#61 Time Is Slowly Fleeting (2)

Land Ho!  Oh, what a feeling.  The shape of Molokai is forming beyond a cloud just beside the setting sun.  Suddenly, the few tiny spots on the chart are now real land, lighthouses blinking, the sky glow of Oahu back lights a perfect outline of terra firma.  A warm breeze in the middle of the night feels good.  Debbie is sitting with me in the pilot house.  “Good idea, huh?”  We’re not even there yet, but I must admit it was.

The passage is complete.  Eliana is tied securely at slip address K-91 in KoOlina, 2,363 miles from Ensenada.  The trip took 12 days including Thanksgiving.  Our average speed was 8.1 knots.  There were 289 hourly logs with 64 noted as Heavy or Very Heavy sea.  Eliana along with all hands arrived healthy, happy and safe.

First sight of land after 12 days.  Molokai dead ahead.  Click to enlarge.

The fly specks on the chart are suddenly large.

A trip like this allows one time to ponder the big questions of life.  After #60, Debbie remarked “Isn’t ‘Time Slowly Fleeting’ an oxymoron?”.  She does that to me all the time.  You know, using words I have to look up.  Anyway, it is a contradiction, but the reason I liked the song is because it reveals a paradox.  One that could be said of a long boat passage ... or life itself.  How ironic to wish time could pass more quickly, then suddenly, ready or not, it’s over.

While Time Is Slowly Fleeting by Anael is the theme song for our trip because it ties in so well with this topic.  In the last post, I shared a 4 minute video (now extended to 5.5 minutes) using the song as background music.  Here are the lyrics I hope you’ll take time to read...

While Time is Slowly Fleeting

Long since begun, nurtured years of dreaming?

And faith has spun an altered sense of reason

As long as it's leading you, the mind will hunt the vision?

But time is slowly fleeting, it's fleeting from you?

And what can you do?

Define the sun: for each a different meaning

And who to judge the light redeeming?

That warms us each contrarily?

Mine has shown me another state?

One that fosters precision?

But time is slowly fleeting?

So tell me, what will you do?

She can't take what you have?

She'll chase you and dare you to dance?

But your fate's in your hands?

In your unsparing will to surpass?

Your path is sacred and drives the fear away?

So if time is slowly fleeting, know it's HIS way

Well now's the hour for dreaming?

Time to seek my newest Eden

I drift beyond to greet her?In a kingdom only we share

It's always wonderful inside of me?

To find the soul's been waiting?

And while time is slowly fleeting?

There's still so much here to do

©2005 Nurtured Spontaneity Publishing

At the end I have provided a link to the updated, 5.5 minute version of the video.  It pairs the full length song by Anael with images from our trip start to finish.  I hope you will watch it again, this time with the lyrics in mind!

As a bonus, I have attached the complete version of Linda’s Daily Journal.  In it, she interestingly relates the experience through her own eyes.  I'm sure you'll enjoy it.

Now for the details...

Ship’s Log

Each hour, at the top of the hour, a logbook entry is automatically started which marks the time, position, speed, heading and so forth.  To that, the watch keeper can add notes including, but not limited to such things as throttle setting, sea state and water temperature.  

One of the most important automatic items is the distance-made-good during the hour.  I transfer the number to a spreadsheet so we can later analyze the data.  On this trip, I wanted to better understand the relationship between engine RPM and speed.  I also wanted to confirm my own suspicion that sea state affected hourly fuel consumption more than I previously assumed.

To get the RPM analysis, we never changed throttle setting except at the top of the hour.  That way we could associate a particular RPM with the distance for that hour.  For the first couple of days, we changed RPM every hour assuming average conditions would be similar for all RPM’s.  As the pattern developed, we noted distance was markedly higher at 1500 than at 1400 without a large fuel penalty.  Higher RPM’s such as 1600 and 1700 yielded very little in speed, but burned significantly more fuel.  So for the remainder of the trip, we used 1500 as our standard RPM.

Then, the sea state question.  To do that, I made up four distinct sea state levels based on how the vessel responded rather than on wave size, shape, direction or period.  It made it easier for any of us to assign a sea state level each hour as follows:

1 - Light: Waves cause very little pitch, heading or speed fluctuation.        

2 - Moderate: Waves cause mild pitching and/or heading variation, but no speed changes, no pounding, no spray over the rail.

3 - Heavy: Waves impact the hull forcefully and produce spray above the rail.  Speed fluctuates up to 1 knot.  One hand rule in effect on board.

4 - Very Heavy: Significant wave impact capable of blue water above the rail, producing speed fluctuations of 1 knot or more.  Two hand rule in effect on board.

Each hour the watch keeper picked one of the above four to represent the previous hour.  It was remarkably easy to agree which level should be assigned.  We adhered strictly to the description above.

In addition, we took an daily inventory of fuel to compare fuel burn with the average sea state for that day.  After 12 days of data, we measured the effect on fuel consumption and the results were dramatic.  Our average fuel consumption was 9.58 gallons per hour when running in Light to Moderate sea.  Outstanding!  But when running in Heavy to Very Heavy conditions, our fuel burn averaged 13.69 gallons per hour.  We found that high fuel burn occurred regardless of which direction the heavy sea was coming, the direction we were hitting it (or it hitting us) or what RPM we tried to run.

This is important information because it proves we can’t plan fuel consumption without knowing sea conditions ahead of time.  That said, when planning long passages, we now have a benchmark to calculate from if we can at least estimate how much time will be spent in each of the four conditions.

The hourly spreadsheet.

Waves pounding the hull consistently causing spray over the rail constituted Heavy sea condition.


We wanted to make Thanksgiving normal as possible.  We were blessed with beautiful skies and moderate sea.  If ever there were there were a Thanksgiving to be thankful, this ranks right up there.  Something about being in the middle of the ocean made our thankfulness even more meaningful!  We set 2:00 PM as dinner time and enjoyed a delicious meal prepared by our three girls.  We did miss football!  Oh well, next year.

They brined the turkey breast.  It was awesome.  A little bit was left over to make turkey soup.

Thanks was given and we celebrated the gift of being OK in the middle of nowhere.


The weather threw us one curve ball after another.  The only thing we knew for certain was that each day’s forecast would be different from the day before.  Finally, I decided it made no sense to outguess it, but rather make a straight course to our destination and take what comes.

Because we were recording sea state each hour, I can definitively say that we had 122 hours of 1 - Light; 104 hours of 2 - Moderate; 45 hours of 3 - Heavy; and 19 hours of 4 - Very Heavy conditions.  The worst came in the last three days.  It was interesting to see how Eliana handled it.  The waves towered higher than I’ve ever seen before.  To estimate wave height, I sight it from the wheelhouse, a height off the water (~20 feet) and add my estimate of the wave portion above the horizon.  There is no doubt in my mind we had several instances of combined waves in the 30’ range for several hours.  They approached us from various angles on our starboard beam.  Eliana rode up and down like an elevator with a decent ride most of the time. 

Occasionally the shape of the wave would throw her off and we would have a brief roll.  Anything on the counters or tables unsecured would crash to the floor.  The Trac stabilizers have always done a magnificent job of preventing most of the roll, but believe me, these waves were so large and moved so fast it was virtually impossible to prevent all of it.  We also took two or three significant blue water hits to our salon windows.  I was so thankful for the storm plates we put on in San Diego.

Not to give you the wrong impression, we also had many days of good weather.  One in particular was absolutely glorious so a lot of time was spent out back in the cockpit.

It's hard to do the huge waves justice in a picture.  From a 20' high eye level, they still towered way above us.  Click to enlarge.

Another one.  These push up way above the horizon.  Click to enlarge.

Sunsets were always glorious.

A perfect afternoon on the patio.

Random Notes

We decided to set ship time to Hawaii on November 25 at 12 noon.  Linda offered to make the watch accommodation by lengthening hers to five hours.  Otherwise watch schedules remained the same.

Wish we would have known we could have had a flying fish smorgasbord.  We threw off dozens of them during the trip.  Don’t ask, I have no idea why they jump in but they do.  

One day, Peter put two lures out the back and within a couple hours hit two Mahi Mahi.  He thought it was a male and female.  I don’t know, but I do know we had fresh fish that night and it was good.

Mechanically, we were very lucky.  Only one slightly problematic issue.  The controller board on one of the generators went bad which prevented it from running.  Nothing wrong with the generator itself, just an erroneous fault message that wouldn’t go away.  We ended up running the 40KW the whole way and it never missed a beat.  Based on our fuel tracking, it must have been extremely efficient.  Better than I thought it would be.  Anyway, I was glad we had a third generator to back it up.

As the sea and water temperatures rose, we ended up running the air conditioning most of the way.  It was good to have the doors and windows closed when the weather kicked up.

Two Mahi Mahi Peter caught.

Before Closing

You may recall from Linda’s Daily Journal that she got sea sick in the first days of the trip.  I’m happy to report she was a regular old salt by the end of it.  I’m no expert on seasickness, but one thing I’ve noticed is that a strong will usually figures something out.  We were thankful Linda was a trooper and hung in there.

As promised, here is the link to While Time Is Slowly Fleeting, the 5.5 minute version of our official Hawaii Passage video. 

Also, don’t miss Linda’s Daily Journal.  

We would like to thank you for your interest in Eliana's Journal and for your warm comments and best wishes.  The crew of Eliana wish you and yours a Merry Christmas and Happy New Year.

Rick Heiniger

N7617 Eliana

Lying: Ko Olina, Hawaii

Total Mileage: 11,127 Miles

Current Blog Article: