Off to Hawaii
by, 06-30-2014 at 09:54 PM (5268 Views)
Tomorrow I depart Marina del Rey for Hanalei Bay, Kauai, Hawaii. I am sailing solo, and looking for a passage of 22-25 days--or better, of course. The GC course is 2200NM, or 2500 statute miles.
Thanks to all who have helped me in the preparation of Thelonious for this voyage. Should things work out as on paper, my family will meet me there for a week , and then I will head back to California--riding the gyre north and hoping to dodge the doldrums of the Pacific High.
Those who have occasionally checked in on this blog have probably guessed that a long cruise was in the offing, and since despite a good deal of time offshore over the years I have never attempted these distances alone, you know as much about how it may go as I do.
So far, these are the unexpected lessons:
--There are innumerable systems and elements of systems on board, and learning them all and obtaining spares has been the bulk of the preparatory work. It is not especially rewarding. The more you learn, the more problem scenarios you recognize, so the more you prepare. It can be a mental rope burn. Eventually you have to say, enough already.
--A modern yacht is a Frankenstein of electronic gizmos. Sat phone and Grib files and tracking, GPS Epirb, GoPro charging microUSBs, a myriad of eccentric connection wires, chart plotter, AIS, music files, NMEA sentences, TED talks--the monster you create is you, in your own image. A monster you can rail against but only to the mirror.
--If the diesel won't start or the alternator fails I may have to turn back. I'm not even bringing the sextant (forgot how to use it, anyhow). Like it or not, I'm a GPS person now, connected to satellites as if by marionette strings. My success depends on batteries, from AAA to Group 27s. It is all very good, and all very bad, but it is what it is.
--Like many I have read all the books of the singlehanders, and since boyhood have wanted to do it. You may notice that in every account of these heroes--the ones who ventured off alone on leaky boats when no one had done it before, and the ocean wasn't packed with fellows like me on vacation--that they always have a few words to say about the challenges not of the sail, but of the last weeks of the preparation, the advice, the worrying kin, the innumerable decisions, the nagging breakdown of formerly reliable gear, the endless new recognitions of stuff you need and ought to have and shouldn't go without, the count-down, the slowing of days, the sheer magnitude of the task, the little things that need doing and can only be done by you. Well, I finally understand what they meant.
So tomorrow, off we go. I have too many books and not enough light air sails. I have 15 oranges. Should you have 20? Wouldn't 12 be really enough? I have 2x4s for shoring up a collison with a shipping container, duct tape if I break my arm, 60-days food in cans or pouch, garlic and onions, pasta and propane, a laptop that will disintegrate with one splash of water and a bucket that I remember, so many times in the past, being the best source of a cheer-up when simply dipped in the sea and dumped over one's head naked at noon with the sun directly overhead. Oh, and a good deal of Jack Daniels. But say, shouldn't I have more antibiotics? What about macrobiotics? What about probiotics? What about idiotics, got plenty of them. And a picavet. I should have tested the picavet. Didn't have time. Never seemed to be wind enough. Ergo, you're right, completely screwed, picavet-wise.
The Pacific is vast, and I am originally an Atlantic creature. The distances are daunting. Bermuda is 700 miles from Newport or New York. Halfway to Hawaii I will be as far from land as you can get on our globe. And from where I hope to end up, the island of Kauai, it is still a thousand miles more to Midway.
Well, there is no war, nobody's shooting at me, so what's there to worry about? I'll tell you what it is: that once dependent upon laptops and satphones and GPS, it is entirely possible that the very gizmos that make what was hard easy will simply quit working. And then what does the prudent mariner do. Turn back?
I'll check in if and when I know the answer.