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Pacific Crossing – Mexico to The Marquesas!

**This is a REALLY long post! If you are only interested the sailing bits, please read the 4th paragraph, then skip to the table at the bottom of the blog.

Similar to the old joke that you eat an elephant one bite at a time, our trip from Mexico to The Marquesas in French Polynesia was accomplished one nautical mile at a time until Ticket To Ride had consumed 2,859 nautical miles.  

However, we broke up our consumption by making a stop at the Revillegedo Island of San Benedicto after leaving from La Ventana, MX.  With provisions topped off in La Paz, we took a few minutes to festoon TTR with roses at the stern steps and bow. This Hawaiian tradition for a safe journey calls for Ti leaves, but since those weren’t available, we used the powerful rose instead. 

On April 21st, we sailed to La Ventana where we dropped anchor and enjoyed a day on the hook to decompress from the city and the stress of provisioning and preparing. We spent the day relaxing, enjoying the water and settling in as a traveling group of four. Since Amelia and Erik passaged with us from Hawaii to Alaska, the process of settling in was really the fun of reuniting with friends who are excellent travel companions.

Four sailors sporting TTR hats and visors, ready to leave La Ventana.

La Ventana to San Benedicto was an easy 329 nautical miles.We departed La Ventana after the southern winds died and we hoped for some north winds. A leisurely departure around 9:30 am with only 6.5 k of wind speed, we motored a bit until the wind angle improved then we put up the mainsail, genoa and spinnaker staysail.  Day one we only covered 88nm between 9 am and midnight. The second day we had better winds and covered 188nm which set us up for a lovely 7:40 am arrival on April 25th.  Our trip to San Benedicto took a little over 46 hours with an average speed of 7.1k and a maximum speed of 14.8k.  This was a great warm up for the crossing to the Marquesas.

The Revillegedo Islands are sometimes called the Galapagos of Mexico because they are remote, rarely visited and have plenty of sea life.  We chose to stop here to scuba dive again (our third visit) and enjoy watching the giant manta rays and other wonders below. 

Frank lounging in our new Fat Boy chairs, enjoying a sunset cocktail in front of San Benedicto.

Above water, San Benedicto is desolate, without growth and covered in a loose ash that can infuse the air and dirty the decks on windy days. Under the water, San Benedicto is filled with colorful fish, huge rock pinnacles, deep canyons, giant manta rays, schools of fish and plenty of sharks. 

In the evening we turned on our underwater boat lights and watched the small fish gather. But soon larger fish and sharks arrived for some easy hunting. Then we were surprised that dolphins moved in and usurped the territory forcing the sharks to share the hunting ground….. We didn’t leave the lights on very long as we don’t want to alter the natural tendencies of the ocean dwellers. We did enjoy the show while the lights were shining though.

Amelia captured this photo of the shark swimming in our underwater lights!

The ocean is a marvel of life and we seem to observe new behaviors or new things regardless of how much time we live on the water.

While we enjoyed San Benedicto, there was a little looming reminder that we had a long passage before us and we were all excited to begin.  Our weather window arrived quickly and we departed on Thursday, April 28th at 11:20 am.  The first day of we had steady winds between 8 and 16 knots and very calm seas. We managed a bit over 106 nm with an average speed of 8.9k. I remember thinking this trip would be a cakewalk if we kept those conditions.

Our first surprise arrived in the form of a land bird who joined us as we were leaving San Benedicto. We tried hard to shoo him back to San Benedicto and off to Socorro when we were passing that island. Alas, “Lenny” had other plans and he chose to turn in his Ticket To Ride with us.

Initially, Lenny was very brave, perhaps in shock, and would land on us or near us. Once I was lying down in my room and felt something near my face….. it was Lenny sitting next to me on Frank’s pillow!  Cute as that sounds, Lenny was not house trained so we shooed him outside.  

As animal lovers, we couldn’t bear to leave Lenny in need, so we began feeding and watering him regularly. Ironically, this made Lenny less willing to come near us. Soon we had a knowledge of his food preferences (he loved corn chips and cashew clusters) and we had taught him not to enter the salon but to stick to the outer parts of TTR!

Training Lenny not to come inside TTR was very quick but also a little sad. The first evening, in an effort to train him, we closed the sliding doors while we ate dinner. Lenny kept flying up to the door to try to join us! Then he would walk along the sliding door peering in and making little flying hops to try to find an entrance. It was both comical and sad, but effective. Lenny rarely entered the salon after that evening even though we left the sliding doors open the remainder of the passage!

Lenny decided to study the fish ID book with Amelia!

Lenny was not a fan of winches and would fly to the front of the boat or hide in the dinghy and sometimes fly off the boat whenever major sail changes occurred. When the noises of sail change ramped up, Lenny would fly away, then return shortly later. One the night of day six from San Benedicto, we had several sail changes and there was a bit of rain and wind. Apparently Lenny was pretty unsettled by all the noise and flew a little further than usual from TTR.  But since he had disappeared and reappeared many times over the last days, we weren’t too worried.…

Until we didn’t hear any chirps all morning. On day seven, Lenny did not return. We were hoping he was just extra tired after a busy night of sail changes, but alas, Lenny never returned.  We kept Lenny’s spot stocked with his favorite food for a day or two, just hoping he would surprise us and reappear. We really hope Lenny found a different boat where he is happily ensconced and being well fed. I don’t like to think of our little feathered friend fatigued and lost at sea.

Days and nights on passage are a collidescope of skies, ocean, sunsets, sunrises, naps, food, podcasts, music, stars, stars and more stars! After a few days, a loose routine sets in where we rotate night watches of three hours each, unless there is a weather concern, then we have two people on deck for six hours and they take turns up and sleeping. During the daylight hours, with four souls on board, it is easy to grab naps as needed because somehow all of us end up wanting to sleep at different times.  This trip we changed watch hours so that we could have a variety of views; one person didn’t always have the sunrise or the deep dark hours around 2 am.

Planetary alignment in a beautiful evening sky.

One interesting and slightly disconcerting aspect of this passage was time and time zones. As we traveled south and west, our location changed the timing of sunrise and sunset. Not very far into the passage, sunset was occurring around 8:45 instead of 7:15ish. And sunrise had become 5 am.  This alteration of the sun in comparison to the Mexico time zone on our clocks made it necessary to alter our shifts so we were actually covering the hours of darkness. We had to determine the correct time in Nuku Hiva so we could adjust our internal rhythms as well as our clocks and shift schedule. This passage, the change in time zone felt more drastic than when we sailed from Hawaii to Alaska.

Sunset in front of TTR’s starboard bow.

Turns out, Nuku Hiva time is actually 3.5 hours behind Mexico time. I didn’t even know there were places that altered their clocks by 30 minutes; I thought it was always by the hour. Though upon reflection, the need to adjust incrementally makes complete sense.

The one consistent event on TTR is dinner. We always make dinner a satisfying meal that all of us eat together at the table. The autopilot is on but we remain aware of conditions as we enjoy a meal together.  This is a great time to discuss concerns, recap the day and strategize based on weather information.  This is also a time for us to adjust sails in preparation for night watches before dark sets in. It is MUCH easier to adjust sails in the light and perhaps even be a bit conservative on our sail plan, rather than throw the dice and have to make major adjustments in the dark when conditions have become a little spicy.

As mentioned in the Hawaii to Alaska blog, we eat really well on Ticket To Ride! If you are interested, at the end of this post I have listed our dinners during this passage.

Fishing, or as I call it “dragging,” is definitely hit or miss on TTR. Often we are sailing so quickly our lures get frayed or we are too fast to hook up fish (9+ knots).  But we still try.  The first day we had our lures out, we sailed near a group of birds obviously diving into a fish-boil. Moments later one rod offered the “zing” of a fish on, though the pull was light and sporadic. We hopped into action, furling the headsail, heading to wind to slow the boat, etc. 

Our freed booby bird stayed on board for about 15 minutes. He is beautiful!

Imagine our dismay when we realized a Booby Bird had snagged our line! We brought the bird in as gently as we could and found he had tangled a wing in our line. Thankfully, he allowed Frank and Erik to carefully remove the line – he didn’t even become aggressive.  Really quickly the line was free but the bird chose to ride along with us for about 15 minutes while he was catching his breath. Perhaps Lenny gave him confidence that we were safe.

We spoke gently to the Booby and encouraged him to be well and fly back to his friends, which he did, without issue. Phew! Enough fishing for that day!!

Sunday as the sun was descending into the horizon, the starboard side fishing rod zinged to life. Amelia and I handled sail furling while Frank and Erik pretended to be participants in The Deadliest Catch! Actually, they didn’t pretend anything, but they did land a beautiful Mahi! Yum!

Calm passages are a good time to catch up on some “Boat Love,” as we refer to many boat jobs. The skies were clear, the seas were calm and we took a moment for some TTR maintenance. I polished a little bright work while Frank waxed some painted surfaces.  Not wanting his shoulders overexposed to the sun which was growing more powerful as our trajectory moved us closer to the equator, Frank donned a shirt for protection. However, the combination of sun and effort soon had our captain’s temperature rising; so in the best way possible, Frank made a costume adjustment and rocked his Britney Spears look!

Frank rocking the B. Spears look.

Erik received the award for strangest event during this passage. One night while on watch, he saw a huge object fly across the sky. He still can’t figure out if it was a meteor, a UFO, a comet or something else. Of course we couldn’t access the news to see if anything was reported but Erik did manage to snap this photo which he says doesn’t begin to do the event justice.

Unknown object Erik saw that lit up the sky for 20 seconds!

I find it truly amazing how vast and small the ocean can be. Days on end we will see no one, hear no chatter on the VHF and wonder if the world has disappeared while we were in no mans land. But sometimes it is crazy to actually see another boat come very close to you when there is so much space in the ocean that you could easily pass someone nearby but not within eyesight.

Our friends on s/v Migration, Bruce and Alene, had left a different Revelligedo Island than we did and upped anchor only 45 minutes before us. Bruce and Alene were about 200 nm further along than we were but we hoped to somehow meet in the middle of the Pacific and say hello.

While at sea, we all make a point of watching sunset.

We kept in touch via satellite messages and hoped we would catch them. Late one evening, the VHF sounded a familiar call, “Ticket to Ride, Ticket to Ride, Migration here.” We jumped for the radio, galvanized by the voice of our friends, only to realize that our VHF was not transmitting well, or maybe not at all! It was very frustrating to hear Migration call and not be able to respond. 

We were not within eyesight, but we could have been within earshot!

Frank and Erik addressed the VHF issue and learned that an essential component had failed. Luckily Frank attached our back up, handheld VHF directly to the mast antenna making it possible to use the radio. Our next visitor will get to bring us the part necessary to make our boat VHF operational.

Just a few days later we spotted a light on the horizon during the early morning darkness. As the run rose, we caught up to s/v Pablo, a monohull heading to Nuku Hiva with five souls on board.  Amelia grabbed the camera and took some lovely pictures which she shared with that family once we were all in Taiohae Bay.

I am not one for “Bucket Lists” but I really wanted to swim in the middle of the Pacific Ocean, and I really, really wanted to swim at the equator. There is an area known as the ITCZ, Inter-Tropical Convergence Zone, where the weather can be dicy or dead calm; stormy and squally or smooth as glass without a ripple of wind. The ITCZ is a moving area that expands and contracts based on weather, so it is a moving target that sailors try to move through at its most narrow point.

We were blessed with a calm passage through a narrow ITCZ which allowed us to SWIM on Wednesday, May 4th.  First we floated a long line off the stern of TTR as a grab line in case of a current or boat movement. Next, Frank and Amelia chose to jump from the helm station roof, while Erik and I donned our mask and fins. On the count of three, the team jumped into the Pacific Ocean!!

Rainbow spectrum sunset!

Erik was immediately approached by a HUGE marlin – we estimate he was 8-10 feet without his bill! The marlin approached to within about 12 feet of Erik. When I spotted the marlin, he had his mouth open and it looked like he was determining if we were all tasty nuggets dropped from above.  Thankfully he decided we weren’t chum and with one slight flick of his tale, the marlin disappeared into the depths.

I will never forget the beauty and power of the moment I saw that marlin. He was a shiny, sleek sliver-blue suspended in a perfectly clear, dark blue sea. The only thing I can reference to describe him would be a glass sphere, like one on a dest, that has a marlin suspended in translucent blue glass that reflects against his armor-like exterior.  

What an experience!

I am beginning to think Bucket Lists might be as powerful as positive thinking since I was also gifted with the opportunity to swim at the Equator!! Now that was icing on my wishes since my true hope had been to swim at the equator;  but often the weather isn’t cooperative or a boat crosses during darkness. 

Not TTR!   At 10:38 am on May 7th, the chart plotter showed 0 00.000’  We were ON THE EQUATOR! 

We pointed our bows to span the equator and allowed Jude, the auto pilot, the direct our course while we celebrated and swam!

Equator swim!

Tradition demands a celebration/initiation of sailors who cross the equator for the first time. Post ceremony, a sailor looses his status as a Pollywog and becomes a Shellback. At its essence, this means a person is no longer green or untried but rather has earned his stripes as a sailor. Celebrations and hazing are often hand in hand with the initiation and as the only shellback on board, Amelia had control of the initiation for Frank, Erik and me…. 

Fortunately Amelia is very playful but doesn’t have a mean bone in her body, so I knew fun would be had with just a smidge of hazing. Having said that, our playtime becoming Shellbacks was so fun that it deserves its own blog.  Check back for our next piece with all the details and photos!

Part of our Shellback ceremony.

Many people told us they found a .5 to 2.0 knot favorable current beginning anywhere from 3 degrees N of the equator all the way to Taiohae Bay on Nuku Hiva. We knew Nuku Hiva was only a few days away yet we had only experienced unfavorable currents of up to 1.5 knots.  If we could find that positive current, our travel time could be reduced by at least one full day. 

Alas, no such luck! We only saw negative current or neutral current throughout our passage. Still, our arrival time was anticipated to be sometime on May 11th which would mean our total travel time since leaving La Ventana was only 16 days.  Complaining is completely unwarranted.

May 10th arrived bright and sunny with just a few wispy clouds – perfect for celebrating Erik’s 40th birthday! Amelia had masterminded a fun celebration and while in La Paz we had procured “things” to make this birthday a memorable one.  

Ironically, several times during the passage, Erik had bemoaned not buying a piñata before leaving Mexico. Unbeknownst to him, Amelia had squirreled one away and it was the first step in Erik’s birthday celebration and gift hunt!

Erik was thrilled with his birthday piñata.

We had a great time watching Erik unravel Amelia’s clues for where to find his gifts. New clues and fun surprises were dispersed in the freezer, the dinghy, the mast line bag and even the bilge.  Erik was a good sport and wore the piñata as a hat for much of the day. That evening we celebrated with burgers, homemade buns, yummy veggies and blondies for dessert dessert which we topped it with ice cream we had hidden in the freezer for this special occasion.

Throughout the trip, I tried to have some little special things to help keep the crew happy and make sure spirits were lifted if needed. At the equator crossing, Frank, Erik and Amelia received t-shirts from La Paz. At the 1/2 way point we had a pretty fancy dinner of pork tenderloin in a brown sauce with green beans and rice followed by brownies. When we reached 500 nm remaining, I brought out dark chocolate covered cherries straight from Michigan.

None of those things are really important, but they do make life aboard a bit more fun.

The day after Erik’s birthday we could clearly see Nuku Hiva in the dawn light. A small group of dolphins acknowledged us by swimming past us as we approached Taiohae Bay. The water washing against and away from the mighty elevation of Nuku Hiva was sharp and tumultuous as we jetted in under main and reacher.  By 10:20 am on May 11, 2022, 13 days and 23 hours after leaving San Benedicto, we had set our anchor in French Polynesia.  We had completed our passage to French Polynesia and achieved a milestone!  Without regard for the early hour, we broke out the bubbly to celebrate a successful and excellent trip across the Pacific Ocean.

It bears stating that our passage was truly a blessed one! We saw storms on the horizon that looked destined to inundate us with wind and rain, yet they all passed before or behind us or dissipated before we reached them. At times it felt like the Red Sea was parting before us! TTR felt like she was enclosed in a special space of protection as we encountered very few weather  or sea surprises. 

Our travel time was quick and our breakages nearly non-existent. The only problems we had were: 1. the VHF Box failed and needs to be replace, but Frank rigged up a temporary fix. 2. Our IridiumGo antenna was knocked by the leach of a sail when the wind flogged but while at the Rev’s, Frank went up the mast and installed a protective margarita mix bottle – hahaha, now our antenna is very happy. 3. When we arrived in Nuku Hiva, the anemometer at the top of the mast was loose and Erik took a ride to the top of the mast to tighten the loosened screws.

TTR sailing wing on wing with the “drifter” and genoa.

SAILING SYNOPSIS: This is a simplified table of our sailing, not a perfect representation of detailed sail changes and wind speeds or angles.

Rev Islands to Nuku Hiva, FP on Ticket To Ride TRUE WIND SPEEDTRUE WIND ANGLESAILS DEPLOYEDTOTAL 24 HOUR MILES
Day 113114Main R1, drifter106 (13 hours)
Day 214119Main R1, drifter212
Day 313170Drifter, genoa158
Day 410160Drifter at night, double headsails by day148
Day 511155Drifter only156
Day 613152Drifter only169
Day 74-1317-160Drifter 16 hours, 1 engine 8 hours145
Day 81665Main R2, genoa185
Day 918100Main R2, genoa231
Day 1014105Main R2, genoa 12 hours, Main R1 w Reacher – 12 hours195
Day 1112125Main R1 and reacher205
Day 1215100Main R2, genoa 12 hours, Main R2, reacher 12 hours243
Day 1318123Main R2 and reacher242
Day 1417130Main R2 and reacher





Dinner on TTR is a “thang”

~Mykronos Aubergine Stew – veggies, including eggplant – yum.

~Grilled AK Halibut on a bed of mixed greens and avocado with sautéed poblano pepper, asperagus, onion, etc

~General Tsao’s Tofu with cilantro garnish

~Erik’s Chicken Noodle Soup for lunch on passage  

~Chicken Tacos with homemade salsa: creamy cashew cilantro sauce

~Grilled Pork Chops, salad, rice

~Pasta Bolignaise and sauteed green beans with mushrooms

~Honor-da-veg Day: mixed veggies in Mexican seasoning in flour tortillas

~Pizza Night – homemade pizzas

~One-Pot Chicken pesto pasta (using homegrown basil!), E’s vegetable soup, roasted green   beans with candies rosemary almonds

Caught the first fish – Mahi

~Cajun seared mahi, black coconut rice, salad

~Mahi mahi tostadas…. (Lenny’s last meal)

~Pork tenderloin, curried green beans, rice

~Cinco de Mayo! Chicken tostados

~Cold asian noodle salad with panko crusted tofu

~Equator Pasties (meat pies) and blueberry pie

~Mahi, salad, rice

~Breakfast for dinner – eggs and waffles

~Birthday burgers, buns and fried potatoes, blondies with ice cream as birthday dessert

Phew! This was a long blog. Thanks for reading ALL of that. I hope this gives you some insight into our passage and how our time is spent while at sea. Please send us a comment if you have questions, and keep an eye out for our really fun pollywog to shellback ceremony!

P.S. I didn’t have enough internet to preview this post, please forgive poor formatting or mistakes. 🙂

Hau’oli Makahiki Hou ~ Happy New Year!

Well things on Ticket to Ride are unusually quiet and we don’t see that changing even after we ring in the New Year.

Thanks to COVID, this is the first time in 29 years that we have not spent Christmas with our kids. Well, there was one year when Hunter was in Spain, but Clayton was with us on Let It Be in Florida…. that’s a pretty amazing record that I was sorry to see broken. But, as stated earlier, we think staying home was the wiser decision.

TTR resting comfortably at the beautiful Kaneohe Yacht Club.

Once again we are enjoying the delightful hospitality of the Kaneohe Yacht Club. We have taken advantage of the dock time with spa days for Ticket to Ride, or as Frank calls it, “boat love” days. This includes cleaning up stainless steel, waxing the topsides, which is all of the outdoor white surfaces that are smooth and not non-skid. Well, I guess this is just our equivalent of spring cleaning. But TTR is looking quite sparkly and fresh.

Nighttime view while docked at KYC.

Soon after the new year, we will sail to Maui to see the whales that come each winter. We want to explore Maui and perhaps Lanai for a few weeks, assuming the weather cooperates. The sail to Maui is upwind, but at least we won’t be avoiding a hurricane like we were the last time we made that trip!

We are also thinking about sailing to the Big Island and taking a look at the recently active Kilauea Volcano in Volcanoes National Park.

Kilauea Volcano, image from volcanodiscovery.com site.

Halema’uma’u crater, part of Kilauea, erupted on December 21st. Apparently there was interaction between a pool of water inside the crater and a new lava flow which caused a huge steam cloud to shoot up 30,000 feet for about an hour. Later it was reported that lava was shooting up about 165 feet inside Halema’uma’u Crater and the water had been replaced by a lava pool. About an hour after the eruption, a 4.4 earthquake was felt by some people on the the Big Island, although no damage was reported.

So we hope to go visit Volcanoes National Park if the air quality is good enough. It should be interesting to see if we can get anywhere close to the site. My guess is that the web cams are better than trying to actually go to Kilauea, but we haven’t explored the Big Island, so it might be an adventure.

Wow, just when we think 2020 is heading into the rearview mirror, Halema’uma’u crater begins rumbling so we see yet another phenomenon occurring nearby. Everyone is saying we look forward to having 2020 in hindsight…. I hope we don’t look back at 2020 and think it was an easy year!! (Ohhh, no, get that pessimist off this blog post!!)

It is almost impossible to believe that in March we sailed to Hawaii instead of French Polynesia and that we were thinking we would be here for a couple of weeks until this “little issue” of COVID was contained!

TTR anchored off the Revillagigedo Islands, MX before sailing to Hawaii.

Looking back it is interesting to see how few nautical miles we have accumulated in 2020 compared to how many miles we traveled in 2019 even though we crossed the Pacific Ocean in 2020. I estimate that in 2019 we logged about 7,500 miles in California and Mexico. In 2020, our Pacific crossing was about 2,300 nm, yet we have only logged a total of about 4,000 miles this year in Mexico and Hawaii.

Ironically, we never even considered Hawaii as a cruising ground and now it is the longest we have stayed in any one place. Although technically it is a group of islands rather than just one place.

We certainly hope that 2021 will allow us to better accomplish our longer term travel goals!

Our current plan is to hang around Hawaii until we are able to have a COVID vaccine and we are free to travel internationally. We truly hope we will have the “all clear” by April. If we are really lucky we will even have the opportunity to apply for and receive another Long Stay Visa for French Polynesia before we leave Hawaii. That very desirable LSV is obtained from the French Embassies which are currently closed. But we remain hopeful!

Just another beautiful sight while driving in Hawaii

As we say goodbye to 2020, we remain thankful that we have the opportunity to enjoy Hawaii, see many pretty places, meet a myriad of wonderful people and remain healthy. We can hope that the worldwide forced isolation has created in us a little more appreciation for our fellow man. And maybe we have a glimpse into some changes we can make to help restore our planet.

As we welcome 2021, we are hopeful that the we really are overcoming COVID-19 and that healing from this pandemic has begun all around the world.

From Ticket to Ride, we wish each of you a healthy, healing and happy 2021.

2800+ Nautical Miles ~ Sailing To Hawaii

Warning: A very long post! 

So what is it like to sail almost 3,000 nautical miles across the Pacific Ocean?

dscf0223Itemizing the ditch bag in case we have to abandon the boat while at sea.

Honestly, the preparation is a whole lot of work!

All aspects of the boat and sails must be in good working condition and spare parts for repairs need to be on board. Planning meals and buying enough food for the passage plus extras in case we encounter delays, or restricted land access (thank you Coronavirus) requires organization, many trips to the grocery and time finding and recording storage locations on the boat.

Passage to HI     A pretty sunset prior to leaving the dock at Paradise Village.

However, the real answer to the actual passage experience depends on your vessel, the weather and sea conditions you encounter and the crew on board.

We were confident that our crew was excellent and experienced and that our HH55 Catamaran is strong, fast and comfortable.  Our variable would be the weather.

The unique circumstances created by COVID-19 made us especially cautious about our health once we left mainland Mexico.  As a precaution, we sailed from Puerto Vallarta to San Benedicto Island, part of the Revillagigedo Islands, about 320 nm off of mainland Mexico. We spent six days in this completely uninhabited marine park waiting for a good weather window and insuring that none of us had any symptoms of the virus.

Passage to HI-8Revillagigedo Island with buddy boat Kalewa at anchor. (Photo by C. Stich)

While anchored at San Benedicto, we once again enjoyed some excellent scuba diving and relished the opportunity to see the giant manta rays again. It was fun to share this special place with Clayton and Connor.

IMG_0115-001Mary Grace swimming with giant mantas. (Photo credit s/v Migration.)

This time we saw more sharks at San Benedicto and perhaps because there weren’t any dive boats, they seemed to hang around TTR more than the last time. Surprisingly the sharks swarmed when I dropped some lettuce off the back of the boat. Perhaps these were vegetarian sharks??

Passage to HI-6That’s close enough, Mr. Shark. (Photo by C. Stich)

Once we were confident we all felt well and we saw predictions for good weather and wind, we upped anchor and departed for the remainder of our 2660 nm adventure across the Pacific Ocean.

We are often asked if we stop at night during passages and the answer is no. We are always moving and we must have someone on watch 24 hours every day. We settled into a pattern of 3 hour watches per person when the weather was good.  If we anticipated big seas, winds or storms, we had two people up for six hour watches with a ‘primary’ watch person at the helm for 3 hours while the alternate slept in the salon. For the last three hours, the twosome would switch roles.

All in all, the watch schedule worked well and the vast majority of the time we only needed one person awake.  I had the easiest watch schedule of 7-10 am and pm.  I think they gave me the easy watch because I planned the food and we ate very well.

IMG_9765Clayton cutting the dessert pizza.

 Clayton and Connor made a dessert pizza with a layer of Nutella on the bottom, then half of it was topped with cinnamon-apple and half was blueberry pie topping. Delish!

We are also asked what we DO ALL DAY while “stuck” on a boat, but the days go surprisingly fast. One reason the days go quickly is that being constantly in motion is tiring physically and mentally and all of us rest, if not sleep, more while underway than when at anchor.

There are duties that must be accomplished often:

  • enter the log:  lat/long position, boat speed, wind speed, wind direction, state of battery charge, water levels, etc (every two hours)
  • check the bilges of the boat and make sure they are all dry
  • run new weather reports (think slower than dial up data speeds)
  • manage water levels
  • manage boat energy levels
  • take watch
  • prepare meals
  • watch the skies and seas in case unusual weather develops
  • check the sails, lines and attachments

But what do we do for fun? In addition to reading, watching movies, playing games, listening to books or podcasts, how about a little fishing?

DSCF0084Connor has something on that line.

DSCF0093    A small Mahi but enough for dinner and sashimi.

IMG_9777Connor created a pistachio crusted Mahi! YUM

He who catches, gets to cook the fish and Connor did an amazing job after Frank expertly filleted it! Many thanks to those back home who helped with the recipe because it was fab. I told you we ate well! Farm to table right there.

When surrounded by water with no land in sight, watching the nature that surfaces or flies into view is interesting.

Passage to HI-9Clayton caught this Booby as it dove for a fish!

Dolphins always bring a smile and everyone awake goes outside to watch them. 

DSCF0111This pod of about 10 dolphins stayed with us for 20 minutes. (Photo by C. Stich)

This trip we were absolutely blessed with excellent conditions. We had manageable winds with only one night of rain with winds gusting up in the high 20s.  For the majority of our passage, the wind was between 11 and 22 knots. We did have several days of cloud cover which made for cool days.  At night it was cold enough to require long pants and a jacket and that was excellent for sleeping when off watch.

Passage to HI-2The moon was waxing and became full during our passage. 

I seemed to have the luck of catching some spikes in the wind during my evening shift and at one point as we surfed down a wave and I saw 17.9 knots of boat speed! You’ll have to trust me on that as everyone else was asleep. (25k wind, R1 main, genoa)

Passage to HI-11Interesting shot of  TTR blazing along. (Photo by C. Stich.)

We had engaged the services of Bruce, a weather router, for our planned trip to French Polynesia, so instead he helped us with the trip to Hawaii.  We think having Bruce advise us was helpful to anticipate weather troughs that were not predicted through our PredictWind weather service.

Based on Bruce’s forecast of squalls and unstable, increasing winds, we had our main sail reefed for about 30% of our trip. In actuality, we missed the unstable weather and in hindsight the reefs were mostly unnecessary. But better to be prepared than caught overpowered.

Passage to HI-7Sunrise is welcome and beautiful when on watch. (Photo by C. Stich)

Even with our conservative sail plan, the whole trip took a total of 14 days and we averaged 8.2 knots. Pretty impressive considering we want for nothing and were able to cook meals every night.

Since Hawaii was an unexpected destination, I was trying to read a book our friends Katie and Kevin of s/v Kalewa had lent us when we were at the Rev Islands. Trying to figure out where to go on each island was slightly overwhelming. Also, we were concerned we might be restricted to one island once we arrived and we wanted to choose a good place to hang out for an extended stay.

DSCF0294Frank studying sunset from the galley. (Photo by C. Stich)

I suggested we each take a Hawaiian Island and give a presentation on that island. This idea quickly became a competition of who could best “sell” his island to the others on board.

Clayton and Connor delved into their personal skills.  Clayton drummed up some long forgotten high school expertise and made a power point presentation about O’Ahu.  Connor was very secretive about his presentation for Molokai and I knew I needed to step up my game…. I have NO computer skills, so I thought I would draw pictures of rainbows, waterfalls and unicorns to demonstrate how wonderful Kauai is.  BUT I have no drawing skills either, so I quit after drawing the rainbow and instead tried to paint with words! Frank was the straight man and his presentation about Maui was filled with facts and persuasive reasons to make Maui our island of choice.

IMG_9767Clayton hammed up his PowerPoint presentation!

Turns out Connor had written a poem about Molokai which I have copied and put at the end of this blog post.  I’m sure a compendium of Connor’s poetry will soon be available on Amazon!

Lest you think life on a passage is all rainbows and unicorns, like on Kauai, I will tell you we did have one rather interesting event.  Prior to leaving, we had tried to determine why our steering system was making a noise that was continuing to grow louder. 

DSCF0126Frank testing and retesting the steering system.

Frank was in touch with the maker of the steering system and several other experts.  After trouble shooting and trying the suggestions, the noise remained, but thankfully no one thought this would create an issue…. other than making it hard to sleep on the port side where the master cabin bed is. Imagine having Chewbacca mouthing off every 5 seconds behind your headboard while trying to sleep and you will understand what we heard when resting. Thank goodness for earplugs to dampen the sound!

One clear afternoon about 10 days into our trip, Frank was on watch and Clayton and I were chatting when the boat suddenly rounded up toward the wind. Clayton looked up and said, “Where ya going dad?”  Frank’s unhappy response was, “I don’t know!”

We had lost all steering!

Talk about all hands on deck! We quickly rolled in the genoa and centered the main. I took the helm, started the engines and kept us into the wind. Clayton opened the port engine compartment and Frank and Connor took the starboard, all trying to diagnose the issue. Somehow the bolt of the steering rod on the starboard side had completely backed out and we had no steering!

DSCF0124Frank and Connor after replacing the steering bolt. 

Fortunately the bolt, washers and nut were found in the engine compartment and within 15 minutes we had steering again! At least now I know what happens when we loose our steering while under sail!

This issue was completely independent of the Chewbacca noise which stayed with us the whole trip. (Now we think this is an issue with the roller bearings but we probably need to have TTR out of the water to attempt this fix.)

Passage to HI-10Frank on the foredeck at sunset. (Photo by C. Stich) 

We expected to have unstable conditions as we approached Hawaii, but instead the wind died, the sea flattened out and we had enough of a rain shower to wash the topside of Ticket to Ride! Except for when we were fixing the steering, we only used the engines for the last portion of our trip – about 16 hours of our 2600 nm trip. 

Passage to HI-5The verdant hillside of Hawaii was a welcome sight.

Even though we had a great trip, land was a welcome sight. Knowing we would be back on U.S. soil during these turbulent COVID-19 times was an added benefit.

Passage to HI-4   A quiet and relaxing view in Radio Bay, Hilo.

This trip was exceptionally easy especially for two weeks of ocean travel. We could not have asked for better weather, wind or sea conditions. The crew was pretty special too!

When we arrived at the seawall in Radio Bay, s/v Moondance and s/v Kalewa were there to grab our lines and secure Ticket to Ride to her check in space.  While we couldn’t greet our friends with hugs or touch of any kind, seeing their smiling faces was joyous.

Surprisingly, what I most enjoyed about coming to rest was not the lack of motion, but the quiet.  My ears tend to be sensitive and two weeks of noise from the rushing of water and the wake created by TTR was very tiring for me. I ended up wearing noise cancelling headphones at times during the passage to give my senses a rest. The hush of Hilo was magical.

During our trip, several friends reached out via IridiumGo to say hello and let us know they were watching our progress. I found great pleasure in these short messages and looked forward to the little “pings” announcing a new message.  Thank you so much for keeping me company as we traveled and for having us in your thoughts and prayers. Your messages warmed my heart and added a lift to my days! A special thank you to Laura who made a concerted effort to contact me every other day with newsy notes that were entertaining and more welcome than she realizes.

Summary:

  • Banderas Bay, MX to San Benedicto: 320 nm, average speed: 9.2 knots or 10.6 mph
  • Total time from Banderas Bay to San Benedicto: 1 day 10 hours
  • San Benedicto to Hilo, HI: 2500 nm, average speed: 8.2 knots or 9.4 mph
  • Total time from San Benedicto to Hilo: 13 days, 2 hours
  • Total distance Banderas Bay to Hilo, HI: 2820 nm or 3,245 miles
  • Total under engine for both segments: 16 hours
  • Highest SOG to Hawaii: 17.9 knots or 20.6 mph

A special thank you to Clayton Stich for most of these great photos!

Molokai*

By Connor Jackson

We’ve been on this boat for nearly two weeks
We’re tired, out of produce, and my executive suite reeks
But 400 miles away lies a great destination
I think we’re all ready for a Hawaiian vacation
 
But where do we choose? We all have a different priority.
Well, I’m here to represent an island minority.
You say the debate’s closed; let sleeping dogs lie.
Well hold your dang horses – let me tell you of Molokai.
 
With many safe anchorages during all passing seasons
It’s no wonder this was the landing spot of the first Polynesians.
Known at times as the Friendly, Forgotten, and Lonely Isle
With the highest density of native Hawaiians, she’ll garner a smile.
 
She has an export economy of sweet potatoes, coffee, and peppers
But she holds another treasure – an ancient colony of lepers.
Unfortunately restrictions there prevent us from going on land
But their story is inspiring, so let’s… give them a hand?
 
If access was granted, it wouldn’t cost us an arm and a leg,
We could cut footloose with the locals like Stump and Peg. 
But enough with rotten jokes, don’t let them give you a fright
Thanks to them is a lack of development, not even a stoplight.
 
Kaunakakai Harbor is the place that everyone loves
Its main street has an old western feel, so we can reenact Lonesome Dove.
Despite it being the birthplace of the hula dance and (maybe) flower leis
The locals still request to please refrain from any of your sporting ways.
 
There’s also Papohaku, a stopover from O’ahu
To ease the crossing from Maui from one day to two.
I won’t say this is Kaui, with vegetation resplendent 
And it sounds like some of the anchorages here, are highly weather dependent.
 
We are stocked up for months with plenty of provisions
So don’t let the lack of markets affect your decisions
I know only Trix and peanut butter may sound like slim pickins’
But rest assured Frank can make 10 kt chickens.
 
The island abounds with stunning geography and ample places to hike
And its home to a Pacific Seafarer Net radio operator, KJ8ZXM.
I saw no mention of surfing, and I know for some that won’t please
But I don’t really care, because I don’t have good knees.
 
But I’ve been going on a while, and I don’t mean to tire us
I think by now we have clear choice to avoid coronavirus.
Your guys’ islands are not that great, I say with a sigh
The only rational option is the gem, Molokai
 
Oahu? Localism. Maui? Crowded. Kaui? Anchorages too few
To go anywhere but “The Friendly Isle” I must poopoo
I see your sad faces, but before your mood turns sour
Let’s just go to the place with the most mana power.*

 

*This poem includes some inside TTR passage jokes and might be confusing.

WOW, if you made it through this looong blog, thank you.  We appreciate you taking the time to share our journey. If you have any questions or comments, please reach out or add them to the comments below.  Stay safe out there!

 

 

 

 

 

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