5 deg 53.2 min N, 162 deg 05.3 min W
Anchored in the lagoon at Palmyra
We are planning on hoisting anchor and heading for Honolulu / Ko Olina
Marina tomorrow (Nov 2, 2003). The stop at Palmyra has been the
highlight of the trip north but schedules dictate the need to move on.
Depending whether the winds are favorable, we expect probably a six or
seven day passage up to Hawaii. According to Matt, we
are the 13th yacht to call at Palmyra this year. One of the reasons
so few yachts come to Palmyra is that you need to make a bunch of
"easting" in order to get a comfortable wind angle once you
enter the area of the northeast trades. The east-setting Equatorial
Counter Current that is encountered at about the latitude of Palmyra is a
help in this matter but you need to undo a lot of going west. We plan on
heading almost due east the first day out, even though Hawaii is almost
due north. After making some easting we will turn on a direct course
for Ko Olina.
The night before we left Palmyra we stopped by the Palmyraians
encampment to say goodbye and drop off some DVDs and Latitude 38 sailing
magazines. We got invited for dinner of "Sooty Tern
Game Hen". Turns out that I was the only one who didn't get the
joke when later I remarked that these birds had a lot more meat on them
than you would think. Everyone laughed and, it was in fact, Cornish
game hen. I guess I should have thought it would be strange eating
protected birds in a nature sanctuary.
|Raised anchor at 1120 HST, lagoon at Palmyra:
05 deg 53 min North, 162 deg 05 min West
950 miles to Honolulu
The next morning we got up early and went through the usual protracted
process of stowing the dinghy, awning, etc and in general getting ready to
go to sea. We finally got out at 1120 local time, which was perfect
from a lighting point of view. The pass was easily visible with the
sun overhead. On the way out we captured some GPS waypoints so that if we
should ever return, the entrance will be much easier than the first time.
About an hour after we left the pass, the plane from Honolulu arrived and
made a pass over Bravo Charlie. This flight was apparently carrying
some prospective donors as well as executives from the Nature Conservancy
so everyone had been busy the past week getting things ready on the
island. We found out that it costs about $25,000 for the round-trip
charter. The plane, a twin turboprop Gulfstream G-1, and
pilots remain on Palmyra while the guests are there.
08 deg 11 min North, 160 deg 25 min West
799 miles to Honolulu
The passage up to Hawaii has been uneventful so far. The first day
and night we motored through the ITCZ. We had quite a few
squalls with winds up to 25kts and a bunch of rain. In the
early afternoon of the second day, the wind turned to a steady
east-north-east and we shut off the engine and were able to almost sail
the direct course to Honolulu. We could see that we were
getting quite a bit of help from the Equatorial Countercurrent.
In the evening, the wind got stronger, up to about 22 kts, and the seas
built to 8 to 10 feet. It was a fairly uncomfortable night although
we were at least sailing in the right direction.
As is our usual practice we have been checking in with the Pacific
Seafarers ham radio net on 14.313 Mhz at 0330Z (0530 HST). We
have been following the position of Sisutl, who left Fanning headed for
Honolulu the same day we left for Palmyra. They have been
having a long and nasty time of it, particularly because their autopilot
is broken. They will probably get into Honolulu today.
We were also pleasantly surprised that we got a call from KD5SIT after
giving our position report. This was Emmy on Palmyra saying
hello. The Palmyrians, like many cruisers, apparently
entertain themselves by keeping the ham radio on, listening for boats that
they know. Those with access to the Internet can follow our progress at www.bitwrangler.com.
The actual page is a few clicks down from that page and can be found in
two variants, "old" and "new". The
"old" presentation is superior in my opinion and includes
tidbits like the wind, sea state, boat speed etc.
10 deg 49 min North, 160 deg 05 min West
days run 159 miles, 640 miles to Honolulu
On the morning of the third day the seas flattened out quite a bit and
the wind diminished to the mid-teens. We suspect that at least some of the
lessening of the seas was due to passing out of the Countercurrent and
into the North Equatorial Current, which flows to the west, in the same
direction as the wind. Unfortunately, while making things more
comfortable, we started to not be able to make the direct course to
Fortunately (so far), the wind has continued to shift to the east and by
mid-evening of the third night we again able to sail the direct course and
even crack off the sheets a bit from close-hauled to a close reach.
The last 12 hours have actually been some of the more pleasant upwind
trade wind sailing that I have done, with 7.5 kts boat speed and not too
much heel or crash-bang-splash.
We shall see what the next 3 days hold as it is possible that the more
usual stronger trades and bigger seas will be back.
13 deg 30 min North, 159 deg 37 min West
days run 163 miles, 477 miles to Honolulu
We continued to have favorable, slightly east-south-east, winds for most
of Nov. 5th. On the evening of the 5th we encountered a bunch of
squalls with gusts to near 30kts, a little lightning, and bigger
seas. Dave had some concerns about one of the port lower shrouds
being very loose when the winds were strong on the starboard tack.
However it just needed one turn taken up on the turnbuckle because this
particular shroud had not been tightened after our rigging replacement
last spring. This trip up from French Polynesia was the first time
we had sailed on the starboard tack for more than a few minutes since the
replacement and there is always a little stretch in new rigging.
Greg managed to do the tightening without getting too wet or loosing the
cotter pins overboard despite the seas. Dave and Ane are
particularly sensitive to rigging failures as they had a defective
"stem-ball" fitting break on their boat Cabezon's head stay a
day out of Hawaii in 1998. The mast almost came down on them but
they managed to secure the broken roller furler to the deck and motor back
to Honolulu. We didn't want similar things happening to us!
||Noon position 11/6:
16 deg 06 min North, 159 deg 11 min West
days run 158 miles, 319 miles to Honolulu
Noon position 11/7:
18 deg 56 min North, 158 deg 36 min West
days run 173 miles, 146 miles to Honolulu
The 6th and 7th continued as more windy rock and roll waves hit us but
we did make good time and kept up our "easting". There was
some "discussion" between the crew and captain about whether
there was so much "Need For Speed!" The crew even got out
Steve & Linda Dashews' "Bluewater Handbook" to emphasize
that comfort rather than speed has its benefits.
Later on the 7th, however, the wind started to die and we started up the
motor. Unfortunately, it exhibited a behavior of gradually
losing RPMs after a few hours. At first I thought that this was the
slipping throttle linkage become worse. But then Dave suggested
checking the fuel filters and to my dismay the vacuum gauge read extremely
high, indicating clogging. We had switched fuel filters in Palmyra
but hadn't changed out the dirty one (mistake!) so there was no alternate
to immediately switch to. As it turned out this wouldn't have
done any good because the problem appeared to be not the filters
themselves, which were quite dirty, but the pickup in the bottom of the
fuel tank. We drained several cups of yucky gunk from the tank sump
drain and tried a bunch of things to clear the blockage. No joy!
Then, to top off matters, the genset died too with the same symptoms of
This was becoming serious, as we needed the genset to charge the batteries
each day. All of the furling and autopilot are electric and are
ferocious consumers of juice. And it is very hard to sail Bravo
Charlie with manual furling as one has to insert a special tiny winch
handle at the mast or head stay and rotate it literally hundreds of times
in order to reef or unreef the sail. Not something that you want to
do when you need to reef. So we instituted an energy saving program,
turning off the big energy consumers like the fridge, freezer and radar.
I calculated that this would leave enough power in the batteries until
late on the 8th. If it looked like we were not going to get in
by then we would hand steer instead of using the autopilot. This
would preserve the batteries for operating the furlers. (In fact, with the
solar panels, they would charge up).
21 deg 19.6 min North, 158 deg 07.2 min West
Tied to fuel dock at Ko Olina Marina, Hawaii
ALOHA! WE MADE IT!!!!
However, the weather gods were smiling. We were rewarded with a
steady 15-20kt wind from the east-north-east and had fast but bumpy
sailing all the way up to the entrance buoy at Ko Olina Marina. This
last 140 miles, when you pass through the lee of the various other
Hawaiian Islands, was notoriously flukey the last two times we had done
this trip. But this time the wind was rock steady.
We called Ko Olina on the VHF about 1 hour out and told them of the
situation and they generously offered a free tow! We arrived at the
outer buoys and sailed around for a few minutes until Denny, from the
marina office, came out in the towboat "Kokua" (meaning
"caregiver" in Hawaiian). After securing the towrope to
the bow cleat he towed us in. It was clear that he had lots of
practice doing this because he swung wide to the upwind side on all of the
turns and released the tow a few boat lengths from the fuel dock, leaving
us with enough momentum to coast to the dock where there were two other
cruisers waiting for us to throw us their lines. I
haven't seen many dockings where we did have an engine that were this
US Immigration showed up 30 minutes later and quickly cleared us to be
able to get off the boat. US Customs took our report over the phone
but I need to go downtown on Monday to fill out some paperwork.
Unfortunately, US Agriculture is coming Monday morning and we have to keep
all of our garbage on the boat and not take it ashore and instead give to
them. It's now all stuffed in the anchor locker!
Glad to be back, we did some minimal cleanup and walked to the hotel where
we had the obligatory drinks, cheeseburgers, etc.
That evening, back at the Marina, the Hawaii Yacht club had a big party
because they had a weekend race from Honolulu to Ko Olina and back.
While the drinks were supposed to cost money, they were giving them away
after 7 PM and they had a lot of beer! All in all, a great welcome
P.S. Dave and Ane are flying home on Nov. 11th.
- Greg, Ane, Dave
- S/V Bravo Charlie III
P.S. Stay tuned next year - probably we will journey back to French
Polynesia and then on to Fiji and Tonga