Dick and Gail Barnes have been delivery of their Nordhavn 50, hull number 22, Ice Dancer, last year in Dana Point, California. Recently retired, the Anchorage, AK residents delved into long-range cruising after several years of boating in smaller, faster models. Since February 2003, Ice Dancer has logged 10,655 nautical miles. The Barnes left Dana Point and cruised to the Sea of Cortez. In the Sprint, they did the spring Baja Bash back to California, then along the west coast, Inside Passage and across the Gulf of Alaska to Seward. They explored the Kodiak Island group and Prince William Sound. At Summer's end, they ran back across the Gulf of Alaska, then gunkholed around Southeast Alaska. By October, they had made their way back through Canada and down the west coast to Southern California. After a haul-out for inspection and fresh bottom paint, and a check on a few electronics gremlins, the couple docked in Dana Point where Nordhavn's expert commissioning crew completed details needed for their Pacific Ocean crossing to Hawaii. In early November, the adventurous duo and their boat embarked on the 2,400-mile journey , non-stop from San Diego to Hawaii. Through e-mail accounts, they've been kind enough to let us join them.
You can count on excitement at sea What you can't count on is how it will show up. We left San Diego Monday morning in our Nordhavn 50 with our Anchorage, AK friends, Jim and Laurie, bound for Hawaii. In the afternoon, Navy jet attack fighters decided to use us for a mock target while practicing strafing runs. The first pass was a jolt, but after that it was just our private air show.
Around dinner time, our next bit of excitement struck. While changing fuel tanks, some debris apparently came loose that severely blocked fuel to the main engine filter manifold. We worked to 1:30 a.m. before resolving the problem. In the meantime, we ran primarily on our auxiliary, wing engine.
The boat is heavily loaded with fuel, equipment and supplies. To achieve our fuel range, we are running at whatever speed produces two nautical miles per gallon, or better. We are achieving that economy at 5 to 6 knots, depending on sea conditions. We expect speed to increase as the trip proceeds. Every two hours we run engine speed higher for five minutes, to prevent carbon build up.
Rather than a direct route to Hawaii, we made our first waypoint at the 60-mile bank, for a little fishing. From there we are running more southerly than the direct route, until we hit 29N 122W. We are hoping to obtain weather and current advantages with this route.
This morning produced a large, albacore tuna. We will be enjoying sushi and grilled tuna steaks for a while, but other than the corpulent tuna, Tuesday has been a refreshingly routine day.
30 59N 119 33W @ 4:30 p.m. PST
In two hours we will arrive at 29N 122W and change course directly for Koko Head, on the Island of Oahu. Our initial course was more southerly than necessary, trying to find advantageous weather and seas. So far, our strategy has worked well. We are about 140 nm south of the great circle route, at the same latitude as Guadalupe Island, Mexico. Seas have progressively moved from off the starboard bow to the aft quarter, providing an easy ride. The color of water has become a brighter blue each day.
We continue to adjust our speed to maintain two nautical miles per gallon. All boat systems are
A large pod of dolphins apparently mistook us for a SeaWorld talent scout boat, this afternoon. Their airborne tricks were like show biz.
The only ship we saw today was a Chinese crude oil tanker that crossed less than a mile astern.
Life aboard has fallen into cyclical routines that pass the day. With two couples aboard, we begin formal watches at four in the afternoon. Jim and Laurie take the 4 to 8 and midnight to 4 shifts. Gail and I take 8 to midnight and 4 to 8 a.m. Each of us take two hour watches with the spouse resting on the pilot-house bunk. This way, a second person is always at hand to help deal with situations that come up. We run DVD movies on one of the consol computer screens to help pass time. Daytime sharing of watches is less formal.
We are meeting our fuel management goal by adjusting engine speed to maintain two nautical miles per gallon. So far, we have averaged 2.03 nm/g. We started with approximately 1,435 gallons of fuel on board and the total trip length is about 2,400 nm. Following our plan gives us a cushion of nearly 20% of total fuel remaining at the end of the trip. If we encounter adverse seas, we can use fuel from our reserve stock.
Every two hours, we run engine speed up to 1,700 rpm for five minutes. This increases exhaust temperature from 450 to 850 degrees and that burns out any carbon accumulated in the turbocharger or cylinders. Exhaust color has remained very clear.
Every two days we turn on the wing engine and stop the main to check lube oil levels in the engine and transmission. So far, we are burning very little oil.
Every evening we run the 16 kw generator for one to three hours, depending on chores that need to be done. That includes cooking, the dishwasher, washer/dryer and making water. Gail's electronically controlled sewing machine doesn't like the modified sine wave electricity from our inverter, which changes 12 volt d.c. battery power into 120 volt a.c. So, from time to time we operate the generator for her. We make fresh water from sea water every time the generator runs. It is a Filtration Concepts 1,000 gallon per day unit, provided by Long Beach Marine. It produces flawless water. We chose a high capacity unit so that it could provide all the water we need during the short periods that the generator is on for other requirements. It uses a one horsepower and a three horsepower electric motor to pressurize seawater across the reverse osmosis membranes. We keep our 300 gallon water storage tanks topped off, so if we have a watermaker failure, we have enough stored to meet basic needs for the remainder of the trip.
On Thursday, we traveled 161 miles, compared to 139 on Wednesday. Calm seas and a suspected current push helped us along. We saw one ship yesterday, a container ship on the opposite course.
We have fair skies and mild seas. All systems are working well on this great boat. Sushi and steaks from the albacore tuna have been grand.
28 07.6N 126 13.5W @11:20 a.m. PST
November 9, 2003
Seas returned to favorable conditions Saturday following squalls and rough seas that began Friday evening. We could see convection cells forming in the afternoon, but they were never dense enough to show up on satellite photos. Other than being bounced around a little, the only downside was having to slow down to maintain our fuel efficiency goals.
We are receiving very high quality weather faxes and satellite photos throughout the day from San Francisco and Hawaii stations. An Icom single sideband radio provides the signal and a WeatherFax program accumulates the images on our main computer system. Long Beach Marine Electronics designed and installed the system for us. We also listen to high seas broadcasts by the weather service and get reports from brother Steve Barnes in San Diego.
We have been catching mahi-mahi (dorado) along the way. The fish are very tasty, but not as big as we have seen in Mexico. Water temperature is up to 71 degrees.
27 20.8N 130 09.1W @ midnight PST
November 10, 2003
Beam seas with 20-30 knot winds the past two days give new meaning to hanging on. But, our Nordhavn 50 just keeps on going. Large swells from storms far to the north roll by without much bother, but wind waves from closer weather systems make seas messy. The value of our hydraulic-powered stabilizers cannot be overstated. We have a Koopnautic stabilizer system that was designed and installed by brother John Barnes. System components were oversized. Perhaps he anticipated that we would be using this sturdy boat for the purpose it was designed--to travel these great oceans.
Since February, we have logged 10,500 miles on the Pacific Ocean. This is day eight and we are about half way from San Diego to Ko Olina Marina, on the Island of Oahu. Fuel use is on plan and all systems are go. Maybe tomorrow, seas will calm down enough to put a fishing line back in the water.
26 15.8N 135 08.0W @ 10:30 PST 11/10/03
November 12, 2003
We had two visitors on-board "Ice Dancer" Tuesday, but no ship sightings. In the morning, a weary songbird landed on a handcart lashed to the boat deck. It was just outside the aft pilot house window resting its tired little wings for nearly two hours. It then took off across the bow, abruptly turned southeast and sped away. We hope it finds another place to rest.
On Jim and Laurie's night shift, a large flying fish smacked into the starboard, curved glass window, ending its soaring career. Point of impact was about 10 feet off the water.
Gail is hand smocking a baby dress, Laurie is knitting socks. I guess Jim and I are just keeping the boat on track (actually the job of the autopilot).
Seas finally backed off enough this morning to put out a fishing line. We hooked three mahi-mahis. None was of much size, so they were liberated back to the sea. We still have a fillet in the refrigerator from one caught earlier.
All systems are working well and fuel use is on plan. We now have following seas, following 20 knot winds and an occasional large swell that hits us abeam. The boat's motion is quite comfortable.
25 23.8N 139 05.8W @ 11:30 a.m. PST 11/11/03
Nov. 13, 2003
Wednesday and Thursday brought us the heavenly trade winds. Seas are following and only four to six feet high. The 15 knot following winds feel wonderful. With our current speed over ground of seven knots, the apparent wind is only eight knots and it is 75 degrees. For all of you who wished us fair winds and following seas, please keep it up for another six days!
Perhaps we moved out of the mahi-mahi nursery, as Skip Price called it. We caught three nice-sized fish this morning. They are being vacuum packed and are headed for the freezer.
We fired up the auxiliary wing engine this morning and shut down the main for an oil and filter change. Our Reverso oil change pump handled the chore well, including draining 25 quarts of 185 degree lube oil. Some people cringe at shutting down a perfectly good-running engine at sea, for any reason. Clean oil and clean fuel are necessary for diesel reliability, so we were not going to push our luck by waiting until the end of the trip for an oil change. Jim repaired the pressure switch on our salt water washdown pump. It seems he was getting tired of cleaning up fish blood with a bucket and rope.
We saw two freighters and another resting songbird since yesterday. Skies are mostly clear with some wispy clouds, tonight. It is a wonderful place to be cruising along.
24 36.7N 142 39.8W @ 7 p.m. PST 11/13/03 885 nm from Ko Olina Marina, Oahu, Hawaii
November 15, 2003
It was too rough to fish today. Winds have been 20-30 knots, gusting to 38 and 12 to 14 foot following seas, about as Jim Leishman of PAE (Nordhavn) predicted in an e-mail message. We are cruising along in comfort, but it would be too bouncy to stop to pull a fish on board.
We have been very conservative with our fuel use. This is such a long crossing that we didn't want to take any chances of running short. Fuel levels in our main tanks dropped to where we can read levels directly from the sight gauges. At 4 p.m. Saturday, we had 730 gallons of fuel remaining and approximately 570 nm to Ko Olina Marina. We traveled the first 1,796 nm from San Diego on 700 gallons, which is 2.57 nm/g. Indicated range would be 3,669 nm, or perhaps more considering that the boat gains performance as weight of fuel is burned off.
Today, we had widely scattered clouds, 75 degree air temperature and 76.5 degree ocean temperature. We saw flocks of flying fish but no visiting ships or birds.
23 19.9N 148 25.5W @ 6 p.m. PST 11//15/03
November 17, 2003
Stormy weather of the past few days has abated. We are back to 15 knot winds and six- to eight-foot seas. Temperatures are warming as we slide closer to the islands. Ocean water is 78.9 degrees and air 81 degrees this afternoon. Skies are mostly clear with scattered clouds. It is really nice.
We are 215 nm from Koko Head, Oahu at 4:30 PST. Coordinates are 22 05.3N 153.58.1W. It looks like we will pass Koko Head, about 25 miles from Ko Olina Marina, late on Tuesday or early on Wednesday.
Fishing lines were back in the water this morning, thanks to calmer seas. We have three more mahi-mahi headed for the freezer, with some set aside for fresh sashimi.
Regular communication on board has been with satellite-based e-mail service. Long Beach Marine Electronics installed an Iridium satellite phone, modem and software for the main computer. Service provider is Stratosnet. The satellite link is slow, in terms of the information super highway, but it works well for text messages and phone conversations. We do not try to cruise the internet or move photos. It is a reliable link and available most of the time. We had difficulty getting a signal at times when traveling among the mountains of Southeast Alaska and Canada's inside passage. On this crossing, it has been flawless.
We have communicated by ham radio with several stations while on this trip. But, sun spot eruptions and other vagaries of the amateur radio bands made it hard to count on getting information this way.
Weather faxes have been available at most times from San Francisco and Honolulu high-frequency radio stations. It has been useful to anticipate what would be happening to our sea conditions. The weather faxes accumulate as documents on our main computer and can be reviewed, as needed.
Ship sightings have picked up and we expect more as we approach Hawaii.
November 18, 2003
At 6 p.m. PST on Tuesday we anchored at Kalaupapa, Molokai, Hawaii. It was Jim's idea to find an anchorage that we could reach before dark. Our other choice was to cruise past Diamond Head and Waikiki Beach in the dark. We couldn't allow that to happen.
Kalaupapa is behind a lava spit on Molokai's north shore. The well-scrubbed village is accessible by small airplanes, beach-landed boats and mule back. Dominant cliffs preclude road construction. Missionary presence is presumed to continue influence on the community. The largest structure is a church and a very large cross rises behind town. At one time, islanders with Hansen's disease (leprosy) were exiled to this coast.
This anchorage is not a nice, tight cove, but more of an open roadstead. Tonight, we are trying out the "flopper stopper" contraption that Dan Streech's son Trevor made for us. So far, it seams to be working well.
After 15 days at sea, this will be our first night without standing watch. We will probably awake in the night, just by habit.
Weather report is rain squalls, 77 degree air temperature and 79 degree ocean. Fish today included a small, big-eye tuna and a wahoo.
Wednesday morning we will haul anchor and head for our slip at Ko Olina. We are looking forward to passing landmarks only seen by us from the beach.
21 11.3N 156 59.3W
November 20, 2003
At 2 p.m. on Wednesday afternoon, we passed the landmark Royal Hawaiian Hotel on Waikiki Beach and by 4 p.m. we were tied up at Ko Olina Marina.
We crossed the Kaiwi Channel between Molokai and Oahu as a cold front passed through. Seas were a consistent 18 to 20 feet and winds 25 to 35 knots. Several sets of 25-foot waves passed on the beam, making life interesting. By increasing speed up to 10 knots and adjusting course a little, we found a good niche to complete the channel crossing. Large freighters were the only other boats we saw in the channel.
We may have avoided some of the weather by continuing across on Tuesday night. However, having a good night's rest at anchor off Molokai was enjoyed by all on board.
Jim Leishman and Steve Barnes warned us about the coming storm, so we knew what to expect.
We arrived at Ko Olina with 470 gallons of fuel remaining after nearly 16 days and 2,377 nautical miles at sea. We had enough fuel on board for another 1,175 miles. Overall fuel use was 2.48 nautical miles per gallon. The crossing demonstrated that our Nordhavn 50 had enough range to run from California to the Marquesas Islands and enough power to run at higher speeds when it was safer and more comfortable. It is a great boat.
Jim and Laurie fly back to Anchorage on Saturday. We plan to follow soon thereafter and return in January to begin cruising around the Hawaiian Islands.
Thanks for joining us for our continuing adventures.
Dick and Gail Barnes
Aboard Ice Dancer