FAQ: Sailing Banderas Bay to Hawaii
When are you departing for Hawaii?
We have a little work to do on the boat in the next week or so. Then we load up with fuel, water, and food. After that we get our exit papers and wait for good weather. Once we get a good weather window, we make tracks. We're hoping to get underway by April 25.
How far is the sail from Banderas Bay to Hawaii?
About 2900 nautical miles.
What is the route?
Due west (270 on the compass) until we run into land.
How long will it take?
30 to 40 days is our estimate. Getting off the coast is the hardest part. Once we're 500 miles (or so) off the coast we'll find the trade winds which throughout history have been great sailing and could get us 120 to 140 miles a day.
How much fuel?
Our engine is a 1 cylinder, 9.9hp Yanmar inboard diesel. Our fuel tank holds 15 gallons and we carry an extra 5 gallon container in the cockpit locker. Burning all this fuel would get us less than 500 miles. With a trip this long, the engine is only marginally important - the sails and the windvane are doing all the work.
How do you keep the batteries charged?
We have two 50 watt solar panels that, under the tropical sun, make more power than we use on Crazy Love. We can run the engine and have the alternator charge the batteries, but we wouldn't be able to do that for long because we carry limited fuel. Fortunately we have a battery monitor which tells us when the batteries have been fully charged by the sun and when/if we need to run the engine for the alternator.
How much water?
45 to 50 gallons. 1 gal/day provisioned - half a gallon per person per day. Salt water for cleaning and cooking. Less strict as we find the trade winds and on a fast course to Hawaii. Our tank holds about 25 gallons and we'll stash the other 25 in bottles throughout lockers, the cockpit, and the cabin.
Do you have a watermaker?
No. We thought about buying a handpowered desalinator, but they're wicked expensive, complicated, and I don't know how to fix it after it breaks.
What will you eat?
Lots of good stuff. We provision fresh, dry, and canned foods that are stored throughout the boat in our "pantry", "cooler" (which we don't even provision with ice), and closet. Sausages, salami and other cured meats last for quite some time without refrigeration. Milk is often sold shelf stable here in Mexico and eggs are stored at room temperature. Vegetables like cabbage, carrots, onions, and potatoes are quite hardy and we'll definitely stow a lot of apples. Dried beans, pasta, rice, dried mushrooms and veggies, and canned items make up the bulk.
What will you drink?
We like rum - Appleton Estate is yummy and inexpensive in Mexico. If we don't drink it straight, we mix it with some sort of fruit juice - like mango. At room temperature it is rather pleasant. Mexican beer just doesn't taste as good at room temperature. Before you judge, please see above under water. The rum will be used in dire emergencies only.
Do you have a refrigerator?
No. They're expensive, take lots of power, and I'm not ready to learn how to repair one.
What safety gear do you have on board?
Most important is a healthy, capable crew. We also have a life raft, EPIRB, Delorme inReach (2-way satellite messaging), and VHF with AIS to negotiate with passing ships. We also have all the required Coast Guard specified gear such as life jackets, flares, fog horn, etc.
What do you do all day to occupy yourself?
Keeping the boat moving occupies much of our time day and night, but there's plenty of time in between checking the course, trimming the sails, cooking meals, and scanning the horizon for other boats. For entertainment - books, books and more books, a few movies, and games (Settlers & Carcassone on the iPad).
Do you stop at night to sleep?
No. We will sail 24 hours a day for a month straight. When we're going fast we're going about six miles an hour. That means we can do 144 miles (6x24) in a day. A 2900 mile trip at that speed would be about 21 days. That's an outlandishly optimistic estimate. We may have a few 144 mile days, but early in the trip, before we find the trades we might only make 40 or 60 miles a day.
Long story short, if we stop at night, it takes longer to get there. The longer it takes to get there, the higher our risk of running out of water.
Is there someone always on watch?
Yes, we try. We used to trade off watch every two hours through the night. At some point during our journey we determined staring across the dark ocean in the middle of the night trying to stay awake for two hours straight wasn't any more risky than one of us scanning the horizon every 15-20 minutes and checking our course. We each have a wristwatch. At sunset we set a timer to go off every 40 minutes on the watches. The watches are offset by 20 minutes. If my watch goes off now, Dave's will go off in 20 minutes. That arrangement works well until about 3am when we both start ignoring the beeping wrist watches. In theory the boat will wake us up if it needs attention. And now we'll have knowledge of other large boats in the area and their course. At sunrise, I usually get up and sail for a few hours while Dave rests then I sleep later in the afternoon. This is all assuming the tiller pilot or the windvane is doing all the steering. Otherwise we are trading off who is at the helm (most likely every 2 hours).
How long in Hawaii?
If we make it, we're hoping to cruise Hawaii for 3-5 months. Then we'd like to get a slip on Oahu, an apartment on the same island, and a job working remotely. If we can find jobs in Hawaii, we'll work for a year, maybe two, and then continue west. I'm looking at the Republic of the Marshall Islands as the next stop.
What if something goes wrong?
We'll do what we can with the resources we have. Please don't worry about us. We hatched the plan and took the risk so we're prepared to face the consequences.