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Mahina Expeditions, Offshore Cruising Training

Leg 4 - 2014, Update 1

August 8, 2014, 0600 hrs, 26.31 N, 155.00 W, Log: 177,004 miles
Baro: 1017.0, Cabin Temp: 80 F cockpit 73 F, sea water 83.5 F
Close-reaching at 7.2 kts in 13 kt E winds, double-reefed main, single-reefed genoa


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leg 4 crew
Leg 4 Crew: Glen, Steve, Gary, Jay, Peter & David

Our week between expeditions in Hilo Harbor flashed by. Thankfully before the remnants of Hurricane Genevieve brought torrential rains to Hilo we were able to get two coats of varnish on the toerail and handrails. We had previously tried to varnish in Alaska and were unsuccessful due to the cooler climate so we knew we wouldn't have the appropriate varnishing conditions until next year in San Diego. We chose the rainy Friday to make the two hour drive to the islands only Costco store located in Kailua Kona filling the rental car with excellent provisions at unheard of low prices. With sunny weather once again we were able to dry out and revive MT's interior that was still a little soggy and funky from our equator passage.

Genevieve was downgraded to a tropical depression after passing the Hawaiian Islands, only to gather strength as she passed the dateline. Now south of Midway Island and heading toward Japan she is a classed a super typhoon with winds of 140 kts, gusting 170 kts. Yikes!

Our real concern however was the approaching Hurricane Iselle followed by Hurricane Julio and Rick Shema, strongly suggested we consider departing Hilo earlier than our scheduled Tuesday noon. Monday afternoon when Leg 4 crew came aboard for our for our 2-hour safety briefing we showed them the weather charts, explaining that if we set sail as planned and made good speed straight north it was likely we'd clear Iselle. After seeing crew back to their hotels at 6:30 pm, Amanda and I worked until midnight doing a final shop and preparing MT for the third three week sea passage of the season.

I was at US Customs Tuesday morning when they opened at when our crew arrived at noon we'd completed all of our major chores and were ready for sea. It had helped that on Sunday I'd enlisted Glen to help with fueling that entailed 2 trips to the service station with the fuel jugs. After a quick lunch we set sail with Amanda going over hoisting and reefing procedures and once we were clear of Hilo breakwater, I demonstrated a Lifesling Quick Stop procedure.

Winds filled in as we cleared the island and before long we were double-reefed with a maximum of 39 kts in occasional squalls. Seas were a bit confused and half our crew succumbed to mal de mer but Stugeron worked its magic and within 24 hrs everyone was over it and keen to put the miles north.

We were able to monitor VHF continuous weather broadcasts until yesterday morning, but haven't heard anything yet from our friends in Hilo as to the extent of hurricane damage. Julio, the second hurricane is due to make landfall near Hilo with 90 kts, gusts to 110 tomorrow. These are not normal weather patterns for the Big Island, as historically large amounts of rain and flooding are all that the Mexican hurricanes bring. Without question, the warmer waters of the emerging El Nino episode are going to make this a very challenging season for cruisers in the Pacific.

Our winds and seas have gradually moderated and conditions couldn't be much better as the wind very slowly has clocked from NE to E and currently we are experiencing a hint of the predicted SE direction. The suggested course Rick Shema has laid out threads our way around the high pressure cells and a cold front to have us sailing nearly a straight line to Cape St. James, the southernmost tip of Haida Gwaii, formerly known as the Queen Charlotte Islands. Our new concern is sailing through the North Pacific Gyre of which we'll ask Dorothy Darden, a former expedition member, for an update.

We postponed class Wednesday due to seasickness, but everyone was perky enough yesterday to cover Marine Weather I around the cockpit table. This morning everyone was keen to start fishing and we'll complete Marine Weather II and inventory abandon ship supplies along with reviewing liferaft launching procedures after breakfast.


Leg 4 - 2014, Update 2

August 12, 2014, 0600 hrs, 34.56 N, 150.00 W, Log: 177,610 miles
Baro: 1019.8, Cabin Temp: 79 F cockpit 73 F, sea water 81.7 F (finally cooling)
Close-reaching at 7.1 kts in 15 kt E winds, single-reefed main, full genoa


Frequent expedition member Sam Parker just sent us this message:

"The national news had a story last night on a 42' sailboat that was rescued 300 miles NE of Honolulu yesterday in 92-115 mph winds and 30' seas. Hope you are ahead of the weather."

We have been tracking Hurricane Julio for a week and instead of running over the Island of Hawaii as the recent Hurricane Iselle did, Julio curved NW and has been following us, still sporting winds of 55, gusting 65 kts. However we've slowly been pulling away and now are 500 miles from the center.

Friday we hoisted the cruising spinnaker for the entire afternoon making some great miles in wonderful sunny conditions.

Jay, John and Glen get ready to hoist the spinnaker sleeve

Steve trims the cruising spinnaker

Saturday we had flat seas and great sailing, but Sunday and yesterday we had to succumb to some motoring in light winds with Julio generating large swells that rolled in from astern.

Amanda aloft working on the Antal track screws
When shaking out first reef in the middle of the night the halyard became tight followed by a loud bang. Amanda quickly figured a screw had backed out of the mast's Antal luff track and she ordered the mainsail dropped. Three sliders had caught on an offending screw, popping out their UHMD inserts out. Thankfully we had replacements and we were able to re-hoist the main keeping the reef in. After breakfast Amanda spent an hour at the masthead, replacing one bent screw using Loctite and tightening three other loose screws.

With calm conditions we've stopped to swim and sponge the Micron 66 bottom paint (for the first time this year) which has been doing an excellent job. Amazingly the water temperature is only now starting to cool down with today the first time it's dropped below 83 F in months.

Gary scrubbing the propeller

Swimming in the Big Blues

Gary and Glen plot our noon position

Amanda, Glen with mahi, and John
We've been keeping a sharp lookout for evidence of the Pacific Gyre; the Texas-sized mass of floating debris, with the larger flotsam including docks, semi-submerged 50' fishing boats and propane tanks from the Japanese tsunami.

Peter making the most of our sunny calm conditions to take a noon site
To date all we've spotted has been 14 instances of plastic fishing floats, some with as many as six floats tied together the odd bits of fishing net/line, a blue jerry jug and a bottle. Each time we spot a float our helmsman steers close to it, hoping to catch a fish.

Glen spotted a mahi mahi on one of our lines just after our swim yesterday and Amanda used some new Asian spices/sprinkles she bought in Hawaii in creating a wonderful dinner that included ginger sesame grilled mahi, wasabi mashed potatoes and a nori-sesame spiced vegetable melody.

This mellower weather has also given us the opportunity to get a couple days ahead on our class schedule and this morning Amanda will teach sail trim, followed by celestial navigation when we again try for a latitude by noonsite. We've gone from brilliant clear, blistering hot skies to more overcast conditions and the clouds blocked the sun at the critical time yesterday noon.

Here's our very keen Leg 4 crew:

Gary, 43
I'm a plastic surgeon from Kansas and became interested in sailing while living in Florida in my youth. Over the last decade I've been enjoying 1-2 weeks of bareboat chartering a year in various locations in Europe and the Caribbean. I'm retiring next year, taking delivery of an Allures 45 and off to see the world!

Peter, 62
I sail a Sirius 21 on the Upper Ottawa River out of Pembroke, Ontario. Now a semi-retired criminal lawyer I signed on to MT to improve skill acquired on a 200' schooner in younger years and more recently with Neal and Duncan out of Devon, UK.

Glen, 53
I live in the Seattle area with Pam, my wife of 33 years. We started sailing three years ago and are looking forward to retired life and staying active together. We learned through Windworks Sailing in Seattle and charter there also.

Steve, 45
I live aboard my Fusion 40 catamaran in Seattle with my partner Amy and we enjoy sailing Puget Sound. We are looking forward to sailing down the West Coast to San Diego next year but right now I'm concentrating on building my offshore and weather skills.

David, 62
I am a retired business manager living in Hobart, Tasmania and looking forward to sailing the wide world. I've sailed since I was 12 years old and currently own and sail a Cavalier 32. I've sailed in the Bahamas and Florida and extensively on the east coast of Australia including Tasmania. I joined this expedition to gain serious offshore experience.

Jay, 60
I live in Oak Park, IL near Chicago and am semi-retired after a career in construction management. I've been sailing out Chicago for over 30 years and have raced in 25 Chicago-Mac races. My wife Cheryl and I own a share in a Beneteau 50 based in the Virgin Islands and enjoy sailing there once or twice a year.

Leg 4 - 2014, Update 3

August 26, 2014, 1600 hrs, 54.19 N, 130.19 W, Log: 179,345 miles
Baro: 1028.1, Cabin Temp: 68 F cockpit 73 F, sea water: Chilly!
Moored alongside at Prince Rupert Rowing & Yacht Club,


We never did find the Pacific Gyre, in fact we saw very little rubbish, no huge logs - just a couple planks, lots of whales and dolphins and some friendly albatross. Normally we expect a good and proper westerly or nor'westerly gale on any passage back to Canada, but this time we had exceptionally fine and stable weather, with fewer days of motoring than ever before. Although sadly we only had the spinnaker up once as there was either no wind or enough wind for the genoa most of the time.

Steve, Dave and Jay enjoying great sailing conditions

Glen lends a hand chopping items for the lunch tray...a rather perfect execution!

David points the way

One of our many dolphin visits

Jay was quickly nicknamed "Rocket" by the crew for his love of speed and constant trimming to reach peak performance

The mellow conditions gave us perfect time for teaching and perfecting sail trim, working on celestial navigation, getting ahead on our teaching schedule and even time to watch an episode of Horatio Hornblower.

A Viking maiden appears to show the lad's what splicin' is all about

Time for the lads to hone their needle skills on some whippings

We'd hoped for a daylight sighting of Cape St. James, the southernmost tip of Haida Gwaii (previously known as the Queen Charlotte Islands) but it was nearly midnight on Thursday, Aug 24th when we spotted the light.

The 85 miles across Queen Charlotte Strait was in the daylight with absolutely amazing reaching conditions - good breeze, nearly flat seas and SUN, SUN, SUN! We carried the excellent sailing conditions through Laredo Sound and most of the way up Laredo Channel before the wind died, then came up on the nose and we really appreciated out trusty green friend flawlessly chugging away for the final 150 miles up narrow channels with the current sometimes with and sometimes against us.

It was all hands on deck to enjoy the reach across Queen Charlotte Strait
At nearly the narrowest part of the very narrow, 70 mile long Grenville Channel we had some challenging moments in pitch dark conditions as two large purse seiners came roaring down the wrong side of the channel, very close to the beach. We gave up hugging the shore and trying to pass port-to-port and made a sharp turn toward the opposite side of the channel, all the while trying to dodge two additional fishing boats that were sticking on their side of the channel.

Daylight in the Grenville Channel was slow in coming and spectacular - there was a little mist hanging over the sharp mountainsides of the channel, the water was perfectly flat and the sun burned through before long, warm enough for our hardy crew to eagerly accept the offer of hot showers on MT's Lido Deck!

Making the most of the sunny conditions underway to study winch servicing
Several times our crew said, "Hey, that looks like a neat inlet to explore - we've got to come back here on our own boats!"

It was 1340 when Larita and Billi, two First Nations girls welcomed us at Prince Rupert Yacht Club's guest dock. We soon learned that Oba, our favorite Japanese sushi restaurant from previous visits was still going strong so we enjoyed an excellent dinner there while making sailing plans.

As we had arrived three days before the expedition ended, we decided to sail 15 miles to Port Edward, so we could check out the North Pacific Cannery Museum.

Crew ready for the cannery tour: John, Gary, Steve, David, Jay, Glen and Peter

Our cute tour guide explains the working of the Iron Chink: a machine that filleted the salmon taking the place of 30 Chinese working on the fish line

Sewing class was talked by a keen Gary after he went a loft in the rain to check the Antal track screws

Sing-a-long on Traversay: Peter, Glen, Mary Anne, Larry and Jay
Monday we returned to Prince Rupert and Steve's partner, Amy joined us all for dinner at an Italian restaurant. After dinner some of us returned to the yacht Traversay for a sing-a-long with Mary Anne and Larry.

Yesterday was pack and clean and everyone was off on more adventures. We now are enjoying a remarkably warm (68F) and sunny day and have been going over charts and planning our route for Leg 5.




Leg 4 - 2014, Itinerary

leg 4 Hilo Hawaii to Prince Rupert British Columbia


leg 1 | leg 2 | leg 3 | leg 4 | leg 5 | leg 6

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