Saturday, June 5, 2010

Day Five - The Garbage Files

For all fans of marine debris studies, we have data. In the first 240 miles north of Oahu, we did not take waypoint coordinates, but during those several days we encountered one crab pot float, three gray plastic fishing ball floats (see photo), and something that looked like a urethane foam corn-on-the-cob; I speculate that it's a crab pot buoy that's lost its shell and has been battered for a while until it's just a nub of its former functional shape. Since then we have recorded three waypoints with the following inventory: WP1 - polyethylene 6-pack ring, styrofoam blob, larger styrofoam sheet (2 ft x 3 ft); WP2 - one crab pot float, three unidentified chunks of plastic, 2 blocks of styro (like a small stereo might be packed in), and a 20-foot piece of polypropylene line; and WP3 - one more small piece of unidentified trash. We haven't spotted Garbage Island yet, but we remain optimistic.

This morning, while sailing at about 3 knots in extremely light wind, we decided to try the spinnaker. So, we began the drill: furl the jib (speed dropped to 1.5 knots), attach the snatch blocks, hoist the spinnaker fence, run the guy and sheet, hoist and position the pole, and, finally, hoist the spinnaker. At first there was no discernible speed improvement, but gradually we picked up a tenth, then another tenth, and so on until we were up to about 4 knots. So, we are now sailing under spinnaker, and the average has climbed to about 5 knots, but we see the occasional 6 knot burst (see photo).

Ham radio wise, I have had some recent success, now that we are no longer motoring. Previously, with the engine running, the alternator created so much electrical noise that it was impossible to use the radio. But last night, while sailing with the motor off, I was able to reach Tom, W7ISU, one of the operators of the Pacific Seafarer's ham radio network, and he was able to contact my buddy Steve, N6TGM, in Santa Cruz. The way this works is that Tom, with his "million-dollar" radio, and 100-foot antenna tower, located on a 3300-foot mountaintop in the western Washington Cascades, can talk to anyone, anywhere, any time. That's why he is a "Net Control" operator, like a volunteer phone company. Both Steve and I have puny "thousand-dollar" radios, and we have puny 30-foot antennas, which are located a puny 12 feet above the water, 1700 miles apart. So there is absolutely no way that Steve and I could talk to each other directly under normal circumstances. And most sailors around the world are in the same boat, as it were, when trying to use ham radio to communicate with friends and family. We all depend on this "asymmetric" model in which dedicated ham radio volunteers like Tom spend a ton of time and money setting up professional grade shoreside radio stations so that people like us can communicate. Anyway, it was great to hear Tom's voice come booming in through the static and I could hear him calling Steve and repeating to him that we sailing in light wind and that all was well. If you're a ham and you want to listen in, we'll be on 14.300 at 1815 Hawaii Time.

As I write this, our position is N 29d 03.472, W 154d 01.417, course is 027T, and speed is about 5 knots. The sky is 95% clear, the winds are light from the southwest, and the water temperature is 82 degrees F. We saw our friendly albatross again today; that's at least three days in a row. I actually have video. I also have pictures of the crew taking (cold) saltwater showers. So far, I'm the only unwashed one, but then again, I was asleep during the great tarball cleanup exercise. Stay tuned.

BTW, I have just learned that our Pacific Cup start date has been moved from July 5th to July 6th. So if you are making plans to be in town for the start, you have been warned. See you there.

Remember, we look forward to your comments. Thanks to everyone who has written to us so far. ~~Chris

1 comment:

  1. Rick and Maria LuciaJune 5, 2010 at 3:38 PM

    Optimistic about Garbage Island?

    Anyway, Thanks for your blog today and the pictures. At the bottom of your blog there is a time stamp saying that it was posted at 3 09 PM, are you or the blog working off of California time now? What time are you keeping for daily activities aboard? Hawaii Time?

    Cheers, Rick and Maria Lucia