Every Day to the Good is a Good Day

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On July 2, 2016, we departed Majuro, Marshall Islands, for a long, upwind sail to Samoa. Crow flies, it was an 1800-mile passage that we thought might take two weeks, three at the most with the light winds that were predicted for our first few days at sea. It was 25 days later that we finally sighted the island of Savai’i on the horizon.

The first two weeks we had wind so light it barely filled the sails, coupled with seas so calm we felt like we were just hanging out on the boat while she happened to be moving. We deliberately went looking for the Equatorial Counter-current and a big part of our days were spent evaluating our progress and determining when the current was giving us a 1-1.5 knot boost and when we’d sailed out of its helpful push to the east. Evening squalls were easy going and it wasn’t until we dipped below the equator that the wind filled in from the southeast, eventually building to 20-30 knots and kicking up 8-10 foot seas as a passing low caught up with us. The last five days were the most difficult. Overall we sailed more than 2200 miles, averaging 75 miles per day, making this our slowest, longest, and most interesting voyage.

This is the passage in photos.

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Day 1: Last chance — north to Hawaii or south to Samoa?
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Day 2: “Now it’s early in the morning/And I ain’t got nothing but the blues…” -Louis Jordan
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Day 3: Spot sewing under sail in smooth seas.
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Day 4: Supper on the foredeck at sunset became an evening ritual.
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Day 5: Most of the time the boat sailed herself and it was calm enough we could almost live like we normally do.
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Day 6: Traffic. First you see trash in the water, then you inevitably see the tuna seiner that’s tossing it overboard.
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Day 7: A small school of tuna followed our boat for an entire day, drafting off our wake and lurking on the bow, hunting flying fish spooked by the boat. This one had a large gash on the top of its head, so we named it Cut Head.
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Day 8: The prettiest rainbows are the ones from the squall that passes us by.
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Day 9: We tuned into an informal evening SSB net with the folks in Majuro, who were tracking WindRyder who set sail north to Hawaii when we turned south. This is the night we heard they’d been dismasted 500 miles west of Wake Island and were communicating with the American station there, hoping to find safe harbor.
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Day 10: Sailmakers always leave their repairs until the last minute.
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Day 11: Avian visitors all day. We’re nearing Howland, Amelia Earhart’s intended destination when she and her plane disappeared.
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Day 12: We accidentally broke this booby. It rode along for an entire night, then mid-morning it spied other birds hunting a school of fish and took off. A while later it returned to roost on the radar again, but hit our wind generator and fell into the sea with a broken wing. After that, we scared away any more birds before they could land on the boat.
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Day 13: The third time the three of us have crossed the Equator together.
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Day 14: Despondent after an hour fighting a tournament-size yellowfin that snapped the line seconds before he could gaff it, Brian said: “We’re such a good team. I’m just not used to losing things with you, baby.”
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Day 15: The only bag of flour, fully infested.
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Day 16: GPS fail, on all levels. Our last position known is actually 05 21’S, 177 54’W.
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Day 17: Beauty rest.
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Day 18: Full moon.
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Day 19: “Remember that old fisherman who told us that seeing dolphins means the weather will change?” Then we got 25 knots.
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Day 20: Squalls ahead of the approaching low.
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Day 21: Working jib, original to the boat, 42 years old and still working.
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Day 22: Storm food: Kraft, meet my friend, Hebrew National.
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Day 23: Enjoying our last piece of fresh fruit.
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Day 24: At around 23:00 last night, a sudden tearing noise cut through the howling 25 knot wind. The head of the working jib tore completely free of the sail. It looks worse than it is, and we’re only 80 miles from safe harbor.
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Day 25: That’s not a cloud! Our first sight of Samoa.

4 thoughts on “Every Day to the Good is a Good Day

    1. Thanks! My partner Brian built it. Fiberglass top with stainless supports and canvas windows that open for airflow. I love it because it’s sturdy enough to stand on which helps me fold the main and streamlined enough that it doesn’t make the boat look taller and wider than she already is.

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