The Ocean Is The Ultimate Solution:
Sailing from Hawaii to Edmonds
in three weeks and three days
July 25 - August 18, 1998
by Joseph D. Hinchy
That's me on the left, Greg is on the right
In June 1998, I was asked to accompany a coworker, Greg Boehme, to the island of Hawaii to sail his 32' boat home to Edmonds, Washington, where we both live. Having had some prior sailing experience, I accepted his invitation and met him at Kailua-Kona where we prepared the vessel for our trek. After a week or so we set out on a three day sail to Hanalei Bay where I consumed as much food as I could during our week of preparations. I was extremely seasick on the trip there, so I got some Scopolamine (seasickness meds) and we set out into the beautiful blue waters of the peaceful sea to return home. What follows is my journal of the 24 day sail. I can be reached at email@example.com
Saturday – July 25 – Day 1
4:30 PDST – Left Hanalei Bay, saw 2 or 3 fishing vessels. Perfect sailing conditions. 10-15 knots, 85°, 2-4’seas. Was nauseous on afternoon watch, otherwise OK. Beautiful night watch, 1am – 5am PDST stars out 80% of sky.
Sunday – July 26 – Day 2
Morning watch uneventful. Average speed, 5-9 knots. Afternoon watch saw a green glass float (12-14”) 20’ off starboard. Same seas as day before. Listened & logged onto Pacific Maritime net. Nice to hear other people out here. Night watch saw rain showers, gusty winds, no stars.
Monday-July 27 – Day 3
Held down yesterday’s foot (Cheerios & milk, a little beef jerky) Yea!! Morning watch had coffee & muffin, similar conditions to 7-26. Began journal sitting in cockpit. 10:00 am PDST. Listened to Pacific Maritime Net.
Tuesday –July 28 – Day 4
Rained last night & this morning. 6-8’ seas, wind 20-25 knots, a little lumpy. Had a “cup o noodles” last night, coffee & muffin this a.m. Finally I saw something other than birds…a dark colored WHALE. Broke the surface 4 different times about 1/8-1/4 mile away. I screamed for joy. Greg saw a little too. (2 jumps) Dreamed of home & family…especially Vicki.
Wednesday – July 29 – Day 5
Greg’s gruel for dinner last night…mmmm. Saw a 50 mile shooting star, orange tail. This morning saw a rainbow to the SSW Roly-Poly Seas 4-8’ from NE & N, confused. Just finished morning watch, saw something round and orange float by, perhaps a net float or something, later something …….. The HIGHLIGHT OF MY WEEK was talking to Vicki on a phone patch at about 9pm PDST, what a joy!! Sea sickness is all gone, actually can read now. Writing is a little hard, but better some than none. We are at 31.5° LAT, 159° LONG. Clam chowder, mmmmm….
Thursday - July 30 – Day 6
Woke up to a broken snap-shackle on the staysail…no problem, just a little worry. Uneventful AM watch, ate Cheerios & coffee & went to sleep after. AFTERNOON WATCH– we lost staysail halyard will slow us down, not a big problem. Greg spoke to his parents. I lost my dinner. SAW A RAINBOW TO THE EAST.
Friday - July 31 – Day 7
Calm seas & winds this AM. Sunrise pretty blue skies. Slow going. Greg hoisted staysail on spinnaker halyard & got us moving again. Oh yeah, at 8 p.m. PDST we turned EAST toward NORTH AMERICA!!! RADIO RADIO clear night eventually lost wind. Boat turned around 180 degrees had to motor a couple hours. Had beef stew and rice for dinner. SAW a 4-5’ fish jump out of water then a school of flying fish immediately after. They look like soap bubbles blowing over the surface of the water.
Saturday – August 1 – Day 8
Not much sleep last night, but today is a beautiful day. 10-15 knot winds, gentle seas. Hanging my clothes out to dry and/or at least air. Saw flying fish in the morning fly 20-25 yards over the wave crests into the wind. We’re only 1600 miles from Home!! At 5 KPH, that’s still a ways away. Saw a Rainbow to the EAST. TALKED TO VICKI!!
Sunday – August 2 – Day 9
Slightly overcast, very little wind today. We had to motor thru the night. I felt seasick again, but managed to eat anyway. Headed north again, Read a little, slept a lot. Saw a beautiful WHITE BIRD, he flew with us for about an hour or so.
Monday – August 3 – Day 10
Beautiful morning, we took turns making pancakes, now that’s the way to start your day out here. At about 4pm PDST, Greg hung a line out to try catching a fish. & about 45 minutes later, he pulled a 30-40 lb blue & yellowfin TUNA on the deck. It looked like an aquamarine jewel rising from the depths, I couldn’t believe it. It shimmered the most beautiful shade of blue I’ve ever seen in nature. We had TUNA, ONION & RICE for dinner, wow!! There is nothing I’ve ever had that tasted so good!!
Tuesday – August 4 – Day 11
Very calm seas this AM, 5 knot winds, slow and easy going, maybe 4 knots. Looks like nasty weather ahead, maybe we’ll just miss it. We had smooth & fast sailing thru the night with calm seas, 10-15 knot winds from the WEST, light mist and poor visibility so we left the radar on all night as we know we must be approaching a fleet of commercial tuna boats by their trail of plastic garbage in the sea. We still haven’t seen another vessel since about an hour or two out of Hanalei Bay. The OCEAN IS THE ULTIMATE SOLUTION. As we near the halfway point, I am getting QUITE used to our four hour sleep/watch shifts. As if it’s the only life I’ve ever known. Life on Terra Firma seems almost like a dream to me. We should be halfway there in a day or so. That will definitely be cause for celebration!! My ANCESTORS crossed an OCEAN so that I could lead the life I now live. I thank them daily and feel that I will have a much greater appreciation of all that I have by completing this journey. Life on land seems so easy compared to this life where gravity always changes direction and strength. Sometimes I feel like dice in a tumbler. Every action is slow and deliberate. I can only imagine what life on land would be like under similar conditions. TODAY is the
ANNIVERSARY of my mother’s death and I find comforting images and sounds of her in my dreams often, especially 2 nights ago when I dreamed we were all together (Mom, Dad, Siblings) and all was accepted & forgiven and love reigned in and through all of us. Beef stew and green beans for dinner, then off to sleep.
Wednesday – August 5 – Day 12
Last night was quite the ride. We were straight into oncoming waves 6-12 feet, one squall after another, in other words: Riding a fast freight train from HELL!! It felt like we were going 90-100 mph when actually we were rolling along at about 6kph. My dreams were all about driving, or flying way too fast, very scary!! This morning was just the opposite; calm seas, sunshine & warmth. At 10:30 PDST, I spotted a container ship crossing our port bow at about six miles. They didn’t respond to our hail and just lumbered by at about 10 kph. Right after they crossed us at about 3.5 miles, Greg said he saw a fish come up and take a look at us. Next thing I know, there are at least 2, maybe 3 DOLPHINS swimming around the boat, jumping thru the waves in tandem. They stayed and played with us right next to the boat for about 20-25 minutes. WOW, it just made me feel good. Read a little, sunned a little, what a beautiful day!!
Thursday – August 6 - Day 13
We motored thru the night as there was no wind to speak of. Flat calm seas and a near full moon helped the pacific live up to it’s name, the peaceful sea. We had fresh TUNA last night with potatoes and carrots...MMMMM. I got to do some sky watching since the sea was ‘just swell’, pun intended. I made us pancakes & coffee this AM, had an uneventful AM watch then slept for 4 hours straight (1-5 PDST). Little floating jelly fish with blue sails is all I’ve seen today. Our long sought northwesterly winds showed up this afternoon after all the otherlys and now as we approach latitude 40° N we are nearing a point equidistant from our point of origin to our destination point. I think we’ll have to bake a cake or something to celebrate!! It’s overcast and getting just a bit nippy as I write this as we ramble on at about 5 kph.
Mar pacificum – 1/3 of the surface of the earth. We started this journey at 19°N, just under the Tropic of Cancer, I believe each degree represents 60 nautical miles so as we approach 40° latitude, we will have traveled 1260 nautical miles to the NORTH. We still need to travel 420 nautical miles NORTH. We also still have 30° of longitude to cross as we are at 153° W and home is about 123°W At latitude 47°N each degree is about 30 N.M. so about 900 N.M. to the EAST remains.
Friday – August 7 – Day 14
13 days left
I made us some tuna spaghetti last night, it was a big hit. We still have some fresh tuna left, I think I’ll make some tuna salad today. Then it’ll be time to drop that line and catch us some more!! The wind died out about 11pm PDST last night, so we motored until about 5am PDST when the wind returned. We are on a heading straight for Cape Flattery and the Straits of Juan de Fuca. We will hit our halfway point during my next watch (5pm-9pm PDST), Definitely cause for celebration!! Since we were motoring, the juice (DC) is free so we both slept well last night with the Radar on. Another gray Puget Sound like day; overcast and a bit nippy. There is a patch of clear sky to the EAST and to the NORTH, could warm us up a bit. Yesterday was very similar conditions with no blue patch. We are making steady, if slow, progress. Big dark storm cell to the EAST. Good sailing today. We hit our Mid-point about 4:30 pm PDST. 41° NORTH 150°, 47 WEST. I made some GOOD pancakes this AM, Saw a big albatross I think & brown big 4.5’ wingspan. 6-8’ seas from the NW. Lots of ROLLING motion today, good westerly winds, can’t complain. Might as well enjoy the ride 5.5-7.2 kph. I listened to a tape of selected FRANK ZAPPA tunes today, did you know that ketchup (catsup) is a vegetable? Dick’s specials, butter toffee peanuts, STARGATE SG1, ICED TEA, strong coffee, a BATH, SHAVE & SHAMPOO!! That’s my wish list, so far.
Saturday – August 8 – Day 15
12 days left
We had corn/clam chowder and fresh tuna salad last night mmmmm. Got good sleep, burned up some miles. Greg got a phone patch to his folks. Coffee & tropical fruit salad this AM, Greg’s eggs near the end of my AM watch. Eggs, salsa, onions & hot dogs. It’s not quite as grey as the last two days, just a little sunshine on The Little Boat That Could, feels good. Passed thru small squalls; not quite rain, but misty precipitation. More roly-poly seas, no complaints. I have memorized the phonetic alphabet, here goes: ALPHA BRAVO CHARLIE DELTA ECHO FOXTROT GOLF HOTEL INDIA JULIET KILO LIMA MIKE NOVEMBER OSCAR PAPA QUEBEC ROMEO SIERRA TANGO UNIFORM VICTOR WHISKEY X-RAY YANKEE ZULU, how ‘bout that? Greg’s station ID is N7T10, NOVEMBER SEVEN TANGO INDIA OSCAR. Radio copy has been light lately as we roll in and out of dead spots, still I look forward to the Pacific Maritime Seafarer’s Net Roll Call daily. We track other vessels on a similar course, their weather conditions, etc. as it gives us a good idea of what’s ahead. We are at 42° N, 149° W heading for 47°N, 125° W. Over 100 Nautical Miles today, our best in the last few. I fixed the zipper on my shorts pocket. It’s been froze up for about a year. I just hope the stains wash out. J
Sleep is a rare commodity around here. Here is my daily schedule (Hawaiian time): Get up at 6, have coffee. Wake Greg up at 8 for weather broadcast, have another cup of coffee & something to eat. Usually pancakes, sometimes canned fruit. Relieved of watch at 10, do some dishes, read a little, sleep from 11 to 2. AFTERNOON watch is 2-6, I usually make some hot tea, write and read a little, listen to something (so far it’s been Frank Zappa) til about 4:30 when Greg gets up for RADIO contacts. I usually listen in as it is (besides the weather) always different and is a pleasant diversion. That’s over by 5:45 or so. Then one of us (we usually take turns) makes some dinner. Off watch at six, we usually hang out in the cockpit for 20-30 minutes smoking cigarettes then it’s off to bed/bunk at 6:30 to read a little before I fall asleep at 7. Up at 10 p.m. for NIGHT watch (10-2) no real routine then, depends on the weather. If it’s nice, I’ll go out to the cockpit and stargaze, if it’s not, I’ll lay down on the floor (on a cushion) and get up every 30-45 minutes to take a look around, then nod off for another 20. This goes on until 2 am, when Greg begins his 2-6 am, then it starts all over again. Sometimes I try to imagine this is the only life I know, and that life on land is just a sweet dream I once had, or that this reality is a recurring nightmare. At least we are fairly compatible, that’s a good thing!!
Sunday – August 9 – Day 16
11 days left
60% - 960 – 43.17°N 146.58°W
Haven’t seen the SUN or MOON for 4 days in a row now. The moon is full, but we couldn’t bear witness to it. It’s been misty and rainy in the AM and late PM for 4 days now. Looks like Puget Sound weather, so at least it’s reminiscent of HOME. The seas are totally confused, waves or swell come from every direction. We motored 13.5 hours thru last night, sailed for an hour or two, and now we’re motoring again due to the apparent complete and total lack of wind (necessary to sail). We are exactly even with Greg’s 1992 trip of same points, and may even get a day or so ahead today, as the last trip (1992) did a dogleg to the SE here. I’m wearing the same pair of sweats I put on about 11 days ago. They’re still dry, unlike the shorts I’ve been wearing over them. Sitting on WET ROPE will soak about anything and it being SALT water, doesn’t even really seem to completely dry. BAT-O-Birds (cheep cheep) and ALBATROSS are all that we’ve seen over the last four days. Yesterday I watched an albatross take off from a floating (sitting) start by running along the surface of the sea for about 3 feet, then take to the sky by flapping it’s wings. It reminded me of some Jenny Lewis dance step, very animated & funny looking.
Monday – August 10 – Day 17
10 days left
44.05°N 144.13°W - S
Saw a fishing vessel last night near the end of my AFTERNOON watch. He didn’t show up on the radar, so he must have been 9-12 miles off starboard stern. JOE – 2, SHIPS – 0. Greg made chicken & rice for dinner, and it was off to sleep for me. At 9:00 PDST this AM, a container ship 5 layers deep appeared off our port bow. We spoke to him on radio, he’s bound to Long Beach, CA. 1000’ vessel, he wished us bon voyage. It’s gotten quite a bit colder over the last 2 days. Today is the 5th day with no VISIBLE sun or moon. It’s been raining to beat the band today as well, so I am staying in the cabin during my afternoon watch (a first). I finished the ZAPPA bio a few minutes ago, what a loss of a national TREASURE. Our toilet got blocked today, still is. I really hope we can get it working, considering the alternative. No pancakes this AM, just constant grazing in the cookie & chip department. We have plenty of food left, lots of water. We have had good winds for the last 24 hours, so we still have lots of fuel as well. I’m really looking forward to landfall. Had clam chowder for dinner. Greg saw two fishing vessels about 3 AM PDST, spoke to one of them on the radio briefly.
Tuesday – August 11 – Day 18
9 days left
Ahhh, the sun finally appeared today, what a welcome sight. We were able to almost dry our clothes. Mellow seas, I read out on the cockpit for about 4-5 hours. We successfully made two phone patches, first to Vicki, then to Jo Ann. It’s Amazing how uplifting that someone you love’s voice can be!! Even though brief, very powerful, very moving to someone who hasn’t seen the other for over a month. We are about 720 Nautical Miles from Cape Flattery, the entrance to the Straits of Juan De Fuca. Greg thinks maybe 7 or 8 more days and we’ll be home and this trip will exist only in our memories. At about 6:30 pm PDST it started raining again, so it’s back in the cabin for us except to trim the sails. Greg is cooking something that smells really good, potatoes & onions, mmmmm.
Wednesday – August 12 – Day 19
8 days left
No sun today, only fog. ¼ mile visibility, Radar’s been on for about 24 hours. Needless to say, we haven’t seen anything, but at least with the radar on we don’t have to go outside the cabin as much. Everything inside is getting damp, so going outside makes it even damper in here. We had fresh potatoes & carrots & onions and lunchmeat in a kind of HASH concoction; it was good. I made us pancakes this AM and am cooking a rice/green bean/beef stew brew. I’m sure it will be OK. I read Short Sharp Shock & Charm School today and yesterday. Also put on my 2nd to last pair of underwear & sweats. Dry clothes are a BIG comfort!!
Thursday – August 13 – Day 20
7 days left
46.17°N 136.07°W S
Woke up to fog this AM, no sun again. Pretty lackadaisical day, so Greg put out the fishing pole and lo and behold, we snagged about an 18 lb TUNA. I reeled the guy in, fresh tuna tonight!! Our visibility is about ¼ mile, we sure do miss the sun. I read Night Prey today, looking at the Fourth Procedure next. Who knows, maybe we’ll even play checkers or bake a cake. We’re about 480 miles from cape flattery, so with any luck we’ll be at NEAH BAY in 4 days!!
Friday – August 14 – Day 21
6 days left
Fresh Tuna & Rice last night, tuna spaghetti tonight. About 10:30 pm PDST last night, It looked like a bonfire on a beach, but there’s no beaches out here. We watched it get brighter & brighter and figured it must be a large fishing vessel. It had a mercury vapor lamp that was about as bright as a streetlight, same color too. It had to be at least 8 NM away, as it’s never showed up on our radar screen. Later, during my 1-5 am PDST watch, a small fishing vessel showed up on radar about 3 miles off our port bow. His heading was similar to ours so he stayed with us for at least 3-1/2 hours before he crossed our bow & went over the Eastern horizon. SHIPS-0, Joe-4!! We had pancakes again this AM, God bless Krusteaz!! I’m about ½ way through The Fourth Procedure, will finish it today. 3 to 4 foot swell & waves from the West are pushing us along quite nicely. We should be home by 8-18 TUESDAY. The SUN finally made an appearance today and Boy, is it great!! It’s about 5:30 pm PDST and I’m out in the cockpit enjoying the warm rays still. Haven’t seen much marine life, only 2 or 3 kinds of birds. ONLY 360 NM to Cape Flattery!! 48.24°N, 124.44°W. ONLY 1956 NM to Hanalei Bay!! 2200 NM to our point of embarkation, Honokahau Harbor.
Saturday – August 15 – Day 22
5 days left
Sunshine, on my shoulders, makes me happy! Sun yesterday, sun today, what is going on here? No complaint, just curious. As I write this, we are listening to the Mariners beat the White Sox. Yea! After I wrote in my journal yesterday while Greg was sleeping, our Little Boat That Could was surrounded by no less than 12 dolphins for the better part of a half-hour. Grey on top, white on the bottom, they were part of a large school (pod?) of maybe 50-60 that were overtaking us on our NE course. I thought about getting the camera, but I didn’t want to miss any of it, it was gloriously spectacular!! They swam under us, alongside us, around the boat, all over us. As they approached the boat, from the rear, us sailing DOWNWIND, they rode on the wave crests like surfers. Last night at about 11pm PDST, we took about 20-30 seconds of 40-50 k gusts not quite enough for a knockdown, but close enough to make anything unsecured in the cabin become airborne. Fortunately it was just pillows and blankets flying, NOT anything with any real mass. The TUNA Spaghetti was a hit, we had it with corn.
Sunday – August 16 – Day 23
4 days left
We had clam/tuna/corn chowder last night, yeah. After dinner, we were overtaken by yet another school of dolphins. These guys seem like they had a purpose (porpoise?) and just kinda jetted by us over the course of about 20 minutes. We had some squalls pass over us, they locked like thunder heads and I saw one or two big flashes of lightning, but heard nothing. Greg made eggs & potatoes for breakfast, and even baked us a chocolate cake which quickly disappeared. We are 124 Nautical Miles from Cape Flattery, should sight land by early tomorrow afternoon. I wanted to call Vicki last night, but RADIO Copy was only about 5%, so no go on that one. We were blessed with another sunny day today, warm with gentle seas and light winds. I awoke from my afternoon off-duty nap at 3:30 PDST to find our vessel drifting with sails backwinded & our watchman asleep! I steered us back onto our course. Some more dark clouds crossed us, but no rain. The barometer is still rising and we are looking at clear sunny skies in our near future. If we can keep 5 kph, we should have landfall about 2pm PDST tomorrow, and home port (Edmonds) about 12pm PDST THE NEXT DAY!!
Monday – August 17 – Day 24
3 days left
The Ocean is no longer the deep blue we’ve been looking at. When I awoke for my morning watch (9am PDST), the sea was GREEN!! As we approach the Cape, we’ve seen no less than 12 fishing vessels, 2 whales spouting (Humpbacks, we think), and at least 6 dolphins. No more sleeping on watch as we're coming into the main shipping lanes and need to navigate through all manner of vessels. We will reach the Cape at 7:30 or 8:00 pm PDST and continue through the Straits of Juan de Fuca to Admiralty Inlet, past Whidbey Island, and on into our HOME port, EDMONDS! We lost wind this AM and began motoring at 11:30am PDST. We spotted LAND at about 1pm and are enjoying our last day at sea. It’s a little overcast, but quite warm and 1 or 2’ swells, no wind waves to speak of. We began seeing kelp this AM and began to see all kinds of waterfowl that look familiar to me!! I’ve seen some fish jumping out of the water, and a couple of beer bottles floating by. We listened to fishermen talking back & forth about the fish they’re scraping out of her, greenies (?) pinkies (?) and others. A small plane flew over us about 20 minutes ago, a single engine perhaps ultralight, about 250’ over our heads. The last land we saw was the beautiful island of Kauai fading further away from us until it disappeared below the horizon. That was 2600 NM ago!! WATERWORLD.
Monday – August 17 – Day 24 Continued
2 days left
We sighted Cape Flattery at about 5pm PDST. I saw a salmon do a little jump, so we threw a line behind us and about 45 minutes later, we got a bite & pulled in a 3-4 lb. salmon. Very polite fish, he unhooked himself after we got him on the deck. Instead of clubbing him, we left him on deck to clean later. I looked out there 20 seconds later, and said, “He gone”. Oh well. We passed Tatoosh Island at sunset as we entered the Straits of Juan de Fuca. We had no wind, so we were motoring all day & night. We still have ½ of our fuel available. Motoring against strong tidal currents (5-6 knot ebb tide), our autopilot couldn’t handle the course, so we were pushed out into the middle of the channel on a beautiful starry night. Moving into Canadian waters, we had been pushed about six miles off course, which took about six hours on this night because of the maximum ebb & flood tides, we were doing 1.9 kph against the 5.0 kph we were motoring. I’ll never forget the look of the sky as the light of the two cities, Victoria BC and Port Angeles, USA backlit a huge blanket of cirrus cloud formations and lit up the sky like a glowing nebulous UMBRA.
The end of our voyage: Edmonds, home sweet home
Tuesday – August 18 – Day 25
1 day left
When I woke up, we were hearing Pt. Wilson where we picked up 4 or 5 kph from the flood tide. 9.5 kph!! We were really moving when we came to Admiralty Way Inlet, between the peninsula and Whidbey Island when I spotted a whale briefly rounding the corner of the Island, we were headed straight ahead for the EDMONDS MARINA!! Pushed in by a flood tide at an awesome speed, we were passed by tow or three large freighters passing the other way, “AKADEMIK SEMENOV” was a big red rusty bucket and moved by us at about 25 kph. We had sunshine in the morning and it followed us all the way home to Edmonds. After being in an area of fog 1000 miles N to S, and 900 miles E to W, and being damp, wet, soggy, underneath this sunless,
moonless fog for 9 DAYS, I feel blessed by the forces of nature and by an elemental, basic balance of life & love, song & sorrow, birth and death is restored inside me.
Champagne and balloons for the homecoming of the salty dogs.