Wednesday, January 15, 2014


New Morning was the primary focus of our lives for more than nine years.
Fatu Hiva
Beginning in 2004 we spent four years planning, designing and then building our ideal cruising yacht. From 2008 - 2013 we sailed almost 17,000nm, visited countless anchorages and watched hundreds of sunsets from Maine, across the Caribbean, through the Panama Canal, across the Pacific via the Galapagos to French Polynesia and finally to our home in California. We had an incredible adventure and now other adventures off the water are tugging at us for attention.

2013-12-22 102629
So it was with very mixed feelings that on the morning of December 22nd, 2013, we took New Morning out the Golden Gate about seven miles and signed the final documents to transfer her to new owners. We take pleasure in knowing that New Morning will be ocean cruising with her new owners and doing what she does best. Fair winds.

Saturday, June 22, 2013

The way home


I just retrieved this plot of the trip from Tahiti to San Francisco. More details are at at ShipTrack. Allow about 15-20 seconds for the page to start plotting our track since 2009.

Monday, April 22, 2013

More photos

2012-06-24 091519pcA
Today I realized I had never posted pictures from the 2012 cruising season in French Polynesia, or from the sail to San Francisco from Tahiti. So now there are three new pages in Where We've Been.

The first page covers our second visit to the Leeward Islands of Huahine, Raiatea, Tahaa and Bora Bora with a few shots from the 2012 Heiva in Bora Bora. The second page covers our return visit to Moorea and more pictures of the spectacular scenery in Moorea. And the last page covers the the four weeks and 5,000nm of sailing from Tahiti to San Francisco, with a brief stop in Hawaii.

Thursday, March 28, 2013

Jury Rigged

Fay's latest article is about our friends Vaughn and Sharon Hampton on Reality, and their passage from the Marquesas to Tahiti with a jury rigged rudder. It's a great story of how the cruising community comes to the assistance of cruiser's in need. The story is also testimony to Vaughn and Sharon's tenacity to make the 850nm passage to Tahiti with a jury rigged rudder. Read it at Ocean Navigator, or this PDF. Always available In The News!

Thursday, March 7, 2013

Updated Where's New Morning

I've updated Where's New Morning to refer to which will show our track since 2009. It takes a few seconds to plot all the points so give it a little time and watch the red dots. You can also use all the usual Google Map controls to zoom in/out, display satellite pictures, etc. Enjoy!

Saturday, February 16, 2013

Anchoring scope and swing radius spreadsheet correction

Thanks to a good catch by Marty S. I have corrected an error in the Anchoring Scope and Swing Radius spreadsheet on the Downloads page. The 5:1 radius was not calculating in yards, but in feet. We rarely use more than 3:1 with New Morning's 55kg Rocna so I never noticed the error.

The question was also been raised about why the spreadsheet uses yards instead of feet since most US boaters think of the length of their boat in feet (though everywhere else in the world they think of it in meters). The reason is that when anchoring I use a Bushnell laser rangefinder to measure distances to swing obstacles. My first year of cruising I found that I significantly under-estimated distances so I bought a rangefinder designed for golfers to measure the distances objectively. The rangefinder reads out in yards (or meters). When anchoring I use this to measure the distance to other boats, moorings, marked ledges/reefs, etc. Using the spreadsheet (I keep a copy in a plastic cover in the cockpit) and the rangefinder simplifies the process of determining exactly where/when to drop the hook.

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Papeete to San Francisco pictures

Today I sorted through the pictures from the Papeete to San Francisco passages, selected a few and added them to the blog entries made during the trip.

There are some nice ones showing the size of the "squalls" on the radar. They were more like miniature storm systems. The radar scale (radius of the area displayed) in the left window of the display is 24nm, so top to bottom or left edge to right edge is 48nm. One picture shows a system that is over 50 miles long and maybe 10 miles wide. Another covers most of the radar display which means several thousand square miles of ocean! I have been asked several times if we couldn't have sailed around the squalls; I think the pictures show why that wasn't an option.

There are also a few sunsets (of course), as well as a picture of the skiff we almost hit while passing through tsunami debris.

You can flip back through the older entries with a click right here, then scroll down to the Papeete departure or wherever you see a picture.

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Hawaii to San Francisco

Home for ten days now, rested and busy unloading New Morning. Finally getting around to a passage summary.

Total miles sailed: 2,468nm
Rhumb line: 2,081nm
Days on passage: 14.75

Best day: 187nm
Worst day: 144nm

Average day: 167nm
Average speed: 7.0kts

Hours motoring: 172hrs (7.2 days!)
Fuel consumption: 1.4gph

This was the slowest passage I've ever had on New Morning. The first five days, as we made our northing, the true wind speed was consistently in the high teens and low twenties, but with lots of squalls. The squalls covered large areas (e.g., 2,000 square miles) and were impossible to get around. I'll post some pictures of the radar soon to give you an idea. We frequently found ourselves with either too little sail area in anticipation of a big blast from a squall, or too little wind after a squall had passed (depending on which side).

Once we reached the high, it was improbably large. The high stretched from about 38N all the way into Canada. The usual strategy of going over "the top" of the high was not an option. We motored across the high at about 39N, expecting to find strong winds on the other side. But when we emerged from the high, we first had 36hrs of "winter" weather with cooler winds from the NE and lots of rain and squalls. We made poor progress due to the constant squalls which shifted the wind back and forth from a true direction of 35-120 degrees.

Once the "winter weather" was over we had about 12hrs of really delightful sailing before the wind went light and shifted all the way to the west. An odd little low pressure area was hanging off the coast of Oregon and shifted the wind to the west, forcing us to start motoring again. At this point fuel was getting low so for two days we cut the engine back to 1800rpm which gave us 6kts but burned only 1gph and gave us our poorest day of just 144nm.

Eventually the low dissipated (about 24-36hrs after NOAA had forecast) and we had plenty of breeze the last 24hrs as the water temperature dropped all the way to 52F and it became very cold. We had 20+ kts the last day and 30-35kts for the final four hours before we reached the Farallone Islands. Once we passed the SF pilot buoy the breeze began to fade entirely and we actually had to motor down the ship channel before picking up a light southerly breeze that carried us through the Golden Gate.

Although most people consider a 15 day passage from Hawaii to San Francisco to be fairly fast, we have to give most of the credit to Yanmar and large fuel tanks on New Morning.

Monday, October 1, 2012

What a greeting!

GG Bridge finish
Our final few hours of sailing into San Francisco brought even stronger winds of 30-35kts, just aft the beam for about 4hrs. The winds abated as we approached the San Francisco pilot buoy and we had to actually motor in the ship channel until we picked up a light southerly breeze. But then the big greeting!

With cell service, we got several messages that the space shuttle would be flying over on the back of a modified 747, the way they used to transport it from Edwards AFB to Florida. Sure enough, right around Mile Rock, it flew over us from roughly north to south. But the show wasn't over. They flew back east over San Francisco, then flew fairly low, right between the towers of the Golden Gate Bridge, and finally banked to the south and turned directly overhead of New Morning. We probably had the optimal view of the whole fly by. Really a spectacular greeting!

We proceeded on through the bridge and to our waiting friends and family at the St. Francis YC. What a finish to a tiring trip.

Friday, September 21, 2012

Home stretch

It has been blowing 25-30kts just aft the beam since midnight with seas right on the beam that roll us around. About every 90 seconds we get whacked by a wave that sends water flying across the deck to splatter on the windshield of the dodger. With just a double reefed main we're making 7-8kts. It is stunningly clear and terrifically cold. The diesel heater is keeping the cabin toasty warm while I type.

We're about 60 miles from the Golden Gate Bridge. Looking out across the bow, the mast, forestay, shrouds, lifelines, etc. are silhouetted against a glow on the horizon from the lights of the bay area.

I am looking forward to dawn, a little less wind and a hot cup of coffee.

ETA: 11:30am

Thursday, September 20, 2012

One more day

The winds continue to bedevil us. The low off of Portland that has bent the wind to the west did not dissipate as scheduled by NOAA. We were able to sail for a few hours last night, but then had to resume motoring. This morning it's been back and forth. At the moment we've just resumed sailing and the sun is threatening to appear.

The big news today is dolphins! We've had at least two visitations by pods of dolphins this morning. Maybe 6-10 dolphins around the boat, criss crossing in front the bow, racing from astern to the bow and generally cavorting around New Morning. They look smaller than the dolphins in the Caribbean, but larger than the porpoises we've seen in and around the bay. In any case it's a really nice greeting as we approach the coast.

We have about 174 miles to go as of noon so the new ETA is noon on Friday, at the dock.

Waiting for the wind

The sun came out for awhile today which was a nice break from the gray on gray (a far less interesting version of Fifty Shades!) as we waited for the wind to clock back to the NW or N and build enough to allow us to sail. At 2am it's still just 8kts from the WNW and the double reefed main is still slatting so we're plodding along at 1800RPM to conserve fuel, making about 6kts. The forecast is for the wind to build a bit by the morning so we can start sailing (getting very low on fuel) and then build to a full 24kts by this time Friday morning. Then it's supposed to die off again as we pass the Farallone Islands, enter the ship channel and approach the Golden Gate. So we need to save some fuel for the home stretch.

Definitely more ship traffic in the last 24hrs. Probably half a dozen ships crossed our radar screen, all of them no closer than about 15 miles. Currently being approached by one that says it's destination is Vancouver (so why so far out here?) that is supposed to pass within 4.5nm.

We finished the last of the chocolate chip cookies so we must be getting close to San Francisco! I broke out of the "defrost, heat and eat" paradigm today and cooked myself a grilled cheese sandwich with some nice multigrain bread Fay bought in Honolulu and aged cheddar cheese from New Zealand that we bought in Moorea. Looking forward to Fay's pasta casserole tomorrow night.

Earlier tonight as the sun set it revealed the waxing crescent moon which produced a nice reflection off the water for an hour or two before the moon set as well, revealing a star filled sky. The sky remained clear until about half an hour ago when the overcast spread quickly after Paul went off watch and now I am immersed in darkness. No moon, no stars, just darkness with a little bio luminescence in the water, stirred up by the prop and trailing in our wake. The water temperature continues to drop, now at 61F and leaving New Morning is covered with a thick layer of condensation. The forecast says the water temp will drop to 50F, but that seems colder than the usual temperatures off the coast at this time of year so I'm a little skeptical. In any case it's cold and damp on deck, but the Espar heater keeps the cabin toasty warm.

ETA: Friday morning 9-10am

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

The culprit

As we continue motoring east at 6kts, with 8kts of wind now on our starboard quarter (i.e., WSW) I've been trying to understand what has happened to our wind. Wind from the SW in our area is usually associated with a low pressure system, but we've been dealing with a massive high pressure system.

I downloaded the current NOAA surface analysis, as well as the 24hr and 48hr forecasts. There it is. A weak low pressure area sitting off the coast of Portland. It protrudes from the coast and into the high like a pot belly hanging over a belt. The wind follows the curve of the belly and we get a WSW wind. Fortunately it is labeled as "DSIPT" which is NOAA speak for dissipating, though we view it more as disappointing. It is gone on the 48hr forecast which is why the GRIBs forecast that we'll have a weak sailing breeze by about midnight which builds tomorrow and into a very brisk breeze (20-25) by Thursday night as the high is compressed by a low to the west.

Is this beginning to sound like your nightly news weatherman, but without the spiffy graphics, loud sports coat and bad jokes? So be it, we'll be obsessed with the weather until we arrive.

The surface forecasts also show what is behind us and it's a good thing we didn't depart a week later. There is a very deep low pressure system currently about 1,400 miles to the west which is producing gale force winds (35-40kts with 20' seas) where we were located just six days ago, and storm force winds just to the west of that (50kts with 30' seas). We will be happy to be arriving soon.

ETA: Friday morning between 9-noon (remember, it's an estimate)

From great sailing to slow motoring

Last night and much of yesterday was really pleasant sailing. Overall, the wind has made a huge shift from ENE to WNW, while we are trying to travel East. ENE was lousy as it forced us to the south. But as the wind shifted we had about 18hrs of really nice sailing with the wind from the North and NW. A light wind of 8-12kts from the perfect direction with relatively calm seas and the sun shining. Really great.

Then the wind continued to shift until it was almost directly behind us, causing the apparent wind to decline to almost nothing and forcing us to motor again. At the same time the sky became overcast. So we're now motoring along with the wind almost directly behind us while rolling in a NW swell which causes the sail to slat (or more accurately slam) back and forth, back and forth, back and forth. We've double reefed the main so that there is not much sail area, but if we take it down entirely to stop the slatting, then we'll roll really badly, so we endure the slatting and hope it doesn't break anything in the process.

We're motoring slowly so that we get better mileage. At just 1800rpm, rather than our usual 2300, we make about 6kts versus our usual 7kts, but we burn only 1gph versus our usual 1.5gph. 85% of the speed for 66% of the fuel is a good trade off when we're low on fuel and trying to avoid arriving in the middle of the night.

During the really nice sailing yesterday, while the sun was shining, we took our last shower in the cockpit. The hot shower water in the bright sun felt great, but the moment I turned off the water - zing - very crisp air - where is my towel!

Not too much to report now. It's absolutely pitch black on deck. There is a thick overcast so the sky is simply black, not a hint of light. I'm using the masthead tricolor light even though we're sailing because it provides much better long distance visibility if anyone is looking our way. I don't think a big ship really cares if we're sailing or motoring, more important to just be seen. A couple of ships have passed far behind us, no close encounters. As I write, another ship is passing to the north of us, but won't come any closer than 17 miles. Also no tsunami debris. We did see one fishing float, but those are pretty common everywhere, just bobbing along.

It's pretty cold in the cockpit at night and we're both bundled up with lots of wool and Patagonia products. Yesterday we began using New Morning's diesel fueled heater to heat the aft cabin and the salon. In the tropics we used it for hot shower water, but this is the first time since we departed Maine in 2008 that we've used it to heat the interior of the boat.

The forecast is that tomorrow the wind will shift back to the NW and begin to build so we'll be able to resume sailing. By Thursday evening we're supposed to have 20-22kts for our final dash into San Francisco. That should make for some exciting, and chilly sailing.

ETA: Friday morning

Direction of the wind

The readers who are sailors should skip this entry.

I realized that I make many references to wind direction and these may not make much sense to the non-sailors, so here is a brief explanation.

First, I usually refer to the true wind. This is the wind as it is actually blowing as perceived from a non-moving position and is different from the apparent wind which is as perceived from the boat in motion. So imagine a car driving down the road directly into a 10mph wind at 50mph (I know - impossibly slow). The driver rolls down the window and perceives the wind blowing at 60mph, while someone standing on the side of the road (perhaps out of gas) perceives the wind blowing at 10mph. The same thing happens on the boat where the sailors perspective is called the "apparent" wind and the wind as perceived by someone on land is the "true" wind. I almost always refer to the true wind.

Then there are wind direction references which are relative to the boat. These are usually a number from 0-180, where 0 is the bow and 180 is the stern. There are also references relative to the "beam" of the boat. The "beam" is the widest spot of the boat, a point perpendicular to the long axis of the boat, or at 90 degrees. So if the wind is forward of the beam, it's in the range of 0-89, on the beam is 90, and aft the beam is 91-180. Generally speaking, forward of the beam is more difficult and less comfortable, aft the beam is faster and more enjoyable. So if the wind is at 45 (hard on the wind or beating), that's not as nice as if it is as at 120 (broad reaching). On the beam or "beam reaching" is the fastest point of sail.

Then there is the wind direction relative to compass, also known as the wind rose or compass rose. These are classical definitions dating back hundreds or thousands of years. You probably remember from high school geometry (who could forget?) that a circle is divided into 360 degrees. For sailors, the compass is first divided into the cardinal points of north, east, south and west, each 90 degrees. Then these are divided by the ordinal points at 45 degrees, and finally the half winds are inserted between the ordinal points at 22.5 degrees.

And finally, the wind is named for the direction it blows from, while the travel of the boat refers to the direction it is going to. So a boat on a course of 090 with an east wind has the wind on the bow (not good).

What we've experienced in the last 24hrs is a shift in the wind from ENE, east north east or 67.5 degrees, to WNW, west north west or 292.5 degrees. In our case, both were poor directions for the wind as we are attempting to travel east (or 090).

You should now be thoroughly confused. Just read this again 4-5 times and I'm sure it will all make perfect sense. Below is the complete table of directions with the degrees, abbreviation, and full name traveling around the rose in a clockwise direction.

0 - N - North
22.5 - NNE - North Northeast
45 - NE Northeast
67.5 - ENE - East Northeast
90 - E - East
112.5 - ESE - East Southeast
135 - SE - Southeast
157.5 - SSE - South Southeast
180 - S - South
202.5 - SSW - South Southwest
225 - SW - Southwest
247.5 - WSW - West Southwest
270 - W - West
292.5 - WNW - West northwest
315 - NW - Northwest
337.5 - NNW - North northwest

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Embracing slow

The skies improved yesterday morning while we slowly motored north under rainy skies. Then the wind backed and a light breeze filled in, enabling us to begin sailing (so much quieter). We had smooth, though slow sailing through the afternoon and evening until about midnight at which time the breeze had really dropped and we began motoring slowly again. A few weak squalls have appeared on the radar and while I've been able to begin sailing again, the wind is shifting south and I think those squalls are again at work, though they look much smaller that the last two nights and the small increase in wind speed to 11kts is a good tradeoff for the shift in direction to the south.

In any case the 36hrs of lousy weather and squalls pushed us south and slowed us down. So now we have an "embracing slow" strategy. The distance to travel is too far to arrive at a reasonable time on Thursday night, and too little to arrive on Friday morning. Since we do not want to arrive in the middle of the night, we will sail slow (not a problem with such light wind), and then motor slow when/if the wind backs as the forecasts suggest. Then the forecast has a proper San Francisco greeting with 15-20kts the last day or so when we'll pretty much have no choice but to be sailing fairly fast. We'll check the forecast again in the morning to see if this scenario is still valid. The advantage at this point is that motoring slowly for 150 miles or so will stretch out our fuel (better mileage) which will help us in case the forecast shifts and there are even more light winds.

Last night and yesterday we had two interesting encounters with ships.

The first was a ship that was overtaking us from directly astern, right on our same course. It was a 900' Panamax (largest ship that can go through the canal) container ship. They didn't respond to my first call, but did respond to my second call. The voice sounded like a slightly bored Russian and after a brief discussion he assured me that he could see us and would alter course to starboard to avoid us. Later, when he drew to within six miles and had not altered course, I called again. Again he assured me he would alter course, not to worry. To our surprise, a few minutes later he called us back, asked us to switch to another channel and said he wanted to ask some questions. He turned out to be quite interested in what such a "little" boat was doing out here, how many were on board, where we were going, etc, etc. And he was indeed Russian. We ended up having an extended chat about his boat, his trip, our boat, our trip, his experiences on a Russian training ship (so he was probably an officer), his trips to Oakland and taking the "metro" to San Francisco, etc. etc. He did change course to starboard, and then turned on a whole bunch of his lights as he went by, quite a show!

The second ship was during the day and on our exact opposite course, a 1,000'+ container ship coming straight at us at 20kts. Paul was on watch and contacted the ship which responded that they could not see us on radar or visually. Paul followed regarding what they would do, and they failed to respond. He tried again and no response. It was at the watch change so when I came up we decided to take evasive action, dropped the sails, started the engine and turned away from the ship. It ended up crossing us about a mile and a half to our port side; at which time they came on the radio and told us they could see us! Didn't that warm our hearts. It was clear the guy was interested in strictly a CYA communication as he gave some information that he obviously put into his log. Paul was quite miffed and took notes so that he could complain to the company (MSC) and the international authorities, when we arrive. Had Paul not been paying close attention and taken evasive action the encounter would have been much closer.

This final 900 miles has turned out to be a real challenge with each 100 miles of progress requiring a different approach. Not just a matter of setting the sails and following the course to our destination. So we're grinding it out and adapting to each change in the weather. 525 miles to go.

ETA: Friday morning

Monday, September 17, 2012

Slowly, very slowly

The forecast as shown in the GRIBs, and our reality, continue to have little in common. It's been winter on New Morning with overcast skies heavy with rain clouds and cold at night.

Last night was another night of squalls. One particularly nasty one hit 27kts before I finally rolled up the jib and started fore reaching to calm things down. It continued with 23-25 for another half hour. I waited out the next two squalls going very slowly while they hit us with 20-25kts from the ESE. Better to slowly sail towards California than quickly sail towards Ecuador. Then the sky opened up and the stars came out, but it blew a steady 20kts from the ESE. All the while the GRIBs were forecasting 10kts from the NE.

The squalls continue this morning, but without as much vigor. None the less they cause 40-60 degree shifts in the wind. It's been impossible to tell where the real gradient wind actually is because the wind seems to always be a function of the nearest squall. As soon as one has passed, another appears. It's impossible to get into any kind of groove and sail the boat so we are making very slow progress.

And as insult to injury, there is a .3-.5kt current that alternates pushing us either west or south. Doesn't sound like much, but it's 6-12nm / day which is like losing 1-1.5hrs of progress each day

Then this morning's forecast showed that our "southern strategy" (worked for Nixon!), was not going to work because the wind was going to die out entirely. Previously the forecast had shown that the wind would clock dramatically to the WNW so taking the ENE wind to the south, then turning up when it backed would give us good speed. But now the model says the wind will die entirely if we head that way. The GRIBs say that right now we should have 8kts from 20 degrees magnetic when in fact the wind is blowing from 70 degrees magnetic. That's the difference between sailing to San Francisco and sailing to Ecuador. So we motor slowiy north.

I have no explanation for the winter weather. The surface analysis shows nothing but white space and two isobars between our current position and California. No fronts, no nothing. So where do we get two days of rain clouds and squalls? NOAA, your funding is in question. The only explanation for the wind at 70 versus 20 is that the high is further east than the NOAA computer models think it is, hence the wind is still bending around the SE corner of the high, rather than blowing north/south on it's east side.

All we can do is cope with what we've got and try to move towards San Francisco while using our remaining fuel as judiciously as possible and sailing when the breeze will let us make progress towards home. We remain ever optimistic that the wind will eventually match the GRIBs and we'll be able to point the bow towards California. At this point we've made a decision to motor slowly NE to take some time off the clock so that we don't arrive at 2am.

ETA: Friday morning

Sunday, September 16, 2012

Squalls continue

We had squalls all last night. The morning came with a thick overcast and rain. The squalls cleared out in the late morning and by 2pm we were sailing. Very nice to shut off the motor. But we could see thick dark clouds on the horizon and now we're again immersed in squalls. At the moment we're beating into 18-20 of true wind and headed for South America.

The forecast is that tomorrow the wind will back (i.e., shift from ENE to NW) and we'll turn north.

ETA: Thursday night.

Squally night

Pitch black squally night. And unlike in the tropics, these squalls don't show up on the radar. The squalls jump the wind from 10 to 20 and turn us towards Mexico, churning up the sea in the process. We have to get past the high and into a more northerly flow.

ETA: Late Thursday, looking like Friday morning.

Saturday, September 15, 2012

Farmers, fisherman and sailors

What do they have in common? They all complain about the weather. Mea culpa. It's either too much wind, or too little, or from the wrong direction, or the sea state is too rough, or…

Right now it's too little wind. We've been motoring for three days and it looks like we'll motor for another three days. We've been mostly motor sailing, meaning we have the sails up while motoring. It's normal to have a reefed main up to help stabilize the boat, but we've also had the jib up a lot of the time. We trim the sails, and tweak our course, to get as much push out of the wind as possible in addition to the motor. Yesterday's noon-noon distance was 187nm which means our efforts produced a good push out of the wind, even though it never blew over 7-8kts.
2012-09-14 173306

There is no going over the top of the high as I wrote a few day ago, not this trip. The high is stretched out along a 1,000 mile SW/NE axis from just to the NW of us to north of British Columbia. We are nipping across the southern edge of the high, encountering light headwinds (i.e., from the east) in the process. We could go further north to avoid the light head winds, but it's just more miles and at best a sum zero trade off with motoring into the wind. And we're using the headwinds to push us along also, changing course by a bit to have the wind hit the main at a good angle and help us, or at least not hurt us. At least that's our theory. And Paul and I are very good at inventing theories!

There are no wind waves, but we've had a variety of fairly large swells. Looking out over the ocean is like looking out over blue undulating sand dunes, except that the dunes are constantly in motion. We climb up a dune, then slide down the other side. The swells come from different directions so sometimes they conspire to present an unusual shape or slope and New Morning obliging traverses whatever we encounter.

We're managing our engine speed to stretch out the fuel consumption. We sailed 4,000 miles from the Galapagos to Tahiti and only used 100 gallons of fuel because we had reliable trade winds. On this trip I think we'll probably use virtually all of New Morning's 280 gallons of fuel; we may end up motoring over 1,100 miles on this trip. Not our first choice, but as long as we safely reach our destination then it's a good passage.

There have been a pair of albatrosses around the boat for the last day. I'm pretty sure they're albatrosses as they have a huge wing span. They swoop and glide over the waves and rarely flap their wings. They fly right on the surface of the water, their wing tips can't miss the water by more than a few inches and they go for a long time without a single flap, gliding up and down and in and out of the waves. Unlike the Ancient Mariner we will do the birds no harm, and though we are as a painted ship on a painted ocean, our water maker keeps us well stocked in fresh water.

Which is good because we need to wash down the mountain of cookies and brownies that Fay and Caitlin made for us! Last night (two nights ago as you read this) we had a near tragedy. I discovered ants (how / why we have ants on a sailboat at sea is another story) had invaded the cookie box! Horrors! I meticulously removed the offenders from each cookie and brownie, placed the deserts in a new container and killed the offending insects. Now we keep the cookie box on top of the stove where the ants never visit.

You may recall our near miss with the upside down skiff two days ago. Fortunately yesterday we saw very little floating debris, virtually none. So with luck we are past those hazards.

The water temperature continues to fall, and with it the air temperature. I was actually cold in my bunk this evening when I got up at midnight. When I grabbed the stainless hand rails on the companionway they felt cold to the touch. I got out the blue tape and covered up most of the dorade vent which was blasting cold air into the aft cabin. Then I dug out the heavy blanket that Fay had set aside for us. I checked the engine room temperature and found in that it was only 93 degrees despite running full time for three days; it used to be that hot in French Polynesia when the engine wasn't even running. But alas, seeking further validation I checked the galley thermometer and it still read 74 degrees! Apparently there is a wide gap between "cooler" and "cold".

But it really is cooler. There are no more squalls, just puffy cumulus clouds which made for a nice sunset. Not the towering thunderheads that plagued us for the first five days (see farmers, fisherman and sailors above).

Tonight is a moonless night, totally clear with a zillion stars, the milky way, etc. Stars that reach right down to the horizon in every direction. But it feels a bit like visiting an observatory as the night air is cold and the 13kts of apparent wind (generated by the boat motoring through the night) adds a wind chill. It could be well down into the 60's! But don't worry, Paul has brought all his ski clothes and I have expedition pants and Patagonia shirts and jackets. And like wimps we hide under the hard dodger out of the wind. If all else fails we'll turn on the heater inside the boat and Paul will make more tea.

Less than a 1,000 miles to San Francisco, and actually almost the same, just 60 miles further, to Seattle. That's an oddity that we explored earlier today. How could we be right at the latitude of San Francisco, yet equidistant to Seattle which is pretty much the same longitude as SF? It's the deceptive Mercator projection. In reality the distance between the lines of longitude narrows dramatically as you approach the poles so while we would have to traverse the same amount of longitudinal difference, the actual distance is much less and offsets the required travel in latitude.

Ok, I can see I'm losing you so let me cut to the chase. Seattle and San Diego are essentially equidistant from Honolulu (about 2,300 miles), and San Francisco is about 200 miles closer at roughly 2,100 miles. Isn't geography fun?

ETA: Thursday afternoon, September 20th (remember, estimated, not scheduled)