Monday, December 06, 2010 | Author: Jacob

Great new sailing movie documenting the 2008-9 Vendee Globe, available on iTunes.
Monday, November 22, 2010 | Author: Jacob
It's snowing today.

Monday, September 20, 2010 | Author: Jacob
This weekend we sailed a regatta onboard a Moore 24, Frecklebelly Madtom. We were really holding down the bottom of the fleet, but had a great time nonetheless. Saturday was a light wind day and we only got in two races, that night we went out and partied with the NW Moore 24 fleet, a really great group of people. Sunday we had much better breeze to about 20kts at times, and we got in 4 races.

Julia did foredeck both days and has some really outstanding bruises.

Click here for a pic. (of sailing not Julia's bruises)
Thursday, September 02, 2010 | Author: Jacob
We found this Decision Chart in the book Antarctica by Kim Stanley Robinson while delivering Coyote home. It proved invaluable taped above the nav station and we recommend a copy be kept aboard every boat.

Click photo for full size image:

Sunday, August 15, 2010 | Author: Jacob
Our primary goals in doing this delivery were to gain some offshore experience while learning from a more experienced skipper. This trip accomplished both of those goals for us, and we are so grateful we had the opportunity to sail onboard Coyote with Steve.

Coyote was a great boat for the trip, stable, sturdy, and very weatherly. In fact our route (sort of under the high) would not have been possible in a boat that didn't go to weather like a freight train. We could easily knock off 6-8kts at 30 degrees or so to the apparent wind, this opened up huge options in routing. It was a great experience to spend some time at sea in a more modern design than Pisces (even though Coyote is from '85, it's a very very different type of boat) and develop a real comparison point for our own thinking about boats.

Steve was a great skipper, and Julia and I both learned quite a bit from him on this (his 4th) trip. We hand-steered probably 80% of the time, and even had several very nice long spinnaker runs (including a memorable one under the Golden Gate to end our trip).

We were very lucky in our weather conditions, as they were quite moderate given the potential this trip has. Further, we had steady winds almost the entire time, while boats even one day ahead of us had to motor for days on end. We called it our own 'private Coyote wind' and it served us very well.

Finally, we were also quite happy to find that all of the coastal cruising we have done left us very well prepared for our first offshore passage. We found that the conditions were well within our comfort zone, and that we were capable of contributing to the running of the boat in a variety of useful ways beyond just standing watch. It was gratifying to see how far our skills and confidence have developed in the past several years, and to see those skills put to use alongside other more experienced sailors.

In the end the trip took 16 days to the hour. During that time we sailed 2300 NM, in order to cover a 2070 NM great-circle distance. We motored for probably about 28 hours total, with the longest single stretch being around 18 hours. We were close-hauled for the majority of the time, but we also had some nice spinnaker reaching conditions as we left the East side of the high. We had squalls almost the entire trip, practically until we were within VHF range of the California coast. We didn't see much sea life, and we didn't see all that much trash. We did see many rainbows, and one moonbow. In the end, we are so glad we chose to do this trip, as it has energized both of us for future offshore sailing, and in particular future offshore racing!

I would highly recommend doing a similar trip to any aspiring cruiser, as you can learn so much from the accomplished group of sailors involved in races like the Pac Cup. Many of these sailors have sailed their entire life, and covered tens of thousands of offshore miles in all conditions.

We've uploaded all our photos to a gallery at:
This gallery may expand over the next month or so as we gather additional photos from the rest of the crew.

Here's a list of some things that I felt worked particularly well onboard Coyote:

Coyote had an interesting system of integrated electronics, and while this is something we decided not to bother with on Pisces, it was quite handy (and pretty fun). The two most interesting pieces of this were Expedition and NavMonPC.

Expedition is a pro grade routing software that uses your boat's polars (theoretical speeds at a variety of wind angles and strength) to optimize your route given the weather forecast (via GRIB files). Expedition called our slightly unusual route right off the bat, and it proved to work very well for Coyote.

NavMonPC is a free piece of software written by Paul Elliott from the boat Valis. When integrated with the boat's wind instruments and GPS it keeps a log of wind speed direction, boat speed, and other important data points. With a big crew, it was very helpful to be able to take a look at the history for the last watch and get a real sense of what the wind and boat had been doing, rather than just relying on the 'it's getting sorta more windy I guess' you might get from the watch going off. And, it'll also serve as an AIS display. Very cool.

Bunk Fans:
When we asked the crew from the race what the most valuable piece of personal gear they had was, it was unanimous that personal clip on fans were the MVP. Coyote didn't have the best ventilation (especially going to windward where we needed to button everything up tight), and for the first several days sleeping would have been almost impossible without bunk fans.

Numbering System:
Everyone on the boat had a number (1-5) and a corresponding cubby, complete with water bottle, travel mug, and spork. Having your own kit meant that there was no doubt who had not cleaned their stuff or had left it laying around. Julia also appreciated the de-personalization aspect, and suggested we have longer 'prison-style' numbers, such as: 51798.

Paper Products:
Every meal onboard was served on paper plates/bowls, using paper towels. All of which were discarded over the side (only when appropriately far offshore). While I wouldn't necessarily take this approach with a small crew, with 5 people onboard this was critical to keeping dishes down to a minimum.

Frozen Food:
While Julia ended up cooking almost the whole time (a story for another time), Steve & Connie had a good plan that they used for the trip over. They pre-cooked all their meals, and froze them ahead of time. The galley freezer was then loaded, and they loaded two additional coolers with food & dry ice in the sail locker. Using this technique, items from the coolers were still frozen after over a week, at which point they could be transferred into the galley.

Big Thermos:
In the galley there was a big, catering-style, thermos. The type you self-serve coffee out of at a less-than-fancy coffee shop. If a kettle of water was put in the thermos in the evening, it was still hot in the morning. This allowed people to dispense hot water easily without using the oven everytime. Good for individual cups of coffee, tea, oatmeal, hot chocolate, etc.

Designated 'Wet' Zone:
The v-berth on coyote was covered in a tarp, with line strung for clothes hangers. This was the designated wet-zone, and all foul weather gear and lifejackets were stored here. Crucial in keeping the salt water out of bunks, etc. The only improvement I would make would be to have a zone near the companionway where lifejackets and tethers could be kept. We didn't have any fire-drills, but if we did I think having the lifejackets on the way to the deck would help ensure that no one would come running up without their safety gear.

Anti-bacterial wipes:
As a substitute for a shower, they are actually pretty good. Connie & Steve did some testing beforehand and found a brand without much scent. Once or twice a day coming off watch you could use these to clean up, get salt off, and keep the smells to a minimum. Very helpful.

Overlapping Watches:
The way the watch schedule was structured meant that you came on and relieved one person, and joined someone else whose watch was half over. An hour and a half (or so) later that person left, and a new person joined you. This meant that someone was always relatively fresh, and someone always knew what had been going on with the boat for the last hour or two. Also, it meant that you could look forward to the new person coming on watch as a change of company:)

After some celebratory beers on the dock at the Richmond Yacht Club, we are now in the San Francisco Bay Area, doing a quick visit with friends and family, and in a few days we are headed back to Seattle to rejoin Pisces and get our land-life up and running with school and work.
Wednesday, August 11, 2010 | Author: Jacob
We are really close now. It's weird to finish a watch and think, 'only one more of those watches for this trip.'

Last night we passed through Gale Alley, whose name is self-explanatory and well-deserved. We had only the smallest taste of what it can offer, but it was certainly a humbling reminder of the power of the sea. We only were seeing mid-20's, with the occasional burst higher, but the seas really stacked up and were a bit confused. Lots of spray, water on deck, cold wind, and dark. We spent the night under double-reefed main and 90% jib, knocking down solid 9's on the speedo.

This morning conditions have eased a bit, although the sea state remains confused. Steve and Julia were chomping at the bit to pile on more sail, so up went the heavy spinnaker. We are really making great time, although the driver has to work pretty hard on the wheel. Being close to home adds another level of excitement.

We can now hear the Coast Guard on VHF channel 16, there are many more birds, and we even saw some kelp floating by this morning. Definitely closing with land.

Most likely this will be the last blog post from onboard. This will probably end up being posted sometime early morning on Wed, and at this clip we should be nearing the Golden Gate by mid-day on Wednesday for a total trip time of right around 16 days. We will definitely write a final 'end-of-trip' post sometime soon, but it'll probably take a little while to get to that. First we have to shower, do a huge amount of laundry, have a drink (or several), eat a bunch of good food, and sleep.

Lat 38 02.558' N, Long 125 32.060' W
Wind: 18 kts NNW
Seas: 2-3 m mixed
Speed: 7 kts
Dist to Go: 142 NM

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Tuesday, August 10, 2010 | Author: Jacob
We are screaming along, starting to daydream about never ending showers, big fresh meals, and full nights of sleep. The sailing continues to be good, and I think we can officially say that we have left the Pacific High in the dust. We flew the spinnaker for about 12 hours yesterday, only dousing it when the wind moved forward in the late evening. Since then we've been flying along under the 135% jib and main, finding that we are still encountering squalls, although they are almost all wind and no rain at this point. Temperature is down, and it looks and feels like Northern California ocean.

Since last week we have sailed 1970 NM, almost all of that distance covered under sail, and most of it upwind. No complaints at all here, we've had great sailing in our own 'private Coyote wind' and conditions have been very moderate for the most part. Boats even a day ahead of us have had to do much more motoring.

Yesterday and today have been shower days, as we still have plenty of water. It's a bit tricky trying to shave and take a shower in the forward head as we beat upwind at 8 kts in 22 kts of wind, but it proved well worth it, with warm water even. Makes a world of difference. Things are still a bit stinky onboard, but we are fighting the good fight.

It's very exciting to start to zoom in on the navigation software, and to start seeing familiar details like the Farallon islands. All signs point to a Wednesday arrival, we are hoping for sometime during the day so that we can enjoy the sail under the gate and down the city front. I'm sure it's going to be an amazing feeling.

Towards the beginning of the trip we would all sleep lightly, then we started to sleep better but still wake easily, then there was a period where we would tend to wake up a half hour before our shifts ready to go, now we are all sleeping heavily and have to be shaken bodily to rouse us for our watches. Two more 12:30-3:30AM shifts for me!

Last night I guess Julia and I were driving a bit crazy, as first Rick then Steve came up to see 'if everything was ok.' Didn't seem too bad to us topside, reaching with full sails in 24 kts of wind, hitting the occasional high 9 and even 10 kts. I guess the crashing and banging down below didn't seem like it was worth it to the off watch. We are seeing the finish line in sight and the temptation to push hard is high.

Having done this trip has really changed our perspective on distances. While in the Sea of Cortez we would feel like a 200 mile trip was a big event and we would plan and watch the weather so carefully. Now a trip like that sounds much easier. All the same, having those experiences first have been a huge help in readying us for this passage.

All is well onboard Coyote and the daytime routine is well underway.

Lat 38 11.921' N, Long 129 08.672' W
Wind: 17kts N
Seas: 2 m N
Speed: 7.2 kts
Dist. to Go: 315 NM

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Monday, August 09, 2010 | Author: Jacob
Today is a momentous day, as we have finally made enough progress north, and we are now heading on a course more or less directly (depends on who is driving at any given time) towards the Golden Gate.

Yesterday we had a great run under the spinnaker, dousing at sunset just to be cautious. Steve set the jib up off a block on the end of the boom which allowed us to keep decent speed through the night, and before dawn he and Rick relaunched the spinnaker. The sailing is absolutely great right now, enough breeze to keep us moving through the water at 8+ kts, light seas. It's also amazing to look at the last few hours of wind speed and direction, it is absolutely rock solid, with almost no shifts at all. It's a bit foggy, but it is not as cold as it has been. All in all we are very happy.

Today Coyote (and Steve) passed the 4000 NM mark for the roundtrip. That's all in the span of about a month! Very impressive, and neither Coyote nor Steve seem phased at all by the fact that they have been at sea for the entire month minus a few days partying in Hawaii.

Already talk has turned to 2012 and Steve & Rick's possible plans. Just to make it clear, Julia and I are highly available for the race portion of this trip (hint hint:). We figure it's a great sign if we can still be underway and have interest in doing something like this again. Often you don't start having fond feelings about things like this until well afterwards when the memory isn't quite so sharp.

Our current goal is to catch up with some of the boats ahead of us. I think we have the advantage in that Steve is crazy enough to still want to fly the spinnaker even though the race is long over. Many of the other boats on the net don't seem to have the energy for it, and we've been slowly picking up miles on people. Steve wants a drag race under the gate.

We got word that the satellite tracking site has been taken off-line. Don't worry, we're still out here.

Lat 38 00.026' N, Long 132 35.255' W
Wind: 13 kts NW
Seas: 1 m NW
Speed: 7 kts
Dist to go: 478 NM

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Sunday, August 08, 2010 | Author: Jacob
We thought for a while that we had broken free from the high, but it apparently is not going to be that easy. Instead the wind continues to gradually become more stable, through many cycles of ups and downs. Last night Julia and I had some amazing sailing, with about 15 kts of wind making 8.5kts through smooth seas, later it died out and the next watch had to motor for a few hours.

During last night's roll call it sounded as if the bigger boats (generally in a position N and E of us) were all in the solid coastal breeze and making great time. You can probably actually see the split in the fleet via the satellite tracker.

Even with the fluky winds we are making decent progress, and Wednesday still seems like a likely arrival date.

Shipping traffic is increasing, and already today we've passed freighters bound to Manzanillo, LA, and Panama. We have AIS onboard which picks up signals broadcast from freighters, this allows us to see all sorts of handy information such as the name of the ship, it's heading, speed, destination, size, and more.

Really not all that much to report, every time the wind comes up we are hopeful that we have finally broken completely free of the high and we can start knocking down the big miles towards home. We're still chipping away.

News report, Steve just called for the spinnaker to go up, should be exciting not to be close-hauled for a bit!

Lat 37 19.779' N, Long 135 48.090' W
Wind: 9kts N
Seas: 1-2 m N
Speed: 6.5kts
Dist to go: 635 NM

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Friday, August 06, 2010 | Author: Jacob
As a quick note on our 'days' for each blog post, it is the number of days that has already elapsed up to this point. We left mid-day on the 26th, so the 27th would be Day 1, etc. Also, I tend to write these blog posts around noon, but they often are not posted until 3AM or so when we have a decent SSB radio connection, which I'm sure helps muddle the waters.

It definitely feels like Northern California waters now. Grey seas and skies, low cloud cover with occasional fog and drizzle. Cold as well, and everyone has dug out their foulies. We are still trying to get out ahead of the high, at which point we should have glorious winds speeding us along to the Golden Gate. In the meantime we continue to tend the autopilot, trying to take advantages of shifts while not killing ourselves resetting every single sail trim control every 15 minutes as the wind wanders 40 degrees and varies in strength. No discernible rhythm to the wind at this point. A lull might be a lift or a header, gusts come before fog, during fog, after fog, or not at all.

We continue to make some mileage, but still trying our best to conserve fuel. We are doing a good job of it, as we've only motored about 12 hours out of the last 50 or so, but we want to be careful as there's a possibility that the winds will die as we get close in to the coast, which would be bad for morale. Drifting within sight of SF...

Julia and I talked this morning and both agree that the heavier weather early in the trip was much more fun, and made the time go by quickly. It was very liberating to be on a boat with such an experienced skipper, it gave us a bit of a sounding board to say 'okay, you're not concerned, so we won't be either.' Already we've got more ideas brewing for the long term dream 'next boat.'

Currently there is a conference under way at the barometer. If we keep tapping it insistently, perhaps it will drop a bit more.

There have been bets placed onboard on arrival date, but the general consensus throughout the boat and fleet is that we will arrive on or before Wednesday the 11th. We'll see, we need to find our wind first.

Lat 36 53.641' N, Long 138 49.367' W
Wind:6 kt NNE
Seas: 1.5 meter N
Speed: 6kt (motorsailing)
Dist to go: 783 NM

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Friday, August 06, 2010 | Author: Jacob
We had a good day of sailing yesterday, but by late evening the wind had dropped and we had to start motorsailing. Really it is more like sailing interspersed with motoring...sail, trim, furl jib, motor,unfurl jib, sail, and repeat indefinitely. It's hard sailing as you have to constantly work to keep the boat moving and moving in the right direction. Unfortunately the GRIBS show the high continuing to move East along with us for at least a few more days. So, we are trying hard to break free. When we do find wind we expect we will have some fast sailing.

In some ways this is the hardest part of the trip yet. We are all over-rested, it feels like we are entering the home stretch, but we are moving so slow...Julia and Steve are convinced that they saw a submarine last night, based upon it showing Amber lights and appearing and disappearing from the AIS (which shows surrounding vessels). In fact, they tried hailing 'submarine near the position of...' on VHF, which probably was hilarious to any other ships in hailing distance. Let's see, Rick dropped a pudding behind the stove, and while trying to reach behind the stove went sliding across the boat during a gust. It's the little things that makes the day go by.

Yesterday we saw a sailboat on the horizon, but no luck getting a VHF response. We thought they might be part of the returning Pacific Cup fleet, but at evening roll call there were no boats that close to us.

We continue to eat well thanks to Julia's heroic efforts in the galley. Pulled pork for dinner and Egg McMuffins this morning for breakfast. Today Steve and I are playing around trying to get the weatherfax working so that we can receive weather forecast charts over the SSB radio. So far so good.

Lat 36 45.353' N, Long 141 17.229' W
Wind: 6 kts NE
Seas: 1 m NE
Speed: 4.5kt (motorsailing)
Dist to Go: 897 NM

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Thursday, August 05, 2010 | Author: Jacob
Try as we might to keep our route in the wind, we seem to have found the Pacific high yesterday. As Don Anderson would say 'Nooooo wind!' The calm seas, and lack of breeze created a bit of a vacation like atmosphere on the boat. Laundry was done in the cockpit, quick rinse off showers had, and we had a steak, corn, coleslaw and brownie feast for dinner.

The downside to the lack of wind is that we've been forced to motor for the past 20 something hours. It's easy, but boring, however the real concern is conserving fuel. The GRIBS from last night were not terribly encouraging, as they showed the high moving east along with us, keeping us out of the wind until perhaps the 7th. However, this morning we have found a good breeze, and while it is taking us a bit further South than we would like, it's great to be making some miles without the engine.

At about 11AM we hit the official halfway mark, 1035 miles made good to SF, 1035 miles to go! Even with the light winds we are hopeful that we have already passed the halfway mark in terms of days. We've sailed 1266 miles to get here, so we will be saving a few hundred on this next 'half.' Also, Expedition seems to think that although the next several days might be a bit slow, once we find the breeze we will start knocking down some big fast days. Steve says Coyote can hit 10kts on a reach, so we are hopeful we will start putting up some 200 mile days as we near SF.

Other than that, nothing much to report. We saw a cargo ship today, some more Albatross, and some Storm Petrels. Everyone seems happy, and we have plenty of good food to see us through.

Lat 36 43.082' N, Long 143 55.987' W
Wind: 8 kts NE
Seas: .5 meter NE
Speed: 6 kts
Dist to Go: 1027 NM

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Tuesday, August 03, 2010 | Author: Jacob
We seem to have found the edge of the high. The big talk on the evening HF radio net last night was when to tack. Essentially you can either go North, or East. You need to go East to get to SF, however, you don't want to have to go North once you get close to the coast, as the conditions can build in that zone. So, last night at 3AM when we had a big wind shift (meaning we were sailing towards Tokyo) Julia and I tacked the boat. Very strange. everything that was high is now low, our left legs feel funny from bearing all our weight while at the helm for the last week, and we have to find a whole new set of brace points and handholds below.

Since last night the winds have been light and fluky, we've motored a bit, tacked back, changed up to the 135% sail, and now we are motoring slowly again. Roughly NE in direction. Unlike some boats we are not super loaded up with fuel, so we are trying to be slow and conserve what we have until we reach the coastal winds. Hopefully we will reach them within a day or so.

It's strange to look at our chart and see that we are essentially in the middle of the ocean, as our little patch of sea that is visible looks pretty much exactly the same as any other patch of sea. There could be a spot of land just over the horizon, but instead we are in one of the most remote parts of the planet.

We have been seeing some Albatross, and lots of rainbows. Squalls persist, but they are losing their punch.

In other exciting news, we ought to reach our halfway point tomorrow if everything continues at this pace.

Lat 36 24.314' N, Long 146 22.508' W
Wind: 8 kts ESE
Seas: 1 meter E
Speed: 5 kts
Dist to go: 1142 NM

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Monday, August 02, 2010 | Author: Jacob
We have now officially been close hauled on starboard tack for 7 straight days (minus a few hours here and there of close reaching). We've found all sorts of fun new leaks on Coyote (don't worry, all above the water line, these are the types that just make things wet and uncomfortable). Last night at about midnight I woke up and we were flying through a squall and Steve was running around in the semi-darkness of the cabin with underwater epoxy in desperation trying to stop leaks around the cabin windows. He's also taking to sleeping in his seaboots as his bunk is wet.

Right now we've gone 994 nm, and over 800 of that has actually been towards SF. Really we're making great time. In a day or two when we tack over we will be heading more directly towards the coast, and I would expect the miles to just start falling away.

I'm really enjoying Steve's sailing style, which is to push quite hard. It can be the middle of the night, black, wet, spray everywhere, squalls everywhere, the boat is heeled over 30 degrees, and someone will say 'do you want me to put a reef in?' and Steve will seem surprised and say something like 'uh, I guess you could, but this sail combo should be good up to 40kts." I guess that's what a lifetime of racing on SF bay does to you. Really though, I like it, it's fun to stay a bit in race mode, and go for a speedy trip.

I think Julia and I were both very well prepared mentally for this trip, and have found the conditions (while not always comfortable or easy) to be well within our expectations for the trip. I think some of the other crew was not so well prepared, and they seem a bit worn down by the constant pounding and upwind work. To them, exiting into the calm of the high would be a welcome respite, whereas to Steve running out of wind sounds miserable.

Not a whole lot of sleep last night, Julia and I took long shifts to try and let the old guys sleep:) So, this will have to remain brief as I'm off watch and looking forward to my bunk. Next big milestone will be our halfway mark!

Lat 34 43.278' N, Long 147 43.897' W
Wind: 17 kts E
Seas: 2.5 meter E
Speed: 7kts
Dist to go: 1235 NM

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Sunday, August 01, 2010 | Author: Jacob
Day 6 is in the books. I guess a bunch happened, although really everything seems structured by the routine of our watches.

Last night was a real pounding wet night. Squalls and more squalls, don't they know we are already at 32 degrees?! The squalls now don't have as much rain, but they do have more wind, we are seeing 30 kt apparent pretty frequently.

This morning we dropped the mainsail to the second reef, and Steve and I repaired a mainsail slide that had broken a few days ago. It was a couple slides above the first reef, and it being broken had caused the slide below it to start tearing free of the fabric. Because of this we hadn't been using the first reef, instead driving like we thought we were in the Volvo ocean race with water sweeping the length of the boat all night. Again, fun driving but not so popular with the off watch. Another instance when my time learning from Joe at Leading Edge Sails proved useful!

Expedition says to tack tomorrow, Commanders weather tells us to keep going until we reach at least 38 degrees, which will be another few days.

Cherry pie for breakfast, Julia informs us that she is driving a course of 370 degrees...which could explain a lot.

Lat 32 16.639' N, Long 148 51.133' W
Wind: 15 kts NE
Seas: 2 meter NE
Speed: 6.5 kt N
Dist to go: 1330 NM

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Saturday, July 31, 2010 | Author: Jacob
Not too much activity to report from day 5, we are still heading NNE, and we've just crossed latitude 30 N. Wind speeds are up and down, light squalls in the night still, but less rain. Temperature is also dropping, so we are all starting to dig warmer clothes out of sea bags.

This morning I had a plate of lox and bagels in one hand, jumping to ease the mainsheet with the other hand as a squall jumped up the wind speed pouring water down the windward rail and into the cockpit. A slightly strange blend of civilization and wilderness.

Electrical charging seems to be working fine, so we are adhering to this 'if it isn't broke don't fix it' rule.

Julia and I share a night watch which is fun, we get to sail the boat as hard as we want, trimming and easing through the gusts, no doubt annoying the hell out of the off-watch. We each have about 10 hours of watches a day, meaning we hand steer the boat for 5 hours a day. Great practice, in the end we'll probably get the equivalent to a whole season's worth of beer can racing. At some point we'll have to do the downwind portion of this trip to round out our driving ability.

Exciting news, we just recovered a glass fishing float. It's green, about 16" in diameter. People say they were used as floats on Japanese fishing nets long ago, and they are definitely prized finds.

Lat 30 07.040' N, Long 149 52.714' W
Wind:16 kts
Seas: 1-2 meters E, & SE
Speed: 6 kts
Dist to go: 1437 NM

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Friday, July 30, 2010 | Author: Jacob
If you have been following the satellite tracker you may have noticed that we are now heading a bit more North than our previous course. Last night we spoke on the SSB to Green Buffalo (Cal 40 also doing the return trip) who has something like 15 Pacific Cups/Returns (about 75k miles!) who recommended that we start making some Northing now, rather than have to fight it out later. This is also what Expedition has been telling us, but we've been ignoring it. A bit harder to ignore the voice of experience from Green Buffalo.

It's been an eventful 24 hours. Julia dove on the propeller to see if it had snagged some debris as it was making a strange noise. Swimming under a 42 foot sailboat, over a mile of water beneath, and 400+ miles from the nearest land...little spooky. We also changed jibs down to the 90% which is a smaller sail that handles the wind we are seeing much better. The boat is much easier to drive in this configuration (although some unnamed members of the crew seem to enjoy driving the boat like a submarine, through every wave rather than over). Also, we have been having some strangeness with our battery charging, which is very concerning as this is a potential 'turn-around' type problem. Luckily however Steve spent some time on the sat phone with his electrical guy, who made some suggestions involving tightening all connections, and so far so good today.

I think we were all a bit tired going into last night, from the squalls and rough going before, but last night we made great miles and the motion allowed for some good sleep. Today we see on the GPS that we have made good over 500 miles towards SF, about 1/4 of the way. Actual miles sailed are right at 555 NM.

Oh, and Julia made us apple pie for breakfast, in addition to all the other things she's been doing, meaning that she definitely is getting the most valuable crew award for today.

Lat 27 58.230' N, Long 151 14.158' W
Wind:15 kts E
Seas:1-2 meter E
Speed: 6.3kts
Dist to Go: 1554 NM

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Thursday, July 29, 2010 | Author: Jacob
We've had a good run over the last 24 hours, making good about 135 miles towards SF. We've only had to motor for an hour or so (which is good because we have been having some weirdness with our prop, possibly something on the shaft), mainly because we've been in what seems like a never ending series of squalls. If you've never experienced a squall before, basically they start late night, and bring an uptick in winds, sea state, and a huge amount of rain. Luckily for us, they also tend to lift us towards our destination (allowing us to sail more directly for SF).

Last night was a long night as we were launching off of the squall induced chop landing sometimes not-so-gracefully with a boat shuddering pound. These are also wet conditions, and I think we've all been getting some 'rain' over our berths. So, we are all definitely a bit more tired today, although spirits are high and we're looking forward to a fancy lunch from Julia using the Mahi Mahi we caught yesterday evening.

Steve's new saying is 'Those are my clean pants!" as he continually tries to change into clean dry clothes, only to end up soaked as water pours into the cockpit.

I had a great time in the middle of the night last night driving in 25kts of wind and rain listening to Jah Warrior Shelter Hi-Fi remix album on the iPod.

Lat 26 06.963'N, Long 153 19.8' W
Wind: 15kts E
Seas: 1-2 M E
Speed: 6kts
Dist to Go: 1708 NM

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Wednesday, July 28, 2010 | Author: Jacob
Day 2 is drawing to a close, and we continue to romp along. Winds have remained fairly consistent, however we have had a few hours here and there of light winds primarily on the back side of squalls.

In the middle of the night I woke up to Coyote absolutely charging along, with Rick and Steve (both members of the San Francisco Singlehanded Sailing Society) driving us at a consistent 8 kts upwind through 20 kt rain squalls.

We've been lifted so we are now sailing direct for SF (in fact we are sailing for a point a bit south of SF at the moment). The general plan is still to stay on this tack for a week or so, and then flop over for a final tack into the bay. In a way, this is sort of a modified clipper ship route, staying South and East of the high. The routing software had a strange moment last night when it told us to turn around and sail SW for two days, only to then turn back around. Didn't seem like the best idea, so we held our course and with today's new GRIB (weather file) everything appears to be back to a more sane course.

Sailing with 5 people is great, so much rest, and it's nice to know that everyone on board is a good sailor and more than competent to deal with anything that might come up. John made us peaches, cream, and shortcake for breakfast. Not too shabby.

Lat 24 32.084' N, Long 155 12.353' W
Wind: 13 kts ESE
Seas: 1 meter E
Speed: 6.3kts
Dist to go: 1850 NM

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Tuesday, July 27, 2010 | Author: Jacob
We are about 22 hours into our trip, and Coyote has been storming along in very nice conditions. Winds have been holding steady at about 13-17kts true and we have been making a course good of about 020 degrees. Coyote is a great boat for this type of sailing, quick upwind, very stable and solid, and easy to drive. In fact, we haven't yet turned the autopilot on for more than a few seconds at a time, as the boat is so easy and fun to drive. It's also amazing how much easier it is to do this with 5 people (as opposed to 2). It's nice to have someone else on watch with you, you get so much more sleep when off watch, and you know there are plenty of other good sailors to share the work if something needs doing.

Cabin interior is a bit warm and humid, as we took a few waves over the cabintop that found every possible means into the boat. I had one off watch in the early evening where I was woken up about three times by water dripping into my bunk, but Steve managed to plug the offending vent from above, and things are starting to dry out.

Expedition (routing software) has us taking a slightly unusual course. Instead of heading up and over or through the high, we will stay on our current course, close-hauled for about 6 more days, and then tack onto port tack to close with the coast. If winds are strong along the California coast we may need to ease off and head for the Santa Barbara area, but delivery North from there will be a simple and quick trip once the weather conditions are correct.

All in all we are having a good time, and finding it easy to settle into the rhythm of Coyote.

Lat 23 14.980' N, Long 156 53.203' W
Wind: 14kts ENE
Seas: 1 meter ENE
Speed: 6.1kts
DTG: 1969NM

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Friday, July 23, 2010 | Author: Jacob
So, there's a republican, a Buddhist, and a kiwi on a boat in the
middle of the ocean and the republican says...

We'll have to let you know the punchline in a few weeks.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010 | Author: Jacob
Julia and I are flying out to Hawaii tomorrow to take part in a delivery of the boat Coyote from Kaneohe Oahu to San Francisco. Coyote had a great race, taking a close 3rd in Division B of this year's Pacific Cup race. The skipper Steve Hill and the rest of the crew have a lot of great experience (including 4 combined trips between SF and Hawaii), and we're excited to take part in this trip which should be a great learning experience and adventure.

Plans are (weather permitting) to leave Hawaii on Monday July 26th. Time of the trip is highly weather dependent, but we would guess somewhere between 2 and 3 weeks. While we are underway there are a variety of options for you to keep track of us and keep in touch.

Satellite Tracker. Boats in the Pacific Cup carry a satellite transponder onboard that updates every hour, allowing you to follow us via the webpage and see our location, heading, speed, etc. Go to the website, and click on division B on the left side, and then click on Coyote to highlight us. We are about 90% sure this tracker will continue to be operative during the return delivery, but don't worry if it isn't, it's still a pretty experimental piece of technology. The website is: (Note: I have found that sometimes this website doesn't fully load and you have to keep reloading the page a time or two to get it to work, so you may encounter that problem as well).

Our Blog. We may be updating the blog while underway, not sure yet, it'll depend on our motivation and access to email airtime.

Coyote's Blog. Coyote also has a website and blog that I believe Steve will be updating occasionally. At the very least you can read the reports from their trip over:
Wednesday, July 07, 2010 | Author: Jacob
Well, Pisces is now home in her new slip here at Shilshole. We are on J-Dock, which Jason & Christy have assured us is where all the cool kids hang out, come by and say hello!

My cousin Peter has convinced us that Shilshole actually is named this because of shilshul (a uh...digestive ailment that visitors to Israel sometimes encounter).

We had a great sail today, averaging over 7 kts for about four hours wing-on-wing with current and about 15 kts of wind helping us along.

Now we need to buy a car, bikes, cell phones, insurance, and some clothes that don't look like they've been baked in the sun while being washed in salt water for the last two years.
Sunday, July 04, 2010 | Author: Jacob
Captain Julia (with help from the roving crew of Hello World) graciously took charge of unloading Pisces from YachtPath in Victoria, allowing me to stay an extra few days in SF to race onboard the Express 27 Peaches in the 2010 SF NOOD regatta (4th place). All was well with Pisces from her transit, in fact I ended up with more scrapes and bruises from the weekend of racing than she did on her 10 day trip North.

Pisces is in there somewhere.

Traffic quiz: Does an overtaking plane have right-of-way?

We spent a few days at the municipal marina in Victoria, right in front of the Empress Hotel and Parliamentary building, until we were more or less kicked out (in a very friendly Canadian way) because the docks were all full to capacity for Canada Day. We had a pretty straightforward motor-boat trip up to Bedwell Harbour in the Gulf Islands, with a bit of a reminder on why we need to pay attention to currents up here.

We spent several days at Bedwell Harbour, hiking and exploring in the dinghy, it's absolutely beautiful up here, and the lush forest is a nice change and counterpoint from the desert of Mexico. Also Canada apparently still has bald eagles, one of which we saw while we were enjoying a pint of local microbrew.

We would have loved to stay in the Gulf Islands for months, but we are trying to get back to Seattle within a week, so we decided to head into the San Juan Islands rather than further North. We had a great sail, got checked through U.S. Customs ("How do you know Julia?" "She's my wife." long pause "Oh."), and are now anchored at Friday Harbor.

These guys woke us up this morning...with cannon 6AM! I have a feeling this town takes the Fourth of July very seriously.

Already we've seen some amazing boats here in the NW, this beauty is anchored here in Friday Harbor.

Some miscellaneous strange things about being here: it's cold (we are wearing our warmest gear, although the locals are in shorts and t-shirts), things freeze in the fridge, the days are long (still light in the sky at 10PM), anchorages are everywhere, anchorages are deep, everything is green.
Thursday, June 24, 2010 | Author: Jacob
Check out this season's photos on our online gallery (Link).

Last season's gallery is here.

Sunday, June 20, 2010 | Author: Jacob
Our day on Friday:
1) Load Pisces onboard Liberian flagged freighter.
2) Ride panga ashore with Mexican fisherman.
3) Bus to San Jose del Cabo.
4) Fly to SFO.
5) BART to Walnut Creek.
6) Drive to Garden Sculpture show.
7) Drinks and appetizers among thousand-dollar statutes and pastel-wearing art aficionados.

Friday, June 11, 2010 | Author: Jacob
We are now in Marina Palmira, in order to have access to water for cleaning the boat and hopefully getting a head start on 'Seattle-proofing' our boat (aka hosing water all over to see where we might need to reseal fittings). Our YachtPath boat is through the Panama Canal, and we should be shipping in about a week.

Unfortunately, being in the marina just got a whole lot less fun, as marina regulation #12 and the related #21 are sure to impinge on our high-flying lifestyle.

12. It is prohibited the music in a high level and scandalous celebrations.

21. Out of consideration for families, it is prohibited the prostitution in marina facilities.

Sunday, May 30, 2010 | Author: Jacob
In another truly 'once-in-a-lifetime' sort of happening we (along with the crew of Hello World and Sarah from Monkey Nutz) headed over to the Deportivo Corona to watch some sweet Lucha Libre action. And let me tell you, it did not disappoint: beer by the bag, hot dogs, overweight dudes in spandex sequins and masks. A good time for the whole family.

The view from the bleachers.

Those onboard the sailing vessel Pisces have allegiance to only one luchador: La Parka. The above video (from some other higher-budget event) will help you understand.

And that's why you never stop to argue with the ref.

Friday, May 28, 2010 | Author: Julia
If you're one of the many cruisers who for whatever reason do not have a fridge/freezer onboard (like us), after about a week away from a market meals become a test of creativity.

Here's my current favorite recipe that requires only two fresh ingredients: garlic and onion.

Chicken Cacciatore with barely any fresh ingredients:
(many thanks to Shawn from Tao for making this for us last year, and providing the recipe for this new favorite on Pisces)

-Chop and saute a couple cloves of garlic and a medium onion in a pot
-Add: 1 can diced tomatoes (not drained), 2 cans chicken and 1 or 2 can mushrooms (drained)
-Spices: A generous splash of white wine, salt, pepper, oregano, basil, any other Italian herbs you have
-Add: Green olives
-Simmer until rice is done.

This makes enough for dinner and then lunch the next day.

If anyone else has a particularly good recipe for cans and long lasting veggies (onions, garlic, potatoes, cabbage etc.etc.) please leave a comment with the recipe!

Monday, May 24, 2010 | Author: Julia
Today I got an email from my mother-in-law informing me that I had received my AARP membership card in the mail. According to their website I am now eligible for a 20% discount at Denny's, AND I can join their online interactive workshop for inspirational tips on how write my memoir.

30 is apparently the new 50.

Thanks AARP!
Tuesday, May 18, 2010 | Author: Jacob
One of the oft-repeated pieces of cruiser advice is to always do the 'stingray shuffle' when you are walking in shallow water. Stingrays nestle down into the sand becoming invisible, just waiting to be stepped on by the unsuspecting swimmer. By shuffling your feet along the bottom you are supposedly able to clear your path of any hiding stingrays. Unfortunately, it turns out this is not 100% effective. Take the case where you happen to shuffle up on a stingray whose barb is pointed at you, and instead of shuffling into his body (sending him gliding safely off) you bump his business end sending him lashing away.

Well, that's how our lovely hike ended today, after we decided to avoid about a half-mile of scrambling over rocky hills by wading through several hundred yards of crystal-clear warm chest-deep water. I managed to shuffle right into the sharp end of a stingray, who flicked his barb, cutting me on the side of my middle-toe (not exactly sure how he managed that). The pain was shocking, and it literally knocked me off my feet, soaking the backpack I had been carrying on my head. It was really remarkable how much pain those little guys inflict, and as I stumbled out of the water, my whole body was shaking and I could barely put any weight on my foot. All this within the span of about 60 seconds. I was able to limp along another hundred yards or so, until Julia was able to get back with the dinghy and rush me back to Pisces. At this point my whole leg was aching, and my upper leg had begun twitching periodically. Oh yeah, most of my toe turned a nice color purple too. That was encouraging.

We got back to the boat and realized that although we were well prepared with medicine, we had slacked a bit on staying organized with the 'how-to' guides. Thankfully we were able to dig out "The Waterlover's Guide to Marine Medicine' by Paul G. Gill, Jr., M.D. It's really a great book, and following the treatment guidelines in it we were able to quickly get the pain down to a manageable amount and get everything cleaned up. One of the nice things about this particular book is that in addition to the clear step-by-step guides to treating everything from Bristleworm Rash to Toothache is that Dr. Gill doesn't hesitate to sprinkle in some nice descriptive adjectives ('stings cause immediate, agonizing, pulsating, or burning pain') as well as a good helping of anecdotes to help lighten the treatment-crisis mood. Take this one prefacing the section on stingrays:

'While exploring Chesapeake Bay, Captain John Smith hopped out of a boat barefoot onto a stingray, which had the temerity to stick its dart into his leg. It was a foolish act on the part of the fish, for Smith was no common man. Instead of trying to get clear of it, Smith held it to the bottom with his foot, drew his hanger, hacked the fish to pieces and ate several collops raw. - from Horace Beck, Folklore and the Sea

Nice. So not only am I in agonizing, pulsating, pain, but now I get to read about this guy killing and eating the offending stingray and compare that to my reaction which was basically to yelp loudly while getting knocked on my ass. Anyway, so far everything looks fine, the swelling seems to be going down quickly, the pain is very manageable now, and the purple color is quickly receding. It'll probably be a swimming-free few days for me though while I let my toe (and pride) recover.

Monday, May 17, 2010 | Author: Julia
After some of the best snorkeling we've ever done at Muertos we decided to take advantage of the Easterly breeze and head through the Cerralvo channel and see where we ended up. We had a beautiful day of sailing, got to fly our new-to-us drifter wing on wing with the new-to-us/loaner pole (thanks Estrella-pictures coming when we have internet!)

As we meandered our way through the Lorenzo Channel we spied a boat beating towards us, and it turned out to be our friends on Hello World, headed toward Ballandra for a weekend of fun with their friend Casey who flew in for a visit from Ohio! So we took the opportunity to have a quick photo session of each other's boats, and headed into the anchorage for a long overdue reunion.

When we've been at Ballandra before, it's been on the rolly side, but the Easterly winds combined with the evening Southerlies make this the perfect anchorage, and we've been taking advantage of the ideal conditions to hike ashore, sail Pesky, and snorkel right off the boat. Sadly Hello World had to head back into La Paz today to return Casey to Ohio, and so we're left with the anchorage all to ourselves!

Lat 24 19' N, Long 110 20' W

Thursday, May 13, 2010 | Author: Jacob
That's right folks, this is officially your last chance to visit the good ship Pisces here in Mexico. We'll be here through the end of the month, hanging in the general vicinity of La Paz, enjoying white sand beaches, sun, water so clear you can see 30+ feet in it, snorkeling, hiking, fishing...doesn't get much better than this.

Drop us an email and we'll give you the full details on how to book your last minute vacation in paradise.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010 | Author: Jacob

We completed the crossing from Mazatlan to Muertos last night, arriving at about midnight after a 41hr trip covering 200nm. We had a great time, with some of the best flat-water sailing (and a bit of motoring) that we've had in the last two years. Only slight hiccup was a failed raw-water impeller (that keeps cooling water flowing for the engine). We love Alpha-Beta (our Beta Marine Engine) but have had a few minor problems with the raw water system including impellers failing at a bit higher than normal rates (this one had <40 hrs on it) and a failed raw water pump (that was quickly replaced under warranty).

About halfway across we started picking up stowaway birds, first a small robin type bird, looking a bit bedraggled, and then a boobie looking more lazy than anything else. We drew the line when two other boobies started circling and looking interested in joining, and kept it down to two passengers who rode with us for most of a full day until we dropped anchor. The boobie in particular wouldn't be moved from his selected perch, even when I started gently shoving his tail feathers.

I was reading in the sea-berth off watch when I felt that weird vibe that someone was watching me...

Lat 23 59' N, Long 109 50' W
Saturday, May 08, 2010 | Author: Julia

Friday, May 07, 2010 | Author: Julia
The streets are lined with colorful buildings and secret gardens.

The Old Harbor where we are anchored shares the channel with the commercial port. Here's me and Pesky sharing the road with Carnival Splendor.

The view from the top: Mazatlan as seen from the lighthouse that guards the entrance to the harbor.

The bar entrance doesn't leave much room for wiggling around in the channel, at least for vessels of this size.

Pisces nestled into the anchorage. Note the La Paz ferry on the far side, they've been loading semi trucks all day and just steamed out.
Wednesday, May 05, 2010 | Author: Jacob
We are in Mazatlan, after a primarily motor-boat trip up from Mantanchen (on a side note, how do you spell the name of that bay? every different guide book seems to have it different...Matachen, Mantachen, Mantanchen, etc.).

Pretty uneventful trip of about 125 nautical miles, calm seas, clear skies, and now we are in the anchorage here at Mazatlan...if you've ever been here before then you know exactly the scent that is floating downwind to us. We'll probably be here for a few days, then back over to Baja where we can swim and try to avoid sewage treatment plants.

Today's sunrise, about 20 miles out of Mazatlan.

Lat 23 11' N, Long 106 25' W
Sunday, May 02, 2010 | Author: Julia
Yesterday we made the 55 mile hop from Punta Mita to Matanchen Bay, arriving a couple of hours before sunset. I have a soft spot for Matanchen Bay, despite the mediocre reviews it receives from the cruising guides. It's large wide open bay (a plus for me, a definite negative if it happens to be blowing from the South), and every time we've come here a pod of dolphins has come by to check us out. Oh and there are plenty of palm trees, which makes me feel like I'm really livin' the cruisin' life.

Tuba music wafts gently from the palapas under the palm trees

San Blas is the more protected anchorage just around the corner, up in an estuary. However, we decided to give the bar crossing a miss yesterday when we went up to take a look at the conditions and watched waves breaking across the entrance. We'd recently watched this video of another cruiser attempting to cross the bar, and were motivated to take the conservative approach and head towards the wide open Matanchen.

This is all anchorage. Just my style.

Lat 21 31' N, Long 105 14' W
Friday, April 30, 2010 | Author: Julia

The outcome of our trip has for both of us been a very positive one. Being out there enabled us to see with clarity that sailing to Hawaii this summer is not what we want to be doing, and we wrestled mightily before leaving to try and find some insight about what was the right decision for us.

Being unable to find the decision that sat right with us, we resorted to hashing out the pros and cons in order to find the most “logical” decision about how to get us, and Pisces, up to Seattle this fall. I looked with envy at other cruisers who made decisive decisions about their plans for the summer and moved forward with shipping or trucking, or bashing up the coast or heading offshore, while we walked endlessly around La Cruz, trying to figure out the path that was right for us.

So we headed offshore in order to save money, get offshore experience, and to add a large notch to our sailing experience. It seemed logical, but neither of us were particularly excited about the trip, it just seemed like the rational next step in our cruising experience. Once offshore a few things became starkly obvious; most importantly was that we were keen to do an offshore trip at some point in our lives, but this summer wasn't the right time and our reasons for undertaking the trip weren't the right ones to get us through the passage. Finally having clarity about what we wanted was fantastic! Suddenly we were able to commit to shipping with confidence, with no lingering doubts about making the right decision.

I am sure that an offshore passage will be in our future at some point and when it is, we will both be 100% enthusiastic about making it, and we will both know the time is right for the trip. Until then, sailing will continue to be a large part of who we are and what we like to do, and we will explore and sail together wherever we are.

Back in Banderas Bay it's taken a few days to get everything organized and ready to move towards the new plan, but I am optimistic that as of today we are back in the country legally, have everything lined up for Pisces to be loaded on a freighter via YachtPath in late May/early June from La Paz to Victoria BC, and even have a liveaboard slip waiting for us at Shilshole Marina in Seattle! Completing these administrative tasks has involved many cruising adventures such as frantically catching a water-taxi to the nearest bank to slip in just before closing time, and rowing Pesky through a surf break to find the elusive internet cafe in Punta Minta that has a working fax machine.

Our new drifter, doing it's job perfectly as we drift along.

Lat 20 46' N, Long 105 31' W
Sunday, April 25, 2010 | Author: Jacob
Alternate Blog Title: 'I've made a huge mistake.' - GOB BLUTH

If you are a fan of Arrested Development you know just the voice to read the above line in, as sun sets on our third day out, and we finally look at each other and break down how we've each been feeling inside. The realization we've come to is that this is not the time or the place for us to try our hand at long distance passagemaking. Acceptance of this reality is how we find ourselves here at 4:15AM, doing about 4.2kts (close hauled as we have been the last 70 something hours) headed back towards Mexico.

Let me start by saying that we are both really happy, and this decision sits much better than any of the quasi-decisions we've kicked around over the last month or so. Pisces is sailing great, we are having a great time, and are looking forward to the several days it will take for us to close back with land. So this is certainly not a story of regret, we are feeling great!

Unless you happen to have been in the La Cruz area over the last several weeks, we realize that you probably have no background on our thought process, so I'll try to give you the extremely brief synopsis of many a long evening spent walking around the marina and town trying to reason out what we should do. Essentially our options fell into two main camps: 1) Offshore to Hawaii and back or 2) Ship/Truck. The offshore route had several big things going for it, including (apparent lack of) cost, the opportunity to gain experience at offshore cruising, and the general bad-ass factor of pulling into the Puget Sound after 6000 something offshore miles. The shipping method had its own advantages, including the fact that it maximizes the fun value for our last several months, allowing us time to go back into the Sea of Cortez and then spend some additional time exploring the NW before starting 'real life.' There were many nuances to the arguments but essentially that is how it broke down, do we do the thing that is way out of our comfort zone but a major achievement, or do the thing that we know we enjoy?

Looking back at it, I think we both wanted to do the shipping option, but felt we ought to do the offshore option. The boat is ready, we have the time, and it's the right time of year to do it...sounds like the perfect combination right? Actually wrong. One of the lessons we've learned is that its not enough for the external factors alone to be in line, all the internal factors have to be there too. Are you excited about your destination? Do you feel 100% committed to the passage? Questions like that need to be discussed in a completely honest manner, because they are critical to the success of your passage.

As the first several days of our passage progressed, we both indepently and then jointly came to the conclusion that our own answers to the internal questions were frequently 'no.' What we really wanted was to get a bit of offshore time (say 10-14 days ideally) so that we'd have a sense of whether it was something we would want to do more of later down the line, and then to spend the rest of our summer exploring, hiking, snorkeling, etc.

Another important turning point for us was a day or two in when we realized that there was no way in hell...and I repeat, no way in hell, we were going to sail to Hawaii and then turn around in one months time and sail back to Seattle. We know people who have done this passage, and another of our friends perfectly sums them up as being 'total Vikings.' Since we were sure we would not be doing the return trip the financial picture of the different options changed, with Hawaii becoming the most expensive of all the options (due to the need to hire a delivery skipper or ship from Hawaii to Seattle). Not to mention how strange it would feel to hand over the keys to your home, vehicle, family member, etc to three random people to go bash through the North Pacific for a month...

As we closed with the Socorros Islands we knew it was really decision time, given the way the winds shift, and the distances involved, we would soon be passing a point of no return, where it just would not be that feasible to get back to Mexico without battling contrary winds the whole way. Together we came to the conclusion that we could be totally happy with the 5 days to a week that this shakedown sail will give us, combined with the shipping option. We've had the opportunity to get back out into bluewater with Pisces, shake her and us down again, and yet we still get to do the Sea of Cortez and the Pacific Northwest, it feels ideal.

So, in a nutshell that's the story of how we find ourselves doing either the world's shortest passage to Hawaii or the world's longest passage between La Cruz and Punta de Mita (depends on your perspective):) Currently we are aiming as far North as the winds will allow, which at times is Mazatlan, and at times Banderas Bay. No matter where we make landfall we will most likely try to make it over to Baja relatively quickly, as we want to revisit some of our favorite anchorages before our time in Mexico is up.

Lat 19 46' N, Long 108 11' W

Saturday, April 24, 2010 | Author: Jacob
24-hr Distance: 73 NM
Wind: 15-25 NW
Seas: 6-10 NW
Sky: Partially cloudy
Distance To Go: 2654 NM
Position: Lat 19 27' N, Long 108 03' W

Well, we didn't have the best 24-hr run yesterday, primarily because we ended up heaving to (stopping the boat) for most of the night. We've been beating in to a pretty fresh breeze, and seas that are being churned up by weather systems to the North of us. Morale is a bit low on board today. It's not easy going.

We ended up hove to last night because we were both having a bit of a re-evaluation as in 'why are we out here doing this?' We did decide to no matter what try and give it the full 4 days that people say it takes to fully adjust. Heaving to made it much easier for us both to recover some sleep with a highly improved motion. We are reserving the right to make this trip into a circumnavigation of the Socorros, followed by turning tail and running back to good old Mexico!

Really at this point I think our mood's are highly weather dependent. If the sailing gets easier, we'll undoubtedly become more cheery. As it is right now that, it's all we can do to keep down some water and a minimum of food. Currently we spend a good bit of time lying horizontal staring at the ceiling or trying to sleep. The most valuable things aboard (aside from sailing gear) are our earplugs and sleeping eye mask to block out light.

In good news however we are more or less headed due West now under jib alone, and we are hoping that the wind continues to clock so we can start easing the sheets a bit to ease our motion and the nerves.

Tons of dead flying fish on deck today. However too windy/rolly to attempt a clean up, so we continue on like some sort of fish funeral barge.

Friday, April 23, 2010 | Author: Jacob
You may have noticed that our blog has been a bit neglected over the past month or so. It's not that things haven't been happening, it's that we have been deep in the throes of trying to decide how to get Pisces from La Cruz Mexico to Seattle USA. The primary options we were considering were shipping (expensive but easy and fast), bashing up the coast (cheap but hard), and sailing out to Hawaii first (cheap but scary).

It was an extremely hard decision, and we're still trying to take deep breaths and convince ourselves that this was the best choice, but we decided to give the offshore route a try. Primary considerations for us are that Pisces is totally ready for it, and when else will we have the boat, the time, and the desire to do something like this?

So here we are, sailing to Hawaii!! Last night we saw what is likely to be our last sight of land until we have reached Hawaii, a trip of about 2800 nautical miles!

So here it is: Day 1!

24-hr Distance: 104 NM
Wind: 10-20 W
Seas: 3-8 WNW
Sky: Overcast
Distance To Go: 2717 NM

We have been close hauled since leaving Banderas Bay, sailing at a decent clip with the Jib, Staysail, and one reef in the main. Our course has been towards the SW, and we are hoping that in the next day or so the wind will start to clock around, lifting us towards the direct route, and then allowing us to actually start the fabled downwind sailing! In the meantime things are good aboard, we are trying hard to just live in this moment, and certainly not think about how early in this long trip we are! Stomachs are also a bit on edge, so we'll keep this blog and computer time short.

We've got some dead squid and flying fish on deck, but we can't be bothered to clean them up in the current conditions. Pisces though is doing great, sailing along in the groove with Brutus (the Monitor windvane) firmly in control of the helm.

Drop us an email, we've got some..ahem...time on our hands and would love to hear from you.

Saturday, April 10, 2010 | Author: Jacob
Wednesday, March 31, 2010 | Author: Julia
As we were sitting on the plane at SFO yesterday waiting to take off for PV Jacob looked out the window at the bags being loaded onto the plane and pointed out one of our duffel bags going into the plane, ripped open with our stuff exploding out of it.

Luckily all of our bags and all of our stuff made it back to PV just fine, but every bag had been opened and inspected. We were carrying a large selection of boat parts and supplies and I'm sure that the dense metal parts set off all sorts of alarms.

Here's a partial list of what we brought back:

welding rod
galley water pumps
engine fresh water pump
gas canisters for PDFs
whisker pole end fittings
o-rings/clevis pins/bolts/nuts
2 stainless metal lengths
lanocote (lambs grease)
spray on water repellent
about 100 books

No wonder customs inspected our bags!

We are very happy to be back on Pisces in La Cruz, she's looking great, and we're keen to start getting ready for the next leg!
Friday, March 26, 2010 | Author: Jacob
I thought I'd post a quick blog update on a couple of geeky boat things that I'm into right now.

1) Oceanography & Seamanship
Want to know exactly how many lbs of force it'll take to straighten your anchor rode? The optimal lookout configuration when searching for a MOB? How about the influence of vessel loading on stability? This book is great as it combines all the standard 'how to sail around the world' topics with the underlying science.

2) Antal Low Friction Rings
I spend a lot of time in chandleries staring at the blocks. Unfortunately, the prices are so high, I almost never get to actually purchase one (let alone a set!). So, I think you'll understand my excitement when I found these ring-leads. The idea (becoming increasingly common on the larger offshore racers) is that for many applications you don't actually need a block, a simple ring fairlead is fine. The advantages are huge: you save weight (not that Pisces really cares about this one), you get massive strength, there's nothing to break, and you save cost. We've ordered a few of these to play around with in a variety of different applications, and we'll keep you posted. But really, you can get a 'block' with a safe working load well over 5000lbs for under $20, how can that not be useful?!

Tuesday, March 23, 2010 | Author: Julia
We've spent the last few weeks on the "2010 Extravaganza Tour of US Cities," seeing friends and family and going to campus visits at potential graduate schools. Yes, this fall we will both be returning to school, Jacob for a PhD in Physical Oceanography and me for a Masters in Marriage and Family Therapy.

In the course of our '10 Extravaganza Tour we've been on 7 flights (to date) and visited San Francisco, Seattle, Los Angeles, Oxnard, Santa Barbara and San Diego. We are now professionals at navigating the early morning rental car scene at the airport, and explaining our cruising experience to professors in one peppy sentence.

Pisces and a third of Tao crew reunite in Orinda

Fancy crew get together in the Mission

Drinks at the Ramp with Rochelle, upholding an after-work tradition

After all this travel, we're happy to announce our new destination for the foreseeable future.....


We hope you all come visit us!

We'll be back in La Cruz on Pisces in a week, and will return to more regular boat and cruising blogs soon.