Day 3 – Dolphins & Moonbow
26 d 19.8 N 154 d 58.2 W
Champagne sailing yesterday and most of today! Although our old friends ‘Soggy Pants’ and ‘Squally Nights’ made a re-appearance we enjoy fantastic sailing conditions. Tracking just east of true north at an average of 7 kts sailing is pleasant with little spray over the bow. In the afternoon about a dozen dolphins approached us from our port aft quarter, jumping through the air as they closed in on Salient. They played in out bow wave for a while until they dashed off to the north.
Captains hour was a bit better attended with three signed up for it: A glass of wine, a beer and a virgin rum & coke! Everybody loved the homemade lasagna by Renee and we polished it off in record time. Note to my racing friends: To make this more enjoyable we crack off on our course, ease the sails a bit and level the boat much to the enjoyment of the crew. Cruising style!
It was our turn on deck after dinner. As the set in the west, illuminating the towering cumulus clouds making for a dramatic exit, the scene in the east looked gloomy: Dark, grey skies – a squall was brewing and soon enough we are drenched in water as the sky opened is flood gates. A short-lived affair and before we dried out, the stars & our friends Mars, Saturn and Jupiter made their entry. A clear sky and full moon two days away made for a bright night. So bright in fact that for the first time we see a moon bow. It is not as colorful as a rainbow but magical nevertheless. Against the dark backdrop, created by squalls in the distance the moon bow arched almost 180 degrees.
As beautiful as it was, time to head for the bunk.
A note from the crew:
Everybody got their sea legs and all are well. Food is plentiful and delicious. The grapes are a welcoming addition and they keep surprisingly well. Four days since we bought them, and they are still fresh! Salad, oranges & apples keep us healthy. Beer & Coke chilled in the fridge ready for the next captain’s hour!
Until tomorrow – Salient out.
Day 2 – July 25th
23 deg 08.9’ N 156 d 05.0' W
Salient and her crew left Lahaina on July 23rd for Honolua Bay at the northern end of Maui. Pailolo Channel lived up to its reputation: As we sailed north, the wind went from less than 5 kts to 20 gusting 25 kts within a couple boat lengths. Already a bit late with our departure beating back and forth took extra time and we got to the anchorage just before dark. Two catamarans and a 73’ mono hull sailing under the Swiss flag already sat at anchor. We found a happy spot between all three boats and set our Danforth. It was windier than expected and we saw gusts close to 20 kts and sustained winds between 10 – 15 kts. Given these conditions and an anchor that we normally don’t use we set up for an anchor watch: 2 crew would stay on deck for 2 hours when they get relived by two other crew. I must admit that the Danforth anchor held as solid as a rock and while we swung back and forth like a pendulum, and we did not drag an inch.
For dinner we ate delicious Maui ribs, with homemade roasted potatoes and a glass of tasty red wine. For the thirsty sail cold beer was available too. Thank you Renee for barbequing the ribs to perfection!
Sadly, we discovered that we did not have our wraps on board, an essential staple later in the voyage to make the all time favorite tuna salad wraps. We hailed one of our neighbors from a Catamaran who offered us a ride ashore in their dinghy where I met Andrea, my lovely wife. She hauled two large bags of wraps to the rocky beach. A last kiss and I ferry back to the boat for our final departure. Susan, Dan and Alex were also there and had a good laugh at my provisioning hick up. I really miss our provisioning chief!
A final dip into the turquoise blue water, swam around the boat – checked keel, rudder & prop and off we sailed, back to life at 30 degrees. We managed to sail a course just east of true north without being on our ears and spray over the deck all the time which was comfortable. Captain's hour at 6 was a brief affair and drinks stayed chilled for the next time. For dinner: A hearty chicken soup with fresh bread.
As the sun went down it drenched the sky and ocean in a warm, golden light. The last rays of light poked through a layer of low clouds as we sailed into our first night at sea. Now off to bed until our late-night watch.
Until tomorrow – Salient out.
The pressure is on.
We sailed the hardest night most of us have ever sailed.
We sailed in sustained 27 kts and gusting to 32 with the spinnaker up all night. We pushed the boat and crew to the limit. The loads on the gear at those tight angles are tremendous, so much that the hardware for the pole downhaul lifted off the deck. We installed a second completely independent downhaul to spread the load and keep pushing hard.
Waves got formidable during the night and made driving a challenge. Luckily we had Mars right on our spreader tip for several hours helping much to keep Salient on course.
Getting low on Ibuprofen. Crew tired but in great spirits.
For breakfast: PB & J
Day 12th – July 12th - " Black Magic "
28 deg 15.1 N 152 deg 52.7 NM W
Yesterday we sailed a conservative sail plan, too conservative. The competition is tight, so we put up a kite. It’s called Black Magic. A heavy duty North Sail spinnaker all black with glow in the dark chevrons. We fly it right at the limit we can making driving very physical, but it is faster. We take frequent turns at the helm now as it is very tiring to steer such tight angles.
It is a ton of fun to sail the boat in those conditions though and we all enjoy it tremendously.
Luckily some clouds covered the sky and it was not scorching hot on deck but very pleasant. Below decks is a different story. We went from Turkish bath to Sauna. Particularly the starboard cabin is bad. The hot water heater is right under the tank. Note to self: Put some shut off valves in the water circulating lines to be able to stop the water from being heated when we run the engine for charging batteries.
Today we see more birds than in the past mainly albatross and some snow white birds that circled our mast for a while. More and bigger flying fish today, the largest perhaps 10” long.
Time to catch some sleep before the next shift on deck – Can’t wait to see those glow in the dark chevrons!
Until tomorrow – Salient out.
Day 11 - July 11th, " Sailing by the Stars "
31 deg 10.0’ N 151 deg 10.9’ W
Yesterday was ‘Latin tunes day’. With the sun shining all day and a pleasant breeze, our hearts were light even though we were slower than we hoped. We enjoyed a day in paradise!
The night was no less spectacular. A starlit sky, the milky way and pleasant wind. Mars and Saturn rising on our port side and Venus descending on our starboard side was a beautiful sight. For the first time we had a visual reference at night making it so much more pleasurable to sail. Pick a star near a shroud or a spreader and sail towards it. At 1 am the wind finally veered enough, and we put a spinnaker up making for a fantastic run down the milky way. But it would not be the 2018 Vic Maui if clouds weren’t covering the sky soon thereafter and the next watch was greeted with rain.
We woke up to a grey sky and rain, but at least a decent wind blew allowing us to carry the spinnaker for a while longer. Sadly, the wind backed not long into the morning and we were back on white sails. As one of our competitors said: “Beating all the way to Maui – living the dream baby!”. To brighten the day flying fish made an appearance jumping all around our boat. They apparently do this to avoid predators such as the Mahi Mahi.
It sure looks that by the time we are done we would have sailed some 2,000 NM into the wind. A different experience…..
Aboard Salient spirits are high though. We focus on driving fast and sail trim. And there is always time for a good joke. Whether we laugh about ‘life at 30 degrees’ or try to make up songs about ‘soggy pants’ everybody is having much fun.
We can’t say enough about the delightful food we eat: Yesterday’s dinner was Indian Curry and today Chicken Manhattan was on the menu. Throughout the day there are delicious snacks such as chocolate, cookies, home made smoked salmon and we still have plenty of apples & oranges.
Life on deck is often wet and down below it is like a Turkish bath: Humid and hot making sleeping harder. With just over 650 NM to go, we don’t mind too much and are looking forward to Mai Tai's!!
Until tomorrow – Salient out.
Day 10 - July 10th
34 deg 02.3’ N 150 deg 0.4’W
What a night! After the long-awaited spinnaker run, the wind died, and we were struggling along, pointing the boat in any which direction to at least get her moving. Shortly before 10 pm, it was pitch black, and we heard dolphins next to the boat! They streaked through the water creating a ray of bioluminescencent light. It was too dark to see the dolphins, but the light-show they put on was dramatic as the criss-crossed under Salient’s hull. The winds slowly picked up through the night and we are now sailing once again close hauled towards Maui!
Today the sun came out, and with blue skies and we are listing to 80s tunes as we plow through the waves. We are still under white sails, but at least it is warm, sunny, and we are pointing towards Maui without standing on our ears! In eight knots of breeze, we enjoy the shade of our mainsail on deck as we work on sail trim to keep us going in the light air.
In the morning during our off watch, it was time for boat maintenance: Engine checks, steering cable inspection and clean out the bilges. Three buckets full of water had collected in all the nooks & crannies and were removed. We need to keep the boat light and sail fast! Sadly, one of our bags that contained a stash of oatmeal leaked and had to be discarded: Oatmeal for the fish!!
We are now less than 850 NM from Maui, just over four days if all goes well, but it is still a long way to go. Total distance sailed to date: Almost 1,600 NM and most of that against the wind!
Tonight on the menu is Indian Curry with rice & salad. Add some spice to the day!
Until tomorrow – Salient out!
Day 9 – July 9th
35 deg 50.0’ 149 deg 10.2’ W
Half-way café was a hit! Just prior to dinner a pod of whales greeted us with a spectacular show. Full breaches, splashing water with their tails they entertained us for a good 20 minutes.
The appetizer " It is Tim’s fault surprise” turned out to be Haggis 😊 I guess he was vividly against those when discussing provisions and our quartermaster allowed her a little joke. For the record: Tim had a second serving!! Ede’s Beef Stroganoff, prepared by Marie Mortimer was a hit as well. We then toasted to Neptun with a shot of Dimplomatico Rum and he greeted us back with a splash! A wave came right across the cockpit as we raised our mugs for a toast.
It was another dark night where the ocean and sky blended into a black blanket. During the night, the driver looks closely at the compass, dimly light with red light. Not much else to go by as the boat bucks around like a wild horse and the other instruments can’t keep up with it.
The morning greeted us with the winds a bit further aft, and the sun tentatively poking through the clouds sending some rays of light to the ocean. The foulies came off and we are now sailing with just a light wind breaker – what a world of difference!!
Late in the morning the winds moved finally aft of the beam and the yellow chute went up. After 1,300 NM beating into the wind this now closer to what was in the brochure. We can just hold the kit but it’s up there, yellow & bright moving us along on course to Maui.
A shout out to Robin Larose, DJ at Rock101 radio station and sailor. Thank you for picking up on the Vic Maui race and bringing it on air! We will play some good rock music as we zero in on Maui.
Until tomorrow – Salient out.
Christof Marti (skipper)
Day 8, "Life at 30 degrees"
37 de 35,2’N 146 deg 49.9’ W
Another challenging night we shifty and gusty winds with an overcast sky. With no visual references and the wind ‘all over the map’ driving (and sleeping) was challenging.
There is standing joke among the crew: “Life is better at 30 degrees” referring to the heel angle of the boat as we beat to windward for a over a thousand miles by now. While not constantly at 30 degrees, we try to keep it under 20, waves knock us around and we frequently ‘stand on our ears’.
Despite the bouncy ride crazy Chef Pierre (aka Dan Tresa) cooked up a storm in the galley this morning and we enjoyed breakfast sausages and scrambled eggs sprinkled with spring onions. Delicious! We all ate on deck out of our fancy bowls. Fruit (apples & oranges) are still plentiful and should last until Maui.
We are now at our furthest point from land: Almost 1,100 NM from any land. This is about the same distance as from Vancouver to Northern Baja California. San Francisco strait east of us about 1,200 NM away.
Earlier today we passed the half way point to Maui. This is the time when “Half way Café” opens. This is a special place, and only available by invitation. I opens every two years during the Vic Maui race.
Today’s menu is:
Appetizer: Blame it on Tim Special
Tribute to Neptune
Ede’s Beef Stroganoff
Haagen Dazs Bars
We will report on the feast tomorrow!
As I am writing this, Salient stuffed her bow into a big wave and a massive wall of water drenched the rest of my crew on deck in water. They report the cockpit is now clean!
I have to get out of the writers chair as my ribs are getting squashed by the seatbelt that strap me in and my left leg is developing a cramp from stemming myself into the seat.
“Life is better at 30 degrees”.
Until tomorrow – Salient out.
(Photos below: Crazy chef Pierre aka Dan eating a breakfast sausage, crew breakfast on deck,
Navigator Gunnar having hot chocolate while driving)
Day 7 – July 7th
39 deg 47.1’ N 143 deg 41.7’ W
We have now sailed 1,000 NM since the race Start in Victoria almost a week ago. As we are crossing the 40th Parallel, approximately the same latitude as Carson City, Nevada we are now 900 NM from the closest land. Despite the lighter winds, around 10 – 15 kts, even lighter at times sailing is still tough as we mostly beat into the wind. That means the boat is constantly healed over, tossed around by the waves smashing into the bow.
Life aboard Salient is very simple though: We sail, eat & sleep. Every crew member has a mug, a water bottle and a bowl. Yesterdays delicious Chicken Souvlaki and Greek Salad all ended up in a big bowl and crew ate it wedged between door frames, strapped into the nav station or sitting on the cabin floor. Sitting on the cabin floor is like being in a car wash: The foul weather gear from the off watch is hanging on the starboard side and swinging across the cabin make for the gentle wash cycle on our faces!
Day 5 - July 6th
41 deg 52,2’ N 140 deg 09,6’ W
Christof here! Strapped in at the nav station again, and the boat is heeling far over to port. Keep in mind that in less wind and rough seas it feels much less like a roller coaster!
Yesterday was shower day! After five days at sea and in finally calmer conditions it was time for a hot shower. Everybody was excited, and the boat smelled somewhat normal again, at least to us.
A couple pairs of socks were protested by one of the two crew in the port aft cabin and made their way to the main cabin where the captain protested ‘no smelly socks in the main cabin’ until they finally were quarantined.
On that note: Our Navigator suggested that wearing close toed Keens without socks worked well during the Oregon Offshore. I gave it a go, and bought a pair of Keens. I used them with no socks and never looked back: comfortable, good grip and warm enough during all the nasty weather we had. I offered my socks to the crew who had to quarantine their socks....but enough sock talk!
Sailing has been pleasant. With winds around 15 kts we are close reaching most of the time making for easy driving. We take turns at the helm and each crew drives for an hour. At night most of us loose focus after an hour and happily hand over the wheel. Especially in a dark, overcast night with no visual references and waves that push the boat around, can make driving challenging.