Pacific Crossing: Mexico to Hawaii
We made it! It feels amazing to have arrived in Hilo. The crossing was everything we thought it would be and more. It was hard at times, it was easy at times, but it was everything we were promised. The weather was perfect - the trades blew all the way across, we hit not a single gale, and we had less than 48 hours of calm during the 29 day passage. We broke a few minor things on the boat: chafed through a few lines, broke a few electrical items but it was nothing we couldn't fix or deal without.
We both kept personal records of our thoughts and updates on our progress throughout the trip. We thought we would share some excerpts of these entries with you.
Day 0, Apr 21 (Monday after Easter)
7:30a - motored from La Cruz to Paradise Village Marina
9:15a - We're assigned slip A-12. Its big enough for at least a 40 footer. Makes Crazy Love look really small.
10am - Take water taxi to other side to see check out with the Port Captain.
1pm - Customs, Immigration, and Port Captain come to the boat to complete exit papers
1:15:pm - We've got our exit papers (zarpe).
Day 1, Apr 22
The wind is good enough to give us 4 up to 6 knots, but we're close hauled and hitting the waves on the nose. It makes for a bumpy ride. Dave fights sea sickness a bit and I really don't feel all that well either... BUT this should only be for a week or so and even if not we signed up for it.......Around midnight Dave woke me and we saw the Southern Cross
Day 2, Apr 23
Our AIS got a workout, 3 large boat crossings within 1 mile of us. I feel its like playing chicken... where is the boat, how fast, do we move, do we hail them but in the end we just stood our course and they passed a decent distance away.
Rough night last night. Got sick twice and couldn't eat. Steep waves make for slow progress. 2709 miles to go.
Day 3, Apr 24
I feel terrible that I am not nearly as diligent as Dave at sail trim, working the windvane, and overall sailing the boat. I honestly hope I make up the difference in other areas.
Lots of big ships. At dawn the wind picked up. Double reefed main with jib rolled up 2/3 of the way. 2653 miles to go. Later in the afternoon, we got so much wind we lashed the main to the boom and sailed under reefed jib. Very uncomfortable.
First breakage of the trip: the cleats I installed in La Cruz broke off the tiller. Easy fix. Reinstall with longer screws. Done!
Day 4, Apr 25
Not much wind last night. We hove to for a little rest. Lost only 2 miles during the night.
I could tell he was getting a bit frustrated with our progress. I put a good spread together for breakfast, we got the boat going about 2-3 knots southwest... best we can do and he was still a bit down. We'd been told the first couple days are hard and they are. Dave felt much better when 17:30 UTC time came around and we still had radio contact w/ Ichiban and Seaquel.
We saw dolphins today, a few just swam over to the boat and under... just a quick hello.
This afternoon, the wind seems to be turning more north (rather than NW) allowing us to point the bow right at Hilo. Hopefully that keeps up. 2573 miles to go.
Day 5, Apr 26
2495 miles remaining. Rosie said, "All I wanted was to take a weekend sailing class." Seems she got a little more than she asked for. Spent a bunch of time this afternoon talking about our families and reminiscing about times past.
Having a great sail right now. Bouncy, wet ride, but making 4.5-5.5kts at Hilo under double reefed main & thong bikini version of a rolled up jib. We are flying down waves and taking lots of water in the process. Working to weather is wet business.
Day 6, Apr 27
80 mile run dawn to dawn. Cloudy skies. Wind still from the NW. The windvane remote control keeps slipping. The boat is really pounding into the waves. Seems like she's really made for these conditions. We're starting to get an idea what "blue water boat" means.
Did I mention the boat is wet? Its a very leaky boat. The waves coming over the top and the rail dipping in the water has all the deck hardware fasteners, windows, and hatches leaking.
Afternoon of day 6 - Things are turning in our favor. The wind has shifted more to the N and we're now close reaching rather than close hauled. The waves are still breaking over the deck, but now only every 5 minutes instead of every 30 seconds.
Day 7, Apr 28
2325 miles to go.
This morning we talked about possibilities after Hawaii: Marshalls, Tuvalu, Phillipines, Japan. Wow, can't believe we're considering this when we still have 2k miles to go to get to Hawaii. This is the biggest jump though.
Very bumpy, fast ride this morning and early afternoon. Rosie discovered many of our fresh veggies have started to rot so there was a little work sorting through them and cleaning. Luckily all the apples are okay!
What a day. The waves continue to hit us on the beam making for a continued rodeo ride. Its getting a tad old for me. I'm just tired of the effort it takes to go the bathroom, to haul yourself out of the bunk to check the windvane, to fix anything to eat even if it is just to grab an apple out of the closet. Dave suggested a nap. Thanks Dave ( It might just work... but my bed is wet!) Since the books on my shelf and my hats have absorbed all the water they can, its dripping onto my bed. One week down, how many to go?
Day 8, Apr 29
2222 miles to go. 103 mile run dawn yesterday to dawn today
What a nice restful day after the day we had yesterday. Surrounded by blue water on all sides. Its pretty fantastic.
Brushed my teeth for the first time today. That thought disgusts me, but the boat was too bouncy to do it before. I feel much better now. Maybe this will become habit.
Still cloudy out. Haven't had blue skies in three days. Panels still seem to get the batteries to 12.8v, so it seems like we're keeping up without having to conserve. We've even been using the stereo a few hours every day.
Bashing, bashing always. I thought this was supposed to be a downwind sail. Looking over our last forecast, the N winds should start around 120 degrees W and E winds a little after that. Maybe later this week.
Position: 5:18p 19°03.16'N, 116°45.99W
Day 9, Apr 30
2155 miles to go.
We've passed the longitude of San Diego. Crazy how long that took.
Day 10, May 1
At sunrise, 2075 miles to go. 1/4 of mileage complete. Hoping this doesn't take 40 days. Don't think it will especially if wind shifts as its supposed to.
Position: 7:53a 18°30.60'N, 118°30.80W
The waves seem to be turning more N/S rather than NW/SE. This is a good sign. Looked over the pilot chart for May - N & NE winds account for almost 90% (force 4) in this area. Hopefully we start to see some of those winds soon otherwise I'm starting to think the El Nino is in full effect.
Day 12, May 3
We both slept well last night - read...didn't wake up to check things so we didn't make as much progress as we could have. After dawn, took reef out of main and unrolled full jib.
After lunch: still killing it. 5-6kts under full sail. Rosie and I talked about budgets and schedules for our stay in Hawaii and preparing for a possible next adventure.
What a great day. Our speed has picked up and we're on a beam reach. I used up the carrots today in our soup for dinner. The biscuits were a good change from tortillas.
Sunset - 1847 miles to go. 60 miles today. Wow!
Day 13, May 4
Lucky 13 or not so lucky. After a great sail yesterday the winds died right after bed and we've been floating ever since. I think the 1 knot current might be floating us in the right direction. In the positive, I got a shower. Yes! I can't tell you how great it feels to have clean hair after 12 days at sea. I hauled the sun shower ( which has been laying on the deck secured to the side shrouds) up to the first mast step, so I could sit below.
Day 14, May 5
We spent some time soaking up the morning sun and just enjoying the fact that the boat is actually moving again. I planned dinner around my craving for comfort in mashed potatoes. It really wasn't supposed to be so complex. But with being thrown around a bit more than anticipated and using less than ideal potatoes I quickly became frustrated. Which results in Dave saying I told you I'd eat PB & J and me being quite upset in general. I must continue to tell myself, patience!
After lunch - Crushing the miles. 1755 miles to go. Calculated average so far: 3.2kts. Wind built to 15-20. Reefed main and jib. Beam reaching at 5-6kts with the sails well eased.
Position 3:54p 18°56.78'N, 124°21.39W
Day 15, May 6
1670 miles to go at dawn. That's 120 miles made good between dawn yesterday and dawn today. One of our best days ever.
Very gray and cloudy today. Quite a contrast from the almost royal blue water and skies yesterday.
Still killing this afternoon. Stayed in bed w/ the lee cloth while the conductor [wind vane] did all the work. Made 65 miles between sunrise and sunset - a really good run.
Finished Webb Chiles' Open Boat Chronicle. Started Melville's Typee while napping between chapters. Hope Will doesn't run into cannibals on Nuku Hiva.
Day 16, May 7
Gray, rainy day... but with speed.
The wind is howling, but with reefed main and jib we seem to be in control - well at least the WindPilot is in control. Occasionally we surf down the back of a wave and GPS reads 8 or even 9kts for a few seconds.
Position 4:27p 18°51.24'N, 128°42.92W
Day 17, May 8
At 2am we lashed the main to the boom. Didn't slow us down much.
Half way! We're going quite well and though big, the waves seem to be behind us. Not the smoothest or driest of rides but we're getting there. We checked the bilge and engine compartment, it is not filled with water but a bit wet. Considering you can squeeze the water out of my mattress, not surprising.
Concerned about battery voltage and wetness. Can't do much about the latter, but we'll charge in the morning with engine to address former. Need to build a simple box to keep water off the battery monitor shunt - I believe that's why the battery voltage keeps jumping around. If not, it will at least keep the corrosion to a minimum.
Position 7:04p 18°44.79'N, 131°06.31W
Sunset - 1365 miles to go. Played Settlers on the iPad. I've won 7 games in a row so far on the crossing.
Noticed stitching on foot of jib coming off. To address in Hilo.
Day 18, May 9
...then we heard a boom like sound and realized the jib furling line had chafed through. This we thought might be repaired by a knot or two. However, in the process the line went over, as in over into the great depths of the ocean, oops. We found a replacement not quite long enough but lengthened by another line will get us along just fine.
The waves are huge. Dave and I tried to capture how they look towering over us as they carry us along. The camera just doesn't show the impact as we see it in person.
We had a good day.
Ran engine for a while to charge batteries. It started fine. The battery monitor read 14+v then back to 12 even though the alternator was putting in 4+ amps. Further evidence that there's something stealing voltage somewhere in the battery monitor circuit. Tested the batteries with multimeter, reading 12.58v. Better result than the 2.5v from the battery monitor. We really need to keep the shunt dry.
Day 19, May 10
1194 miles to go.
A great sailing day. The sun came out for a bit and it was just lovely watching the waves push us toward Hilo while we soaked up some much needed sunshine.
Late this afternoon we we shook out the second reef. We're doing 5-6kts and surfing down waves at 7-8kts. This is the trade wind sailing we were looking for. This is why I came this way.
Position 4:15p 19°02.27'N, 135°04.90W
The miles are going to come off in a hurry now. I've predicted we'll arrive in Hilo on the 21st of May. That'll be day 29 of the trip. Rosie says we're going to arrive on the 22nd. Either day we want to arrive before Memorial Day Weekend so we don't have to pay extra fees to check in with the government.
The battery monitor now reads less than 1v. Houston, we have a problem - a minor one that can wait, but somethin' just ain't right.
Daily runs of 115, 125, 119 the last three days. Those are miles made good not actually traveled. Maybe we could do 140 miles in 24 hours when we count the distance we've actually gone.
Day 20, May 11
Sitting outside and just breathing in the sea air is so amazing, my favorite to do in the midafternoon. I get excited when I look at the navigation apps to see how far we've come. I was telling Dave just yesterday I haven't really experienced fear yet out here. We've been lucky so far and I hope it holds. I was anxious while Dave was on the bow moving about working the jib pole today, but not frightened. We've seen no other boats in 2 weeks, no other debris. And aside from flying fish and yes the occasional bird no other wildlife. We really are our own little floating island.
9:18p - Less than 1000 miles to go! Looks funny on the GPS after seeing only 4 digit numbers for 3 weeks.
Day 21, May 12
The wet seats and bed are talking their toll on my behind. Other than that all is great.
Its amazing how fast the days go with food prep, reading, gaming, and well just staying on the boat. It was a beautiful sunset tonight. I do hope this means sun tomorrow.
Day 22, May 13
Finished 2000 miles this afternoon. It has taken us 21.5 days to do those miles which gives us an average speed of 3.88kts. This is all in VMG so our boat speed is a little better but unknown.
Position 3:40p 19°21.51'N, 141°09.07W
Back under full main with the jib still on the pole - that's >24hrs since we put it out w/o touching it. Moving along well at 4.5-5.5 kts. Little to no rolling.
The battery monitor seems to be getting worse - it now resets every so often. That means the corrosion or wiring issue is just about complete. Good news is that the batteries read 12.6v with the multimeter, so the panels and the rest of the electrical system are hanging in there.
768 miles to go. The nearly full moon - full tomorrow night - peaked out from behind the clouds for a few minutes after sunset. Wow! Its big. Speaking of big, the setting sun is the biggest we've ever seen. We're hoping to get clear skies in the next few nights to enjoy the moon and stars before we get to Hilo.
We're looking to get into Hilo on Tuesday afternoon before sunset. Then check in on Wednesday morning. Maybe we can even make it to the Wednesday Farmer's Market in Hilo?
Day 23, May 14
Best day yet! We slowed down a bit in the morning, so we played with the spinnaker. It really didn't do much, so we poled out the jib and got back up to a 4 knot speed. The waves are much flatter today and the sun shone with very few clouds. This to me meant another shower day. Dave did as well. I think the boat smells 10x better. Many things are drying out as well. It was really great to hear from the Lilo today. They are making their way in CA and our buddy Will has made it to the South Pacific.
Day 24, May 15
The moon is very bright, full.... amazing.
Position 7:51p 19°49.90'N, 145°22.59W
Day 26, May 17
393 miles to go at sunrise. 112 miles completed dawn to dawn.
We are getting down to it. Looking at only 3 or 4 more days. I can't believe it. Not much really happened today. Oh wait, well the red bucket did commit suicide at sea. Rather sad to just see the handle out there.
Wonder what it will feel like when we get there and anchor safely. Will it be relief? Will we feel we've accomplished something significant? Or will we be glad its over? I'm thinking it'll be something similar to finishing Avalon - Holy crap, I can't believe I just ran 50 miles (sailed 2800 miles)!
The battery monitor kept starting/stopping last night (there's a blue light that comes on when it starts) so I disconnected it.
Good news: we can hear the weather forecasts from Honolulu on the VHF.
Day 27, May 18
Busy, busy day. It started as normal... but with us making a bit to much North we decided a jibe was in order. This meant moving the poled out jib to the other side and switching tacks (not that it matters since we haven't seen another boat in weeks.) Simple enough you would think, but the roller furling, pole, toping lift got hung up and stuck. Dave on the bow with rolly waves and me at the helm trying to keep our course made for an exciting post breakfast mini-adventure and in the midst of it all we hear a sick sounding motor turning on, is that the bilge pump? and it wouldn't turn off. We abandon the pole and jib and try to get the little motor to stop before it burns something up. Dave goes into the cabin to deteremine why. He cut the power going to the battery... yet the sound continued. It finally stopped but well he had cut the wrong wire and had to rewire his mistake. We now have no auto bilge pump. Good thing we can manually pump out. We did get back to that jib and sorted it all out. Also, Dave caught a fish! In time for dinner no less.
Day 28, May 19
8p - This could be our last night. It's hard to believe we've come almost 2700 miles. We've had some minor issues - nothing we weren't able to fix or work around - but its been a really good passage. Just a few calm patches, but otherwise we've moved along really well. I think it'll take a few days/weeks of reflection to fully get our heads around what we've accomplished.
90.7 miles to go.
Position 8:12p 19°39.27'N, 153°28.49W
Day 29, May 20
10:30a - Spotted land for the first time. We're moving slowly under full sail with a tiny breeze. Still hoping to anchor in Radio Bay this evening.
Dave is excited we made it to Hilo in <30 days! I'm just happy we made it. The last 20 miles took as long as any long road trip of your youth... we were so ready to be in Hawaii. We passed a cruise ship as it was leaving the harbor. Many people waved to us from their balconies like we were celebrities, but really we were today! We crossed the Pacific, 2789 nautical miles + 2 and that is really VMG-- we did more, a lot more. We made it. We feel accomplished and we're celebrating. Take it from me 29 days without alcohol make a rum drink that much more potent. Cheers! May the check in with harbor, customs, and immigration go well tomorrow!