Final departure from Christmas Island on 23rd December found us in the same weather that has plagued the Line Islands and the Central Pacific Equatorial Waters for weeks. Plenty of NE winds and rain extending up to 6N latitude. We caught a short break for the first day with ESE winds mixed in the squalls and rain. We sailed close hauled to make easting and pushed through the squalls from NNE to ESE. Sails up, sails down in the calms and squalls. It rained hard enough we were able to fill the aft water tank catching buckets off the coach roof. And the winds maxed out at 25 knots instead of the 30 and 35 knot squalls we had on our first 2 departures. With another 12 tons of ballast in the forward cargo hold the forefoot held on much better. In light ship loading the bow blows off and we have up to 12 degrees of lee helm. This amount of rudder slows the ship and adds considerably to the leeway, which is just what we do not want. In rough conditions you can see the forefoot and 10-20′ of keel come out of the water and get blown sideways. Even a small amount of ballast has reduced the lee helm to about 8 degrees which makes a huge difference in speed and course made good. Lee helm will finally be addressed with the mizzen sail to be added to the next year. The marconi mizzen will be a big vertical wing aft keeping the helm balanced and sucking the ship to weather.
Finally on the second night out we crossed 5N out of the ITCZ and into the clear air of the NE trade winds. It was still blowing 25, but after setting the lower sails at midnight on Christmas Eve, Kwai took off for home. We had gained a degree of easting in the ITCZ and sheeted flat we could almost make the course to Honolulu. Christmas Day was in overcast but dry weather and Cook Jojo and Teitera, acting as Steward, produced a bountiful Christmas dinner with all the trimmings, followed by an entertaining round of Secret Santa. The nest day it piped up to 30 knots, but we could carry the 3 lower sails. For about 3 degrees of latitude we sailed across the Equatorial Counter Current, still active in El Nino conditions, and could fetch Honolulu. The wind eased back to a steady 20-25 and we started the sheets and have been on a close reach since then. With the breeze easing to 15 knots yesterday we sprouted the flying jib and topsail and have been running at 7-9 knots for the last 24 hours. GM is turning at 1500 revs, but we are burning only 30 liters or less than 4 liters a mile which is fine. Without a mizzen there is still no way to go upwind without the engine. When we have gone to neutral to reel in fish the speed drops to 4 knots. The fish lines have been hitting with mahimahi, wahoo and aku (skipjack) coming aboard. Should by some amazing chance we carry on a 6 knots in the light weather to come in the next 2 days we should reach Honolulu on New Year’s Eve. Great day to finish a busy Voyage 33 and the next day to begin another step in the continuing refit and prepare for Voyage 34.
Aloha, Captain Brad December 29, 2014 17N 157W