Todays menu: Rudderfish
June 22, 2008
We’re beginning to feel wind coming from the north. We can sail 90 degrees off of the wind and head west, just in time to hopefully scoot around Guadalupe Island 65 miles away. South from there we enter the tradewinds, where wind and currents are more predictable.
We’ve made the most of these last four days of sunny stagnation. Joel found a short circuit in the electronics. I made three more mini-pontoons and placed them under the raft. But yesterday morning we awoke to a fresh sight, FISH!
By noon three were flopping on deck. Joel whipped up a mean curry with coconut milk. I strung up a filet for drying. I’m sending a photo of the fish we caught. Can anyone tell us what it is? We’re calling it a Rudder Fish. Later in the day we spied two Flying Fish hanging out below, and a large mackerel darting at the sardine-like schools that mill about.
Joel and I are getting along well. We’ve settled into a pattern of sleep offset by 6 hours. He stays awake late, and I get up early. It works well so far. It’s now 8am so he’s sleeping and I’m typing. The sails are full, with wind on our beam. We’re heading southwest at the moment. Till next time.
A Visit from the Coast Guard
FRIDAY, JUNE 20, 2008
An update from JUNK: winds are just barely whispering, giving our sailors time to entertain visitors as they drift - including a very intrigued Coast Guard plane.
Some Northwest winds are expected to pick up in the next few days....music to our ears.
We left Los Angeles three weeks ago. We’re 300 miles away...2000 to go. At this moment our primary concern is clearing Guadalupe Island, 100 miles directly in front of us, due south, the direction of our drift. If we had wind we would sail west, but no wind and sunny skies makes for a slow paradise. Nothing to do...nowhere to go.
We dove under JUNK to inspect last week’s placement of mini-pontoons. All seems well – some expected shifting, and a host of new passengers. A school of palm-length fish hovered below me while I added two more pontoons, tied knots and cut loose ends. Topside, Joel repaired the stove. Later that day we had visitors.
Curious critters have paid their visits. First a fur seal swam by, indigenous to Guadalupe Island, they can venture 100 miles from land to hunt, or check out JUNK.
Two black-footed albatross gently swam for hours behind us. Every time we came close to the rail, they’d approach, stare and appear to be waiting for us to do something.
Nothing to do...nowhere to go.
Then the Coast Guard showed up.
The U. S. Coast Guard, flying low in a C-130, circled us several times, each time banking in tighter circles.
“Uhh, sailing vessel this is Coast Guard aircraft circling above you, over,” our radio cackled.
“This is JUNK,” I responded. Joel and I wore grins from ear to ear.
“We’ve never quite seen anything like your vessel. What’s it made of?” they asked. We gave them the laundry list of materials: Cessna 310 fuselage, 15,000 plastic bottles, 20 sailboat masts, and 5000 plastic bags woven into rope.
“Do you guys have a website or something?” another voice inquired. After a few moments of polite introductions, the Coast Guard began asking the standard questions for any vessel, about life jackets, radios, sail plans, emergency equipment.
“Before we go do you guys need anything?” they asked.
“How about a weather report?” I replied. Far south from where we are is the breeding ground for tropical storms. They rarely come our way to warmer waters, but sometimes a hurricane will bend toward Hawaii. They came back with no information worth worrying about. We should have asked for a pizza.
They bid us good luck, fair winds and following seas. Before circling one more time, they gave us a phone number to call in case of an emergency. Like 911 for the high seas. Soon our last visitor for the day was gone.
The moon rises, the sails hang like curtains, the sea is gentle. We hope for wind.
Video from JUNK: Ships log #2
WEDNESDAY, JUNE 18, 2008
Our second video from JUNK. Marcus explains how they spot other boats, which "sometimes sneak up on you...."
Collision with an ocean liner ranks high on a list of boaters' worst nightmares. To avoid this, Ships carry an AIS receiver (Automatic Identification System)-- mandatory safety equipment that allows ships to communicate their location.
Marcus also tells us how JUNK's configuration helps ward off seasickness. A fantastic feature for our two sailors....
MONDAY, JUNE 16, 2008
June 16, day 16
We’ve cleared Bishop Rock, a subsurface mountain 100 miles west of Tijuana, Mexico, that barely reaches the surface. There’s one shipwreck there already. We don’t want to be the next. We snuck around it by a mile at 4:00am without much affair. Now we’re on to Guadalupe Island, 190 miles away.
“So, what’s our speed?” I ask Joel. He’s keen to check coarse and bearing every so often to measure progress.
“2 knots!” he exclaims. We’re making roughly 30 miles per day, which is better than expected considering the current and wind are not in agreement. The wind has been consistently coming out of the west, 90 degrees on our starboard beam
In 1958 DeVere Baker and crew of three rafted across the Pacific aboard the Lehi IV in an attempt to show that Mormons could migrate across oceans, and were likely the original settlers of Polynesia. Though his theories didn’t win praise, he proved that the California/Hawaii route could be made on a long float. Don McFarland was one of the crew. He found us online and came to bid us farewell on June 1st.
“We had to deploy our pilot chute to avoid hitting Guadalupe Island,” he said, adding, “and bring an extra harpoon.” They fished, collected rainwater, and sat for 69 days to get from Redondo Beach to Hawaii. We hope we make it sooner.
From here it’s 650 miles south to get to the latitude of Honolulu, and 2000 miles on longitude. As a crow flies it 2100 miles. We can’t help going south. The current and wind have decided that. Our goal is to make the most of our sails. We keep beating west, hoping to make the curve into the tradewinds.
Then, with the wind at our stern, we should make good time.