Friday, June 5, 2009

Thoughts on bluewater sailing

A few notes on the crossing from Mexico to Hawaii – My first long distance blue water crossing.

Like marriage and sex, long distance sailing is something you have to experience for yourself to truly understand. Nothing I had read fully prepared me for this. The distances and time periods are enormous – measured in 1000's of miles and weeks - and you need to decide on a philosphical approach to the voyage. You can treat it as a giant race and try to get the most out of the boat each day, focusing on goals like miles run or you can do the minimum to keep things moving and lay back and enjoy the relaxing solitude. I chose something on the spectrum defined by these ends and while I measured our progress daily and tried to get good speed out of Ladybug, I did not push her continuously, Instead I reefed early and flew the spinnaker only until it was prudent to strike it. Because I was on my own, I had to husband my strength and there were days that I did no more than a couple of sail changes out of weariness or because there were better things to do. Other days, I relished the speed made under a press of white sail or the billowing spinnaker. On these days I would watch the GPS and knotmeter enjoying a consistent 6 to 7 knots for hours at a time.

It is probably the perpetual motion that is most difficult to adapt to. Even typing this paragraph on the keypad of my tiny laptop is made infinitely more difficult by the heaving and lurching of the cabin. Cooking underway would be impossible without my coat hanger fiddles and the galley strap that holds me snugly against the lurching. Even then spilled food and drinks were an almost daily occurrence.

Another thing that you cannot understand by reading about it is how big and empty the oceans of this world really are. After leaving Cabo, I saw no other vessels in nearly 4 weeks of sailing. There really is almost no traffic out here in the Pacific. If you assume you can see for 10 miles in any direction, I can look at 300 square miles of ocean at any given time. Any time I look out, I see no other vessels and that fact still amazes me. There is simply nothing out here! And all this expanse of water is truly blue – a brilliant indigo colour that still looks unreal to me.

Here are a few pictures from the trip. I plan to post a couple of videos when I get back to Canada. It is possible that I will sail direct for BC from Hilo to improve the odds of selling Ladybug this year. I hope to return to Hawaii, though and have a leisurely cruise through her beautiful islands.

Rainbow over Hilo - June 4 arrival

Ladybug in Radio Bay Hilo

Pan fried oatcake and Fritata for brunch - the 4 week old bread got a bit boring...

2 small flying fish on deck - these are beautiful to watch skimming for hundreds of feet over the waves.

Ominous clouds - more rain on the crossing than we saw in the rest of the trip together.

Creative solution to keeping the cover on the pan.

The water is an amazing indigo blue out here

Last ship I saw when I left Cabo.

Booby passenger.

Dorados followed the boat when it was calm. This one is about 2.5 feet long.

Inspecting the rigging in Mazatlan

Craig Musseau in the galley before we left.


Theresa said...

Amazing pictures as always Chris. Very relieved to hear that you're safe and sound.

Cindy and Darren said...

Congratulations! What a wonderful accomplishment! I'm sure it does have to be experienced truly by oneself to be fully appreciated!

Hopefully you rest up well before your next leg, and we look forward to having you back in Canada!

Looking forward to more pictures and videos also!

ken said...

Great on you and glad to hear that you made it safe and sound. We hope to meet up possibly in Mazatlan before we head south in Oct.
Faye and Ken

Peter said...

Well done Bennett :-) sounds like quite an experience. Wish I could have come, but perhaps this way I will finish my dissertation!