#60 Time Is Slowly Fleeting

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"

Rick Heiniger

N7617 Eliana

Underway: Position 26.1N 135.1W

Miles so far: 1,055

Miles to go: 1,330

Total Mileage: 9,805

Track Eliana


hank 12/20/2011
hello, Aphoto shows you cleaning on the boat deck. Can you say the manufacturer of the gray tender with the Honda outboard? Thanks Hank Hi Hank, Our tender "Sweet Charlotte" is built by Bullfrog Boats in Bellingham, WA. Craig Henderson is the proprietor. He uses roto-molded sides so they are soft but not inflatable. Then builds a double wall hull with aluminum and puts it all together. You can find him at www.bullfrogboats.com! Rick
Bob Schnell 12/20/2011
Merry Christmas Rick and Debbie, And to think it all started aboard a 38' Meridian at the Lake of the Ozarks. I'm jealous! We're at a new marina after our old dock was sunk by a tornado. Fortunately, none of the boats on the dock were hurt badly. They just floated down the lake and were picked up by marina service personnel. Any time you decide to forgo your Pacific adventures and come back to southern Missouri, just paddle up the Osage River, go over Bagnell Dam and stop by the Ozark Yacht Club.
DreamsFloat Joe 11/29/2011
Congratulations crew aboard Eliana! SPOT on! Have fun! Aloha
Bob Danelz 11/27/2011
Rick, Debbie and crew, It's been a few days since your last blog. At least on my computer. Your tracking position is progressing and your're almost there. We would love to get an update with Thanksgiving and your progress. How is Linda's sea sickness doing? I'll bet she is cured after those first few days of suffering. We just got back from Bodega Bay and had all the World famous clam chowder and fresh crab we could eat. Boy at low tide you sure see why you have to stay in the channel. (We drove over by car) Looking forward to your next entry - and your arrival to the land of Hawaii. Bob Danelz Sacramento, CA
April & Glenn 11/25/2011
Hi Peter & Paige: Tracking your progress and living vicariously through your amazing adventure! Enjoy your remaining days at sea and we look forward to hearing your tales when you return. Cheers!
Bob Danelz 11/23/2011
Rick & Debbie - and crew, Peter, Paige & Linda, I am sitting in Sacramento, having just signed on to your blog for the first time. (I was looking at Yachtworld.com and came across you guys) I love boats, I love Nordhavn's -and someday I will be doing what you're doing. I am so excited for all of you. Linda, your writing of your personal adventure on this trip has rekindled my memories of being at sea. I would like to help you with your sea sickness. I know exactly what you are (were, as of this writing) feeling. In 1967 I left Norfolk, VA on a Navy Destroyer for Viet Nam. I remember the last vision of land, like your picture, as we headed out to sea. In my heart, I was panicing. I was "sick" from Norfolk to Panama City, about 4 - 5 days. Everybody made fun of me. I remember one old sailor saying, "wait until Friday and they serve fish - being the smell from the steam line in keeping the food warm. He was right. I survived on crackers only. The good news. After that ugliness, I was cured. I stepped out on land, in Panama, to take the garbage to shore - and I noticed I thought the land was moving. Wierd. But I never had sickness symptoms like that ever again. We were in seas so rough in the South Pacific that it was just as easy to walk on the bulkhead as the deck. That's a 45 degree roll. No stabilizers. It just made us tired - and yes - you can sleep forever - but no seasickness. Tomorrow is Thanksgiving - and I'm sure your Thanksgiving dinner and celebration, on board will be different than you have ever had before. I applaud you all. I will follow your progress with incredible interest. I do remember one more memory that happened while steaming from San Diego to Hawaii. I went on deck one morning when Diamond Head was looming on the horizon. I can only assume (now) we were about a week at sea. As the land mass got larger, and the excitement built in all of us (to see land again) you could smell the sweet smell of moist earth. I had never left "earth" long enough before, to smell it again for the very first time. Of course, it's Hawaii. Kinda new for this Minnesota boy. I will contine to follow your adventure on the good ship Eliana. Happy Thanksgiving and God Speed in your incredible adventure. Bob Danelz Sacramento, CA P.S. I like the Deadliest Catch TV reruns to while your hours away.
Joanne Masin 11/23/2011
SUBJECT: Wishes from an admirer Michael and I have been following Eliana and your progress - what an amazing adventure! Love all the entries and throughly enjoy reading about the trips. Wanted to wish you all a very happy Thanksgiving!! Speedy landfall. with best wishes,Mike and Joanne Masin
Grant T 11/23/2011
All I can say is wow. You must feel so blessed to experience the world in this way. You video really brought it all home. A Thanksgiving at sea, truly wonderful. I look forward to seeing Linda's next collection of journals as well as your continuing posts. Thanks so much for continuing to inspire,
Phill & Patricia 11/23/2011
Rick, Debbie & Crew, Not forgetting beautiful Eliana You inspire us with our own personal dream of a Nordhavn 68, the dream will become reality. God speed, a safe and enjoyable passage to all. Rick and Linda, keep up your journals and more videos as time permits please. Phill & Patricia
Sam 11/23/2011
Looks amazing! Since you guys are going to be in Hawaii, has there been any thought of going over into the Asian islands and Australia? Hi Sam, It's an option for sure. We've got some time to think about it. When we decided to come out here, it was with the thought of returning east, but as we all well know, we can change our minds at any time! Rick
Janet Silver 11/23/2011
SUBJECT: hello from the silvers, friends of Paige and Peter Hi! we were forwarded your blog by Jerry Brian. I would love to post a comment but cannot seem to find the place on the site to write. If Im really lucky, this will get posted so here goes! We are green with envy after hearing of your voyage and your beautiful boat. We are delighted that you took Peter and Paige, two good friends of ours who were so excited when they told us about this trip. Peter is the most organized maintenance oriented boater I know and Paige is just a lot of fun, a great cook and a sweet girl! Enjoy! We look forward to hearing more and more about this trip. We are boaters also with a sailboat who can only imagine the comfort level you are enjoying. Janet and Ken Silver
Dan Streech 11/23/2011
Hi Rick and Debbie, I am green with envy and bursting with pride. I LOVED blog #60- especially the video. There is a certain peace and rhythm that settles in on a long passage. Food is tastier, sleep is delicious, jokes are funnier, conversations are deeper, music is better and a general sense of well being takes over as the gentle purr of the MTU and the water rushing along the hull provide a gentle soothing backdrop. This condition doesn’t have a name, but I know it when I see it.. and I see it on the happy ship ELIANA. As always.. thank you for showing us the way… Vicariously, Dan Streech PS: I have made the passage to Hawaii twice.. on Mason sailboats. Both times, we achieved the harmonious state described above.. and, both times, I didn’t want to arrive- didn’t want the magic to end or to break the spell. It also happened to me on the passage to Bermuda on Sans Souci during the NAR. I wrote about it at the time and it is buried somewhere in our web site.
Debbie and Rick, My husband and I stayed at the Marriott Resort in Ko Olina...it's a beautiful and very peaceful place, you will enjoy it there. Walking paths along the ocean, calm bays to swim, yoga in the morning by the sound of the surf. How blessed you are. I enjoy following your adventures, thanks for keeping us all updated. Have a great winter. Aloha, Molly Nagle..aka..Dan Shanks little sister
Patti DiMiceli 11/23/2011
Rick, Debbie, Linda, Peter, and Paige... thank you, thank you, THANK YOU for inviting me (via the Nordhavn Dreamers group) into your life and onto your lovely yacht!!! I am having SO much fun crossing the Pacific with you. Despite the distance between us (I am in Annapolis, MD), I feel as though I am on Eliana at this moment. The 4 minute video was magical and Linda's journal is "edge of your seat" captivating! Going through the "day to day" brings my dream into fruition, if only for a few moments. Please know that you are touching lives and feeding dreams! Looking forward to the next entry!!! “Let your mind start a journey thru a strange new world. Leave all thoughts of the world you knew before. Let your soul take you where you long to be...Close your eyes let your spirit start to soar, and you'll live as you've never lived before.” —Eric Fromm
Chris 11/23/2011
Rick Thank you for the wonderful video, please post as many more as you wish ?. Love the technical aspect as well as the beautiful scenery. This is all priceless to us dreamers. Thanks again and enjoy this wonderful journey. Chris
Kathy Clark 11/23/2011
Congratulations to all of you on a great adventure but special kudos to Linda. Anyone who's ever suffered seasickness would be amazed at your humor and ability to keep a daily journal when you are feeling like that! You can crew for us anytime.
Adam and Eve 11/23/2011
Rick and Debbie, congratulations on leaving for your passage. I remember when we had dinner last spring you said you weren't sure yet about doing a Pacific crossing, but clearly your experience this summer changed your mind. We wish we were in Hawaii so we could be there to welcome you!
Stephanie 11/23/2011
Hi guys! So happy to read your post and know that you're doing so well. We've been thinking of you these past couple of weeks. Lovely video. Also hope that Linda continues to feel better! Hugs to you all. Steph & Mart
Tom Bono 11/22/2011
Rick, Debbie, and crew: Still with you on your fantastic adventure. Your account is very interesting and Linda's journal evoked both sympathy and laughter at the same time. Eagerly await the next episode. Best wishes. Tom and Janet
DreamsFloat Joe 11/22/2011
Linda, get well! Thanks for your entry, photos and audio/video! Great stuff! Enjoy your journey and Happy Thanksgiving y'all. Aloha!