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Our last leg from Hawaii and home – only 3,000 nautical miles!
We reluctantly say our goodbyes to warm weather and Waikiki Beach just a 10 minute stroll from our slip at the Hawaii Yacht Club, Ali-Wai Harbour, Oahu.
What we had yet to learn was that this was going to be the most technically difficult leg of all our offshore passages.
The good news is that Karin had fortunately enlisted the services of Bob McDavitt in New Zealand to help us with our weather routing. Our communication was to “happen” through our SSB (single side-band) radio because Bob was in New Zealand, half a world away!
The bad news is that just two days north of Hilo, a huge wave sloshing through a port hole put both our onboard computers on the fritz. Within hours both had died. With no active computers on board we could no longer provide input to our single side band radio to transmit data. Any text in or out of the radio requires our Pactor Modem to translate our data into analog signal so that we can transmit and receive through our SSB radio. Some of you may remember the days of “dial-up” with its attendant “shhhhhhhtttxxx@#$%^&*shhhh”. No computers, no shhhhhhhtttxxx@#$%^&*shhhh! No longer were we able to download Predict-Wind files, grib files or weather data. We were able however to use the radio to make daily voice contact with the Pacific Seafarers Net, a great ham-radio operation stretching for thousnads of miles. Our Delorme Inreach device which communicates via satelite proved invaluable to send and receive short text messages from Bob at least once each day. It was such a great comfort to have somebody with all the resources of the Internet to give us a big picture perspective on weather patterns, storms, and highs and lows.
We got slightly freaked out because “Greg” was raging across from the east and had turned into a category four hurricane. We are fair weather sailors and the highest winds we had sustained so far on Mayaluga was only 60 knots. We literally cheered and toasted each other with a glass of wine when Bob assured us that this wicked storm system would quit moving west and veer north a few hundred miles away. It surely did ….. wow, what a relief!
Almost every day Bob would text us a revised coordinate and heading which of course required a course changes. His weather routing allowed us to avoid falling into “highs” where the wind is very low. We are a sailboat, wind keeps us moving, but not toooo much, so he also routed us around extreme low pressure systems, which were scattered for thousands of miles ahead of us on our homeward bound trajectory. As usual, our trusty Monitor wind vane steered us true and accurately relieving us of almost all helm duty. On the odd occasion, we did have to hand steer for up to an hour at a time when we were forced to endure rapidly changing high-wind conditions through some particularly ugly and vicious squalls.
Mayaluga performed like a champ, and at no time did we feel that the boat was overwhelmed.
Sometimes however we did feel overwhelmed personally, which is a natural reaction when one is tired due to lack of sleep and adequate rest. We settled into a routine six hours on and six hours off during daylight hours and three on and three off at night, sometimes stretching it up to four hours.
As our 23 day passage started drawing to a close we eagerly anticipated seeing land …. Oh Canada! Usually we see tell-tale signs of land 100 miles or closer, particulalrly during the last few hours as we close in. It was not to be as a very good dose of authentic West Coast weather socked us in with fog and drizzle.
Our GPS system placed us sailing down Juan de Fuca Strait, but no land to be seen anywhere. Visibility was reduced to a couple of hundred yards on occasion, and we had to switch on the radar to make sure that we did not tangle with any ships or fishing boats. Our very first sighting of land was Sheringham Point between Port Renfrew and Sooke. That amazing daybreaksighting made us feel as if we had already arrived at home! The favourable tide sluiced us through Race Channel and onward towards Victoria.
Finally, Ogden Point came into view and through our binoculars we caught sight of friends on the breakwater brandishing a welcome-home banner and balloons. They cheered and waved us into the harbour. What a fantastically memorable event! Jim and Anna McLaughlan and Richard Krieger standing there brought tears to our eyes and made our homecoming an amazing memory.
We doused the sails for the last time on this trip, turned on the diesel engine and steamed over to the customs dock. Re-entering Canada after visiting so many foreign places was a simple and courteous affair. What can one say? It’s Canada!
Within the hour We were snugly tied up at our home port, Hidden Harbour. This particular adventure was almost complete! During the next week we hired a small storage facility, bought an SUV, rented a small apartment, and Karin landed a job. Not just any job, but a great position with a sustainably conscious company, Maple Leaf Adventures. During this tumultuous time we did two short sailing trips with overnight stops on each. The first was to give 3 of our granddaughters a taste of what our adventure was all about. Well, sort of! The next couple of days we did the same with grandsons. What a treat to reconnect with family. One lesson that we have both learned while we were away, and feeling somewhat vulnerable, was that the only really important things in life are family, close friends, and each other.
Mayaluga will be undergoing a cosmetic refit and thorough cleanup once we have all our “stuff” moved out of cupboards, drawers, lockers, bins, closets, bilges and lazerettes. Gosh, loads and loads of “stuff”. Some we used, some is still where it was originally stowed at departure.
Thank you for following us on our blog through several dozen ports, anchorages and high-adventures!
We love you all …….
Tony and Karin, now back on dry land!