Report from VALIS, July 17 Noon

Greetings from Andrew, Daniel, Jim, and Paul:

Daily runs from the log of the VALIS:
July 15-16 Noon: 184 Nautical miles on the log (through the water), 154 NM via GPS (point-to-point over the ground).
Position at July 16 Noon was Lat 29deg 38min, Lon 131deg 122min.

July 16-17 Noon: 163 NM log, 144 NM GPS. Noon position July 17 was Lat 27deg 31min, Lon 132deg 40min.

On July 16 (Wednesday), we began to experience lighter winds, so we shook out all the reefs from our sails. Jim and Paul carried the heavy anchor from the bow and stowed in in an aft locker (as planned) since our anchor chain won’t reach the bottom out here (the depth is about 12,000 ft) and the lighter bow helps us sail better. The winds also began carrying us on a more westerly course, so we began adjusting sails to take us more south, where the winds are predicted to be more favorable. We are receiving daily weather information via email and traditional weatherfax, and it looks like our planned course remains a good one.

Today we also tried out the asymmetrical spinnaker, and had it pulling us at over 9 knots. Eventually, the wind picked up to where we decided to take the spinnaker down, since it was over-powering our Monitor windvane pilot, and we didn’t want to blow out this sail its first time out. Of course, soon after we struck the sail the wind dropped again. We ended the day running wing-and-wing with the jib poled out to port and the main set to starboard, with the wind coming from just to the port of our stern. This was a day of constant sail change.

We all got a bit sunburned today. The morning started out warm and overcast, and cleared up throughout the day. As the sun fell, the clouds came back, and we even got a very brief sprinkling of rain (just a few seconds worth).

Wednesday night’s dinner began with wine, salad, poached salmon and rice, with a dessert of peach and apple slices with Cheddar and Stilton cheese. All night we had light and variable winds and about 3 feet of swell from astern. It was hard for some of us to sleep (not for Jim though) as the main kept slatting all night long, shaking the boat every time it filled and re-filled.

July 17 (Thursday), the winds are steadier and we are maintaining our 200 deg magnetic course, running wing and wing with poled out jib under overcast skies. We are catching up on our sleep while we keep the boat headed for good winds. Somehow, Andrew has managed to receive breakfast in bed for three days running, so I guess that Daniel has been making the Starbucks run. Still trying to figure this one out… If we feel rested enough, we may try flying the spinnaker again. Or we may not. Our course is well south of the great-circle path to Hawaii.

We are heading for the tradewinds. Three terns payed us a visit this morning, circling around and looking like they wanted to land on on the boat. They would land on the water then return to chasing us. We got some videos — it will be interesting to see how they came out. These birds are white with black lines and beautiful long tails.

So far, no vessels sighted today. None on Wednesday, either. In fact, since leaving the Golden Gate, we have seen only one ship (a freighter, sighted by Paul), on July 14 at 1830 hours (6:30 PM PDT). We raised her on the VHF and they reported that they saw us visually and (we think?) she was able to see us on her radar. From our charts, we think she was on the Yokahama-to-Los Angeles run.

Love to everyone,
Andrew, Daniel, Jim, and Paul

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