San Francisco, California to
July 19-31, 2017
Day 1 – Wednesday, 07/19/2017
I had intended to stay in San Francisco until tomorrow. I had all of my equipment ship-shape by noon today. All supplies were on board. I was ready to go. I also noted that the marine layer was increasing and I didn’t imagine the weather would be any better tomorrow than it was today. I have about 2 weeks of sailing ahead of me, so I might as well get started. By 8:00 PM, I had traveled about 70 nm from San Francisco. The sea was moderately rough and there was a good strong wind. I have a long way to go.
Day 2 – Thursday, 07/20/2017
I was up at 7:00 AM this morning. The auto-pilot worked well last night. I sailed about 90 nm overnight. The sun was up this morning. There was something missing from my simulated world this morning. It wasn’t the sun, because I saw a pretty sunrise. It was the marine layer. I checked the weather satellite and it should be overcast. I will just enjoy seeing the sun today.
Today was a relaxing day of sailing. The sea was much more calm, when compared to just off the coast of California. The water was a beautiful blue, mostly because the sea floor was indicating more than 4,000 meters on my depth sounder. That’s more than 2 miles deep! By the time the sun had set and stars were out, the wind was around 15 knots and the boat was doing 7-9 knots. As of 8:15 PM, I was 255 nm from San Francisco.
Before I turned in this evening, I did some planning for my route. There was a hurricane in the eastern Pacific, Fernanda. By this evening, that storm was downgraded to a tropical storm. At its current path and speed, it will pass north of the big island of Hawaii and continue to weaken. My course will cross behind the storm. Of more immediate concern is another tropical storm, Greg, which is expected to reach hurricane strength this weekend. Its path suggests that I will pass in between Greg and Fernanda. I will continue to watch the storms as I make my way toward Hawaii. I’m learning that sailing around these storms can be a challenge in a sailboat. The top speed of my sailboat is slower than the speed these storms are advancing. If one is not careful, one could easily be overrun by a storm. Off to bed.
Day 3 – Friday, 07/21/2017
I slept until 7:30 AM this morning. The wind was about the same with the boat running about 8 knots. The sea seemed smoother this morning than it was yesterday. I have 132 nm to go until the first of 2 waypoints in the Pacific. This evening, I will turn more west for about 500 nm, then I will turn southwest, direct to Hawaii. From the wind forecasts, this track still seems like the way to get the best speed during the voyage.
By mid-afternoon, the wind had calmed a bit. It was now blowing 10-15 knots, which meant I had slowed a bit as well. I decided to turn a bit more west to get a better sailing angle. I moved my next waypoint to my current coordinates, so the waypoint before Hilo is now 630 nm away. The GPS says that’s a little over 3 days sailing. By the time I get closer to that waypoint, I’ll have a better idea of what the wind will be doing on my final leg. The wind forecasts only go out 5 days, so that’s a lot of unknowns. At least I’ll be able to set the auto-pilot for the next few nights and not have to worry about any nighttime course corrections. Tropical Storm Fernanda is dying out and Greg is weakening, not expected to reach hurricane strength. That’s good news for me. It looks like the path to Hilo will be clear.
At 9:00 PM, the sea was calm, wind at about 12-13 knots and the boat speed was a fairly steady 7.5-8 knots. I can tell I’m not really in the tropics yet. It’s 66ºF and I’m not ready to put away my windbreaker yet. The change I made in the heading this afternoon definitely improved my speed. I have been marking my coordinates every 12 hours. This evening, my total distance from San Francisco was 442 nm. Since yesterday evening, I’ve traveled 185 nm. If I could do 185 nm every day, it would take me just under 10 days to get to Hawaii. I’m thinking I will consider this a fast run if I make it in 12 days. Tonight should be a good night for sleep. The boat is doing a slow rock and roll. The weather forecast is for an increase in winds tomorrow.
At 11:45 PM, I still hadn’t turned in. The wind speed continued to decrease. There’s a high pressure system northwest of me that is causing the light winds. That system is forecast to move west and leave me behind. Once the center of the system get’s farther west of me, my winds should pick up. The wind direction had changed to the point where I could sail directly toward Hilo, at least for a few hours. Now, I’ll just enjoy the calm waters and look forward to fresher winds in the morning.
Day 4 – Saturday, July 22, 2017
I slept longer than usual this morning. It was probably because I didn’t get to bed until late last night and the seas are still calm this morning. The slow rocking and rolling definitely makes for better sleep.
According to the auto-pilot, the wind picked up around 5:00 AM this morning. The wind is back up to about 15 knots and the boat is making around 8 knots. In the last 12 hours, I covered 78 nm, for a total of 520 nm. I am a little more than a quarter of the way to Hawaii. The forecast says the winds will increase today and the wind direction will start to change. I steered a little more west this morning.
At a little after 5:00 PM, the wind was still 12-15 knots and the boat was traveling 7-8 knots. This has been a gorgeous 2 days of sailing. The seas are calm and the temperature is about 68ºF. There are no storms on the horizon. My only chore is to enjoy the scenery and watch the wind angle.
For my position report at 8:00 PM, I am 611 nm from San Francisco, with about 1,450 nm to go. It appears the wind may stay this way for a bit. The wind speed and direction have remained fairly constant. In a few days, the wind should change around to be dead astern, then I will turn southwest again toward Hilo. Not much more to do but enjoy the sunset.
At about 11:00 PM, I checked the winds again and there was little change. The wind direction is continuing to be from the NNE to N. I decided to turn directly toward Hilo and see where I am in the morning. The purpose of going slightly more west was that the forecast winds would be coming from the east in a few days and having a more southwest track would give me a better wind angle. Perhaps I’ll check the helm once during the night.
Day 5 – Sunday, July 23, 2017
At about 3:00 AM, I checked the helm and decided to make a 10º turn to the west. The winds were still on the light side and the wind direction is starting to head east, as it is forecast. The seas were still quite calm.
I was up at 8:00 AM. Today is different from the last 2 days. There are whitecaps this morning. The wind speed has increased by about 5 knots and the boat speed has gone up a knot or so. I traveled 90 nm since last night, for a total of 700 nm and 1,350 nm to go for Hilo. As the high pressure system northwest of me gets farther away, the winds should increase more. There is likely going to be more rocking and rolling today. The weather is also getting warmer. It was 69ºF this morning.
I have crossed a time zone line, so now my time is 2 hours behind Pacific Daylight time. It’s about 12:30 PM and the wind hasn’t increased much. If anything, the wind speed has eased a bit. I set the helm the follow a sail angle of 135º to starboard. I’m going more west than south, but my speed is better. In the next 24-36 hours, I expect the wind will be closer to coming from the east. At that point, I should be able to jibe to port directly toward Hilo. It is a peaceful Sunday at sea. Thankfully, I have my Inmarsat Internet. I’m watching the Mariners vs. the Yankees from Seattle.
The baseball game was a disappointment. The Mariners lost. All was not lost. The afternoon was wonderful. The wind speed reached almost 20 knots a couple of times. For the most part, the wind direction, wind speed and ocean surface remained the same all day. At 6:00 PM, I was 793 nm from San Francisco, with 1,255 nm to go. The wind forecast is beginning to look like it will be consistently the same for several days. I will just have to watch the wind direction and pick what I think is the best tack to get the best speed. The GPS is estimating that I’ll reach Hilo in 6-1/2 days. Whenever I reach the destination, I will miss what I’m doing now, sailing the open ocean.
I turned in a little earlier tonight. I was done by 9:00 PM. The wind was unchanged and I had the helm set direct to Hilo.
Day 6 – Monday, July 24, 2017
I awoke at about 1:00 AM and checked the helm. The wind is finally shifting more from the east. I adjusted my course 10º to starboard in order to keep my speed up. The wind speed is 10-15 knots and the boat is sailing at 7-7.5 knots.
I was up again at 4:00 AM. My body is still on Pacific Time even though I’m getting closer to Hawaii time. I am almost halfway into my voyage.
At 7:05 AM, I was 891 nm from San Francisco and I have 1,160 nm to Hilo. The wind is continuing to shift more from the east and the speed has increased to 15-20 knots. I set my course back direct to Hilo. Running directly downwind is only good when the wind speed picks up and it appears the wind is going to cooperate. By the end of the day, I imagine I will be on a broad reach on the port side.
In the early afternoon, the wind direction had changed enough where I switched the helm to follow a wind angle instead of a course. Until the wind comes around to the port side on course, this is the best way to get decent speed and still make good progress toward Hilo. There are more whitecaps today, although the wind isn’t much stronger than it was yesterday. It is also more cloudy today. The temperature at a little after noon was 71ºF. I’m definitely getting closer to tropical weather.
After sunset, I decided to set the course direct to Hilo. I was hoping for an increase in winds overnight because the wind direction changed to be directly astern. It’s slow going if the wind speed isn’t above about 18 knots. Tonight, for a change, I turned in early.
Day 7 – Tuesday, July 25, 2017
I was up at 3:00 AM to check navigation. The wind had not increased. The wind direction was still astern and I had barely gone 60 nm since I went to bed. With the wind directly astern and wind speed around 15 knots, the best way to get speed would be to tack back and forth along my navigation course. Unfortunately, I may have to do this for several days without an increase in the wind.
At 6:30 AM, I had traveled 83 nm in the past 12 hours, 1,058 nm from San Francisco, and 998 nm to Hilo. That is a big milestone. Overnight, I passed the halfway point. That’s 5-1/2 days of sailing to get half the way to Hawaii. If I keep this pace, I should arrive at Hilo sometime late Sunday. Maybe I’ll pull into port on my birthday, which would be Monday.
Today turned out to be mostly cloudy, which is not all that bad. The wind is more consistently 15-20 knots now. When the wind direction comes off the stern, I get a pretty respectable 8 knots. The farther I travel, the more the wind is starting to come across the port side, which will be good for boat speed. The waves are a little taller today, but still an enjoyable sail.
At 7:15 PM, I had traveled about 190 nm durng the last 24 hours. I have 908 nm left until I reach Hilo. I watched a video of a sailboat crossing the Atlantic and they talked of 160 nm days as being good ones, so I guess I shouldn’t complain. The wind has picked up a bit and is now consistently closer to 20 than 15 knots. The wind direction is also staying more to port than astern. I should be able to make some good mileage tomorrow because I believe the winds should stay around 20 knots.
Now that the sun has set, there’s not much to do, so I guess I’ll turn in. My course is direct to Hilo and I will leave the boat on that course for now. It shouldn’t be long before I gain another hour when I arrive in the Hawaii Time zone.
Day 8 – Wednesday, July 26, 2017
I started this voyage one week ago today. I actually started at noon Pacific Time, so at 10:00 AM this morning, I will have been at sea for one week.
I was up at sunrise this morning. The wind is not quite as strong. As of 6:15 AM, I had only traveled 77 nm since my position fix last night. I have 835 nm to go. The GPS arrival estimate keeps jumping around with the speed of the boat. It looks like I will arrive in Hilo either late Sunday or early Monday. It is mostly overcast this morning, but it is 72ºF. I’ve checked the temperature closer to Hawaii and it will be getting warmer. Warmer is good. The temperature now is quite different from the mid-50’s when I left San Francisco a week ago.
As I approached 142º30′ W longitude, I wondered if my GPS would accurately note the time zone change. I did a search earlier today and discovered that Hawaii Time has it’s eastern border at 142º30′ W longitude. Sure enough, as I passed that longitude, I gained an hour. I am now 3 hours behind Pacific Daylight Time. One step closer to Hawaii!
The wind seems to come and go. There are times when it gets up nearly over 20 knots, then it’ll drop back to about 14 knots. It doesn’t work well when the wind is coming directly from the stern and is 14 knots. I tried different tacks this morning and decided to just leave the course direct to Hilo. Even when the wind is lower, the combined effort will get me to Hilo faster than it would if I tried to chase the wind direction. At 2:15 PM, it was 75ºF, so it was very comfortable.
Just after sunset, the wind increased to 17-20 knots, which is much better for keeping up my speed. The wind direction is very close to being dead astern, but I will keep my course direct to Hilo. My estimated arrival is still late Sunday or early Monday. With the increase in wind speed, the sea doesn’t seem any rougher than it was earlier today. It should be a peaceful night.
Day 9 – Thursday, July 27, 2017
I was up at 5:00 AM. I think my body is still on Pacific Time. I have been averaging about 190 nm a day. As of this morning, I have 668 nm to go for Hilo. The wind speed and the seas are pretty much the same as they were yesterday. It is also mostly cloudy.
At about 10:00 AM, I checked the temperature and it was 75ºF. It looks like, barring a storm, the temperature will stay the same or perhaps be a little warmer. In any event, it’s quite comfortable.
It was a very peaceful day of sailing. At 5:10 PM, I was about 580 nm from Hilo. The temperature was 76ºF, so it continues to get warmer as I get closer to Hawaii. It’s been overcast most of the day, but as it approaches sunset, the sky is clearing a bit. I checked the weather forecast for the next 3 days. The sky should be clearing and the winds will be lighter. There is some rain over the Big Island right now, but it should clear away by the time I arrive.
I had some time this afternoon to think about my voyage so far. I wondered if it’s really this easy to sail from San Francisco to Hawaii? I had rough seas right after I left San Francisco, and I’ve had several days of 3-4 foot rolling waves, but the weather has been easy this trip. The forecast suggests that my last 3 days of sailing will be some of the calmest seas I’ve had. I’m looking forward to my arrival in Hilo. I’ve been at sea for over a week and I’m ready for some fresh food and to stand on solid ground for a bit.
At a little before 9:00 PM, I decided to turn in. Tonight should be a restful sleep. With the drop in the wind speed, the sea is flattening some.
Day 10 – Friday, July 28, 2017
I was up at about 5:00 AM this morning. As was forecast, the wind had dropped to about 12 knots. With the wind direction almost directly astern, the boat speed had dropped to below 6 knots. I had only traveled 79 nm last night and I was a little more than 500 nm from Hilo. It didn’t cool down at all last night. It was still 76ºF this morning, with mostly cloudy skies. I imagine I’ll see quite a bit of sun today.
Since I was about 5 nm south of my intended course, I decided to turn northwest for about an hour. Then I will turn back southwest and decide the best wind angle to sail today.
I had a peaceful day of sailing. The wind was 10-15 knots, mostly closer to 10. As the day progressed, the clouds all but disappeared. It was 77ºF this afternoon. I did one more tack to the northwest in the afternoon and then returned to following the wind angle southwest. I’m not making as much distance over time now as compared to when I started. As of 5:15 PM, the previous 12 hours put less than 75 nm behind me. I have 430 nm to go.
At about 6:00 PM, I had a stable enough Internet connection to watch the live broadcast from Tesla factory in Fremont, CA. Tesla was delivering the first 30 production Model 3’s to their buyers. I have a model 3 reservation, but I don’t expect to see my Model 3 until the end of this year or the first of next year.
At a little before 7:00 PM, the wind was fairly steady at about 14 knots. I decided to change to heading hold on the auto-pilot and steer directly for Hilo. There’s no sense staying up and chasing the wind. I can do that in the morning. For now, I’ll just enjoy the gorgeous weather. The water is deep blue and there were no whitecaps today. Just a gently rolling sea. I know I’ll get another great night’s sleep tonight.
Day 11 – Saturday, July 29, 2017
I was up at a little before 5:00 AM this morning. There were lots of stars out still. Last night was calm and I slept well. My position check at 5:15 AM showed I traveled 80 nm in the past 12 hours. That leaves 353 nm to go. With the wind at only 10 knots this morning, it may be late Monday before I arrive in Hilo.
Today was a slow sailing day. The wind dropped under 10 knots occasionally, which didn’t help my speed any. About mid-afternoon, I turned northwest to get closer to my course line because direct to Hilo was yielding only a little over 5 knots.
At 5:10 PM, I had traveled 74 nm and was 280 nm from Hilo. I am really enjoying the calm conditions, but the last couple of days have been the slowest of my entire voyage.
I turned back southwest at about the time of my evening position report. I set the helm to keep the same wind angle because of the light wind. After sunset, the wind started to pick up a bit and I switched the helm to stay on course. I decided that would be the best setting for sailing tonight. I’m not expecting any stronger winds because light winds are forecast all the way to Hilo. It’s looking like 2 days to Hilo. At about 8:30 PM, I turned in for the night.
Day 12 – Sunday, July 30, 2017
I was up at about 4:30 AM this morning. The boat was cruising along at around 5.5 knots. The wind speed was only 11 knots. I can’t get over how calm it has been for the past few days. I briefly turned to the northwest, as I was south of my intended track by about 5 nm. After reviewing the wind forecast for the next day or so, I decided that the best route would be to approach Hilo from the southeast instead of northeast. That meant I could resume tacking southwest, so I made the turn back and figured I’d probably stay on that tack until I have the Big Island in sight.
At a little after 5:00 AM, I did my position check and found my 12-hour travel distance was again 74 nm. I have a little over 200 nm to Hilo. With the current and forecast winds, I expect I will arrive in Hilo late tomorrow afternoon. At a little before 6:00 AM, I watched a beautiful sunrise. I’m looking forward to Hilo, but I know I’ll miss the open ocean, once I arrive.
At 10:15 AM, it was still a beautiful day, except for the lack of wind. I’ve found that I have to keep changing my sailing angle to keep up my speed. The temperature is 77ºF, which is starting to get a little warm with the lack of wind. I just continue to inch my way toward Hilo.
This image is a drone shot of Tahiti Dream cruising along toward the island of Hawaii. At 1:00 PM, the wind was still on the light side. I’m hoping the wind might come up this evening.
At a little after 5:00 PM, my position report showed that I made slow progress today. I traveled less than 70 nm in 12 hours. This was probably my slowest day of the trip. The ocean is very calm and it is a comfortable air temperature. I am definitely feeling the anticipating of my arrival in Hilo. Only about 140 nm to go.
There was another beautiful sunset this evening. After sunset, there was a little bit of light from the half moon. Most of the afternoon, I chased the wind, tacked to port, then to starboard, then back again, trying to get a little more speed. The wind finally settled to more easterly, so that allowed me to set a static course north of my course track.
At about 7:30 PM, I did my final weather briefing for the night and decided on a course plan for overnight. The GPS reported that I would be 10 nm outside of the bay at Hilo in about 16 hours. I decided to steer a little more west, which resulted in a better wind angle. I adjusted the course line to match this new course and it added an additional 10 nm as an approach into the bay from the north. The wind had picked up a bit as well, so it appears I will arrive in Hilo sometime around 3:00 PM tomorrow.
After setting the auto-pilot on the new course, I turned in for the night. One last night sleeping at sea, at least for a while. Tomorrow, fresh vegetables and tropical fruit!
Day 13 – Monday, July 31, 2017
I was up at a little before 5:00 AM this morning. Happy birthday to me! It turned out that my arrival in Hilo will coincide with my birthday. That’s a pretty good birthday present.
When I checked the GPS map, it seemed like I hadn’t made very good progress during the night. I did my position check and found I had traveled 74 nm in the past 12 hours and I had only 67 nm to go. I really am almost there. As the surroundings started to get light, I looked forward to my first glimpse of the Big Island.
At 11:00 AM, I had 36 nm to go. The only problem was the wind speed dropped to 5-10 knots. At this speed, it will still take about 6 hours to get to Hilo. Around sunset, the wind speed is forecast to increase a bit. By that time, I hope to be anchored in Hilo Bay. Once I get my first sight of land, the time will go by faster.
Is it just me or is the last 50 nm the hardest? The wind hasn’t cooperated today. As of about 1:00 PM, I was still a little more than 25 nm out. I am on the lookout now for any sight of land. I imagine I won’t see anything until I get within 20 nm. The boat is averaging 4-6 knots. It is a beautiful day, although a bit warm at 79ºF.
At about 2:00 PM, things got exciting. I could just barely make out the clouds over the island of Hawaii. I had 21 nm to go.
Land ho! I spotted the Big Island at 2:42 PM with 19 nm to go. It is very slow going. The winds continue to be light. My estimated arrival is around 6:00 PM this evening.
At 5:30 PM, I was 10 nm from the planned anchorage. The wind is very light now, so it’ll likely be closer to 7:00 PM or 8:00 PM when I finally arrive. I would have preferred to be anchored earlier because I would like to be stopped before it gets dark. Considering my late arrival. I will probably stay on board tonight and then head into town in the morning.
It took longer than I expected to reach my anchorage. The farther I got into Hilo Bay, the lighter the winds. I finally dropped anchor adjacent to Coconut Island at 7:40 PM. Once I had all of my boat’s systems secured. I turned in for what I expected would be a good night’s sleep.