Saturday, August 20, 2016

Kauai to Victoria

North Pacific weather as we left

At noon July 28th, RVYC and THSA sailors Gerry Morrison, Paul Jenkins  and myself weighed anchor, stowed it, hoisted mainsail and set out for Victoria from Hanalei Bay, Kauai. We sailed west at first to admire the famous Na Pali coastline before turning north for the long haul home.
Na Pali Coast, Kauai

Breakfast is served
We settled into our 3 on 6 off watch rotation in strong trade-winds and rough seas. By nightfall we had 3 reefs in the main and 50% of the Genoa rolled up and were still exceeding 8 knots at times. Pretty uncomfortable though so we eased west to improve the ride and be kinder to the boat...we had a long way to go. Three days out our batteries needed recharging so we ran the engine for one watch. This slowed us a lot as we couldn't run it with an extreme heel angle, and had to bear off.
Helga takes charge
Gerry and Paul are both excellent sailors with lots of racing experience and kept the sails trimmed optimally at all times. Initially hand steering was in vogue but after a couple of days....we deployed "Helga" our trusty Hydrovane self steering and it did well in the strong wind. "Otto" our Raymarine autopilot did an even better job when the going got really rough in big quartering seas, never missing a beat. Cooking was difficult with the heeling and constant lurching but hunger is a great motivator in the galley.
Cuisine improves with practice
That pesky Pacific Northern High likes to follow us!
The conditions improved after the first five days and the cuisine improved accordingly. Seven days out we were approaching the Pacific Northern High and we pondered our tactics to get around it. We got great shore support from Connie and Al our BCA Fleet coordinators who kept a watchful eye on us the entire trip. Thanks! We also had success downloading weather and Grib files from KL7EDK in Fairbanks, Alaska as well as Radiofaxes from Point Reyes, California on our SSB radio. At this point we noticed some stitching failures in our Genoa at the leech. We dropped the sail and the sewing bee was on. The sun had been getting through the UV cover and damaged the thread. Gerry sewed it up handily and 2 hours later it was flying again.
Downwind with the chute
Winds continued to ease and day 8 had us flying our Spinnaker. We gradually curved ENE around the high trying to stay in wind. We got too close once and had to run the engine to hunt for wind, and gave the batteries a much needed boost. We downloaded the latest weather daily and the high kept moving east with us and blocking our path. Going north over the top would add hundreds of miles without any guarantee of conditions being better when we got there; not the mention the potential encounter with a nasty low sweeping down from Alaska
So we learned to be patient and stayed on our planned route. We had 4 days worth of fuel and we needed to preserve this for crossing the center of the high when we finally got to it.  The high persisted tracking eastward and finally formed a ridge almost touching Vancouver Island. By now many of the returning Vic-Maui race boats were  getting close to us but we did not sight any. We tried our luck fishing in the calm periods without any success. Probably too far north for tuna and 7 Kts is trolling too fast for salmon. The final week had us changing sails and trim regularly. We set up our storm jib in anticipation of gale force winds off the BC coast.
Paul to the rescue
One morning Paul heard a bolt fall from our boom vang and saved it from going over the side -well done! Finally the wind dropped completely and we motored for 2 days across the center of the high. Twelve hours later we were shortening sail down to 3 reefs again along with the storm jib.
Gerry- foredecker extrordinaire
  This proved to be  too slow so up went the Genoa again.The gale took a day to transit and the wind died abruptly over the Swiftsure bank and we were motoring again. Next morning we were in thick fog at the Juan de Fuca strait entrance fighting a 2 knot adverse current. By eleven the tide had changed and soon we were motor sailing fast to get to Race Passage before it turned again.
The 3 marineros return
Flags are a flyin"
Homecoming dock party
We were delighted to encounter the RVYC Wednesday night racing fleet as we came into Cadboro Bay, where our families and friends were waiting to greet us. We had sailed 2,800 NM in 20 1/2 days which was better than our most optimistic estimate.
One, two, skip a few...2800NM
We made the cover of Compass while we sailed!

This concludes the Chantey V Pan American cruise that began on August 1st, 2011 just over 5 years ago. We have sailed over 30,000 NM, visited 30 countries and were joined by 33 friends and family along the way. It has been a wonderful experience and the best part is the realization that our home in Victoria BC is the best place of all!

"When you see the Southern Cross for the first time
You understand now why you came this way
'Cause the truth you might be runnin' from is so small
But it's big as the promise, the promise of a comin' day

So I'm sailing for tomorrow my dreams are a dyin'
And my love is an anchor tied to you tied with a silver chain
I have my ship and all her flags are a' flyin'
She is all that I have left and music is her name"
Crosby, Stills and Nash

Chantey Vs Pan American Cruise


  1. Congratulations on the completion of your Pan-American cruise, Daragh and Kathryn! We will always cherish our time together in Mexico, El Salvador and Roatan! XOXO Liz and Chris s/v Espiritu

  2. Thanks Liz & Chris. It sure is good to be back home again but we will always remember the good times we had with you on our cruise. Enjoy the sea and we look forward to catching up with you again somewhere along the way. Daragh & Cathryn