Videos!

Its been nearly a year since we left. Johnny put together a really amazing set of photos from the whole trip that are posted in the gallery. Check it out!

We've also had a chance to pool our resources and put together some great videos from the sail. The first is a summary of the entire 5 weeks in 5 minutes. The second is of us raising the spinnaker and sailing through a high pressure system in the north pacific. Drone footage included!

Sail Mail - April 16, 2015

Location: 38 24.9N - 125 36.2W - 150nm W-NW of SF
Course: 110
Speed: 9 knots
Sea: 16ft
Wind: 30+kts last night. 25kts now.

Less than 24 hours to SF. The winds on the coast have been stronger than forecast. Before the wind instruments broke they were reading sustained over 30kts and gusts in excess of 37kts. That built up some pretty wild seas. So wild that there are occasional breakers. One broke into our cockpit actually.

The wind and waves were unfortunately on our beam with our desired course as of yesterday (hazard when there are breakers). We ended up  fore-reaching overnight to gain some more northward progress that is allowing us to put the seas on the port aft quarter instead today.

The plan is to pass the Farallon islands at day break then head under the gate around 9 or 10AM. We'll likely anchor in Sausalito on Friday then head down to the South Bay.

Total transit time from Hilo to SF would be 13.5 days if we make it in the morning tomorrow. It takes most boats longer than that to get to Hawaii from SF....the favorable direction.

This will likely be the last Sail Mail transmission.

Sail Mail - April 14, 2015

Location: 38 16.1N - 131 38.2W - 430nm W of SF
Course: 90
Speed: 7 knots
Sea: Glassy with 12 foot rolling swells
Wind: None

The high pressure system caught up with us around 2AM last night and we've been motor sailing since. Despite the ~5 hours of motoring, we made 199nm yesterday. Today won't be as great since we won't find the wind again until longitude ~130 (10 hours away).

One of the fishing lines caught a pretty good sized piece of trash. There's still a ton of trash in the water. A Thursday arrival is looking possible but not probable. More likely Friday

Sail Mail - April 13, 2015

Location: 38 16.1N - 134 50.4W - 580nm W of SF
Course: 81
Speed: 10 knots
Sea: Lumpy. Large rolling swell with crossed wind waves of ~4 feet
Wind: 18kts from N

We're now further north than SF and sailing fast to hopefully make it in by Thursday. There is a high pressure system chasing us which would threaten our speed if it caught up to us too.

We spent most of the night in wind up to 30kts with a double reefed main and jib. Putting that wind on the beam drove the boat fast with averages over the night coming in at near 10 knots. Day light brought lighter winds but now we've got almost full canvas out. Seeing 12kts over ground is become pretty frequent. We saw 13kts for a moment as well.

Sail Mail - April 12, 2015

Location: 34 06.6N - 138 44.4W - 1300nm NE of Hilo HI - 780nm W of SF - 1600nm SE of Dutch Harbor Alaska
Course: 16
Speed: 8.5 knots
Sea: Small wind waves with big 12 foot rollers
Wind: 14kt from W

We passed through our second high pressure system today which also happened to be the location of the Pacific garbage patch. Looking into the water, it was hard to find a 6 foot square that didn't have some small part of human detritus in it. Large pieces were also very frequent. Every 300 foot square probably had something larger than a soccer ball floating in it. Common sightings were buoys, derelict fishing nets, styrofoam, and bottles. We even saw a laundry basket.

It also happened to be the clearest water I've ever seen. We stopped the boat for about an hour to go swimming and dropped a coin into the depths. It took more than 30 seconds to lose sight of it. I also found a crab clinging to the bottom of the boat near the port dagger board. Wtf? How long was it there?

After 15 hours of motoring, the winds have filled in light from the west. We're sailing along in ideal conditions with the wind on the beam with seas consisting of big rollers and not much more.

We're less than 800 miles to the west of San Francisco. If all goes well, we'll ride this tack all the way through the Golden Gate as the wind will shift to the north once more within a day. Estimated arrival could be as early as Thursday morning. Less than 13 days at sea. *Knocks on wood*.

Sail Mail - April 11, 2015

Location: 34 06.6N - 138 44.4W - 1250nm NE of Hilo HI - 830nm W-SW of SF - 1700nm SE of Dutch Harbor Alaska
Course: 354
Speed: 8.5 knots
Sea: 8 feet
Wind: 15-18 from N

Navigation wise, our glorious path heading directly at SF for 800 miles came to an end today. Per forecast, the winds shifted more to the east. We've tacked on that which will take us up into the center of a high pressure system. Best case we get some light air sailing if we get lucky with the wind direction. Worst case we have to motor for a day or two once we are in there.

After three days of not fishing, we decided to try our luck again. There were more birds in the area and we had found plenty of squid on deck. Both good signs for fishing. The little pink squid was looking pretty chewed up so I re-rigged it as two little pink squid swimming close to each other. What fish could resist such a sumptuous offering?

Two hours later, with the boat slowed down to ~6kts in a lull, I was watching the hand lines. One of them went tight, ripping the slacked mono-filament out of the sea all the way to the lure 150 feet back. With Johnny asleep, Garrett and I went to work on pulling the beast in. Whatever it was was big. We only got a few glimpses of a tall fin snaking in a serpentine pattern at the surface as the fish neared the boat.

With just 10 feet to go before the fish was on the boat, it revealed itself as a spear fish. A cousin of the marlin, sword fish and sail fish. Dubiously gaffed, we got the fish on-board but were faced with a new problem...it took both of us to restrain the 6 foot long fish and there was no third hand. It would have been too easy for the fish to slip the gaff and hook and escape if we couldn't calm it down.

With no immediate means of killing the fish in arms reach, I punched it in the face. Repeatedly. That stopped it and the butt end of a fishing pole finished it off. The six bags of fish we have in the freezer was totally worth the bleeding knuckles.

We also fixed the port engine today. Swapping the battery out did the trick.

Sail Mail - April 10, 2015

Location: 33 53.4N - 141 58.7W - 1100nm NE of Hilo HI - 980nm W-SW of SF - 1600nm SE of Dutch Harbor Alaska
Course: 72
Speed: 8 knots
Sea: 6 feet
Wind: 12-20 from N

Distance wise, we crossed the half way point. We are now closer to SF than Hilo. We are also down to half our bacon, half our salsa and most of our cheese. We ate our last Tahitian "keep forever" un-refrigerated eggs today too.

Johnny caught one of those pesky battens unscrewing itself last night. It was easy enough to re-thread the batten. Wouldn't have been so easy if the main sail had ripped again. Mysterious radar contacts were also observed last night. They manifested as faint patches that would come and go.

There's still more than enough beer to go around and with some luck, we'll be back in SF by the weekend of the 18th. Garrett estimates our beer inventory at "100s". If you want to join in on some return festivities when/if we make it back, drop me a short (short!) note. Cheers folks.

Sail Mail - April 9, 2015

Location: 32 56.3N - 145 25.4W - 820nm N-NE of Hilo HI - 1350nm W-SW of SF - 1500nm S-SE of Dutch Harbor Alaska
Course: 70
Speed: 9 knots
Sea: 12 feet
Wind: 18 from N

We're trucking along in our new found North Pacific seas. It looks a lot like the South Pacific/Equator but colder.

The good news is that we are getting to SF very quickly. The bad news is that we are pointing which is a bit less comfortable. Looking into the forecast, there will be a ~12 hour window where our wind will shift from N to E-NE. We'll probably tack on that to get some more northward progress.

Sail Mail - April 8, 2015

Location: 30 54.8N - 152 57.2W - 820nm N-NE of Hilo HI - 1350nm W-SW of SF - 1500nm S-SE of Dutch Harbor Alaska
Course: 78
Speed: 9 knots
Sea: 12 feet
Wind: 18 from N

Our heading has us pointed straight at SF at good speed. We're sailing on the edge of a low pressure system that's between us an San Francisco. That low pressure system, should be migrating South though as we make our way into the area.

In contrast to the Sun, calm seas and light winds yesterday, today was the opposite. Overcast, rough and stronger winds. This will be the new normal for the next few days.

We bought way too much beer and will probably have plenty of extra to share when we get back to SF, FYI.

Sail Mail - April 7, 2015

Location: 30 54.8N - 152 57.2W - 700nm N of Hawaii - 1550nm W-SW of SF - 1500nm S-SE of Dutch Harbor Alaska
Course: 67
Speed: 7.5 knots
Sea: What seas?
Wind: 10 knots from NW

I lied about motoring for 1.5 days. We woke up with 8 knots of wind behind us and took a gamble flying the asymmetric spinnaker. That gamble paid off in spades. We made 6 knots most of the day on the calmest seas imaginable with the spinnaker silently pulling the boat along. Total motoring time to make it through a high came in at 9 hours. Nothing.

We've been aiming for a very favorable wind shift for two days and just realized our gain. Our SW winds were replaced by NW winds in the matter of a half hour. Zephyr is now quietly slipping along on calm seas with almost full sail in light air on the beam.  Our heading now has us pointed directly at San Francisco at 8 knots in 13 knots. It won't last forever though because in a day the winds will shift to the north and strengthen. That shift is going to carry us east for 3 days though. Progress.

More quadcopter flying again. I'm now up to ~20 flights with GoPro attached. Johnny's working on something special.

Our wishes for a yellow fin tuna were half granted. We got the tuna. Not so much the yellow fin. Skip jack again. Alas, we'll have to feast on fish tacos, gourmet tuna salad and tuna melts.

Not a day goes by in which some boat system needs some love. This time its the port engine. Seems like the battery isn't too healthy. There's a spare on board along with and a couple other hack solutions for getting it started without its own dedicated battery though. Repair TBD.

Sail Mail - April 6, 2015

Location: 29 13.3N - 154 32.7W - 570nm N of Hawaii - 1700nm W-SW of SF - 1600nm S-SE of Dutch Harbor Alaska
Course: 16
Speed: 6.5 knots
Sea: 3 ft
Wind: 10 knots from E-SE

Best day of sailing yet. Sun's out. Winds is at the perfect strength and angle to move us where we want to go at 8-9kts.....but not any stronger. The seas are tiny. It's actually easy to forget that we are on a boat more than 500nm from anything. The wind just starting dying down as the sun was setting. We'll probably motor for the next 1.5 days to push through the high we are in.

We got the full main out for the first time since the rip today. Its looking spry pushing the boat along in these light winds.

The wind generator's stand broke last night around 1:00AM. A screw for a steel bar which keeps the wind gen's post from moving laterally fatigued and broke in half. Luckily the other steel cross support kept the wind gen on the boat. It only took a few minutes to replace the screw.

Zephyr has proven herself a worthy aircraft carrier. We launched and retrieved the quadcopter 4 times today at great peril to Garrett's GoPro. The footage is fantastic and the drone only crashed about a half time. For now, it was totally worth the risk.

With significant Mahi on board, we are all hoping for a yellow fin tuna.

Sail Mail - April 5, 2015

Location: 26.27.7N - 155.06.7W - 400nm N of Hawaii - 1800nm W-SW of SF - 1700nm S-SE of Dutch Harbor Alaska
Course: 0
Speed: 9 knots
Sea: 10ft
Wind: 15kt from E-NE

Still heading north. The winds have shifted a bit to be lighter and more northerly which means we are pointing. The bridge deck is slamming less than yesterday when we had over 20kts on the beam. All around, its pretty comfortable. Especially on a warm sunny day.

We made 212nm in 24 hours yesterday. Today will likely be less but its looking like we'll clear 200nm so far.

Around 6:30 this morning I deployed the hand lines. It couldn't have been more than 5 minutes later when a long yellow fish shot out of the water on our faithful little pink squid on flourocarbon. Second mahi! This one was a little guy but he sure tasted good on egg/bacon/cheese breakfast sandwiches.

Early in the afternoon, a second bite! Third Mahi! Garrett spotted the big guy thrashing around behind the boat. He couldn't have been there for long because he sure as hell wasn't out of energy. It took some combined pulling to get him on board. Once on board though, it was clear how big he was....about 4.5 feet. We're thinking of pineapple butter frying him tonight. The underdog blue "super chugger" squid on wire delivered this time. I've set him about 100ft farther back (200ft total) so maybe that's what made the difference.

Found an actual squid on deck. Johnny declined to eat it.

Happy Easter. We each had a Cadbury Creme egg.

Sail Mail - April 4, 2015

Location: 22.43.4N - 155.08.0W - 180nm N of Hawaii - 1900nm WSW of SF - 1900nm SSE of Dutch Harbor Alaska
Course: 0
Speed: 9 knots
Sea: 14ft with some unfortunate chop
Wind: 20kt from E with gusts to 25kts

After a short three day resupply in Hilo, we've departed for SF. Or Alaska. Or Mexico. We've got more food than a food bank and enough diesel to push us 450nm. Lewis left the boat in Hilo to continue his cruising. Jason left the boat for a BVI vacation aboard a Lagoon 560 (same length as this catamaran, weighs three times more). Garrett has come aboard though making our crew three.

As far as a route goes, its tough to say at this point. We know we'll go north for 4 days. That's about it. The North Pacific seems to be a mess of highs and lows right now so all we can do is rely on the 3-day forecast de-jour.

For going north, we've made some solid progress today despite a rowdy sea state. All our log entries since we raised the sails at 9:00AM have been over 9 knots. Even with a triple reefed main tucked in for the night, we are still doing over 9 knots. I'm pretty sure Zephyr would sail at 9 knots under a napkin reinforced by chopsticks.

As we were motoring away from Hawaii last night, we noticed a consistent 10 degree offset in the rudder. Before we raised the sails this morning, I got in the water to look. Low and behold, the starboard and port rudder were misaligned. The fix only took 3 minutes though.

Unfortunately, we didn't manage to bring any fish aboard today but we did have two close calls.

The first:
All three of us were sitting in the cockpit when suddenly one of the hand line bungies went guitar sting tight. No splash though. Was it a hunk of trash? NOPE. 5 seconds later, something big was thrashing at the surface. 5 seconds later though, it had managed to shake the hook and was gone. The pink squid was now 3 for 3.

The second:
I pulled in our starboard handline with a 6inch cedar plug on it. To my dismay, the hook had been bent in half and fractured in two pieces! Cedar plugs requires special hooks to work and all I have are the ones which came with the plugs. There seems to be a quality control issue because some of them rust away in days, some hold up fine, and some apparently bend in half.

Let today be known as the first day Johnny has worn pants this whole trip. Its getting progressively colder. The seas are still blue and luke warm. The flying fish are going down in frequency.

Sail Mail - March 31, 2015

Location: 17.35.5N - 151.36.7W - 230nm SW of Hawaii - 2000nm SE of SF
Course: 315
Speed: 8.0 kts
Sea: 14ft
Wind: 17kt from NE

Somehow the fish seem to know when we are playing risk. As we were playing this afternoon, I saw a splash way deep back behind the boat. A Mahi Mahi had hit a small 3 inch pink squid lure I was trolling deep back there. First Mahi! Bringing it in on the handline, it didn't have much of a chance, making one bid for freedom during the 2 minutes it took to pull her in. Tonight's dinner? Two hour fresh Mahi seared with lime and a side of green veggies.

It seems like the fish only hit lures in clear water behind Zephyr.....which there isn't a lot of. She kicks up a path of turbulence 25ft wide and 120ft long. Perhaps fishing outriggers are an upgrade in the future.

With a record day of 223nm in 24hrs yesterday, we are on track to make landfall in Hilo sometime in the wee hours of Wednesday April 1st. The weather is looking pretty good for leaving Hawaii on Thursday or Friday too. The current forecast has SE winds on top of Hawaii through the beginning of next week, allowing us to depart on a beam or broad reach. The pacific high is also forecast to be migrating south as we leave, allowing us to sail a straighter route to San Francisco if the forecast holds.

Sail Mail - March 30, 2015

Location: 15.06.1N - 148.54.8W - 440nm SW of Hawaii - 2000nm SE of SF
Course: 318
Speed: 9.7 kts
Sea: 12ft
Wind: 16kt from NE

This morning was the biggest seas we've seen yet. Standing in the cockpit, 4ft above the water, we were looking up at waves. They were approximately 12-14ft.  Earlier in the day, we had a wave break on the windward hull, flooding the cockpit and washing over the saloon.

As of the afternoon though, the seas have moderated which is always correlated with an increase in alcohol consumption. After finding a squid on deck, Johnny was dared to eat it but sadly failed. Not before he had gotten ink all over himself in an attempt to chew it in half. Luckily for the remaining crew, more squid were found. It so happens that the best technique is to swallow them whole.

Some sort of brown bird was with us the whole day. It was quite impressive as it was using the boat to fox out flying fish and would snatch them out of the air as it skimmed within a few cm of rough seas.

Yesterday's run was ALMOST a record at 215nm in 24hrs. One nautical mile shy. Today, we are off to solid start. Already we've put 173 miles behind us with another 5.5 hours of fast sailing ahead of us.

Sail Mail - March 29, 2015

Location: 12.38.6N - 146.11.7W - 660nm SW of Hawaii
Course: 312
Sea: 10ft
Wind: 16kt from NE

The main sail is still looking awesome. With it and the jib working together we are making good speed. So good that today might be a new record for most miles in 24hrs.

FYI - gourmet tuna salad, made with fresh skip jack tuna, tastes almost the exact same as tuna salad made with canned skip jack tuna.

As we were eating said tuna salad in the middle of the afternoon, Jason saw a big splash behind a boat. Low and behold a marlin, that was bigger than any of us, was frantically jumping around. Presumably it was irritated by the hook now in it.

As awesome as pulling aboard a hundreds of pound fish into the boat on a handline would be, it wasn't meant to be. By the time we saw it, it had definitely already snapped the 350lb test monofilament. I'm unsure how we would have been able to store all of said fish anyways.

Sail Mail - March 28, 2015

Location: 10.03.9N - 143.37.1W - 900nm SW of Hawai
Course: 320
Sea: 10ft
Wind: 16-23kt from NE

After 3 days of intensive high seas sewing labor, the main sail is up and running. Work began at 7AM yesterday and didn't finish until 3PM today. 32 hours straight. We started the repair with 4 needles, 3 good ones and 1 huge fat f*****. Within 6 hour of beginning the repair, we were down to just 2 with about 1000 stitches through quadruple layered dacron to go.

That last good needle was the the needle that could though....until it didn't. After 20 hours of continuous man handling, the tip had become brittle and fractured. That was a sad sad sad moment at 4AM, in the pitch black morning, in a cave of sail fabric, in the middle of the pacific.

Never the less, we pushed on with the fat f***** needle. Johnny's and my hands are raw from it but it managed to get the job done.

With the main sail stitched up and looking awesome, we are now hauling ass at 9kts to Hawaii. We are even reefed  so deeply that we could sail through a tropical storm but apparently no one ever told this boat means it should be going slow.

When I say the main is looking awesome though, it literally looks awesome. The shape is perfect and the streams of anti-chafe duct tape that have been shearing off from the wind definitely adds character to the boat. Preliminarily, it appears that the stitches are holding *knocks on wood*.

We'll leave the main triple reefed until tomorrow to let the stitching set. Back to drinking beer, watching movies, gazing at the fishing lines, and playing risk.

Sail Mail - March 27, 2015

Location: 8.06.3N - 142.01.0W - 1000nm North of Nuka-Hiva - 1000nm SW of Hilo HI
Course: 325
Sea: 5ft
Wind: 15kts from NE

Its midnight on the pacific. We have been sewing since 7AM and have about 2-3 feet to go then touch up work to get the main sail back to its spry self. With the power of two humans, we are able to manage about a stitch per minute.

A big obstacle for us has been the doldrums. We entered them at about 3 north and it appears that they have been following us north.....keeping us in persistent light winds with a squall every hour or so. Earlier this evening, we dealt with an extended squall about 30kts in strength which put a stop to our sewing for a bit. As of now at 8 north (300nm later), it looks like we are finally in the NE trades. Once the main is ready to go, we'll point Zephyr at Hawaii and sail.

Dolphins took up the bow today as we worked. I think they were excited we were finally outside.

Beer rations are running low, moral is high.

Sail Mail - March 26, 2015

Location: 6.13.1N - 141.28.2W - 920nm North of Nuka-Hiva - 1100nm SW of Hilo HI
Course: 0
Sea: 5ft
Wind: 11kts from SE

Last Port: Nuka-Hiva
Destination Port: Hilo HI

Less than fantastic news. We found a rip from luff to leach in the main sail today about 4/5 of the way up. At this point in the passage we are about as isolated as we are going to be as well, being 1000 miles away from Hawaii, the Line Islands, and the Marquesas.

The rip looks like it began in a dacron panel near the luff (mast edge) of the sail. The rip in the dacron runs vertically for 24 inches before arriving at one of the horizontal seams between dacron panels. The rip then runs the full length of the horizontal sail from luff to leach along a sewn seam (8ft or so). Luckily, the larger 8ft section of the rip is just torn threading, not torn dacron.

As far as why the rip happened, there appears to be two reasons. The first is the light winds and cross swell we are in. It was causing the sail to fill then luff as the boats rocking created enough wind to dominate the apparent wind at times. The second reason; the battens attach to the main sail using threaded attachments to the mast cars. They all appear to have been backing out with one of the battens very near the rip having fully backed out. This would have created a stress concentration near the rip.

The good news is that we've found enough material and tools onboard to make a solid effort at repairing the sail. Our bounty includes 3 sail needles, wax coated thread, scraps of extra dacron, double sides tape, and a leather sewing glove. We spent 12 hours today sewing a repair patch over the dacron tear. We'll need to spend another 12 hours tomorrow repairing the horizontal seam and reinforcing it with nylon webbing.

The other good news is that it looks like we'll have good weather for making repairs for another day or two. Progress wasn't bad yesterday at 148nm.

As a backup option, between our two primary head sails: the jib and the gennaker, we are able to sail pretty fast when the wind is right. Under the gennaker with 10-15kts of wind, we are able to sail at over 7kts. The jib gets us moving in light air but we'll see how it does in the NE trades. We sure as hell can't point but we don't really need to for getting all the way to Hawaii.

Sail Mail - March 25, 2015

Location: 4.03.2N - 141.10.6W - 800nm North of Nuka-Hiva - 1200nm SW of Hilo HI
Course: 0
Sea: 5ft
Wind: 5-9kts from anywhere

Last Port: Nuka-Hiva
Destination Port: Hilo HI

Despite stopping on the equator yesterday, the days run came out to be a "not-too-shabby" 194nm. The progress for today is going to be a lot worse though. We are in the ITCZ (inter-tropical convergence zone) with little to no wind and lots of squalls. It'll be another 100-150 miles before we are out of it so lots of motoring is in our future.

Most of the time, surprising sounds are not what you want to hear on a boat. There is at least one big exception: the energetic buzz of a fish frantically tearing line off the reel of a trolling pole. This morning around 8AM, it went off. Something was on the line. We got the boat stopped and the fight began. Johnny pulled in the hand lines to clear the water and realized that it wasn't just the pole that had a fish on......two of the hand lines also did. Apparently we had run over a school of chunky skip jack tuna. 20 minutes later, we had two of them on board...about 20lb each. One got away which isn't too bad considering that we have enough skip jack tuna to feed a small nation. The fish tacos we made for dinner barely used a 1/4 of our stockpile.

A new boat tradition has begun. Johnny brought virtual iPad "Risk" with him. For those that don't know what "Risk" is, its a multi-player strategy board game in which players try to conquer the world from each other. Each of us has chosen a random flag from the boats inventory of international flags. The winner of the days game gets to fly there flag. Johnny's St. Lucia flag is flying right now.

As we were playing risk today, we were surprised at sunset by a friendly squall. It brought lots of rain, not a lot of wind. With everything on the boat caked with salt, it was a very welcome surprise. As it passed over us, the scenery with the sunset + rain on the lazy swells was amazing. The main sail also funnels water down to the deck which emerges as if sprayed from a fire hose at the gooseneck. Outdoor showers were had by all.

Once we make it out of the ITCZ, the wind is looking good for getting us all the way to Hilo. Landfall might be Tuesday the 31st or Wednesday the 1st.