Camanoe is Home!!!!

Air temp: 59 degrees
Humidity: 83%   Barometer: 1017 mb
Noon Latitude: 37 deg 50.29′ N (Hanging out in a slip in Emery Cove Yacht Harbor)
Noon Longitude: 122 deg 18.59′ W

I apologize!!!! I have not posted since making landfall last week.  There is no excuse. According to the comments I’ve been receiving there are more people following the ramblings of a half-crazy, wannabe sailor with cabin fever than I realized. So here is what’s going on.

Camanoe and I made landfall at the Berkeley Yacht club on September 9, 2012 after 31 days of floating around the Pacific. We covered exactly 2,980 nautical miles or 3,427 statute miles. We had an average moving speed of four knots per hour. Our trusty Yanmar engine ran for a total of 21 hours. Half of that was just ran underway for an hour at a time so I could take a hot shower. Between the main engine and the aux diesel generator we used exactly 15 usg of diesel fuel for the entire trip. Camanoe is by no means fast, but damn she’s comfortable. In fact, most boats make this passage in 20 days. However, keep the following in mind: we hardly motored. Most boats motor at least 100 hours on average through light winds for this trip. Also, Camanoe only has white sails since we lost the spinnaker.  I was single-handing, which meant I would often neglect the sail trim, or down right ignore it if I was sleeping. It was not uncommon for me to wake up and hear the sails slatting or even realize the jib was back-winded in light wind. When this happened I would often roll over and catch it in the morning when I woke up again. In addition to all of this, I was torn between where to make landfall, Either Vancouver Island in Canada or San Francisco. I didn’t decide until 42 degrees north that I would make landfall in San Francisco. So I went an additional 500 miles out of my way. All of this being said, I had a fantastic trip. Camanoe is well built with comfortable amenities like a deep fridge and freezer, and unlimited water and power. I wasn’t really concerned with the speed or overall time of the voyage. Basically I just relaxed, read, watched TV, stared at the stars and the ocean, and enjoyed life at a much slower and relaxed pace.

Would I make the trip again? Yes!! Would I do it single-handed? Yes, but preferably with my better half. I don’t consider myself a true blue water sailor, just a guy who has done a couple single-handed, offshore passages. The one thing I do consider to be true, is that cruising is the perfect environment for a couple or a family. I made the trip single-handed because my better half said, “No, I think I’ll fly and meet you there.“ If she only knew what she was missing!!

What are my plans now? I guess it’s time to become a member of society again. At some point I will return back to work. I just have to figure out exactly what I want to do when I grow up. Camanoe has found a new home at Emery Cove Yacht Harbor in Emeryville, CA. The facilities are fantastic and clean, so Stephanie will be moving aboard next week so we can save up some money and eventually buy a place of our own. Unfortunately, I don’t see too much sailing for Camanoe in the near future. The V-berth will probably be full of Steph’s work clothes and most of Camanoe’s gear will be stored off of the boat to make living aboard more comfortable. The good news is I will have lots of time for all of those projects I’ve always wanted to complete.

In parting, I’d like to impart a few thoughts to those of you who are considering buying a boat and setting sail for Mexico and beyond. Do it! Even if only for a few months a year or full time. Stephanie and I both had a fantastic overall experience. Yes, there is bad weather and cold nights. Moments or even hours of anticipation and worries. Even times of down right fright. But the reward outweighs the negatives far beyond measurement. Do it sooner rather than later. Don’t wait until your bank accounts are full and you have the perfect retirement.  Do it while you are young and you can enjoy those midnight skinny dipping experiences, those 2 for 1 margarita specials all night, the forced marches to see the fabled Huanacaxtle tree and waterfall. Besides, being on a real budget and making ends meet while you are in paradise is half of the fun. Hunting down the 10 peso taco street vendors in Mexico, or trying to save money by riding the local bus system instead of wasting it on an expensive cab is sure to make for some good stories. Don’t get me wrong, it’s fantastic to have a retirement and have the safety of being financially secure if you wait until you’re older to go cruising, but don’t use that as an excuse to not go cruising. Most of our fellow cruisers we met, who we absolutely had a blast with and were lucky to consider as friends, told us the same thing, “We wish we would have gone cruising when we were younger, like you.“

-CAPT

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(no subject)

Air temp: 61 degrees
Humidity: 93% Barometer: 1015 mb
Speed: 6 knots Course: 100-110 degrees True
Noon to noon distance made in nautical miles for the last 24 hours: 120 miles
Point of Sail: Beam reach
Wind speed: Northeast 7 knots
Swells: N 1-3 ft.
Noon Latitude: 39 deg 21′ N (Latitude wise – Same as point Arena)
Noon Longitude: 127 deg 50′ W
Camanoe’s fish count since Maui: Flying fish – 7 Squid – 0 Mahi Mahi – 1
Breakfast today: Oatmeal with blueberries
Lunch today: Leftover Mexican bean soup with Tortillas, Tortilla chips
Dinner tonight: Steak and corn or green beans

We are 240 miles from San Francisco. The miles are ticking off. The conditions have calmed down and are expected to grow calmer. It’s been great. I’ve had the opportunity to straighten and clean up the boat some today. Including, defrosting steak for dinner. Now, if only the sun will poke it’s head out!

-CAPT

Fish Lips and Large Seas

Air temp: 64 degrees
Humidity: 96% Barometer: 1018 mb
Speed: 5-7 knots Course: 100-110 degrees True
Noon to noon distance made in nautical miles for the last 24 hours: 146 miles
Point of Sail: Beam to Close reach
Wind speed: Northeast 20-25 knots
Swells: NW, N, NE 9-16 ft. Very Confused. Impeding progress.
Noon Latitude: 40 deg 03′ N (Latitude wise – 30 miles north of Fort Brag, but 280 miles west of it) Noon Longitude: 130 deg 11.7′ W
Camanoe’s fish count since Maui: Flying fish – 7 Squid – 0 Mahi Mahi – 1
Breakfast today: Oatmeal with blueberries
Lunch today: PB and J(my favorite), 1 apple, tortilla chips
Dinner tonight: Frozen prepackaged 4 cheese chicken penne pasta

We are 360 miles northwest of San Francisco, finally. This has been a long trip. Last night we had 30 knot winds throughout the night with 12-16 foot swells. So it was a little rolly. We were on a beam reach headed for San Francisco but eventually had to head down a little bit and take the seas slightly on the port quarter. I will have to make up the southing later. The seas are down to 9-12 feet with the occasional 16 footer rolling through. It’s amazing sitting in the cockpit and watching the top of the wave crest tower above me, and then either pick Camanoe up and roll on through, or break on us and cover the boat with a ton of water as we careen down the side of the wave. Regardless, Windy the wind vane senses the swell picking us up and reacts by correcting the wheel before we start to slide down the wave. Unfortunately, it’s wet down below. Not bad, but I do have some towels strategically located in the worst spots. Not surprising as we have been submerged for 48 hours and Camanoe’s deck hardware has not been cleaned and re-bedded in 26 years. The factory used Butyl tape instead of 4200 or similar sealant. I’d say it’s done an excellent job!

Today I began picking up VHF weather reports on Ch. 1 and 2, in addition to some AM frequencies. It’s nice to feel connected once again. I don’t miss the AM news stations though. It seems to be the same unimportant, exaggerated story repeated over and over.

On a funny note, or sad, in the rough weather last night the lure on my fishing pole escaped and deployed itself. I didn’t have the drag set very tight so at 7-8 knots it payed out. When I reeled it in this morning there was nothing left but a bent hook and a set of fish lips, perfectly round with no body attached.

-CAPT

Underwater!!

Air temp: 63 degrees
Humidity: 86% Barometer: 1025 mb
Speed: 6-7 knots Course: 100-110 degrees True
Noon to noon distance made in nautical miles for the last 24 hours: 125 miles
Point of Sail: Beam to Close reach
Wind speed: Northeast 20-25 knots
Swells: NW, N, NE 6-9 ft. Very Confused. Impeding progress.
Noon Latitude: 40 deg 40′ N (Same latitude as Eureka, CA, but 500 miles west of it)
Noon Longitude: 133 deg 09′ W
Camanoe’s fish count since Maui: Flying fish – 7 Squid – 0 Mahi Mahi – 1
Breakfast today: Oatmeal with blueberries
Lunch today: PB and J(my favorite), 1 apple, tortilla chips
Dinner tonight: Top Ramen

We have been underwater for the last 36 hours beating into the northeast trade winds. It’s not the most comfortable ride. Only 500 miles more to go! The last four weeks the tradewinds have been anything but consistent. They have been everywhere but where they are suppose to be for more than 24 hours. Now, they have settled in and appear to be here for at least several days. Good times!!

-CAPT

Lone Wolfpack

Air temp: 64 degrees
Humidity: 80% Barometer: 1029 mb
Speed: 4-7 knots Course: 100 degrees True
Noon to noon distance made in nautical miles for the last 24 hours: 119 miles
Point of Sail: Close reach
Wind speed: Northeast 20 knots
Swells: NW, N, NE 6-9 ft. Very Confused. Impeding progress.
Noon Latitude: 41 deg 06′ N (Same latitude as Eureka, CA, but 500 miles west of it)
Noon Longitude: 135 deg 43′ W
Camanoe’s fish count since Maui: Flying fish – 7 Squid – 0 Mahi Mahi – 1
Breakfast today: Oatmeal with blueberries
Lunch today: PB and J (my favorite), 1 apple, dried fruit assorted
Dinner tonight: Mexican pressure cooker black bean soup and tortillas with rice

Camanoe the U-boat. She is a lone Wolfpack. She reminds me of the U-boat in Das Boot. Especially the scene at the beginning where they leave the shipyard and do a depth/pressure test to see if she will hold. At around 500 feet she begins leaking through various seams. Camanoe is doing the same thing today. Not bad, just a few drops here and there. It’s not surprising considering we are blasting through some very confused seas. We are currently beating into the northeast trade winds. Spray is engulfing the boat accompanied by some very large bangs and booms as we plow through the swells. I have a double-reefed main and just a bit of headsail out and we are flying. At least until a large wave hits or breaks on top of us slowing us down to four knots. I’m expecting this to go on for at least the next two days, if not until we reach San Francisco. We are just over 600 miles from San Francisco and pointed directly for it.

I’m looking forward to landfall and a long, hot shower accompanied by unlimited Guiness and pizza. I do shower everyday aboard Camanoe but it’s a military shower and more of an acrobatic feat than anything. The shower is located in the V-berth at the forward end of the boat. To say the least, it is very difficult to soap up and rinse off when it takes two hands to stay upright while we fly through the air. At least I have the option to shower aboard, most sailors don’t have the water to spare.

-CAPT

East! I shall go East!

Air temp: 65 degrees
Humidity: 74% Barometer: 1028 mb
Speed: 5-6 knots Course: 100 degrees True
Noon to noon distance made in nautical miles for the last 24 hours: 115 miles
Point of Sail: Broad to Beam reach
Wind speed: Northeast 10 knots
Swells: NW, N, NE 4-6 ft. Very Confused. Impeding progress.
Noon Latitude: 41 deg 17′ N (Same latitude as Eureka, CA, but 620 miles west of it)
Noon Longitude: 138 deg 15′ W
Camanoe’s fish count since Maui: Flying fish – 7 Squid – 0 Mahi Mahi – 1
Breakfast today: Oatmeal with blueberries, 1 apple, Granola bar
Lunch today: Mexican pressure cooker black bean soup and Tortillas, 1 apple, tortilla chips
Dinner tonight: Either PB and J (my favorite) or ranch chicken and greens (frozen meal)

The last 24 hours has been bumpy. It has been washing machine conditions. We are still making decent progress but are repeatedly slowed to almost stopped in our tracks from the confused seas. The high will be above and behind us in the next 24 hours so we will probably have winds from the northeast forcing us to the southeast towards San Francisco. As of now we are 730 miles from San Fran. I will not speculate on a time frame, since the High has been very unpredictable. It would be great if it would start moving to the south and giving us favorable winds like it normally does this time of year.

Windy is still kicking butt out there. Camanoe is continuing to prove her ability as a blue water boat. And I’m still hiding down below reading, watching TV, stuffing my face, and only facing the elements to scan the horizon, make sail changes, or search for the sun. Today I did spend some time on the Ham Radio. Being Sunday, there was a lot of chatter on 20 meters. I made contact with stations in Oregon, Washington, California, and Texas. There is a pretty cool club in CA that helps the National Parks by manning fire watch towers in the National Parks. I don’t know the details, if they hike to these stations and camp, or drive, but it sounds like fun. Most of the volunteers are amateur radio operators, which probably have all kinds of neat homemade antenna rigs and radio set-ups they use up there. The club can be found at http://www.buckrock.org. I’m going to download the web page right now.

-CAPT

Life is Good!!

Air temp: 67 degrees
Humidity: 90%(It’s raining) Barometer: 1026 mb and up 1 in the last three hours Speed: 5 knots Course: 090 degrees True
Noon to noon distance made in nautical miles for the last 24 hours: 95 miles
Point of Sail: Beam reach
Wind speed: North 10-12 knots
Swells: West 4-6 ft.
Noon Latitude: 41 deg 36′ N (Same latitude as Eureka, CA, but 726 miles west of it)
Noon Longitude: 141 deg 41′ W
Camanoe’s fish count since Maui: Flying fish – 7 Squid – 0 Mahi Mahi – 1
Breakfast today: Oatmeal
Lunch today: Chicken noodle soup by chef Dave
Dinner tonight: Mexican pressure cooker black bean soup and tortillas (All ingredients from Mexico)

My spirit is soaring!! I love sailing!! The last 24 hours we have been running in light winds with opposing genoa and staysail. One hour ago the wind veered around to the north. We are now on a broad reach in 10 knots of wind with six foot swells on our stern. Thanks to Windy we are flying along at seven knots. And yes, this is me we’re talking about, over cautious, I have a reef in the main and only a partial Genoa out. Life is good as we surf down the swells and the water rushes past the hull while the bow threatens to plunge into the water every couple of seconds. I don’t expect these conditions to hold out for long, but I will enjoy it while it lasts. It’s times like these I vote for wind vane self-steering. An autopilot couldn’t do this for weeks on end without either breaking or using all of your battery power. Then again, at seven knots the trolling generator is putting out eight plus amps into the batteries. It should be able to keep up with an autopilot’s electrical demands.

As of now I’m only 850 miles west of San Francisco, and 200 miles north. The weatherfax and wind/wave charts indicate strong north winds and larger seas from the north as I approach the coast so I will keep heading due east until reaching these predicted swells. Then I will start heading southeast towards San Francisco and take the swell on the stern quarter. This should make for a more comfortable ride as I approach the coast. If the seas are not bad I might make landfall in Eureka/Crescent City for a day or two and explore the beauty that is Northern California.

-CAPT

(no subject)

Air temp: 69 degrees
Humidity: 80% Barometer: 1022 mb and down 1
Speed: 5 knots Course: 090 degrees True
Noon to noon distance made in nautical miles for the last 24 hours: 66 miles
Point of Sail: Dead Down wind with poled out Genoa on port and poled out staysail on starboard
Wind speed: West 7-10 knots
Swells: West 3-4 ft.
Noon Latitude: 41 deg 30′ N (Same latitude as Eureka Ca, but 900 miles west of it)
Noon Longitude: 142 deg 50′ W
Camanoe’s fish count since Maui: Flying fish – 7 Squid – 0 Mahi Mahi – 1
Breakfast today: Cubed taters with garlic, onion, and BBQ sauce
Lunch today: Leftover spaghetti
Dinner tonight: Chicken and polenta with red sauce

Last night was slow. I dropped the sails around midnight and drifted until the morning. Around 0800 the wind and swells veered around to the west and we have been running dead downwind with the genoa poled out to the port and the staysail poled out to starboard. Since then we have been scooting along.

Since yesterday afternoon I have seen three container ships off in the distance. I attempted to contact each one on the VHF. I called them on Ch. 16,13,12, and 9 with no response. I can’t believe all of them were running without a VHF on. I suspect they didn’t want to make contact in case I had an emergency. It would mean they would have to slow down and divert course. Either that or they just didn’t want to talk.

I’ve spent most of the day brushing up on my sextant and its use. Celestial navigation is one of those things you have to do everyday or you forget it. Fortunately, after a couple of hours of studying, it has started to come back to me. I admire all those who have gone before me on boats before the days of GPS and chart plotters. I suspect, at least 50% of ocean voyagers these days don’t even carry a sextant or any of the publications needed to use one. I can’t imagine the level of anxiety the pre-GPS cruisers had. They would spend 30 days at sea, hoping their compass was accurate, all the time relying on their celestial navigation skills with no way to check its accuracy. Maybe on my next ocean passage I will do it with out the assistance of a GPS.

-CAPT

Almost One Year!!

Air temp: 75 degrees
Humidity: 68% Barometer: 1025 mb and steady
Speed: 3-4 knots Course: 070 degrees True
Noon to noon distance made in nautical miles for the last 24 hours: 107 miles
Point of Sail: Port beam to close reach
Wind speed: NNW 4-6 knots
Swells: NNW 2-3 ft.
Noon Latitude: 41 deg 16′ N (Same latitude as Eureka, CA, but 900 miles west of it) Noon Longitude: 144 deg 11′ W
Camanoe’s fish count since Maui: Flying fish – 7 Squid – 0
Breakfast today: Cubed taters with garlic, onion, and BBQ sauce
Lunch today: Leftover spaghetti
Dinner tonight: Chicken Florentine (Whatever that is?)

Good news: I found my hand held Anemometer (wind speed indicator) today. Now I know the actual wind speed. I’ve been guessing in conjunction with the Beaufort Scale. Looking back, I think I’ve been guessing 3-4 knots higher than what the actual wind speed was. Camanoe doesn’t do too bad in light winds. It’s amazing what a new Genoa will do for boat speed.

The winds were perfect last night, pushing us along at 6-7 knots on a broadreach until the morning. Around 0800 the wind died. We have been fighting for every mile today. We are sailing slightly north into the wind so that we have enough apparent wind to keep the sails full during each roll of the boat. If there were no swells we could sail a direct course for San Francisco; all be it slowly.

We are glad to report we are just over 1000 nautical miles from the Golden Gate. We have also reached the 2000 nautical mile mark in our distance traveled since Hawaii. Almost 12 months ago, on Sept. 15th we sailed out of San Francisco under the Golden Gate en-route for Mexico. At that time I had only dreamed of sailing my own boat to Mexico and beyond. Now, I have done so much more! With any luck we will sail under the Gate again on exactly Sept 15th, exactly one year and over 9000 miles later. I might have to hide out in Drakes Bay north of San Francisco for a few days to make this happen!!

-CAPT

I Stand Corrected!!

Air temp: 76 degrees
Humidity: 62% Barometer: 1026 mb and steady
Speed: 3 knots Course: 060 degrees True
Noon to noon distance made in nautical miles for the last 24 hours: 70 miles
Point of Sail: Port close reach
Wind speed: North at 8 knots
Swells: North at 3-4 ft.
Noon Latitude: 40 deg 57′ N (Same latitude as Eureka, CA, but 1500 miles west of it) Noon Longitude: 146 deg 25′ W
Camanoe’s fish count since Maui: Flying fish – 7 Squid – 0
Breakfast today: Blueberry pancakes!
Lunch today: Leftover spaghetti with extra garlic
Dinner tonight: Grilled cheese ham sandwich before the cheese turns completely black from mold

I stand corrected, as per my post from yesterday about not being in the high. I received the latest weather fax surface analysis for my area this morning. I’m definitely in the northeast quadrant of the Pacific High at 1028 mb. It wasn’t anywhere near here two days ago. Hence the reason for the light winds. We drifted for the better part of last night. Today has been light winds under five knots. We motored until noon just so we could record 70 miles made good in the last 24 hours. I don’t see any reason to motor for any longer than it takes to top off the ship’s batteries. It’s not like I’m going to motor into an area with more wind since the high moves faster than I can motor. The high is moving southeast and should be slightly below my position by tomorrow, placing me in the north quadrant. This should give me some winds from the west to northwest, but probably not strong enough except to ghost along. Since I no longer have a spinnaker on board, I have been using my lightest three ounce staysail. It is the only sail I have that doesn’t completely collapse as the boat rolls in four foot seas and light winds. With just this sail up I can at least point in the correct direction with a little headway, maybe a knot or two.

Even with light winds, today has been great. The sun was out for the better part of the afternoon and the seas were less than three feet thanks to the high. I sat on deck reading and enjoying the sunshine. I finally started “Atlas Shrugged” by Ayn Rand. I even had the opportunity to run the Shop-Vac while the engine was running and clean up the cabin some. Who keeps shedding everywhere?

-CAPT