Friday, September 17, 2010

On Our Way to Hawaii

Well, we finally made it out of Anaho Bay at noon today. The winds eased off overnight last night to a nice 15 knots, and the skies cleared by mid morning. We got our final preps done--dinghy loaded, sail covers off, engine checks done, computers and GPS's programmed, living spaces stowed, etc. The anchor came up without any problems right at noon.

Since then, we have been having a great sail--15 knots on the beam--all afternoon. Just like when we used to go sailing for fun!! We averaged 7 knots for 3 hours!!. Now the moon is up, and the wind has eased to a nice 12 kts. We're going a little bit slower, but the motion is easier, too. I could do THIS for 2 weeks, easily.

Our friends on s/v Infini left about 2 hours ahead of us, and they are heading for a slightly different waypoint to go through the small islands and seamounts NW of Nuku Hiva, so they are about 10 miles NE of us right now, on a more northerly course. Another boat, Apple, left at the same time we did, and they are about 3-4 miles NW of us. We are all still in VHF contact, but by morning will likely be too far apart for VHF. We have an SSB schedule planned to chat every morning and evening, swap positions, and share weather information

"Only" 1,854 miles to go! At our historical average speed of 135 miles per day, we should be in Hilo Hawaii on Sep 30 or Oct 1. (but don't book your tickets yet!). The big unknown, speed-wise, is the ITCZ (formerly known as "The Doldrums"). This is an area of variable winds and squally weather. Historically boats could take weeks drifting around before they managed to break through an area like this. Fortunately, we have an engine in great shape and aren't afraid to use it. So the minute the wind dies off, we'll crank up Mr. Perkins and motor on through it.

We're not exactly sure what route we'll end up taking. Historically, people have headed north out of the Marquesas and set up to cross the ITCZ at around 140 west longitude, and then fall off for Hawaii. But we've been playing with the routing optimization software in the Maxsea charting program, and are going to follow its advice (until we decide not to). It takes in the GRIB files (weather predictions) and your boat's Polars (a table indicating what speed you can make in various wind conditions) and optimizes your route. Theoretically...

Sometimes Maxsea can come up with some pretty whacky results. But for now, I agree with what the optimization suggests. So we are headed 340 degrees (NNW) til tomorrow morning at least. This is almost directly on the rhumb line (the straight line course to Hawaii).
At 9/17/2010 5:24 AM (utc) our position was 08°04.90'S 140°20.09'W

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