North Pacific Crossing, Week 2 Update

We spent this week sailing a more easterly course, trying to get clear of a pressure trough that developed about 100 miles north of us near the dateline. The weather forecasters out of Honolulu were warning that there could be “isolated, moderate thunderstorms” within 180 miles of the trough, but our weather was fine, just the normal nightly rainsqualls, most of them passing in front or behind us without a raindrop on our deck. The trough was nearly stationary where it was, and after a couple of days we figured we’d gotten far enough away from the worst of it and started sailing a more northeasterly course.

We crossed the Tropic of Cancer (at 23°27′ north) Wednesday morning, then crossed the dateline Thursday morning (which made it again Wednesday morning for us). On Thursday, as we were nearing the boundary of the Northwestern Hawaiian Islands Marine National Monument (wherein lies Midway Island), we sent in our “notice of uninterrupted passage” as required, letting them know of our passage through the monument boundaries and our intended course, which had us passing about 35 miles west of Midway Island.

That evening at sunset while we were eating dinner in the cockpit, we noticed a great huge anvil shaped cloud on the eastern horizon. Wow, we said, look at that thing! Glad we’re not going over there! Well…little did we know that that thing was heading our way. By midnight we were doing our best to dodge bands of squalls as lightning lit up the sky a few miles distant. There wasn’t too much wind in the squalls but lots of rain. In between, the wind was fluky, so we turned on the engine and left Fritz the autopilot to do its work while we watched from relative safety down below. For a while we heard no thunder from the lightning, which we took to be a good thing. But around 3 AM we were totally surrounded by a lightning squall. We counted the Mississippis between each flash and the rumble. Then came one silent flash, and everything went dark. K hurried over to the instrument panel to reset the switches, and thankfully most of our instruments and equipment came back on. But the autopilot was no longer responding, and our radar was questionable, so we made the decision to head to Midway to see if they’d let us stop for repairs and to check our rig.

The next morning as we approached the island we were very happy to see that it showed up on our radar screen. When we called, we were doubly relieved when the Midway National Wildlife Refuge responded – meaning our VHF radio still worked – and said that they would allow us to come into the harbor and tie to their dock as we made repairs. Since one of the channel markers was out of position they even sent someone out to escort us in.

So here we are safely tied to a dock as we work to get ready to continue our journey home. The folks here have been super friendly and supportive, and we’re extremely grateful. It looks like K will be able to get all our important systems functional again and we’ll be ready to go in a couple of days.

28°12.85’N 177°21.79’W 11-Jul-11 05:52 UTC

3 Responses to “North Pacific Crossing, Week 2 Update”

  1. Melinda says:

    Wow – so glad to hear that you are both okay and that Midway is being supportive. Making a lamb and chickpea soup tonight (the weather here actually merits it) and thinking of you.

  2. It was nice to meet you guys! I’m sorry I missed checking our your boat last night! Have a safe journey!

  3. Gloria and Michael says:

    Hey guys- happy to hear that you were so close to Midday-can only imagine the feeling of no electronics on a crossing. We celebrated your 4th in Roche Harbour and are now back aboard in Fiji heading up to the Yasawas next. Enjoy your homeward bound stretch, safe sailing.