Imagine the pioneer in a covered wagon moving slowly across the continent to California. His family and all their possessions move little faster than a walking pace. No sign of civilization, roads, buildings or people along the way. The path he takes is of his own choosing. Always present in his mind is the raw fact that they’re on their own.
From San Diego, the distance is greater to Hawaii than to Maine. The Pacific, at 64.1 million square miles covers about a third of the earth’s surface. It’s larger than all the earth’s land mass combined with enough left over to fit in another Africa. At it’s deepest, the Mariana Trench is over 35,000 feet deep. A boat in the Pacific is nothing but a tiny micron of matter. There will be no signs of civilization. No gas stations, hotels or people for that matter.
I don’t mean to compare what we’re doing with the faith and courage of the pioneers. On the other hand, setting out to cross 2,400 miles of the Pacific feels eerily different from what I imagined five minutes before we decided to do it. Let’s see ... what might go wrong. Well, there’s Mother Nature for example. Hmmm, she holds all four aces so we can’t assume a winning hand. Murphy’s Law? Of course, but we’ll do the best we can and pray for the rest. Just like our pioneer forefathers, we won’t be the first ones to look upward for assurance.
Sunset over the Pacific. (NASA) - Click to enlarge.
Debbie brought up the idea of going to Hawaii on Sunday morning. We made the final decision on Tuesday and left Wednesday, eight days later. This entry is about getting ready to go, and the first few days at sea. I have included a four minute video at the end entitled “While Time Is Slowly Fleeting”
about our first days at sea. As a bonus, I’m including Linda’s Daily Journal
. It’s about life aboard Eliana from her perspective as a crew member. It’s very interesting and has a lot more pictures than what I’m providing. I encourage you to open it for a good read. Eight Days of Preparation
Because of the distance, we thought it was important to learn a bit more about Hawaii because it’s now our thought this will be an extended stay, probably several months. It’s too far not to stay while. We found Ko Olina Marina to be clean, well managed and moderately priced. Hawaii doesn’t have predatory taxation on visiting boats so we’re safe on that point. It allows us to set up our home in the heart of the 50th state and gives us plenty of time to choose the right season to explore different parts of the islands with Eliana. We have all the current charts.
I contacted our insurance carrier, Pantaenius America and sure enough required an addendum to our policy to cover us while in Hawaii and including the transit both ways.
Next is crew. We were able to quickly assemble a pick-up team of five that has incidentally turned out to be a good combination. Peter and Paige St Phillip are boat dock friends from Dana Point. They are both experienced at sea, in excellent health and fortunately were able to work this into their schedule on short notice. Debbie’s sister Linda also accepted our request to help with watches. Another duty of hers is to write the daily journal from her perspective. She teamed up with Peter to have him take pictures. Debbie and I knew the chemistry would be good but are finding this is a nice ratio. The three women, two men combination seems to work, although would have loved to have Linda’s husband Bill with us. Good food and a happy household goes a long way to making a pleasant trip.
As you might suspect, I shopped fuel and found prices $1.25 cheaper in Ensenada, MX, just 60 miles south of San Diego. That meant we had to check in and out of Mexico at the same time, fill up with fuel and be on our way. The exercise cost us a day, but was well worth it.
I updated all the run-times on equipment with hour meters and checked near term ‘future’ preventative maintenance to do anything I could in advance. Checked spare parts inventory. One never knows for sure, but I thought we were in pretty good shape.
Valley Power visited to inspect the main engine and adjusted valve lash and injector heights. Afterwards, we completed a sea-trial to verify the engine was purring like a kitten.
I was suspicious that one of our water makers was not working up to par so Village Marine came down and sure enough there was a slightly defective membrane that needed replacement.
All safety and emergency gear was double checked and organized. I realized we had never practiced putting out the sea anchor. For that matter, I didn’t actually want do it for real because we would just have to clean it back up and repack it. I did think it might be a good idea to do a dress rehearsal, lining up all the parts stored in a single locker within the confines of the Portuguese bridge. We then connected all the parts as they would be used and rehearsing the procedure for launching it. The sea anchor consists of a 28’ under water parachute with a combination of tow harness and line totaling 730’.
We also installed storm plates on the salon windows. All the other windows and hatches are storm proof, but the large plate glass windows have enough extra area, they need protection. Since they are a little awkward to mount, I thought it would be a good idea to put them on before we leave and not worry about it.
To be safe, we installed an additional covering on the upper aft deck settee which not only protects the settee, but that’s where our emergency gear, ditch bags, etc. are stored adjacent to two 6-man Switlik life rafts.
Debbie and Linda did a magnificent job of provisioning. The pantry, freezer and refrigerator were all full. They laughed because the last trip they made was ONLY done because there was just a wee bit of space left.
The Eliana Crew L to R: Debbie, Linda, Paige, me and Peter
Protective plexiglass storm plates were installed on the salon windows.
The sea anchor is stored in this locker with all components in order, ready to go.
Conducted the monthly test on the EPIRB in case we need search and rescue.
A cover was made for the upper aft deck settee which is where much of our emergency gear is stowed. Getting Underway
Initially the forecast looked favorable for the entire trip hence the haste to get moving. I like using the .grb weather files that download to MaxSea. They are usually pretty reliable especially in the short term. I also use passageweather.com. For such a long trip, I consulted with Bob Jones from Ocean Marine. With all the best planning possible, we finally defaulted to a direct route via great circle navigation. It’s the absolute shortest distance so unless weather pushed us off, there would be no reason to divert from it. The alternative would have been a rhumb line on a constant heading all the way to Hawaii which would have built in a southward bend.
As luck would have it, one day into the trip the forecast abruptly changed and a series of fronts were forming that threatened to push south of our route. Looked like the rhumb line route might have been a better choice. We knew it wouldn’t be comfortable, so I immediately diverted southward to a 230 heading hoping to be south of 25N latitude by Sunday when the first front was predicted to pass. The cautious move gave me some peace of mind and the weather did develop with 15’ to 20’ sea (mostly swell) in 25 - 30 knot wind. Turned out not terribly uncomfortable, so we decided to continue with slightly more confidence directly to Honolulu. Now we reassess each successive front 2 to 3 days in advance to see if any other correction might be necessary.
Eliana at the fuel dock in Ensenada.
The great circle route vs. the rhumb line route. The GCR (top) appears curved, but on a globe is straight. The rhumb line appears straight, but on a globe curves to the south. Interestingly, the GCR requires slight periodic heading changes to achieve a straight line, whereas the rhumb line is one constant heading all the way.
Meals have been spectacular thanks to having three great cooks aboard.
And so has the scenery.
Peter washing off salt from two days of bad weather. Before Closing
As I write this, we are at 135W longitude, nearly half way to Hawaii. All is fine aboard Eliana and with her crew. I am planning to debrief our readers after we arrive. Then I will report any problems we have had, speed and fuel performance, plus anything else noteworthy.
Please don’t forget to watch the 4 minute video “While Time Is Slowly Fleeting”
. I named it after the song I used for background by Anael who I think is great.
The other bonus is the first six days of Linda’s Daily Journal
. She has been sending this to her close friends by email each day, but I have assembled them all in one document for your enjoyment.
In the meantime, the crew of Eliana wishes you a very Happy Thanksgiving! Be sure to leave your comments and questions at our web site by clicking the link below. Feel free to track our progress using "Track Eliana"
Underway: Position 26.1N 135.1W
Miles so far: 1,055
Miles to go: 1,330
Total Mileage: 9,805Track Eliana