#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


Dale Cole, OD 1/13/2012
This is my first day on your blog--lost Rick's card--it was in calendar left in KC while we were in Hawaii. Really enjoyed the visit to your site and particularly following Linda's diary. What an experience! Rick, you have inspired me to try a hand at blogging. Don't know if you recall meeting me at Loyd Davis's funeral. You will enjoy Hawaii and be sure to get to Kauai if you can. Check out Kauai Photo Tour in Kauai for a 5.5 hour photo excursion--a highlight of our trip. I will check back in on your blog site. Thanks!
Bob Danelz 12/20/2011
Captain Rick, Have you heard the news about the 62 Nordhavn, Grey Pearl? She was a complete loss from a fire while tied up in Phuket, Thailand. A terrible tradgedy. I just got it on my computer from the Ken Williams blog. Hopefully we can all learn what caused the fire. Bob Danelz Sacramento, CA Hi Bob, We got the sad news. It's heartbreaking, like having a death in the family. Our best wishes go out to Braun and Tina. Rick
Roger Nordquest 12/9/2011
Rick, I read an analysis in the Glacier Bay OSSA Powerlite material/advertising regarding fuel burn vs. sea state some time ago. Unfortunately I deleted it. It explained why you saw what you experienced and how a diesel/electric propulsion system mitigates this. From memory (which is the first thing to go...or is it the second?) going up hill and down applies a varying load to the prop. The change in load causes the boat to slow or speed up respectively. The diesel/electric drive provides near contant RPM whereas a straight diesel is normally constant fuel flow. You might be able to graph this by taking data from an inclinometer. Your rough approximation on sea state is a good start. I suspect that integrating the number of times you are headed up and how far will yield the energy required. 20' seas at 10 sec is double 20' at 20 sec. Since height and period are available ahead of time you might be able to reduce this to a simple spreadsheet application very similiar to what pilots do in preflight. I look forward to your corrections and advancements upon my theory.
Hello Rick and Debbie! I'm so pleased to be able to read your posts and watch your videos--yay! It sounds like all is going well and someday I hope to follow in your tracks. Happy Holidays! John Z Holiday N6050 La Paz
Raoul 12/5/2011
Hello Rick and Debbie,I have followed you since day one and have enjoyed your voyage very much.I have a couple of questions;(1) Has your projected budget been exceeded by much.(2)What has been the greatest unexpected expense so far if there is one.(3)The price of fuel at the moment here in Central Queensland is AU$1.56 per litre,have you budgeted for fuel price increases as our price has increased by 10cents in a week.Love your blog,may your God continue to sail with you. Raoul. Hi Raoul, Our expenses have actually become less than we originally thought they would be. This is, in part, because we tried to imagine worst case on most line items. We originally budgeted for a captain which, for us hasn't been necessary. Two expenses that were more than expected are our spare parts inventory and electricity when docked. Fuel is a big item, as you say. But it's related to how many miles we go in a year. If we wish to control our fuel budget, we simply move fewer miles. I suspect when we come to Australia, we'll slow down and enjoy being there! Rick
David 12/3/2011
Dear Rick and company, I have really enjoyed your commentary and especially the videos which really let us travel along with you. You have a nice easygoing way of imparting information. I live about 30 miles due east of Dana Point and have been a Nordhavn fan for several years. I have a couple of questions. First, do you find that the motion in the forward Master stateroom uncomfortable in heavy seas due to being forward of the ships center (due to having an aft deck house)? Secondly, how do you manage the dinghy , i.e. placing in the water and loading. Do you all enter it from the forward deck or do you bring it around to the stern? Is it difficult to manage entering it from the forward deck? Would you have preferred having it available at the stern as in most other Nordhavns? Thanks in advance. David Hi David, The lower bedrooms are good in any sea due to being low and central, but the master bed is uncomfortable in big sea. Surprisingly it isn't as much the pitching motion, as it is rudder effect. The huge rudder on Eliana is very quick keeping the boat pointed in the right direction in big sea. But that causes a side to side jerk that rolls you in bed. If it get's uncomfortable in the master, we always go back to the salon, Debbie on the couch and I right beside her on the floor. It's very comfortable there and easy to go right to sleep. Putting Sweet Charlotte in the water requires a ladder from the rail down to the water. We lower her down with the davit, then scamper down the ladder, jump in, unhook and go. We then take her around to the swim step and tie up there for easy passenger loading. Usually, I leave the ladder installed until we get ready to reload. The ladder is stowed in a bag inside Sweet Charlotte. So SC is normally tied up on the stern when she's in the water, but in a rough anchorage, we will raft her to Eliana with fenders and a standard four point tie. Rick
Karen Hermanson 12/1/2011
SUBJECT: Time Slowly Fleeting The video with the music was just wonderful. Thanks for posting this. I've watched it a couple of times and was transported to the ocean crossing. It was just great.
Bob Danelz 12/1/2011
Captain Rick and crew, Congratulations on your successful voyage. Your blog is great. I must admit to my astonishment of you deciding to go to Hawaii and then doing it in just 8 days. I'm sure having a quality "ride" helpped to make the decision faster. You have all accomplished a great feat - and should feel like modern poineers. Captain Rick, can you feed us "gear heads" some information on fuel burn specific to the trip? Like total fuel burn. Total run time. The generator consumption. It sounds like 1500 rpm is Eliana's sweet spot. What percentage of full power would that be - and did you open it up from time to time to exercise the engine? I drive a 43 foot diesel boat out of Sacramento and a shipmate of mine from our yacht club is constantly reminding me I run my engines to slow and will damage them with a constant lower rpm. My sweet spot is 1800 rpm and 8 knots. I'm sure you've heard the theory. By the way, you said you saved 1.25 per gallon in Ensenada. What was the price there? We just had a new fuel pump open at our local marina and diesel is 4.99. Ouch! My last fuel-up at Pittsburg, CA marina was 3.94. Just curious going south of the border - how much difference it is. Anyway, love to hear the technical stuff about your trip. Keep it coming. Oh, the flying fish. As I remember from my Navy days. In rolling seas they come out of the swell and go for a spin via their wings. What rotten luck to have all that ocean out there and they have to run into a ship passing in the night. We would get them on the second deck of our destroyer all the time. Probably 20 to 25 feet off the sea. Enjoy our 50th state on your gorgeous boat. Bob Danelz Sacramento, CA Hi Bob, We burned 3,000 gallons for an overall average of 1.2 gallons per mile or 10.28 gallons per hour. That's propulsion and electrical generation together. If the fuel flow meters are accurate, the generators were pulling .6 to 1.2 gallons per hour depending on load. So the rest was the main engine. Had we not had heavy sea, the overall average would have been much better. 1500 RPM is about 50% load, much lower than what the engine would like. But we've been assured by the manufacturer we're not hurting the engine. We do run wide open throttle twice per day to give it a good work out, and occasionally run an hour or so at 80% load. We paid $2.68 per gallon in Ensenada. Hope this helps! Rick
Jim Love 12/1/2011
SUBJECT: Voyage to Hawaii Dear Rick:I continue to enjoy every one of your postings, but especially your voyage to Hawaii. Because of your wonderful writing ability I feel I have come to know you in a way that was not possible by seeing you from time to time at the National. Your latest posting answered several questions I have always wanted to ask about the performance of your boat. Like you, I am a disciplined numbers person and believe in training, preparation and performance under trying or emergency conditions. So I particularily enjoyed the details of your spread sheet and easily understood descriptions of various sea conditions. I have a couple of other questions. (1) Do your nautical charts show routings similar to victor airways?(2) When nearing land do you have the equivalent of "approach plates" for your final approach and "landing?" While I am not volunteering, I think with some training I could become a very dependable deck hand that you would identify with. Thank you again for allowing us to share your journey and we send our best wishes to you and Debbie for your continued safety. Incidentally I thought of you back in September while passing through Colby and enjoying the vastness of the land, which I think has it's own unique beauty. Jim Hi Jim, Good questions. The charts do not include standard routes. The route taken is based mostly on mother nature, particularly ocean currents, wind and sea. It's interesting to note that there is remarkably little traffic out there. It's easy to go days without seeing another vessel of any kind. On only one occasion did we find it prudent to alter course and that was to give us a little more spacing to a tanker enroute from Japan to Panama. There are published 'approaches' or traffic lanes into and out of heavily traveled ports. Seattle, San Francisco and Los Angeles would be examples. They are often accompanied with Vessel Traffic Service (VTS is the marine equivalent to ATC) which is operated by the Coast Guard. They are primarily used by high displacement commercial ships, but I've found it to be the easiest way to arrive and depart with Eliana, especially since we're equipped with AIS. They take you by the hand both ways and that's pretty nice. If they feel bridge to bridge communication should occur, they'll often make the introduction between Eliana and another ship, and then it's up to us to work things out. Honolulu does not have enough traffic to justify this system, however, the Coast Guard is always on call for arrival questions or assistance. No doubt in my mind you would be a natural at this stuff, Jim. Rick
Badri 12/1/2011
The story, the adventure, the pictures, the video, the people; all Excellent !!!
SUBJECT: Appreciation Dear Rick & Debbie I wanted to add my thanks for your taking the time to share your adventures. In my minds eye I can see Diamond head from offshore. Many journeys and experiences live in my memories and you thoughtful notes bring them back to me. In the late 50's my family moved aboard with five kids bound for Samoa. Many boats, many years have passed with 22 trips from Florida to New England. Then when I turned the ripe "old age" of 18 I took off for another six years on my own logging 35,000 miles in the Caribbean. In later years, Japan, China, Hong Kong aboard a 62' Nordhavn. Each adventure treasured! So it is with you too - Memories are what life is all about. People, Family, friends, places ALL LIVE ON IN OUR HEARTS! So, thanks for your efforts in rekindling our memories, hopes and Dreams! Gerry Irons Sent from my iPhone
Frank Coggins 12/1/2011
Rick, Debbie, Loved our time with you aboard our "Reunion" at Kona Kai in San Diego. Pam and I trudged over in the rain after the Trawler Fest show on Saturday afternoon the 12th, but Eliana was pretty much battened down and we figured with all the preparations underway for you departure to Hawaii that upcoming Wednesday, you were exhausted or away picking up your crew. Followed your adventure to the islands and we can hope our paths cross again someday. WE will move the boat to Ensenada this month and later to Seattle in the spring. Our best for your island time and your next adventure. We enjoyed meeting you both and staying in touch. Frank and Pam, Reunion N4066
Stephanie 12/1/2011
So happy to see that you've arrived safe and sound! What a wonderful blog post, thank you! We can't wait to follow your adventures in Hawaii. Steph & Martin
Jaynell Robidoux 11/30/2011
Thanks for sharing the excitement of your successful journey. So glad you reached your destinations safely - God does answer prayers! The "high" waves made me seasick just looking at them. Keep your e-mails coming about your voyages. Jackie/Neil and family were here this past Friday for a "late" Thanksgiving gathering. It is so wonderful that we can be together and watch the grandkids grow up. Jim is running for a seat in the Iowa Legislature. His area has grown so that a new District was established. First hurdle will be the Iowa Caucus and then the primary - if he wins that, he feels that his election is a shoe-in. Best to you all - Jaynell
Patti DiMiceli 11/30/2011
Just want all of you to know how you've impacted my life and my dream of owning a Nordhavn and seeing the world from the water! Making the time to share Eliana with me... with all of us is very much appreciated. Your words and your images are incredibly powerful! Enjoy your time in Hawaii, your walks, and your "in the moment" awakenings. Warm regards... Patti DiMiceli author, "Embrace the Angel"
Jerry 11/30/2011
Hi Rick & Linda, I have been following you Blog since you got your boat. I love it! Makes me feel like like I have been with you. I've met Peter and his wife as they are friends of my dock neighbor. I'm in Dana Point and have a Catalina sailboat.Last year we just missed you as we did the Baha Ha HA. We were in La Paz when you were in P.V. Hopefully we can meet some time when you get to Dana Point again.I'm Jerry Bryan and are Boat is FLY'N-BRY'N. Have a great Christmas and New Year!!!!! Jerry
Don Stabbert 11/30/2011
SUBJECT: Congratulations! We haven,t met yet but we would like to! We have Starr, a Northern Marine 75, moored at the Waikiki Yacht Club. We are currently in Seattle but will be back on Starr December 12 and will be on board till March. Will you be around so we can meet you? Don & Sharry Stabbert 206 963 9058 Starr.talkspotblogs.com Hi Don and Sharry, We've always wanted to meet you. Yes, we will be here. Let's touch base after the holidays! Rick Sent from my iPad
Paul Sidwell 11/30/2011
Hi Rick, Thanks for the regular updates. It's a pleasure watching your journey. I'm curious about the timing of the Level 4- Very Heavy seas. Were they around the same time each day and hour? You mentioned they were mostly during the final 3 days into port. Looking forward to seeing your safe return to KC. Hi Paul, All of the level 4 condition happened in consecutive hours on days 10 and 11. They were bookended by about 10 hours of level 3 conditions. It was the result of a massive front that organized up north picking up wind and sea with it, then crashing south across our route. It was a sight to behold. Rick
Geoff 11/30/2011
Aloha and welcome to Hawaii. We've been expecting you. Very happy to follow along and glad to know all are safe. Enjoy your time while you are here. It's time to relax and be on Hawaii time for a while. All the best!