Surfing The Deep Blue Sea

I’m in the trade winds now and it is a steady flow of motion. Juniper is surfing down waves and it feels like she is in flight. They are long and gentle but fast rides, I’m seeing 8 knots sustained for over 5 minutes at time. That’s how long she is flying for on just one wave!

After all those days of moving like a dandelion seed, it is taking me a minute to settle back into the speed.

I only have one reef in the main and the Genoa is furled in a bit, but wishing I had two reefs on the main. Just for piece of mind.

I have been at the helm when a boat got knocked down three times in a row. It traumatized me a smidge. In that situation we were flying a spinnaker and it was a race boat, but still I have a little anxiety that this could happen. And it could, speed is something to be mindful of in heavier seas.

The sun rises later and later and later as I travel over the water. I waited for it to rise and then jibed. I am now sailing directly towards Hawaii.

I know I’m getting closer to the other side now, two nights ago my AIS alarm went off indicating that another ship and I were going to pass within 1 NM of each other. The ships name was Kawaoila. I tried to radio it several times, but no response. I believe it was a fishing vessel. It had the lights of luring fish that fisherman carry and it also put a flashing light in the water to mark something. I passed the flashing light only an arms-length away. It was eerie.

Then, I went back to sleep. I was on a port tack so I can’t sleep in the quarter Berth, because I needed to balance my weight on the high side of the boat. So I slept on the saloon settee across from the dinette table. I woke up as I was thrown in the air and slammed into the table. Books and memories from that side of the boat surrounded me. That is the power of a wave!

Normally there are lee cloths used on sleeping spaces, such as these, for this very reason. I did not have a chance to make some for my boat before leaving.

Between the engine and the unexpected nature of the sea, I have bruises everywhere. I also have patches of blood in areas that I don’t recall hitting or scraping. I look a lot like the fruits in my hanging baskets that are bruised and dripping their juices onto the floor. That’s me at sea, bruised and juicy.

Yesterday I worked on the engine and got caught with my pants down in a squall. Oh and it was a big one. And my windvane wasn’t balanced for it and I was running around with diesel everywhere trying to calm the ship in the storm.

I did something right in that windvane balancing act, because last night we went through four squalls and this time Juniper held her course like those squalls were to her advantage. Like they were just feeding her energy and she drank it all up and got intoxicated from the very heart of the squall.

Juniper and I are lovesick for our engine. I have been unsuccessful so far at releasing the air. It is a common issue with boats because the fuel tanks are usually below the waterline.

The other day I traced the fuel lines to see where the flow stopped. Fuel was not making it beyond the secondary fuel filter, so I replaced it, but then when I went to bleed it, as I did the day before, I broke the wing nut (is that what it’s called? It looks like a nut with wings, so I will call it that.) Now it will not prime or bleed.

I tried getting fuel to flow through it via the next bleed point on the fuel injector pump, but that bleed point has just been blowing air since I started this engine adventure.

I will continue to investigate more today. I’m going to try removing the hose that leads from the fuel filter to the fuel injector pump and see if I can get something flowing from that point

If anybody has any ideas I’m all ears via my mom as I can’t see the internet from the deep blue sea. It is a universal atomic 30 Diesel engine.

If I am unable to get the engine going I will have to shut down all systems. My solar panels aren’t enough to sustain a charge on the house batteries and simultaneously run the VHF and chart plotter. Today I will turn those off and see what the sun can provide for the batteries.

At night I will sail with only the VHF on in case another ship is crossing, but I will not have enough power to run my navigation lights.

When the sunsets I turn on my solar lantern and that is the only light my ship is able to provide. Once a day I will be able to check instruments and course. My compass does not take energy to run, so that will be my only guide besides the stars and the sun.

It also means that I won’t be able to write to you everyday. I will plan for every other day. I must conserve all portable devices that require a charge.

Wish me luck with releasing the air.

*If you are enjoying this journey please share my blog and encourage folks to sign up. I have been offered a potential sponsorship if numbers continue to grown. That would mean that I can take you on more adventures across the sea. X

19 Replies to “Surfing The Deep Blue Sea”

  1. After you left the Kona dock I looked over at your empty slip and felt some nostalgia…you were a favorite “nextboat” neighbor. Now you are on a great new chapter. Kudos for slipping the dock lines…to voyage. You were hardworking and determined in the preparation. You have met the challenges to reach the lat and long where are now, and you will continue to manage the situations that may arise. Be always careful.
    From myself and others, lots of good energy will be with you.

  2. You certainly are having your challenges but seem to be dealing with them with positive vibes. I would think your auto pilot is doing it’s job well thank goodness, at least you are now seeing other boats
    How far are you, guessing
    1000 plus miles out? Hope your day is a successful one
    With your engine repairs, and you have been eating.

  3. Praying for Juniper engine to figure out its purpose in life! I’ve sent your blog to several friends and they are riding the waves with you! David is obsessed. Just got your poetry book, TRIPS. Will enjoy more of your words tonight. Look out Hawaii…Here you come! Brynn

  4. I have complete faith you’ll get thru this engine issue. Take a big breath. It will be clear to you. Sounds like your wind vane is your copilot, Let the wind goddess guide you safely to your destination. Cant wait to hear your next episode.

  5. I received your email, i am responding on your blag as you requested. I think you need to return back to Kona and not be so vulnerable. If your asking for help 1 day into this trip you might take a few days sailing and get used to being at sea and use this as a test trip then return to assess and decide if this boat is sufficient in all its gear to make the journey. In storms or heavy weather just use a reefed jib and avoid a main that has too much sail area. Also a sea anchor will help hold your course in heavy seas as well. The Atomic 4 is simple, but it sounds like you may have an old worn out fuel injector pump and no fuel is being pulled. this is not anything you can repair at sea. SO first rule of Sea is to ADAPT to your environment, I pray you have a SEXTON and watch. Please take readings and start plotting your course. Next is to isolate your solar panels directly to a single battery or pair and leave a pair or single as emergency back up. Running with full electronics is wasteful and your course should be to avoid being in shipping lanes. You can raise your distress flag (all boats have an international flag set) also raise your Radar reflector so boats will see you and be aware you are limp mode. US Coast guard hawaii should be notified so they will send out an Alert to marine traffic in your area. Cargo ships often load disabled sailing vessels and at least take it to the port hey are heading to. Be careful wrenching sounds like your wind vane rudder is doing a good job holding course. wish you had a second mate with you. 23 days at sea with no electrics may be challenging but if your confident and adapt you will be ok. Not sure what to tell you other than safe journeys, most boats can handle going to weather, its the sailors that get jostled. If you have a 2 meter now is the time to use it and perhaps make a call that will align your priorities and get some feed back so you can make your decisions wisely. Good luck my friend

  6. Olivia,
    Good luck with the engine. I have told Richard and Ashley about your blog. I saw references to the trip via your mom’s posts on FB but I started following your trip after Jay Brainard mentioned it at the “old man’s coffee group”. It has been fascinating following your adventure. I will encourage my colleagues at work to sign up. Hopefully I can help get your numbers up.

  7. Glad to read you’ve made it to the Trade Winds. Sorry to read about your engine. I’m sure you’ll make the right decisions – trust yourself and make sure to keep at least 1 charged battery just in case.

  8. You are so resourceful. Keep following your instincts- you are a creature of the sea. Be part of it, but stay in control. Lots of well wishes, good vibes and prayers are cheering you through this journey!

  9. Don’t know what to suggest on engine. Sounds like you’re doing all the right things in eliminating air leak possibilities. Don’t be afraid to bypass the Racor and use only the filter on the engine. Also you may want to take down your bimini as you’d be surprised how much it shadows your solar panels. If they don’t have direct sun they don’t produce. Great to hear the joy and grit come through your blog.


    No running lights and limited navigation aids sounds like a recipe for big trouble, plus the approaches to Hawaii’s safe harbors are notoriously tricky, so to attempt them without motor assist alone on a vessel of your size would be a challenge, to say the least. Good luck!

  11. Justin sent me this today and I had no idea you were doing what so few people have done before you!

    Mary, this is so exciting, thrilling and terrifying and I’m sure many other emotions I’ve never witnessed to the degree you are!

    I will keep up with you and have your safe trip in my prayers!!
    I admire you tremendously for taking such an adventure!!!

    God bless you, dear
    God speed
    Lisa Trimble

  12. To Dick: RE: Coordinates. Thank you. She’s almost halfway there!!! God bless her! Will you be meeting in Hawaii?

  13. No engine, no problem. I have no advice other than keep breathing and embrace the suck, as they say in the military. You’ve got this!

  14. I am enjoying following your big adventure, and equally fretting for your parents! I imagine you are learning a great deal about yourself during these weeks, and once this journey has ended, I’ll be interested in your reflections.
    Susan Davis

Leave a Reply

%d bloggers like this: