a trip to an icy desert

I sailed to Antarctica on a 21 day adventure!
Not on Coconut, but on Skip Novak’s boat, Pelagic Australis.
We sailed past C a p e  H o r n! And through Drake’s Passage! So much cool stuff up ahead, everyone.

As a disclaimer, all photos are mine. I put my favorites into a 2019 Calendar if you would like to see (some of) these images every day while helping keep me afloat! Thank you to everyone who has already purchased one 🙂

The boat left from Puerto Williams, Chile, which is just across the Beagle Channel from Ushuaia, Argentina. Both cities claim to be “The End of the World” but Puerto Williams is further south. The Beagle Channel is a very windy area in the afternoons/evenings because it is surrounded by beautiful snow capped mountains on both sides.

Leaving at 3 pm, we had a good 40 knots of wind with 50 knot gusts for the first few miles. This is going to be disappointing, but that was the roughest part of the entire three day passage. We had a beautiful day of sailing without the motor, the sun was out and the swells were minimal. We saw minke whales, albatross galore, and it was damn near perfect. We were sailing at 9 knots steady, so we did the usual 5 day passage in 3 days which was pretty astounding.

Just like that, we saw our first iceberg! And then some Antarctic Islands! We went into Deception Island and anchored, went ashore and saw our first penguins (Chinstrap and Gentoo), and a couple of Weddell seals to boot.  A few of us did a short little hike up to Neptune’s Window and passed whale bones laid out as if it were in a museum. Perfectly in place, probably as it had died who knows how many years ago. I am so used to seeing trash on the beach, at first I thought a random vertebrae was a piece of styrofoam. We picked up anchor and headed further south, and from there I will just post the highlights because it is just too much to recount what happened every day. Just a side note, the trip back was… much more what I expected. Sea sickness, giant swells, 40 knots of relentless wind, etc.

first berg-1

deception island-2



We saw minke as I said, humpback, and… ORCAS! Several moments literally took my breath away, the orcas was definitely one of them. I’ve always wanted to see them, and we saw a TON of them over the course of two days! We saw so many whales, I could eventually tell when we were going to get some tail. I missed plenty of shots and still got several. I even got such good shots of them I could see their nostrils… They have nostrils that look like upside down noses, and for some reason that really weirds me out.





I was aware of albatross, but only the brown type that is in the Pacific. Our crew informed us of every type of bird flying around the boat, and it was pretty wild. I never would have thought of myself as a bird watcher (I mean, I am an old soul but not THAT old) but they are pretty interesting to watch! While kayaking we saw a bird-on-bird murder (perhaps protecting their nest but gee, could have just stopped at a few pecks of the neck), plenty of skua’s doing what skua’s do (being jerks), gulls stealing eggs, sheathbills trying to steal penguin eggs, of course PENGUINS being cute AF, petrels galore, antarctic terns, etc. They are hard to snap a photo of especially with a zoom lens, but I managed to get a few good shots.







Oh there is so much to say about the giant masses of ice floating around down south. They are so magnificent! Each one has a story to tell, of storms weathered and days gone by where their only visitor was a penguin or skua if they were so lucky. Antarctica is a really uninhabitable place, not many living beings can survive in the harsh environment. I am really curious about how the icebergs came to be shaped the way they are, as it is fascinating. Some looked like dinosaurs, some looked like cauliflower, or a fishes lips, or drips of candle wax, or a fire pit full of ice chunks that would probably burn you just the same. Others looked like abstract works of art, while some, shining in the sun, looked like 3D rendered/printed objects. We saw icebergs pretty much everywhere, we moved anchorages every night. The ice doesn’t just sit in one spot, it keeps moving wherever the currents bring it. Every morning there would be a completely new scene to enjoy.





My favorite bits were the anchorages. We could go kayak through icebergs (shhhhh, don’t tell anyone!), dinghy to shore to see penguins, see all kinds of wildlife, etc. I was more interested in seeing how we anchored, though. There are so many techniques I could learn online from any Jimbozo, but I wanted to learn from the pro’s. I didn’t realize that Antarctica is really poorly charted. We had several times been “on land” according to OpenCPN, but we obviously weren’t. The holding is crap, and there is no good way to get an anchor to set on top of volcanic rocks which have been smoothed out by glaciers for thousands of years. Dragging is just a part of the game. Unless, there’s a boulder or two or four that you can tie strops around. You’ll need a lot of line, and basically lifeline sized wire (covered in a plastic tube if possible) with two eyes on the ends to be able to tie a shackle to the line attached to the boat. It was by far the safest way to anchor, and yes, even when we had four lines out we still set the anchor first. It was pretty time-consuming, and not something I would try to do on my own (although I am sure it is possible if you have the patience!). It’s also pretty wild to sit still and watch the ice move all around you. It is constantly ebbing and flowing! It went like this: you hear a slight crackle in the distance, maybe you’d even see a cloud of snow, and suddenly a bunch of ice chonks would float on by until it would be clear a few hours later for the process to repeat.





The Crew

I was worried about being the youngest person on board, which as far as the paying passengers, I was. I didn’t take into consideration the crew. I had a decade on them and I thought that was AWESOME! I love seeing young sailors, and the fact that they are in charge of a professional charter vessel in Antarctica simply amazed me. Well, the boat goes from South Africa to Antarctica and back, with several trips in between, so yeah, they get their miles in! First off, whatever breaks they have to fix and manage to keep the boat going for several more trips. On our maybe 5th day the mainsail ripped. They repaired it for several hours in the freezing cold, of course without gloves because that made it more difficult to use the needle and repair tape. Pretty much every day they were repairing something, whether it be chafed lines or the fussy dinghy outboard. It was great to see, they were more than competent and I loved how resourceful they were. It was also SUCH a relief knowing that we could sit back and relax, take pictures, video, etc. while they maneuvered us through the thick patches of ice at 2 knots for several hours. I wouldn’t want to be down there on my own boat, that is a fact. I wasn’t sure how it would be being on board with 10 strangers, and honestly, it wasn’t my favorite. I was worried since the trip was so pricy that some people would be unfazed by what we saw, and I was right. Although the oldest men on board were also the kindest, and most in awe of everything despite having seen practically everything out there in all their travels. That was refreshing! I was also the only American on board, so I learned a lot of Aussie / British / South African terms and started a dictionary to translate. I am not a fan of small talk, constant banter, or people who push your boundaries to see just how uncomfortable they can make you. The oldest passengers, the crew, and my bunk were my refuge. And podcasts, and meditation, and staying up on the bow for as long as I could handle. I’m not a group person, so yeah it’s not much of a surprise I prefer sailing solo!



The Boat

I think what kind of boat you take down to Antarctica can make or break your experience. First off, no fiberglass boats would fare well down there. The ice gourds you will hit can smack/crack your hull and that would be bad. Metal boats can withstand the conditions. Steel is common, and aluminum is even better. Pelagic Australis is a custom-made boat, the second one and specifically built to do this voyage for decades. Its hull is 1′ thick aluminum. Why is aluminum better than steel? Because its softer, so any hard ice you hit will cause a dent if anything and it isn’t prone to rust as steel is. The bottom paint scrapes right off, so its kinda funny seeing it on the ice or snow you push past. Also, because it is so cold down there, bottom growth isn’t really a thing.

So back to the boat. Skip Novak is a well-known adventure sailor, and he did an outstanding job building Pelagic Australis. There are two private cabins for couples, along with 4 two-bunk cabins (bunk beds). There is plenty of room for storage of gear, I personally liked the three separate canvas bags hanging in your bunk. That’s where I kept the essentials: hand and foot warmers, undies, socks, phone/ear buds, etc.

The boat has a lifting keel, so when we were offshore the keel was locked in place and when we got closer to shore it was “unlocked” if you will, essentially allowing the keel to swing back if we collided with anything. Which we did. It wad pretty wild! We definitely found a rock. Because the keel design takes up the entire center of the boat, the port and starboard cabins are somewhat like a catamaran. Three bunks on each side, with a head. Up forward was the v-berth which was the unheated area of the boat and contained loads of items. Spares of everything, food stores, dinghy outboards, etc. There was no watermaker on board, nor was there any refrigeration. Most foods such as milk, cheese, butter, deli meats were stowed under the floor boards in the saloon where it was naturally cooled by the hull. I thought this was brilliant, especially because they go from Cape Town, to the Falkland Islands, to Chile, Antarctica 3x, and then back. There aren’t many places to heavily provision, yet we were urged not to hold back (and we didn’t, we ate realllly good!). The best and most practical hack I took away from this trip? Forget the storm sail, just put a fourth reef in the main. #mindblown

The other invaluable design of the boat is the pilot house. I would not want to be outside on watch on a passage, period. The crew did an amazing job steering us through thick areas of chunky ice, which they had to do outside, but there was always one person outside and one person inside. They could switch to warm up, and there were always another set of eyes looking out inside for whoever was outside. We didn’t have to get snowed on if we didn’t want to, and we could stay (relatively) warm and dry on watch. It was still cold inside, but for someone who doesn’t care for the cold I would have been miserable had there not been a pilot house. There were also board games and plenty of books to read on board, but I can’t read while underway. I am too afraid I’ll zone out and miss something!


Next up, I will write a post on how to plan a trip to Antarctica. I have been asked several questions about doing this. Now that I know a little more about how it works and what gear is good and not so good down south, I will add my two cents! Thanks for reading 🙂


coconut: before and after

This is my boat, Coconut. I took a photo at the anchorage in Drakes Bay (north of San Francisco) in February of 2015. At the time all I had done was gotten anchor chain and attempted to make the boat liveable such as getting the water tanks to hold water and get the stove working, etc. Exactly three years and a LOT of work later, we had sailed down to the mooring fields of Catalina Island. What a difference three years makes!

Can you spot all of the differences in the vessel? Finally, after 30 years of neglect she can safely sail!




backpacking le grand canyon

One of my faults, besides being brutally honest (sorry, not sorry), is being completely incompetent when it comes to organizing events. I’d invited several friends from several different states who wanted to join in on the adventure to backpack the Grand Canyon at Havasupai Falls. Where is everyone going to stay? How are we all going to get up to the Reservation? After almost six months of very vague planning, I told everyone where I was going to be and when. It was too late, though. Other plans had been made, not enough notice to get off from work, etc. I did the hike by myself which worried a lot of people, but I don’t know why. It’s such a well travelled area, and on my 10 mile descent I counted twice as many females as males. The only problem I encountered was with a crow. More on that later… 



Many don’t know that the Supai Reservation at the bottom of the Grand Canyon is home to 400 people. They use mules to bring down their supplies, and some backpackers even pay to have their packs taken down for them (cheaters!). This was cute and charming and all… but beware: you will be dodging land mines for 20 miles.

The descent into the canyon was fairly easy, about two miles downhill which is mostly unshaded. The weather at the beginning of November was perfect, so I wasn’t terribly bothered by it. The rest of the hike was flat, with a very thick bed of loose rocks enveloped by giant orange canyon walls. I’d have to “pull over” at the sight or sound of the mule-train coming. It was such a unique experience, one that I had dreamed about for so long. It was a picture of what the old days must have looked like.



As we neared the town, I made my way to the visitors center to pay for my two night stay. I got the sense that the village, much like myself, is stuck in the 90’s. I passed a woman wearing baggy clothes who had some speakers in her Jansport backpack. Aah, a familiar sound. Snoop DOGG. I had to chuckle. No matter how far I try to get into the wilderness, you will be reminded its still 2014 and even a small village at the bottom of the Grand Canyon knows and loves their rap. Besides that, Zita made friends with these local horses who came from the other side of the field to sniff sniff.

I didn’t quite make it to the campsite before dark, but I found a spot to set up camp for the night. I was held up in the morning leaving Phoenix because my friends made me a beautiful hiking stick made out of Saguaro cactus. Picking the hiking stick up (it’s now named Warren G) in rush hour traffic set me off a couple of hours, but it was well worth it. Along the way to the official campsite, I passed the beautiful Havasupai Falls. I can’t get enough of these waterfalls!! Besides their bright blue waters, I couldn’t understand where the hell all this water was coming from. Natural beauty is such an amazing gift.

I found a sweet camping spot thanks to a backpacker who was taking off as I was coming in. The river split into two, leaving a small chunk of land with flowing water on both sides of my tent. After setting up camp, I wasn’t quite sure what to do with myself so I started wandering around. I’d see a picnic table on the other side of the river, but no obvious way to get there. How does one get to the picnic table? I must know! It felt like a scavenger hunt. Bear and Zita love crossing the river, it’s like running up and down the stairs but in the wild. We had fun exploring the area, but when it came to exploring Mooney Falls I had to leave the kiddos behind.


I spotted the railing first, followed by the “Descend at own risk” sign. If I hadn’t been told about the spray painted arrows pointing the way, I might not have noticed them. Then there were two cave-tunnels to pass through, to be met with descending straight down a muddy and wet ladder with slippery (yet secure) chains to hold on to. Eek. Eek. Eek. I’m terrified of heights, but it was a much grander water fall than Havasupai and I didn’t come all this way for nothing! Once I safely descended, I followed the river climbing around and crossing where I could. I have zero interest in rock climbing, but I feel like I bouldered my way to a secret little spot where I took a quick and chilly dip into the limey water.

The whole month and a half I’d been on my road trip I was surviving mostly on Top Ramen, beef jerky, dried nuts and fruits, and water. I don’t know why I thought that would sustain me hiking 20 miles, but it didn’t. While in Colorado, I bought a fancy $11 dried spaghetti meal. I didn’t have money to have $11 meals every evening, but I figured I’d save the fancy dinner for the biggest adventure. I got the campsite cleaned up and ready for dinner and walked around with the doggies to take pictures. When I came back to the campsite the bag of spaghetti was missing. Being that I didn’t think someone would just straight up take my spaghetti, I started investigating. A damn crow had broken into it and spread it all over, he and a buddy crow were chowing down on it. OH HELL NO! I called B+Z over and let them eat it, which they happily did. So a crow ruined my dinner. I was so mad I didn’t eat anything that night.

The ascent was much more difficult, especially being that I wasn’t really eating enough and didn’t have the right foods. We all made it though, and I’d love to go back one day. Finally I can say “I did that!” instead of “I want to do that!” Below are photos of the official (and unofficial) King and Queen of the Supai village. One looks over and protect the land and the people, the other barks at mules and eats their poop.




a sailors log: kaneohe to owl harbor

It’s finally here! The journal entries and photos of the magical 18 days at sea. I’m also making a video, but it isn’t ready to be debuted yet. Everything written in here is from my journal that was kept up while at sea. I’ve added some tidbits for clarity in italics. This is a monster post and will take some time to get through.

I know I mentioned previously that I was supposed to be on a J-109 named Blue Crush, and due to issues we had to come back to the yacht club to fix some stuff. My adventures on Knopkierrie began on the day I left Blue Crush.  I don’t like wasting any time!

Wednesday July 30, 2014 
When N & D told me this morning that Blue Crush is going to be hauled out, I told them that I’d been welcomed onto the crew of Knopkierrie and that they were leaving at 2:00 pm this afternoon. I felt guilty because they’d flown me out there and paid for my room while in Hawaii, but they said they understood and didn’t want me to feel bad about having to leave. I got lectured a little bit about the new boat, and I was really looking forward to getting some space from these two. “Make sure they have xyz equipment!” “Make sure they know how to xyz!” Geez, guys, they made it over here just fine I’m sure they can make it back just fine. I kept my mouth shut and nodded in agreement and got the hell out of there.
20140730_081330 Anyways, I took my stuff over to Knopkierrie (pictured above) and immediately started working on projects. I’d get distracted by someone handing me stuff to go down below and I’d forget about it for a little bit. Nobody lectured me, nobody got upset. Phew! We worked for a few hours and took a nice lunch break before taking off. Monica was updating files for her computer, and we all enjoyed ourselves and relaxed, laughed, and conversed before heading out. It was a great change of pace from the boat that I almost went out on! N&D were way too uptight for me. Still, you just never know who might be crazy or annoying so I wasn’t ready to completely accept that the crew was as cool as I thought they were.

After lunch we took off! It was that easy. It was at 2:15 pm, almost right on schedule. We went through the Sampan Channel with no stress or issues. It was super blue (pictured below)!
20140730_150313 As soon as the wind vane was set, I was on first watch from 4-8 pm. I enjoyed it! 15 knots of wind at most, super steady swells. I slept terribly. Peeing in the middle of the night was a chore! Getting used to the heeling of the boat, figuring out where to hold on to stuff to not fall, etc. etc.

Thursday, July 30, 2014
First night watch was 2-4 am. Monica was there and took me through what screens to watch in the cockpit and what to look out for on the horizon. Below is an image of the beautiful touch screen Raymarine GPS that was in the cockpit. So fancy! This also had AIS to let us know if there were any vessels within 25 nautical miles.
20140730_155951 Not too shabby! It wasn’t cold. It was super dark, but the sky was littered with stars! HO-LY-CRAP! Saw the Milky Way! I could see everything!!!! Finally saw the bioluminescence everyone always talks about out here. The watch went so quickly because I was fascinated by the sky and the water. I love the motion of the swells. It reminds me of being in a rocking chair. Nobody is sea sick either. The team is great! I think I tried to sleep better, I don’t trust the lee cloth on the starboard side. It’s fine, but I’m afraid I’m going to fall off or out of it somehow.

Monica brought Ed and I some salami and bread when we were out in the cockpit in the afternoon. Nobody was really hungry yet, but we still ate a little here and there. Still getting our sea legs and getting comfortable/well rested. We haven’t seen any other boats at all since we left. Avion (Lindy’s boat) was right behind us but now they are nowhere to be seen. We’re going about 7-9 knots which is good progress! Children’s Hour we were a little late to because Ed was on watch. Since I was right by the radio, I called in for us. They were happy to hear from us and I gave them our coordinates. (Children’s Hour is a net on the radio that checks positions of the boats returning from Hawaii to ensure everyone gets home safely. This was part of the Pacific Cup Race return. We checked in every evening at 6 pm Hawaii time, and because Ed was the radio guy he normally checked in for us, below.)

Friday July 31, 2014
Today was an eventful day! Let’s see, my watch was from 12-2 am and 8 am-12 pm. Paul and Ed joined me in the morning and we had great conversation. I enjoy talking to them. I am starting to see the ocean as a welcoming place. We have had such good wind and such good weather. I am really wondering why people say the delivery back is the worst. Perhaps it’s the time it takes to get there? Monica made a great lunch for us and even cracked open a bottle of wine to celebrate a crew who works good together. So happy it all worked out! Enjoying myself more than I would have on Blue Crush that’s fo’sho. I had gone inside to rest a bit and get out of the sun, I read some and it felt good. I set out a lure that cutie pie Dillon had sold to me in Hawaii. The first one fell off after a few hours, of course that was the nicest one 🙁 I set another…. rather Paul did because I didn’t know how. 20140801_082541 Two bites on both fishing rods at once. Paul decided (after I tried and failed to bring one of them all the way in – that sh*# is hard!) to tire the fish out. Eventually the fish won and broke free. We tried again and got a tuna that was too small so we let it go. We tried again and Paul’s line got tangled and eventually the fish let go, mine …ahh it’s all too confusing I don’t remember what happened. We really only caught one fish. I tried really hard to make a PB&J sandwich, good lord that was messy and so not worth it. (The whole boat is moving, you’re moving, and because of that you need at least one hand to hold onto something. You put your butt out to hold yourself up against the side of the galley where the sink is. That’s not enough so you put your knee up on the opposite side of the galley to really keep you still. With your one free hand you somehow have to grab a paper towel to make said sandwich on, make said sandwich, put everything away, etc. etc. It’s hard to get used to and it was quite comical to me.)

Saturday August 1, 2014
Wow! This is the first day I have really written in the journal since we left for sea. I’m on watch right now, it’s 6 am! First sunrise I’ve seen so far. The clouds are beautiful.
20140807_191517 20140803_055244 20140803_055247 20140802_060542 I love it here. I can’t wait to be here on my own boat, with my little baby noushes. I hope they are doing well. I miss Coconut too! I’m hungry. I think I will change clothes too. I haven’t yet since Wednesday. Ooops.

For whatever reason, after the winds picked up to 23 knots last night I started getting a little queasy. I burped a lot and it helped, but it didn’t go away. It’s kinda still there but not as bad. My period started a couple of days ago. Oh joy! I’m getting hungry, but there’s still an hour to go on my shift. Today I have 12 hours off so it’s my day to cook.
20140802_145313 FISH TACOS!! MAHI MAHI! (Paul caught this beauty! He and Ed fillet it up on the bow and I cooked it – with their help!)

We had an eventful day. We’ve made 500 nautical miles so far. Although not entirely in the right direction (you can’t just go in a straight line due to weather and ocean currents). We are still moving at 5-6 knots and the seas are good. My nausea went away when I saw a Gatorade in the fridge and gulped it down after making sure it didn’t belong to anyone.
20140802_055947 Wow! We all watched the sunset and Ed chatted with me on my 8-10 pm watch. Monica and I were talking about my possible future. Working for Pacific Seacraft perhaps? It’s in Seattle… (back on land I found out they’re in North Carolina now). Why not try to be an Interior Designer for them? That would be awesome! Or Luna Sea… they do LED lighting for boats.

Sunday August 3, 2014
3:40 am: I thought I saw a ship, a bright light dead ahead (looked just like it was atop a mast!).  20140808_041531 Stupid Venus. It was Venus. Before I knew it, it was high in the sky with the sun. I am mesmerized by the stars. I love standing up on the cockpit seats holding onto the top of the dodger. Such a beautiful sight!

12:00 pm: Ed made really good French toast! So much yum. Well fed sailors over here.
photo 2I’m super stinky. I brushed my hair and took a baby wipe “shower” and still feel pretty funky. We are almost at the high and we hope that the weather kicks up or keeps on going. I’ve only brushed my teeth twice and my legs are hairy! Just got done tracking debris in the ocean. We are seeing more and more trash as the days go on. Sad.
20140808_1417564:25 pm: I awake from a long nap and I’m late for watch!

5:02 pm: We’re playing “Uno”. I’m losing, and we make a mental note not to forget Children’s Hour coming up.

6:00 pm: Children’s Hour! Channel 92 6A, I turn on the radio but I’m on watch still. Sun feels nice. Ed got updated weather reports and there’s a system that’s about to hit Oahu. Wow! Perfect timing for me to get out of there. Blue Crush is probably stuck, as is Transit of Venus. I was going to check them out for crew but found Knopkierrie first. T of V had to turn back. Two boats I was going to crew on that are stuck due to issues! The joke was that if we don’t make it, it’s going to be my fault! Tee hee. Good banter on this boat. On shift until 8 pm, next shift at 2 am.
20140804_111438REAL women use duct tape for owies!

6:56 pm: We all sit in virtual silence as we watch the sunset. Saturn and Mars are close to the moon! We wonder if we’re going to see “the green flash” tonight… 20140815_170622

Monday August 4, 2014
2:11 am: I’m on watch and Monica pointed out a large bright spot in the sky to keep an eye on. Is it a storm? A boat? A UFO? Not sure but winds are at 18 knots so we reefed the jib and main just to be sure.

5:08 pm: Things are breaking. My kindle broke (the screen cracked from accidentally putting my knee on it as I was reefing this morning). The head also broke. Handle not working. Also, my hat just flew away. Le sigh. Ed spent several hours rebuilding the head. Monica and I were ready for buckets, but Ed wanted the head! Repairs included rebuilding the head, requiring drilling a hole and then stuffing plastic and Gorilla Glue in the hole. You’ve gotta do what you’ve gotta do out at Sea. It worked!
20140804_171537 20140804_171618 I was on watch for several additional hours while Ed and Paul fixed the head. I found solace in taking pictures of myself.

Tuesday August 5, 2014
7:53 am: I’m awake now after the engine has started. We’re motor sailing now. Had a hard time keeping the boat at 4 knots during the extra AM watches. Monica and I let the guys sleep extra. Now I have watch for four hours. I’ve done 17 hours of watch in the last 24 hours. Will sleep a lot in the next day! This is what ocean passages are all about! Something at some point will fail and it takes several hands to keep things progressing. 

9:12 pm: Winds picked up and another beautiful day of sailing! It’s almost a full moon and I have discovered the fixed captains chair and had a blast sitting on that on my watch and listened to my dance jams. We hit 1,000 nautical miles, but of course not all in the right direction.

Wednesday August 6, 2014
4:17 am: There’s a lot of commotion as Monica just took watch. I offered to help, and assisted in reefing the main/jib. 18 knots but crazy seas. We chatted during her watch & mine.

1:12 pm: Paul is on watch and I woke up from a nap, needing fresh air. Paul and I chatted and eventually I enlightened him to the sail jellies I had just started seeing a day or two ago. We look for them for 1/2 an hour or so, fun!

6:00 pm: Children’s Hour to check in. I like this. Apparently Ed saw a 12′ fishing boat floating/damaged at 11:21 am this morning. Glad we didn’t hit it!

I made potato salad and sausages for dinner.

Thursday August 7, 2014
12:50 pm: Ed is cooking up his delicious French toast right now!
photo 1 I’m basking in the sun and listening to these wonderful waves. Monica is going to help me wash my hair, and I think I might clean up and change my clothes after that. I’ve pretty much been napping all day since my am watch. Beautiful sunrise! Played with the GoPro so I will see if I got anything.

6:58 pm: The winds have somewhat died and I’ve had a hard time keeping the boat at 4 knots again. Wind vane doesn’t want to cooperate, but it seems to be doing better. The sun is setting behind me which means we’re heading east! (We’d been going north for quite a few days.) Monica helped me wash my hair and I baby wipe showered and changed clothes and I feel lovely. If I could just shave my legs that would be great! We saw a record amount of trash today. Lots of fishing stuff (ropes, buckets, netting) and even buoys and a kid’s oar. I’ve been messing with the GoPro and now it doesn’t work… I hope I didn’t kill it! Oops, getting off course again… one hour left of watch.

Friday August 8, 2014
2:04 am: We are still sailing! 5.3 knots, not so steady winds. I should have pee’d before I got on watch but I woke up from a deep sleep and had a hard time turning off the alarm and getting up. Had some crazy dreams last night. Now I just have to not fall asleep (and pee my pants).

4:05 am: I was able to get a ride out of a couple of gusts to 4.5-6 knots, but for the last 20 min. of my shift I was having a hard time keeping the sails full. I woke up Ed early to help start the motor. The autopilot is on, the main is centered, or the boom is rather, and the jib is furled. The water is calm and the sun is coming up! Hardly any clouds in the sky. So beautiful. I hope I can sleep with the engine running.

By now, Paul had figured out that I like to eat. He made a yummy BLT-egg-jalapeno yumminess. He offers me any food that’s leftover, and because I said I want to grow my hair long and look like a mermaid, he sings “I wanna be where the people are…” when he sees me. HA! Love it.
20140808_1350584:39 pm: SPINNER DOLPHINS!!!! Sighted about 1/2 mile away? Off the port bow. Thought they were coming closer, but they didn’t. Been motorsailing since 1 pm.

6:16 pm: Children’s Hour: S/V Humdinger reports they hit a floating dock at 11:45 pm last night. Scary! No damage to report.

6:56 pm: Time to gather for the nightly sunset! All crew on deck 🙂
IMG_7437 IMG_7432

Saturday August 9, 2014
6:36 am: We definitely just hit something. I was sleeping in the pilots’ berth and heard something hard hit the hull and drag along the side for a few seconds. Ed and I popped our heads out of the companion way to see if everything was OK. Monica and Paul were looking around outside, but there wasn’t anything they could see. Whatever we just hit it was below the waterline. SOOO glad I got a full keel boat, with a protected prop and rudder! There is a lot of debris here in the water and yes some of it you can’t even see. Paul thinks it might have been a sea turtle.

8:00 am: We have 1,000 nautical miles to go (in 23 miles). WAHOO PARTY TIME! Just started my watch and there’s an albatross circling the boat. Cool bird! Huge wingspan. Still motorsailing.
20140811_043541 10:07 pm: What another beautiful day! We hit 1,000 miles till our destination. I brought out the Asian candy lai’s and Hawaiian fortune cookies for everyone to share earlier to celebrate.DCIM100GOPROAfter dinner, Monica and I shared a Sangria and we watched the sunset again.
IMG_7574 IMG_7569Of course, as soon as dinner was over Paul caught a yellow fin tuna. He decided to release it because he thought it was small. We finished off all the veggies and are a week out and now about to start on canned goods. I miss Bear and Zita hugs SOO much. There’s a full moon tonight and I’m able to write just by moonlight! Pretty neat, but that means less stars are visible. Unless a cloud covers the moon of course! IMG_7510

Sunday August 10, 2014
By 6 am we were ready to stop motoring. The wind had picked up enough for the past 12 hours so we were still going 6-7 knots.

I napped a lot today because it was my day off. Oh good God I am so stinky! Where is this f($)@(  high that everyone is talking about?! I am ready for a mid-Pacific swim!! I need to freshen up. I made pasta & sauce for dinner. We shared some funny stories and now it’s time for my watch again. I thought a lot about what I want to happen in the next few months. Since I want to go to Peru I am thinking of going for my 32nd birthday. Why not? 5 year anniversary of being 100% on my own. I thought about writing a lot about my 4 years as Mz. Belle as well. It feels good to have made so much progress and it’s something I wish I could be more open about. I hate having secrets. It feels so fake sometimes.

Monday August 11, 2014
6:52 am: The Universe, The Pacific Ocean, and Mother Earth don’t want me to shower. It’s been 12 days. I washed my hair several days ago and so far that’s fine, but I’m so stinky and sticky. I keep waiting for this “high” where the water is glassy and welcoming of a skinny dip. Somehow the high split into two and there’s a low pressure system shaking things up and that’s where we are. The winds shifted at about 2 am and instead of getting SE winds we are now getting NW winds. We are pretty much going downwind and right now Monica and Ed are rigging up the spinnaker pole to be used with the jib. Ed shouted up to me this morning that the boat was “not harmonious” and to change course. There wasn’t much I could do. I was going to shower today but with the wind shift I’m not sure I can. Ugh.. To be continued.

7:12 am: We are wing on wing and making better progress. I just saw an albatross flying nearby and then a dolphin came out and poked it’s fin out near the albatross! Cool!! No more dolphin sightings 🙁

4:26 pm: The universe DID want me to shower! I went up to the bow with the hose and stripped down nekked and I feel like a lady again! So now I’m on watch and we’re doing our survey looking for trash. We’ve got a double rainbow on one side, that’s mirror imaged, and the other side of the rainbow is visible too. COOL!!! 🙂 (I have video of this! And the survey looking for trash is something the University of Hawaii is doing to collect data of types of trash and wildlife we see out there.) 

5:54 pm: I didn’t understand why it was getting dark earlier and light earlier, duh it’s because we’re in another time zone but we’re in the middle of the ocean. Staying on Hawaii time. Shifts changed to stay current with daylight.

10:36 pm: WHOOWEEE! The autopilot is on and the jib has been furled and all I need to do is make sure we don’t jibe accidentally. I can see it’s cloudy and not the typical popcorn clouds. There are some squalls and I’m keeping my eyes on one off to port. It’s getting closer and closer, and I tried adjusting the autopilot to steer clear of Mr. Squally Squall. We head even more towards Mr. SS and it starts sprinkling. I hide under the dodger, but I’m still somehow getting wet..hmm. I looked behind me to where the sprinkles were coming from and there was a huge grey cloud behind me too. I scan the horizon and head down below for my foulies and rain boots. I am back up on deck and the autopilot has a warning going off, it can’t keep steering. It’s not going away so I ask down below if anyone is awake and able to assist. Monica gets up and takes a look and grabs her jacket. I go down below to get my jacket and come back on deck. It’s really pouring now and Monica and I try hand steering.

We reduce the sails (reef the main). We try chicken jibing but the wheel is hard to starboard and we are still being pushed to port. We jibe accidentally and try again…. still no success so we turn the engine on and power forward so that we can cross the wind. At some point I had told Ed that there were squalls all around us and he said they’re not squalls it’s the “front” that’s been approaching for two days. That explains a lot. We jibe and get a little more control, the winds are steady at 15-18 knots. We set the wind vane and make sure it can hold course, and it does. It was a rocky evening but everything went well. Since we have finally tacked (day 12!) it’s weird to be on port tack. You have to set things in different areas to not fall over, like the opposite side of the stairs. You roll to a different side of the berth. The head suddenly feels different.20140803_132358 On a starboard tack, this was a safe place to put stuff. After a few days you learn where to put things so they don’t roll away/spill/fall/disappear to unknown areas. Changing tacks meant this was no longer a safe place. 

Tuesday August 12, 2014
10:23 am: Ed informs us that his daughter is saying Robin Williams has committed suicide. BUMMER! So sad. My Auntie also said that a boat had to be rescued off Hawaii and that they even lost their life raft. Hope they weren’t part of the Pac Cup! Hope they are safe.

I’m trying to understand the weather better so that I know the difference between what I saw last night and a time to buckle up and weather a storm. If there is hurricane weather systems in the area, I’d like to know what that looks like compared to a front.

10:56 am: There’s a cargo ship that we will be crossing paths with! I sat up at the bow for about an hour and watched it get closer and closer. Maersk Line it was. There have been a few other boats on the AIS but none visible.20140812_0908406:08 pm: Children’s Hour is over and more than half the boats have arrived home. We are under 600 miles to go, that’s arriving Sunday! Woot woot!

Wednesday August 13, 2014
12:26 pm: 500 miles to go till we get to the bridge! Woohoo! Monica made a fantastic sausage-egg-country potato-tomato-celery breakfast and Paul is fishing, I am reading, and Ed is navigating/on watch.20140813_0933599:32 pm: There is a ship coming up behind us on the AIS. I’ve been watching it get closer and closer. I hope it steers clear of us! (It was on the same course as us and going significantly faster.) 

9:52 pm: The ship (cargo ship) was almost about to come up on our stern perpendicularly, but suddenly it stopped. As we were going 6-7 knots the large container somehow got smaller and smaller by the minute. Then it appeared to shift directions and looked like it was coming towards us. I woke up Ed who was on shift next and he looked and could tell by the formation of the many lights that it wasn’t coming towards us. We watched it for 30 minutes as it appeared to slow down and be parallel to us and finally veered south. We think it’s destination was Mejico. As we were watching this unfold, Ed said he’d be worried if he saw smaller boats coming our way. Pirate attack! Where is Zita when I need her?! 

Thursday August 14, 2014
4-6 am watch this am. Monica accidentally tacked and I could tell by the luffing of the sails the wind was being wonkey. Oh joy! We had lost 6 minutes going too far south and went from 36 deg 01′ to 35 deg something. 6 minutes takes a long time to recover especially when the wind is shifting and trying to force you south. (Each minute covers a specific distance of longitude.) We should be entering a northerly wind today. I tried for an hour to make progress, without lasting success. I woke up Ed for help around 5:10 am. I had been hand steering. He adjusted the sails a little and showed me what heading to keep, and then we got back up to 5-6 knots.

4:51 pm: Just got done making food. My day to cook. I made something that we all agreed is an “Asian inspired Ready Made Pizza spread”. Canned chicken, olives, stewed tomatoes, corn, mayo, salt & pepper, and onion. Interesting… oh the things you come up with when you’ve only got so much foods left. 

Right now Ed is on the SSB and found Gordo’s Net. He called in and this group of guys are all over the world, talking on their radios, about their… antennas. It’s cute and comical and dorky at the same time. Laying down for nap. Monica and I tried catching sail jellies today and had no luck 🙁

7:15-7:30 pm: HOLY CRAP! I SAW A FIREBALL IN THE SKY! It didn’t span the whole sky but sure was cool! (Looked like the google image below.) I adjusted the course (we were going too far north) and we picked up speed and are back at 36 deg! 347 miles to go (to the GG bridge!).

Friday August 15, 2014
Kind of a frustrating day. Crappy watch (hand steered for most of the time. Don’t understand the damned wind vane and the wind suddenly shifted. There was 10 deg. of play between not going south (we had already gone too far) and luffing the sails. Frustrating! As frustrated as I was, this bright red sunrise made it hard to be mad. No photos of that 🙁 

Not too much else happened. We tried catching sail jellies again. Tried looking for the green flash in the sunset, stupid clouds got in the way.

Saturday August 16 2014
1:23 am: HOLY CRAP I SAW SOME DOLPHINS! I heard their spout and looked over towards the glistening water under the moonlight and there were three that I saw that followed us for a few minutes. Totally cool! Earlier on my shift I had noticed the wind vane started going south again so I tried to adjust and ended up hand steering a while. Dolphins made it worth it.

7:36 am: HOLY CRAP THERE’S DOLPHINS SURROUNDING THE BOAT! I was eating pineapple up on deck with Monica & Paul and dolphins came up everywhere. A pod of 20 of so! Got the GoPro video! 150 miles to go!

11:36 am: I try fishing for sea jellies. I grabbed a cup and a bowl and went off to the side of the boat that was most heeled over. I see that there’s one washed up and dried out, but I still try. Ed held my ankle as I hung off the side… no luck.
20140816_111629 12:45 pm: Winds start to pick up! 18-20 knots, 7 knots boat speed. Wahoo!

2:37 pm: Ed said “We’ve got dolphins!” (I’m pretty sure I sighed, rolled my eyes, and thought to myself “already saw them but whatever..) I grab the GoPro and head out on the deck. Oh there are dolphins alright! Hundreds!! Swimming across our bow! Got great video of them! They were full on jumping out of the water. All of them! SOO COOL!

I’m off watch and it’s time for a nap. We have 115 miles to go to the GG Bridge. Should be at Sam’s by tomorrow afternoon! Getting excited to see my baby noushes.

3:35 pm: We’ve reefed the jib, for the first time in the trip we are in winds over 20 knots and it’s staying that way. 20-25 knots for 2 hours know. Welcome home I guess!
20140816_132413 9:23 pm: I’m late for my watch! Monica woke me up, my alarm didn’t even go off. It says (phone) that it’s 1:10 am when I awoke… my phone is on CA time! Getting closer. Winds still 17-20 knots. It’s cloudy and I can’t see the stars but the bioluminescence is still here!

Sunday August 17, 2014
7:20 am: “WE CAN SEE THE FARALLONES!” exclaims Monica. An hour later I get out of bed and snap some photos. I didn’t go back to sleep… busy day! Soon we saw the bridge although it took us several hours to get under it. It was foggy (or cloudy and overcast) and as we approached the bridge there were tons of fishing boats. 20140817_082926 Ed pointed out a sea lion and I was watching it dance around… suddenly it was thrashing around because it had gotten hooked by one of the fishing boats’ bait. I’ll never forget that noise, it was awful! Then I had to steer clear of the boat that hooked it. I was happy my shift was over with all that commotion!

I saw a moonfish! They eat sea jellies 🙁

2:45 pm: We are under the bridge! Paul and I are up at the bow and taking fun pics and videos. It’s good to be back! Something about this is so rewarding and picturesque the fruits of our labor.
DCIM100GOPRO We motor up to Sam’s and park behind a Hunter, it’s around 3:30 pm. I’ve lost all my decency and remove my foulies and warm weather gear right there on the dock facing the restaurant. I know people think we are completely overdressed but they don’t know where we just came from! We stumble onto the docks and make our way to a table. I think I held onto everything I could on the way there! It’s weird. We have a great lunch/drinks/desert session thanks to Ed. Monica recognizes a guy at the table behind us as we’re about to take off up the delta. It turns out they saw us pull up and thought “those are some hardcore sailors!” Yep. We are!
10458953_10202842520118596_934550180568356161_o 8:49 pm: Time to rest. On our way up the delta and we are on 2 hour shifts, 2 people at a time. None of us know where we are going!
That was my last journal entry. Suffice it to say, we made it safely to Owl Harbor, but it was the most stressful part of the journey! We didn’t hit any of the bridges with our mast, we didn’t run aground in one of the many little islands or shallow areas, the windy twists and turns all lit up and you have no idea what light it is you’re looking for… yeah, kind of stressful! We got in around 7:30 am on August 18. I was happy to be back home on Coconut with my babies.
20140818_083151 20140818_083346 Aww. The newly married couple! Gerrett surprised Monica, he was supposed to be in Texas!

So there you have it! That was by far the coolest thing I’ve ever done, and I can’t wait to do it again. After having spoken to others about their ocean crossings, I still think the crew was as awesome as I thought in the beginning. They were all really cool and relaxed, and that made the crossing a pleasant experience.

I’d love to hear your thoughts on this, if you were you surprised by anything I experienced or curious to hear more about something you read? If you have any questions please let me know! I’d love to hear from you readers. Speaking of which, I’m not sure how I’ve gotten readers from Lithuania, Moldova, Brazil, Spain, Honduras, etc. etc. but thank you for reading! I’d love to hear from you too 🙂