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Final Approach

October 20, 2011

Day 22

Local Noon Position (1157):
By GPS: 19.29.66N by 152.39.23W
By Sextant: 19.30.5N by 153.38.0W

Course: 290 degrees true
Speed: 4.3 knots
Wind: 10 – 11 E
Sea: 1 – 3 feet NE
Sky: 50% occluded. Lots of lovely cumulus, a few are raining. Bar: 1013
Temp: 78 degrees

Since last noon: 102
Total for passage: 2493
Daily average: 119
Miles to Hilo: 61


It’s been a day of domesticity.

I bathed before breakfast in five gallons of fresh water, figuring that we are close enough now that I can afford to be lavish. Murre carries around 70 gallons of water, and we have yet to get to the bottom of the main, 40 gallon tank, so the five gallons I wasted on freshening up probably won’t cost us.

For breakfast I made a kind of hashbrown omelet with the last of the purple Raiatea potatoes, the last of the eggs, and other leftovers thrown in for good luck. When I grabbed for the potatoes three red and black cucumber-type beetles fell out of the hammock where they have, apparently, been swinging with the spuds and my almost untouched collection of onions these last 2400 miles. One was dead, two alive. The dead one is taped into the log for later investigation and the other two stouthearts went over the side. Unfair you cry–they having come so far with so little complaint. I admit to hesitating, they were attractive and amiable, but I had just the previous hour read Hawaii’s reentry regulations for singlehanders on small boats returning from strange lands, and red and black cucumber-type beetles from French Polynesia are not extended visas under any circumstances.

All this time the wind held at a modest but acceptable 10 knots; Molly kept her cool and her course. I took a morning sun shot and also shot the waning moon and spent an hour getting the day’s sights in order. This sun/moon shot gave a fix only out by six miles, which is improvement if not vast improvement. The ghostly galleon is a toughie.

Noticed a single jet contrail in the sky at 1100. No jet.

My estimations regarding when Mauna Kea’s summit would become visible were wildly wrong. It wasn’t until 1300 that I spied a long, low, hazy black mark about two fingers above the horizon just one point off port, and an hour later it was back in cloud. The chart plotter said the mountain was 100 miles away at the time. No island has been visible the rest of the day.

In the afternoon I moved the anchor back to its spot on the bow and rigged the chain; I replaced the cushions in the forepeak and moved all the sail bags out of the main cabin, where they have luxuriated in my sleeping berth since the second day of the passage. I even took a bleachy sponge to the mould growing on the main cabin ceiling.

At 1430 it occurred to me that I might get weather on the VHF radio again. In the states, automated, mechanical voices broadcast marine weather on ten different channels 24/7. One voice is made to sound male, the low, precise monotone of a man who hasn’t had a date in years and has given up. The other is female. She has an allergy problem that makes her difficult to understand, and she sounds terribly board of weather. Neither voice extended more than ten miles below San Diego as we cruised toward Mexico a year ago, and I haven’t had the pleasure of their company since. But today weather channel one was working. My two friends haven’t changed a bit.

I learned from them that an earthquake occurred not far from our location this afternoon. A small one. No Tsunami is immanent, but it does explain the extra bounce in Murre’s gait around that time.

I swept the floorboards and stowed books and cleaned out the garbage bin (tossing over the side any biodegradable items). I undid the lashing that holds the captain’s seat down and restowed the buckets that perpetually live under the wheel when we’re under way. I even brought in the fishing line, trailing five days now without a bite; and no wonder–there was no lure. Bit clean off on some previous day.

And with that I think we’re almost ready for our landfall.

Murre is on final approach. With Hilo bearing 280 degrees true at 54 miles off, we should make harbor by dawn. Ladies and Gentlemen, the captain has turned on the fasten seat belt sign. Please return to your seats.


One Comment
  1. Bruce permalink
    October 20, 2011 5:38 pm

    Please lock overhead compartments, as contents may have shifted during flight.

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