Highs and Lows…

Rolling along, beautiful day here in the deep Pacific Hula Girl in the 2015 Transpac Race from Los Angeles to Honolulu. We are currently on day 5 of our race, and have some 1500 miles to go. Yep, we have averaged somewhere around 140 miles a day up until this point. And for a boat like Hula Girl in a race like the Transpac, that’s not really very good at all.

It’s been an unusual race. We have been struggling with the remnants of the hurricane Dolores that have spun up our way from Mexico. And there are the remnants of another depression along our track, a bit farther west, that is messing up the usual Tradewinds that carry us seamlessly to the Islands. It’s an El Nino year, and the water in the Eastern Pacific is warmer than usual so these tropical disturbances that feed off warm water are working their way farther north than is typical. So even though we were able to set the spinnakers with the wind shifting behind us a couple days ago, we knew there was instability ahead. Early Sunday night, a bit after sunset, our breeze backed to the North, and then even to the West of North, so we dropped our trusty 2A spin and went back to the Code 0. Our breeze has stayed forward on us through the night, and through all of Monday, and now into midday Tuesday. We are tight reaching to Hawaii, and not even able to lay Oahu. And no way we are going back to the #1 jib… if it’s not actually against the rules in a Transpac, it’s certainly against the ethos of the race. And actually the sailing under the zero is really nice… we are able to consistently sail at double windspeed of faster. The only bummer being that windspeed is somewhere between 3 and 4 knots! We hit one big ‘glue pot,’ a patch of light and unstable wind behind a squall, yesterday and the breeze has been a little light, but other than that we have been pointed more or less at Hawaii and moving along ok. But is it enough?

We got away from the California Coast a bit slower than some of our fleet and are struggling to make back some of the distance. We don’t want to just follow them, so we have opted to get a bit of leverage to the south. And now we are in a different wind angle, and stuck down here. Our breeze is averaging NW (about 285 magnetic). The benefit: better wind angle in the light stuff, maybe a bit less distance to sail. The danger: less wind down here. At roll call this morning, is seemed a wash as to which was better. Three boats gained distance on us. We gained on four boats.

Either way, we have been having a brilliant sail. Yesterday evening we sailed out from under a ceiling of clouds and into a stunning sunset. It looked like the end of the sky, and sun dropped down into and through this sliver of space between cloud and water, then vanished into a fiery sea. Pretty spectacular, but no green flash, sorry Bjug!. Now we are into sunny weather with brilliant blue water… it is absolutely gorgeous. Sad to report that there is a lot of trash out here. We’ve only seen small stuff, although we caught a part of a fishing net on the keel this morning. We slowed down by rolling up the Code 0, and yours truly went for a quick swim to clear the debris. The water was great and I needed the shower…. and once I was smelling like roses the rest of the crew realized how much they stunk, and a round of morning showers commenced. Far too civilized. I don’t recognize most of the crew anymore.

The light breezes mean that everything is dry, and we are keeping pretty organized. We counted slices of bread today, making sure we have enough for this long, slow race. All good, but there might be a meal of Cup O Noodles somewhere along the line! The team is doing great… and we are ready for more wind! It should be shifting around to the North, then the Northeast later today and into the night. Forecast is for 10 knots by sunset. If you convert that to Canadian knots, we should be at something like 14 knots… at least that’s the calculation David made, and I’m buying it. Ok, Bruce is making lunch so I’m going to sign off. Then I’m going to go sit on the rail and soak in some beautiful Pacific sailing.

Wayne Zittel and the Hulagains