Pendana Departs Hawaii
The time has finally come. The planning, provisioning, checking, double checking, weather briefings, course routing, emergency procedures checked and tested and all aboard Pendana is about as good as it gets as we head out towards the Pacific North West (“PNW”) on an almost direct route north to Kodiak Alaska and towards a notorious piece of water called, the Gulf of Alaska!
2,225nm or 4,120klms is a hell of a long way with no land in between. It’s the same distance as going from London to Bagdad or New York to Ecuador – either way it’s a hell of a distance at 9.5kts at best!
Going to sea on a very small boat crystallises many things and focuses one’s mind like never before. After all, we are talking about human life ultimately, so to simply rely on the boat to get you there would be a foolish mistake as one needs to be prepared for all eventualities. Below are just a few examples of what can go wrong.
Main Engine Stops Working
Main Engine Stops Working and Duncan Drive (Hydraulic Get Home Drive) won’t work
Family Member Sustains Compound Fracture
Fire on Pendana Which Can’t Be Controlled
Pendana is Knocked Down and Doesn’t Right Itself
Pendana Hits a Shipping Container
These are just some of the many things that can go wrong and pretending they can’t, and or not thinking about it well in advance, could be a costly mistake. Forewarned is forearmed and the knowledge we all now have, together with the safety drills we do prior to going to sea just may make a difference if something were to happen. Again, the chances of any of this happening is remote, but one must always consider the consequences and have a clear plan in place to deal with all possible situations well before the need arises. More on safety and what Pendana’s plans are can be found HERE (use the drop down menu to navigate the safety section).
There are lots many small boats crossing oceans as we speak. I asked ‘Oscar The Brave’ to find the stats for me but instead, he preferred to spend his time looking for cheap flights to Alaska!
Recently, for example, Don and Sharry on MV Starr departed Hawaii for Seattle and then Andy and Julie on Infinity N62 departed Hawaii for Kiribati/Kiritimati. Both made their destinations without any drama which is great! Well, when I say without any drama that may not be 100% true as in both cases there was the odd issue. MV Starr had a wee leak in one of their port holes and were forced to do some makeshift repairs while underway and Infinity encountered, without doubt, the worst sea conditions they had ever experienced, 6m/20ft confused short period seas. Ouch! The reality though is that they both made their intended port of call!
Also, the charming Bob & Margie left yesterday for their run to San Diego which according to them may take up to 28 days. Makes our 12 days look like a walk in the park – mind you, we are talking about exactly the same distance hence, the reason we own a power boat and not a sail boat!
Right now, the mood on board Pendana is one of excitement with a few nerves thrown in for good measure. The nerves are there, simply because where we are headed, is a path not often travelled by small private motor boats but rather the domain of hulking cargo ships and large commercial fishing boats. Pendana and her crew are going to be tested and as such, we are as ready as we can be and fully prepared! I was reminded that we may in fact be the first privately owned powered vessel ever to make the crossing from Hawaii to Kodiak so a record may be in the offing!
It has to be said, we are sad to be leaving Hawaii as we have truly enjoyed the hospitality we have received, the people we have met and the sheer beauty of the Hawaiian Islands. To be able to spend time here has been truly a blessing and something that none of us will ever forget. Thank you to Branden, Randy and the Members for allowing us to stay at the wonderful Waikiki Yacht Club. We truly appreciate your kindness!
Joining us on this trip north is good friend Captain & rum distiller – Twisted Sun Rum, Joey Boothby. Joey will be a great help as we are able to split the watch cycles to four hours on, eight hours off allowing for enough rest for that just in case scenario and for once a positive sleep balance. Clear heads make good decisions and the opposite is also true. Joey is a great guy and what’s more, a marine guy, so he knows what is what and will be able to seriously help if anything were to go wrong with one of Pendana’s many systems.
Joey called a few months prior to departure and asked if his nephew, who wants to go to sea, could join us on the run north so without hesitation we agreed and as such, the new guy Chase Boothby is joining Pendana for the run north for the first time. Let’s hope he doesn’t get seasick!
Pendana herself is about as ready as she can be. She is fuelled to the gunwales, has fresh oil in all of her engines, she is looking as pretty as picture with a shiny coat of wax and has not even the slightest bit of growth on her hull. Everything on the foredeck is tied down and secured with triple lashings and the stores are stocked for the 2,200nms / 4,074klms that lie ahead. Her electronics are working perfectly, the passage plan done and even a float plan has been filed with US Coast Guard. The passage route itself has been entered into the Electronic Charting Software (“ECS”) and Pendana and her crew are now 100% ready for what lies ahead!
Our initial plan is to head for a trough within a high pressure system. For example, the North Pacific High which is a semi-permanent subtropical anticyclone located in the north-eastern portion of the Pacific Ocean, located northeast of Hawaii and west of California and would be a good place for us to be. It is strongest during the northern hemisphere summer and shifts towards the equator during the winter, when the Aleutian Low (boo-hiss) becomes more active. From there, we will take a direct route to Kodiak. That being said, however, we do have multiple back up plans in place if weather becomes an issue and could ultimately make landfall anywhere along the Pacific coastline, however unlikely.
For those interested in following our voyage LIVE and in real-time can follow us via the following LINK and by clicking on the word LIVE. This link will show you Pendana’s current position and once established on course will update every four hours.
Kodiak Alaska, as some may already know, is home to the US Coast Guard’s largest search and rescue base (I wonder why?) and while what these guys do is truly amazing my sincere hope is that we don’t get to meet them on the job!
For those non-Americans amongst us, I was surprised to learn that the U.S. Coast Guard (“USCG”) is one of the five armed forces of the United States and the only military organization within the Department of Homeland Security. Since 1790 the Coast Guard has safeguarded the Nation’s maritime interests and environment around the world. Not sure what I thought the USCG was but I truly didn’t realise these guys were part of the military – just goes to show, one never stops learning!
One of the most important aspects of a trip like this is the weather. I am pleased to say that we are blessed to have Rich Courtney, Maritimewx’s Chief Meteorologist working with us. Rick Courtney is to the “go to” man for all commercial weather routing services from the Bering Sea through to the Gulf of Alaska. As the US Navy’s main weather man for some twenty plus years and Kodiaks #1 weather forecaster for another twenty, there is simply no one better than Rich to help us through this piece of water. In fact, funnily enough, when I first contacted Rich he plain out told me, I couldn’t afford his services, he then said, “Do you promise to do what I tell you to do, when I tell you to do it”, to which I replied, “Yes”. He then went on to say, “Good, as people who don’t, end up dead”. Rich has kindly enough decided to take us on pro bono. Thank god is all I have to say!
For those with really good memories will remember The Great Siberian Sushi Run when three Nordhavns conquered the unthinkable and crossed the Bering Sea to Russia and onto Japan. Anyway, Ken & Roberta Williams from San Souci a Nordhavn 68 decided to take with them an experienced Bering Sea fisherman by the name of Bill Harrington. As the story has it, Bill only agreed to go on the trip so long as Rich Courtney did the weather forecasting. Speaks volumes!
As well as using Rich we also study a number of weather forecasts from Predict Wind to NOAA and we start looking at this information daily from about thirty days out so that we can get a feel for how the fronts move in this part of the world. Rich suggested that I start looking at this information back in March on a daily basis which I have been doing and I can tell you that there appears to be very few patterns to what is, clearly a complex area of the world from a forecasting point of view. All I can say is, thank God for Rich.
So what can we expect from the weather. The word is, we can expect a reasonably good run. Currently the Hawaiian trade winds have stopped blowing from the North East so rounding Oahu and heading north should be a fairly straight forward affair with ten seconds wave periods and seas of only 4-6 feet, well within our comfort requirements. As we head north we are expecting a potential course change to the west to ensure that any cold fronts that develop, (there are a few out there), Pendana will be well positioned to take the accompanying seas on the stern. We are expecting a few days of 12-15ft /3.5-4.5m seas but hoping these don’t eventuate. The bottom line is, this is a long trip and we will take the weather a day at a time and position Pendana accordingly.
Someone asked how we managed meal-times, on long trips, and, if in fact, we had sit down meals in the evenings etc. Huh! The truth is, no we do not!. In fact, it is basically everyman for himself, i.e. eat what you like, when you like. We have found that food and the subject of what to eat is so different for each person while underway we gave up long ago trying to have formal meals at sea. For example, when on land I must have my two strong coffees in the mornings and diet cokes during the day but when at sea, the smell of both makes me feel very sick. Now, if, and it’s a big if, the seas are super calm and we are all feeling great, and we have a positive sleep balance, then we will have a meal together but those who know us, and know this blog, will realise that calm seas and fair winds is a concept rarely shared with a Pendana voyage.
In closing, I do plan to update my Facebook page every few days and in fact, may even update daily since I have just upgraded my KVH Satellite plan and will update the blog at the half way mark. I am conscious of not wanting to overload folks with too much banter about this trip so apologies in advance if I overstep the mark. I promise to keep the updates factual and give you a sense of what life is like as we cross the last part of the Pacific Ocean. The good, the bad and the, well, the other!
So that’s all for now as there are a few minor last minute items to take care of, like returning the rental car we have had over the past nine months, before we set course for Kodiak, Alaska at 6:00am (local time) tomorrow morning. What is needed now is a good night’s sleep so that we are all prepared for what is to come over the next 10-14 days. I must confess, sleep the day before a big passage is something that I find very hard to achieve. A little like when I was an eleven year old boy on the night before Christmas – very similar emotions!
The next blog will be sent from sea at about the half way mark so for now, I will close by simply saying, we came to Hawaii as strangers but leave as friends! Mahalo nui loa nani Hawaii.