Here you will find tales of voyages past and present on our trusty Pacific Seacraft Dana 24, "Sockdolager," from Port Townsend, Washington, USA. In 2009 we sailed north from Puget Sound up the west coast of Vancouver Island to the Queen Charlotte Islands (now called Haida Gwaii.) In 2010 we went back to the west coast of Vancouver Island. In July 2011 we left the Northwest, and in March 2012 we crossed the Pacific to French Polynesia, then on to the Cooks, Niue and Tonga. We spent several months in New Zealand, and in May 2013 loaded the boat (and ourselves) on a container ship for San Francisco. In June and July 2013 we sailed north along the California, Oregon and Washington coasts, and in August we arrived home. In October 2016 Sockdolager found new owners, and we are now enjoying Raven, a unique wooden 29' powerboat. Plans are to head north. We hope you enjoy reading about our adventures as much as we enjoy having them. (And there will be more.)



Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Squalls, schmalls, where are the Trade Winds?

Pacific Crossing, Day 30: Another night of being slammed by squalls saw us heaving-to for 6 hours around 1:00 am to get some rest. Seas were so big and confused that in the wild jumbled motion the boat wouldn't steer in the zephyrs that settled in after each squall. This morning the skies looked squall-free, so we set the spinnaker. Winds were 5 knots from the NE, which is supposedly not the norm around here. It was puzzling to see that even with the spinnaker pulling we were doing only 1.5 to 2.5 knots, until we realized we're probably in the South Equatorial counter-current, which flows east.

A sudden gust of wind out of nowhere had us nearly broaching, so we took down the spinnaker. Then a bunch of squalls appeared on the horizon, so now it's genoa and main, reefing and unreefing every hour or so as squall after squall blows past. Except for squalls, which are very tiring to deal with, we have not seen wind over 10 knots in 13 days; on 3 of those days we were becalmed, and on all but one of those days the winds were around 5 knots. Progress is frustratingly slow, because in these latitudes we should be picking up the SE trades by now, and having a great sail.

We haven't been able to get the vane to steer reliably in these light winds with big seas for 4 or 5 days, so we've been hand-steering for most of that time. We expect that to continue.

It was interesting (and somewhat discouraging) to note on the radio net last night that not one other boat in the vicinity had light NE winds; all had SE trades of 10-12 knots, yet we are little more than a hundred miles from some of them. (Yes, we double checked our compass.) It shows you how fickle the weather can be. Looks like our entire remaining passage might be light winds, because the forecast shows those 10-12 knots to our south easing to what we keep having, 5 to 7 at most, by the time we get there. I think if we had trade winds by now we might be able to make the vane steer the boat, to sail faster than the 2.5 knots we've been averaging, and to be less tired.

We estimate that this passage could take at least 37 days, not a problem for water or food supplies but a little disappointing in the weariness of constantly working the boat in this lack of wind. We have fuel enough to motor 150-200 miles, but that would empty the tanks and we learned that there is such a shortage of it in Hiva Oa that diesel may not available; thus, we sail. But that's what a sailboat does.

It ain't a whine, it's the truth. And it still beats the office.

Sent via Ham radio

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