Sarah Sarah – Last Day At Sea?

FPB 64 #2, Sarah Sarah, is within a day of putting finish to their passage. The crew must be relaxing as they have sent in a long report, which follows.

It’s been a week since our previous update, and we’re now only one day away from rounding Cape Flattery and entering the Stait of Juan de Fuca. We’ve already travelled 2200nm/2500 miles on this leg – our longest yet – and are thrilled to see the distance to our Duncan Light waypoint be a mere 226nm/260 miles.

A little less than three days out from Oahu, we encountered rougher weather and, following the advice of Rick Shema, our weather router, we made about a 90° left-hand turn to seek better conditions. After a 230nm/265-mile run to the northwest (and reversing our eastward progress by almost 60nm/70 miles), we were on track for better weather and resumed our course toward Cape Flattery. While it would seem that this adjustment might have added as much as a day to our journey, the improved weather imparted greater speed, and we eventually made up more than we had lost.

As we made our way north, we encountered much more commercial traffic, composed primarily of container ships apparently travelling from North America to Asia. Over the last four-and-a-half days we’ve encountered 12 vessels, some only detected on radar, others within sight. One ship, the “MSC Toronto”, was on a course that would have had it crossing our path less than one mile ahead. While that may not sound like a close call to a land-lubber, at sea that is too close for comfort. As they were approaching from our starboard (right-hand side), the “rules of the road” dictate that we were the give-way vessel. Because of this – not to mention the fact that the other vessel was something like one thousand times our size and mass – we turned about 45° to starboard to give them a wide berth after notifying them of our intent via radio. Incidentally, we took this opportunity to make our first DSC digital radio hail to their bridge using the unique MMSI number provided by their AIS transmitter (described in an earlier update). In theory, this means that only their radio (as opposed to those of any other vessels that might have been within range) should have alerted them to our request to communicate. Whether they received this alert or not, we can’t be sure, but we received no acknowledgement. After a couple of minutes we made a conventional radio call on VHF channel 16, to which they did respond. Not a very thrilling first-use of the Digital Selective Calling technology.

The air and sea temperatures have been dropping significantly over the past several days as we move farther north. This has resulted in our turning off air conditioning for the first time for any extended period since before our arrival at Niue in the South Pacific. Some of us have transitioned from shirt sleeves and shorts to long sleeves and full-length pants, and from sheets to blankets. We’ve even fired up the diesel heater on low, though we still frequently leave a hatch or door open for fresh air. With very light wind, the seas have become so gentle in the past day or two that today we removed the watertight covers from our deck-side cowl vents. A couple of days ago Brian took what will probably be the last outside shower of the trip on the aft-deck. This time he chose to add a little bit of warm water to the mix, however.

After many days without seeing any sea life, we were briefly joined yesterday by a small pod of dolphins who enjoyed leaping out of the water in pairs and dashing in-and-out of our bow wave. It turned out that this was a hint of things to come. Today we saw a large (~1.5m/~5-ft.) sunfish, lazily sunning at the surface (naturally!). We circled back and were able to shoot some brief video of it before it decided we were too close, and swam off at an unhurried pace. Back on our course, a short time later we spotted a large log near which we saw eight or nine more small (30cm/12-in.) sunfish. Less than two hours later we again spotted something large at the surface, but when we circled back thinking it might have been a whale, we saw only some circles of disturbed water and then a single dolphin or porpoise that leapt in the near distance. Unsure of whether something bigger lurked about, we continued our circuit and back onto our course.

We utilised our onboard sound system (though not the video system) on this leg more than previously, listening to some of the music library on Bill’s iPod Nano. A few days ago we also started a multi-disc audio presentation of J.R.R. Tolkien’s “The Hobbit” during daylight periods in which we were all awake. We concluded that classic yesterday.

On the dining side of things, Dave has continued in the traditions of Vonnie and John in preparing a number of excellent meals. He’s appreciated that Vonnie left planned menus, though he’s come up with some of his own as well. Two evenings ago, Dave and Brian even enjoyed A&W Root Beer floats. Today, while making use of the last, darkening banana, Brian created a banana split with some improvised toppings.

We’re now into our tenth day at sea, and have recently entered the stage of playing practical pranks on each other. Brian likes to keep timepieces accurate, and was recently flustered when, for the second time in a 24-hour period, he found the oven’s clock was grossly out-of-sync. He asked Bill and Dave if he was fighting someone on the clock, and they burst out in laughter! In response, Brian secretly placed three waypoints ahead at a distance that would cause them to be revealed sequentially on the plotter’s screen during a later watch; they were titled “BURMA” “SHAVE” and “CMPANY.”

Three days ago we received word that our former crew member, John, was planning to depart the next day in his own sail boat from Coos Bay, Oregon. We presume he is now on his way to Mexico, and wish him a safe journey.

—Crew of the M/V “Sarah-Sarah”
2010 Oct 16 22:50 UTC
46°03.6’N 129°04.2W

Rick Shema’s final forecast is next:

Hi Bill:

Received your position report via YOTREPS website.

1. Weather Summary as of 16 October 2010 1200Z.
Little change in weather pattern since yesterday. High pressure ridge is
over your route producing variable wind direction 10 kts or less. Wave
heights mostly Werly swell at 1.5m. Wind waves 0.5m or less.

Sky: Partly to mostly cloudy.

2. Route:
Continue on rhumbline course to Cape Flattery.

3. Forecast:
Distance made good from 15Oct00Z to 16Oct00Z is ~244nm for an average SOG of
10.2 kts. Will forecast 10.2 kt SOG until Cape Flattery.

Posted by Steve Dashew  (October 16, 2010)

One Response to “Sarah Sarah – Last Day At Sea?”

  1. Richard Soto Says:

    Today, around 11am PST, my wife spotted Sarah Sarah cruising northbound off Whidbey Island, WA. We live along Mutiny Bay on the Island’s westside and see all manner of craft including navy ships and subs work their way up and down the shipping lane. At first she thought it was a military patrol boat, but I’d heard from a friend that Sarah Sarah was in Seattle this week, so it makes sense that she would be seen heading up island to…Anacortes? We keep our Willard 40 trawler in Anacortes, and so look forward to seeing FPB #2 in port. We’ve followed your adventures in Wind Horse and the fasinating process of building and delivering these first FPB’s. Congratulations to the crew of Sarah Sarah, and welcome to the PNW!!