After 27 days at sea and Nick Jaffe receives a warm welcome

Struggling with ‘August the mighty Yanmar’ outside of the channel markers, it was a stressful finish to 27 days at sea? With a surf break on one side of the buoys, and a breakwater on the other, I had the genoa sheets in my hands in case the engine failed, so I could unfurl and tack back out under sail. Thankfully we made it in, and safely tied up to the fuel dock after another long passage. The first sounds of land that I heard, were the chirps of caged birds – Cockatiels, budgies, and other tropical birds, their bird-condos overlooking the harbour? There was a surf shack next door, someone paddled past on a standup board, and the sun set with a picturesque tropical tradewind orange tinge?

Oh, hello Hawaii.

I radioed the coastguard for the Customs phone number, but the payphone speaker was on the blink, and no one could hear me. Surrounded by a locked gate, I was lucky enough to find liveaboards tied up alongside, and asked them what I should do – ‘Nothing till morning’ they said, and I tied up along side. My new friends, Sherri & Gene, then handed over ice cold Longboard beer, a plate of rice, sautéed mushrooms and a lamb steak. Whoa.

And not just any lamb. Australian lamb. I was in heaven? And also now a third of a way across the Pacific ocean? Obviously somewhat closer to home than last month – On account of the lamb, and of course, the mileage. Thanks Sherri & Gene!

The voyage of 27 days was somewhat longer than expected? Yes, this isn’t a race, but I was really hoping for a 20 day passage, 25 at worst, and anything under 20 would have been extraordinary. Alas, conditions were not on my side, and I simply didn’t have the equipment to take advantage of the light winds I experienced either side of the blustery tradewinds – A large asymmetric spinnaker may have pushed up my average, as I only had 24 hours of glassed over ocean – But the rest of the time it was light winds? Unfortunately, Constellation simply cannot sail an ocean swell in much less than 8kts of breeze – Overloaded with water, provisions, equipment, and coupled with ‘Windy the Windpilot’ unable to steer without bucking off course, it was mildly irritating. Constellation and I fought for every mile, and eventually neared the islands enough to catch their localised breeze. Once we were hooked, Constellation screamed along, and we flew into Honolulu with a setting sun, and idyllic sailing, in the lee of the island. The sundowner catamaran crowds all sailed past, full of drunken tourists, strangely? Listening to Billie Jean. Yes, even in the middle of the ocean, I was clued in on the death of the king of pop?

It’s difficult for me to really express more about the leg across from San Francisco more than I already have via other posts at sea? I experienced many of the same conditions and situations I did on my other crossings, including several breakages which I’ve already mentioned – However I might add the mainsheet did eventually come completely off, and I ended up handling the mainsail by hand, via a tied up mooring line on the aft end of the boom? Gybing a mainsail by hand (ie. my arms being the sheet) is an interesting experience? On the topic of sails, my mylar sail lost it’s covering in the tropical sun, and my only other genoa is showing strong signs of wear, having survived the past 20 odd years in the Solent, the coast of Europe, an Atlantic crossing, the Bermuda triangle and a third of the Pacific? Not bad at all, but the sun is so incredibly harsh on these sails – I actually did a mid-ocean swap with my very nice UK/Halsey mainsail, which was sponsored by Dial Before You Dig in 2007 – And ran up my old mainsail for downwind sailing – I couldn’t justify burning such a nice sail in the sun; it needs to be preserved for beating upwind and other such pleasures.

I’ve been here in Honolulu four nights now – I spent two days just organising myself, dealing with customs etc and recovering from the trip. I couldn’t sleep the first night – The boat wasn’t moving enough! It was too quiet? I was restless and agitated. I found myself caught up in the bureaucratic machinations of local government, stuck deep in a building with endless corridors, only to be in the wrong place? Also, my cruising permit has expired, making it very difficult for me to move between islands. Disappointing. But, I also don’t have a lot of time, so, we’ll see what happens.

Other than that, I’ve been exploring this surreal island, swimming, planning, and drinking iced coffee. The Caribbean, warmer Pacific latitudes etc, really invoke a deep lethargy, and as I am mildly hyperactive, it makes me feel lazy. I have a ton of stuff to do, yet without iced kona coffee, it simply isn’t going to happen?

I have more to write, but it will have to be saved for the next post? I feel tired. In the meantime, here are some photos. It was an amusing experience going through the photos, and deciding what ones to upload. Basically, I realised, in 27 days, I had about 9 to upload? I then thought to myself? 27 days, squalls, dozens of waves in the cockpit, whales, dolphins, revelations, the meaning of life and crazy talking to myself? And all I have are 9 photos to show? Anyway, here they are, and I’ve even included my track to Hawaii – I give full permission for all Transpac racers and the like to laugh and my squiggly route? ! They don’t call me Australia’s answer to Michel Desjoyeaux for nothing? (Said in extreme jest).

I know what you’re all about to say – DID YOU CATCH THE FISH? No. My friend Rob in San Francisco, told me Dorado mate for life. After hearing that, I couldn’t do it? But, I did actually catch a few, however I de-barbed my hooks, and released them. Everytime I caught one and considered making fish curry, all I could do was imagine myself walking down the street with a girlfriend, and her suddenly disappearing from my side, never to be seen again. That’s what it must be like for Dorado?

So the Transpac is about to come in – Super maxi Alfa Romeo is coined for Friday night I think – I plan to negotiate a straight trade with Constellation, I hear they’re wanting to downsize because of the recession – You only need a skipper to sail a Contessa 26 instead of all those expensive crew-

?Imagine, sailing that boat at full-tilt, I’d be me home within a few weeks!

And last but not least, I was excited to see the three page article about my trip in this months Latitude 38? Thanks LaDonna for your great writing and for capturing my voyage so nicely, and thanks to Latitude 38 for publishing it. Viewable here: Page 1, Page 2, Page 3 – Better yet, grab the entire magazine for free.