases up soon' mode. Everybody seems to be handling the challenges. No doubt the challenges have already been explained by others, an autopilot failure, and a subsequent steering chain break. And a genset switch. This on the heels of a day spent fixing the engine and genset fuel issues. While everybody pitches in, Brian and Brad have been particuliarly heroic, doing fine-motor skills while deep in Capaz' recesses.
For those of you who've been at sea, you know the score onboard in 30 knots of breeze close reaching (except for the pilothouse aspect, which I'll explain in a minute.) For those of you who haven't had the pleasure.....
We're sailing along with the boat heeled to the side from anywhere from five degrees to about 25 degrees. This is constantly changing, sometimes from one extreme to the other in about 4 seconds. While this is going on the boat is rocking from front to back as it goes over waves. About once every 3-5 minutes the boat pounds on a wave. And it pounds, with a big boom. All this while, there are waves from 5-15 feet in height. For the most part, Capaz simply rises on top as the waves roll through, but not always. About once a minute a wave (might be the "pounder," might not) scoots up the side and lands on top of Capaz.
For the crew the challenge is moving. The wide open pilothouse is great in many respects. It's warm and dry, but requires planning and decisive moves to get across without getting thrown against something. Cooking amounts to heating water and pouring it into something, and this is not to be taken lightly, and in fact is done rarely in these conditions. The other thing, and in this respect Capaz is no different from any other boat, water will find a way in. Suffice it to say we now know which hatches and ports leak, and there are a few. And I'll just leave it to everybody's imagine about the whole toilet thing.
Sailors who are reading this but who have never done a pilothouse, it's an entirely different experience. With the autopilot, Jorge, on, we sit "below" but with great visibility, our foul weather gear still on hangers. Screens showing AIS to warn us of freighters and radar to give us a heads-up for big weather or maybe another non commercial boat are what we watch "on watch." But you know, we all went up for a while not long ago and it was kinda nice to be in the fresh air. Then you get down below and see some humongus wave pound the pilothouse windows and you're glad not to be out there.
So, that's it from the Pacific. We're well and not suffering too much. The miles we're logging now are all pretty much directly for home. And there are some people there that I desperately would like to see.
Thanks for tuning in!