We saw him on AIS about 13 miles away, he was coming up behind us and slightly to starboard, on a converging course. The AIS indicated he was bound for Taiwan, probably from the Panama Canal, and we could see that he was tracking right along 15 N latitude, going straight west.
For the longest time the AIS was saying that the CPA (closest point of approach) would be .25 miles. So we finally called him on the VHF and told him where we were in relation to him. After a bit of conversation, he finally said he saw us on his radar (about 6.5 miles away).
We could see on the AIS information that he had changed course a tiny bit to starboard after we talked to him, to pass in front of us. But visually, he was still coming right at us, and the CPA kept showing that he would come very close (.015 NM). I was pretty nervous, but Dave said "He sees us and he won't run us down". When he finally drew abreast of us, he sounded his big air horn, and we could see someone out on the bridge deck waving at us. I got a great picture of them crossing in front of us.
Another ship we saw today was bound for Valparaiso, Chile. This is the second ship we've seen coming down that same course line from Hawaii toward South America. He didn't answer our hail on VHF, but we were well away from him. Dave says he was probably carrying pineapple from Hawaii to South America. If you draw a route in Maxsea (our charting program), from Hawaii to Valpariaso, the Great Circle route goes right past where we were.
We have had another 24 hours of nice sailing, and we anticipate tomorrow to be nice as well--though the wind is forecast to start slacking off.
394 miles to Hilo, we expect to be in on Saturday morning.
At 9/29/2010 5:35 AM (utc) our position was 15°07.59'N 150°09.64'W