Monday, March 31, 2014

Routines - Day 4

I have now settled in to a routine after 3 days at sea.

Coffee and sunrise start the day. At first light, I check my position, check the sails and then call in to the "Picante" net on SSB. I shake out the reefs put in the night before and do a quick "once around" on deck to check all lines, fittings and sails. (I also throw overboard any dead squid or flying fish that have landed on deck during the night - I didn't realize squid could fly!) As I shake out the reefs, adjustments are made to all sheets and halyards to prevent chafe. Then it's on to breakfast. Since the seas have been fairly calm, I have taken the opportunity to do a lot of cooking. I have way too much food and hope I can eat all the fresh stuff before it starts rotting. Made a great Shepard's Pie yesterday and now have leftovers for another meal.

During the day, it is all about relaxing, reading, playing the guitar and repositioning the solar panels. Every half hour or so, I check our progress and adjust course and the sails, as necessary. It's not usually necessary as the wind has been light but consistent from the NW between 6 and 12 knots. I am averaging a little less than 4 knots and have been becalmed at times. I ran the engine for an hour yesterday to top off the water tanks and the batteries and all worked well. HAL is keeping us on a course of about 240 degrees and while I'm not breaking any speed records I am moving comfortably in the right direction. We're about 260 miles out and will be passing south of the Socorro islands sometime today or tonight.

In the evening, I call into the Pacific Puddle Jump Net and put a reef in each of the sails for the night. I have been sleeping up to an hour or more at a time as it seems I am pretty much out of the shipping lanes and am seeing fewer and fewer boats. The farther out I get, the longer I will sleep at a stretch. Saw one fishing boat heading in to port last night around 2 AM but he passed several miles to the South of me (no AIS). I have the AIS alarm set to alert me whenever there is a ship within 5 miles (all large ships are required to transmit AIS) but nothing heard for over a day now.

Hoping to get some more wind soon (careful what you ask for!). Can't wait to get into the NE trades in a few days and start making some real progress.

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Saturday, March 29, 2014

Deep B lue - Day 2

Starshine has reached the deep azure blue waters only found many miles offshore. Staring into the depths is like gazing into eternity. On the last voyage I sank an aluminum can into the calmest blue waters I have ever seen. The sunlight glinted off the shiny metal for what seemed like an eternity as it slowly descended into the abyss.

The last crescent of moon rose this morning just before the beautiful sunrise. Tonight will be a new moon and the stars should once again be awesome. The windvane "HAL" kept us on course all night long. I'm not sure why long distance sailors seem to name their windvanes but I chose to name our hydrovane HAL after the computer in 2001, A Space Odyssey. He works tirelessly and I have never heard him once say "I'm sorry Dave, I can't do that".

Made about 100 miles in first 24 hours. The winds died down this morning for a while but have picked back up this afternoon. At least we're moving in the right direction and the motion is pretty comfortable.

Wasn't Deep Blue the computer program that played chess with Bobby Fisher? I wish I had a chess app on my iPad so I could spend some of my copious free time improving my game. Well, I've got lots of books, puzzles. pod casts, a guitar and three seasons of the Sopranos to keep me busy.

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Friday, March 28, 2014

Take 2, Day 1

Starshine is off towards the South Pacific again, this time I'm going solo, apparently Gail has much more sense than I do.

Got the engine fixed, checked out of Mexico (got my Zarpe) and was preparing to leave the marina when I noticed that the chart plotter screen was blank. Hey, it's a boat, stuff breaks! I anchored in La Cruz and took the offending unit in to see Pieter the electronics guru. He took the unit apart, put it back together and tested it. It worked fine. So I took it back to the boat and viola, it worked! Apparently, there was a bad connection internal to the unit (maybe between the two boards) and taking it apart and reconnecting it solved the problem. We'll see for how long. Actually, I don't use the chart plotter much in the open ocean (there's not much to see). I also downloaded the iNavx app for my iPad and that is awesome - I have all the charts for the South Pacific and the iPad GPS tracks my position. So now I think I have 5 separate GPS rececivers! Technology is amazing!

I am currently leaving Bandaras Bay (20 deg 35' N, 106 deg 43' W). There is an awesome 10 - 15 knot breeze from the NW and we are doing about 5 knots heading 240 T. At least 3 other boats also left today, including Trevor on Nakiska, another singlehander. He is on his way back to Australia where he started many years ago (16, I think). He has done all his ocean passages by himself. His next crew is flying out to Hiva Oa to sail French Polynesia with him for a few months and I am hoping Gail does the same.

If I had a dollar for everyone who said they were going to live vicariously through me ... So, I don't know who is out there listening but I will try to keep a regular blog - I don't want to disappoint any followers (if anyone's actually out there in the matrix). Unfortunately, I can't see any comments until I get to my next internet hot spot but I will read them all then! For those that have my sailmail address, please write me.

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Thursday, March 20, 2014


We were finally on our long anticipated journey to the South Pacific that began last Saturday at 10:15 AM when we raised anchor. Winds and sailing were perfect and we made almost 300 miles in two days! On Monday morning, we decided we should run the water maker and we started the engine. The engine ran for about five minutes and then... failed! Somehow air had gotten into the fuel lines so Dave tried to bleed the engine and as he was bleeding the engine, the screw broke off with no way on board to fix it without a proper tool for the flare fitting. As disappointing as it was, we decided we had to turn back. Of course it took only two days to go those 300 miles and it is now a slow slog back. We are on our fourth day of the return and still have over a hundred miles to go as the winds are much calmer. In fact the night before last, we were totally becalmed and making 0 progress. This happened at dusk so we decided to completely take down the sails and bare pole it and pretend we were at anchor. The ocean was so calm and flat and beautiful and we both were able to get a good night's sleep as we used the V-Berth for the first time this week. As I told Dave, he did not need to worry about dragging anchor and hitting land! And as far as hitting ships, the AIS technology is a god send. We set the alarm for three miles so that if a ship came within three miles of us, the alarm would wake us and it did not go off at all which was not a surprise. After getting about 100 miles away from land, the boats have been nonexistent. Anyway, it was surreal to have this huge, beautiful "anchorage" to ourselves.

Many thanks to our friends and family that have been following us, thinking of us, and praying for us. Currently we are safe and secure and keep reminding ourselves that people have sailed without engines for centuries! We are getting low on water (about 20 gallons), but with our strict conservation efforts (no showers for a week!) we will be fine. And not to mention the other liquid refreshments we have on board. As I write this, we are traveling about 4 knts and with any luck hope to make it back to Paradise Village by tomorrow, but more likely will arrive on Saturday. Then we will get to check in with the Mexican officials all over again (oh, joy) and get to pay them overtime fees if we do this on Saturday. We will then restock, regroup, and rethink our next plan of attack.

As a side note, a very Happy Birthday to my husband and best friend! He knew he would be spending this day on the open seas, but I am sure he thought that he would be closer to the equator than Puerto Vallarta at this point. Remember honey, that it is all about the journey... But may all your wishes and dreams on this day finally come true!

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Monday, March 10, 2014

Almost There...

I'm writing this from Phoenix as I flew back last week to finish up taxes and car maintenance/insurance/registration (ugh!).  It was quite a culture shock and I almost cried tears of joy in Trader Joes as I stared mesmerized at the rows of cheese (cheese in Mexico has a lot to be desired).  And driving my car with air conditioning after all the hot and sticky and crowded bus rides makes me fully appreciate my car.


Tomorrow I am back in Mexico and we plan on leaving for the really big sail later this week after checking out of Mexico.  Puddle Jumpers are now leaving daily.  It is hard to believe that Dave and I have now been in Mexico over four months as the time has flown! We are both though ready to move on and discover the South Pacific and all the new adventures and experiences awaiting us.  Stay tuned…