Friends! Wow…the responses to our blog and Facebook posts are amazing. We feel the love! Thank you for responding and for sharing/liking our posts! Keep ‘em coming! I’ve received a few emails and Ashley has been forwarding us some as well so that we can get your feedback. Feel free to email your burning questions to firstname.lastname@example.org.
The past day has been much more relaxing than the first week. Part of it is that we are getting into a good groove. The weather has held and the winds are strong enough for us to make great time. We have become very fond of the course 210 – you tend to find lots of things to love about it after hours and hours of staring at compass in the dark of night. You make up songs, special names…there is even talk of some serious commitment to 210. Possibly in the form of a tattoo. Nevertheless…spirits are high, rum rations are not low and we march on.
Right now we are passing over the Mendocino Escarpment. I’m not an oceanographer and I don’t have access to Google so that I can sound like one, but from what I understand it’s incredibly deep here. On the order of 16,000 feet. That’s deeper than Mount Rainier is high. If the vastness of the Pacific Ocean didn’t make us feel small, that sure does.
This place is beautiful, yet desolate. No boats. No birds. No whales or fish jumping. All we see, day in and day out are waves. It’s simple, yet can deal a lesson in humility quickly. Stop driving for 210 for a minute because you’re wrapped up in a conversation about how Flare Training is a good idea and all the sudden you take a giant wave to the face. Regardless, we march on.
In response to your emails:
#1. For weather and communication we are using an IridiumGO and Predict Wind. Don’t get a satellite phone and buy minutes. Total waste of time. It takes about 15 minutes to download a relatively useful GRIB file and that would cost $22.50, give or take, if we used Iridium minutes and a satellite phone. We have unlimited data with the IridiumGO plan and it works like a charm.
#2. There have been some questions on what each of us are reading. To be fair, we haven’t had much time to read. But, when we do, this is the list: Brian: The Heart of the Buddha’s Teaching
Willy: Blood Meridian by Cormac McCarthy
Beau: still trying to pick from his huge library he brought
#3. We do keep the sailboat running 24/7. To do that, we must keep watch at night to steer and also for a lookout. For the past week, we’ve been running a rotating 4 hour on/4 hour off watch section. Two of us on deck at a time. We have just amended that a bit so that we have a standby person who can read, sleep, eat etc during the last two hours of their watch. So, it goes like this…Willy comes on watch at 8am and stands watch until 12pm. Beau comes on watch at 10am and stands watch until 2pm. Brian comes on watch at 12pm and stands watch until 4pm. Ryder comes on watch at 2pm and stands watch until 6pm…and we just keep going. The downside of this rotation is that we only get to sleep in 2-3 hour increments. If you’ve done that rotation for any length of time, you know that no matter what you do exhaustion creeps in. Couple that with a boat this constantly in motion (it takes much more effort to cook or even move around the boat), constantly requires care and cleaning – doesn’t leave much time to rest, let alone read or play cribbage.
#4. The weather has been decent. At night it gets down to about 55 or 60, bit warmer now that we are moving south. It also depends on the weather system around us. We all wear proper foul weather gear, ie: offshore sailing jackets with big collars and nice hoods, overall pants, foul weather boots, etc. We also wear PFDs with harnesses and tethers so that we can clip into the boat anywhere. If there were to be a man overboard, we would be clipped into the boat and that would prevent us from being lost in the dark of night in big seas. Trying to keep ourselves, our gear and the boat dry is a constant battle. Every is damp. Humidity hovers around 80-90%. Temperature, right now, goes between 61 and 73 deg f.
#5. Steering by hand requires great concentration because of the seas we are in. We are on a broad reach (steering course 210!) with the seas on the starboard quarter and also some larger swells out of the west. This causes us to head up into the wind when these large swells come and push the stern to leeward. The person driving (the helmsman) must overcome that pressure on the rudder and bring the bow back down. It’s a constant battle…it’s quite a workout actually. The boat is charging along at anywhere between 5 to 8 knots, sometimes surfing at more than 9 knots. We do have an auto helm on board, and Raymarine assured me it was fixed before we left but alas it died again right before we exited the Straits of Juan de Fuca. The self steering wind vane we have works, but we are unable to tune it with the tiller in use. That would require us to pull in somewhere. So, we’ve resolved to steering ourselves to Honolulu and holding our heads up a bit higher than the other guys who relied on a machine to do the heavy lifting. If nothing else, we will be pros at steering a sailboat by the time we’ve clocked off 2500 nautical miles.
I’ve also been asked to give a bit more details on the remainder of the crew (Beau was in a previous post). So here goes…
Willy Kunkle, First Mate
A professional sailor, Captain and musician, he splits his time between touring with his band The Builders and the Butchers and sailing the world at the helm of mega yachts for the rich and famous. You’ll know Willy by his mustache and his easy going, good nature that draws everyone in. He’s a seasoned sailor with over 20,000 nautical miles to his name. Calm under pressure, resolved and always with a smile on face, Willy has traveled the world and has a thirst for adventure. He’s an absolute joy to have on the team. His sailing knowledge is incredible and has been drawn upon…we’ve all learned a few knots we didn’t know before.
Chris Ryder, Navigator
A crack navigator, Chris also has lived, literally, all over the world. He has also climbed most of the major peaks from Russia to Iceland during his time as a climbing expedition guide. He’s turned his attention to sailing has his next challenge to conquer. When Chris tells a story about his life, it may seem like a tall tale at first, but he’s got nothing to prove as he’s done most of it. So, it’s just best to let the story unfold and take it all in. Sometimes critical, always a realist and quick to question my dumb ideas; he’s the keel on the team that keeps the mast and sails pointed toward the sky.
Brian Bugge, Skipper
Husband, father, currently a USN Chief, (soon to be) USN Naval Officer, photographer, scuba diver, USCG licensed captain and ASA sailing instructor. With a love of all things related to the ocean, sailing and a Transpacific ocean voyage feels like something I was destined to be a part of. When I’m not crossing oceans either on my own or for my career with the Navy, I’m exploring foreign countries with my wife and kids and doing my best to live life to the fullest (one life to live!). My goal in life is to never have a bucket list, instead completing adventures in life as opportunities arise.
Please continue to share our story as we believe that inside each of us exists an explorer, an adventurer, an expedition waiting to happen. What that looks like for you will be different than what it looks like for us. But, if we can do this, you can chase your dreams too. It just takes the first step…
Until then, steering 210.
Stay Gold and her Crew