Night Watch – Nerves, Random Songs, and the Moon

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I’ve rounded Cape Flattery a total of three times now, and each time it makes me nervous.  The last time Turnagain went around this notorious cape (on our way to Astoria for the Oregon Offshore race), five out of seven experienced sailors were puking, which is saying a lot.  The seas always seem to kick up as you approach Neah Bay, and by the time you get around the cape, there’s a random mix of tidal current, wind waves, and ocean swells that is enough to make anyone’s stomach churn.  And something about leaving the ‘relatively’ protected coastal waters into the big big BIG Pacific ups the nerve factor, and the potential for sea sickness.

So we picked the most benign weather window possible, but were naturally still a bit apprehensive about ‘turning the corner’.   Surprisingly, the Gravol we gave the kids worked perfectly (or perhaps they weren’t going to feel sick anyway).  The sun set as we rounded the corner and pointed South.   Sylvia stayed up to watch the sun set and the stars appear, then we tucked them into bed and they slept soundly all night.

Travis and I had our first taste of trading on/off every 4 hours or so overnight.  I think I stayed awake on sheer nerves!  I’m no stranger to the world of the overnight shift, but doing it solo is a new experience.  In my work world (the animal ER), 4am is around the time that people get either really tired, or really silly.  Usually silly (from the tired).  On the rare occasion that the animals are stable and the incoming patients slow down, 4am is when the costumes come out, or when the next ‘skit’ is planned, or when someone decides to build a skateboard park for our resident Bearded Dragon ‘David’.   The silly helps you stay awake and alert.   Without the ‘silly’, I passed my shift staring at the horizon for ships, watching the chart plotter, and digging obscure tunes out of my itunes library that I hadn’t listened to in over 20 years (a little 1991 Sarah McLachlan anyone?).   This is what happens when you have time on your hands…

My only excitement of the night was when a GIANT light appeared out of nowhere from behind us!  Assuming it was a fast moving ship, I jumped up to check the chart plotter and stare at the light, trying to figure out what was going on. Moments later, I realized it was just the moon, lol.  I wish I could have captured it on camera (or my reaction to it), but the moon was a deep red colour as it rose over the horizon, and GIANT.  Crisis averted.

To make a long story short, we made it to Astoria.  Super uneventful crossing of the Columbia River Bar and the kids enjoyed seeing all the pelicans. If you’ve never heard about ‘the Bar’ (aka ‘The Graveyard of the Pacific’), you should look it up….  Astoria was the usual repeating sequence of coffee, trolley, brew pub, walk, coffee, trolley, brew pub, walk, with a little Maritime Museum thrown in to stir things up.   Astoria never disappoints…if only we could take Fort George Brewery and their delicious ‘Optimist’ with us South!

Yesterday Sylvia asked (in a very chipper and excited but contemplative voice) ‘Why are we doing this big trip anyway??’.  I replied ‘for fun, and adventure, and so that we can have lots of time together’.  Her response?  ‘Oh yeah, that TOTALLY makes sense.  I was just checking🙂’.

 

 

Victoria – Bugs, Mammoths, and ‘Bread Crumbs’

Victoria – Mammoths, Bugs, and ‘Bread Crumbs’

After tucking ourselves away on Saltspring for the first night (a much needed night to decompress after our farewell party), we motored down to Victoria and spent several days moored in the inner harbour.   The kids had never been to Victoria (or as Sylvia called it for the longest time, ‘Cotoria’), so we did all the obligatory tourist things.

The Mammoth exhibit at the Royal BC Museum was awesome.  Did you know they have an actual intact baby wooly mammoth named ‘Lyuba’?  She was perfectly preserved when she presumably drowned in the mud and the surrounding mud bacteria secreted acid that pickled her.  She was subsequently frozen in the permafrost and stumbled upon by a Serbian Reindeer Herder 40,000 years later!  She is very cute!

The Bug Zoo is also a must-see.  The kids and I joined the ‘tour’ so we could get the details on each bug.  We noticed that the guide was only talking about every 2nd bug.  Sylvia looked bit nervous (she doesn’t like to miss ANYTHING and has major FOMO (fear-of-missing-out) when it comes to museums and such).  We finished the tour and Travis came to pick up Callum who had reached his touring limit.  Sylvia and I thought we’d casually catch up on the bugs we missed, then Sylvia realized the tour was starting again, featuring all the bugs we’d missed!  SCORE!!  Haha J.  Highlights included the Olive Flat Rock Scorpion that fluoresces under UV light (Callum’s fav), and the leaf-cutter ant colony.  The ant colony was later re-enacted by Sylvia as a ‘lammy’ colony.  For those of you who know Sylvia, ‘lammy’ is a favourite stuffy and the ‘lammy’ colony was as intricate as you might imagine….

It is worth noting that we have a new pet on board!  Just kidding…..  But we do have something alive that requires intensive care.  May I introduce you to ‘Bread Crumbs’?  We had a joyous (as always) dinner with our friends Dave and Lindsay and their two kids who are the same age as Sylvia and Callum.  Lindsay blessed us with a sourdough starter to take with us, and informed us that if we were going to keep it alive, it would require a name.  So we named it ‘Bread Crumbs’.  We are happy to report that ‘Bread Crumbs’ is alive and well, but we’ve had some major drama in the ‘starter’ department.   First we almost killed it in the fridge.  After trying to resuscitate it, we tried to make bread with the almost-killed starter and it didn’t really rise.  We baked it anyway, and it was surprisingly delicious, if not perhaps a bit flat….although we weren’t sure what to expect anyway.  After warming up the starter and feeding it diligently, it still seemed dead.  We weren’t sure if we should break the bad news to Lindsay or not.  However, Travis found a magical warm spot under the oven and voila!  It’s DEFINITELY alive again and now we just have to figure out how to keep it that way!  Lindsay, of course, made it sound easy…

We left Victoria on Tuesday morning, and after hoisting our USA flag and a short pit-stop in Port Angeles (where we cleared customs with one of the friendliest agents we’ve encountered), we picked up our serviced life raft from Mike who was SO generous to drive it up from Tacoma for us!  After a quick coffee break we headed back out into Juan de Fuca, bound for Astoria.

Up Next – Around Cape Flattery and SOUTH!

 

 

It is Time…

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This post could have easily been titled ‘Courage’.  In Sylvia’s words, ‘Courage’ is leaving your friends behind, knowing there are new friends around the corner, and that your amazing friends will always be your friends and you will take them with you wherever you go.

We could have also titled this post ‘Generosity’.  In the past few weeks and months we’ve been blessed by family who have loaned us cars, welcomed us back into their homes as we prepared the boat, and looked after Sylvia and Callum  while we tried to put this plan in action.  My sister Laura is QUITE proud to boast that she’s not the latest ‘swine daughter’ to live at home!  Some of our closest friends celebrated with us at our last minute send-off party with cards, gifts, and bottles of wine…rum…vodka (you name it!).  We initially thought we’d slip away in the dead of night, but it was so wonderful to spend a night with all the people we love, even if it did make it THAT much harder to leave!  So many friends and family have offered to help us in various ways, whether figuring out the logistics of shipping parts to faraway lands, joining us on a leg of the journey, or offering to help take care of our house.  We can’t say enough thanks.

Or we could have titled this post ‘Going Sailing is Like Having a Baby’.  If  you’ve ever been pregnant, you will remember that you don’t have much control over a lot of things…  The baby will arrive when it’s ready, and we will leave when we are ready.   You probably don’t need as much gear as you think you need (substitute stroller for dive compressor, hammocks for cribs, paddleboards for car seats).  And ultimately, anticipating a baby is not unlike anticipating a giant sailing trip….there are nerves (can we do this?), doubts (we probably shouldn’t do this), excitement (let’s do this!), and impatience (let’s do this now!) all rolled into one.

In the end (beginning?) here we go.  I’m a sucker for quotes, so here is one to live by:

“The size of your dreams must always exceed your current capacity to achieve them. If your dreams do not scare you, they are not big enough.”
― Ellen Johnson Sirleaf

Up next (and very soon): Victoria and Astoria!

These pics are leaving West Van and en route to Victoria

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Vic-Maui 2016: Reflections by VERN :)

The following was written by Vern Burkhardt as Turnagain approached Maui in this year’s race.  We thought we’d share this here…thank you Vern!   Vern turned 70 years young on this year’s race and is an inspiration to us all🙂

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The last few hundred miles, over 1,000 to be specific, has caused each of us to reflect on many aspects of our lives and life in general.
Why do we keep doing these offshore passages? Of course there is no single answer that would apply to all. There is the fantastic sailing—at least it was on this trip, or should we say voyage, until we lost our quadrant.

There are the challenges and they are numerous. Basic hygiene.. Getting sufficient sleep and avoiding cumulative fatigue. Missing sleep in one off watch can be a problem that takes days to overcome since falling asleep however temporary while standing and driving the boat can have consequences. None of these will be good. Also, fatigue causes the enjoyment to cease rather rapidly no matter how wonderful the sailing.

The vastness of the Pacific Ocean is hard to describe. We sail day after day after day and there is still more water all about. It is a spectac experience—a bit spiritual even for the non religious. Perhaps it is better described as awe inspiring. How small we are on the large planet Earth. And how small earth is in our galaxy and the indescribably vast universe.

So we ask, why do people, nations, cultures, and ethnic groups still engage in warfare? Why suicide bombing? Why are groups of people enemies in one era and friends and allies in another? Why can’t we just get along and be friends and let peaceful people enjoy peace?

But I digress. Another challenge is the constant motion of the yacht. The combination of wind waves and swell, which are most often not going in the same direction, creates an unpredictable motion. And when below decks it can catch one unawares. Don’t get caught leaning forward tying your shoes when the yacht motion will topple you onto your head—which could be after a fall of a considerable distance. Crew don’t need alcoholic beverages to appear they have had one too many!

In the Safety at Sea seminars we talk about there being a culture related to safety on each boat. It is a challenge to maintain a safety culture as a way of moving, interacting, sailing, and responding to emergencies. Most importantly not causing a safety problem by forgetting to wear one’s Personal Flotation Device whenever on deck AND with the crotch/thigh strap fastened plus tethering to the boat when going forward or when on deck at night. A misstep could result in a MOB which would likely have a bad ending. One of the best examples of the culture of safety on Turnagain was the incident of the quadrant breaking. While doing a rather panicked spinnaker takedown one of the crew lost balance and was pinned against the lifelines. Without hesitation the skipper and navigator who were closest said, “crew first” and focused on rescuing the crew member even though the spinnaker was flying aft of centre held only by clue and halyard. Safety at sea at work as an integral culture.  It saves lives and reduces injury.

Perhaps the biggest challenge is a crew which gets along well. Sense of humour, caring approach, attention to detail, focus, concern about the welfare of the other crew, and a strong sense of a safety at sea approach are but a few elements of a great crew. Sailing skills are a given. Skipper Travis very much understood the requirements when he put together this crew. This may be my first offshore race and delivery where not one word was spoken in anger or frustration directed at a fellow crew member. And there has been no lingering feeling of angst about anything other than our infrequent issues such as the quadrant and inability to sail a spinnaker with Auto(helm) doing the steering for he past 1,000 miles.

The positives are numerous. Fresh caught fish. Unique combinations of food prepared under adverse cooking conditions. Great sailing even when confined to only using mainsail and Genoa. Super crew as mentioned earlier. Albatros visits. Visits by other types of marine birds—sparse enough to be a novelty. Flying fish. Winds from the squalls. Beautiful blue ocean. Some days not seeing another vessel even on AIS which can sight a freighter for up to 100 nautical miles. An incredible skipper, skilled as a sailor, human relations expert, mechanic, logistics manager, chef, organizer, medical first aid expert, and all round nice guy. In control but with tact and diplomacy, plus knowledge of when to assert decision making for the good of the cause. An excellent Person In Charge, as is needed offshore. And I guess inshore as well. Moon lit nights while other times total darkness with an absence of the moon or heavy overcast sky.

Why do we keep coming back to what some might consider a hostile environment. It is more than because it is here,. It is more than to cross an ocean. It likely is different for each individual who has experienced the night seas. For me it is for the incredible sailing, winds that can blow around the clock for days, the navigational challenges to go fast but in safe winds (and stay in the winds), experiencing the unknown, needing to respond to problems where help is not at hand, being within an indescribable vastness of space and water, being able to sail in one direction generally speaking for days indeed weeks on end, and perhaps mostly to challenge myself to not just become locked into a routine way of life. Routine is fine but one does need a bit of chaos and unpredictability once in a while to feel really alive.

So ultimately why do we do this crazy thing called the Vic Maui Race and Maui Vic delivery? It’s because we like a bit of an extreme experience once in a while. An acceptable level of risk for a unique adventure few are privileged to experience. Besides, one could be killed by a stray ball playing golf back home so perhaps this offshore sailing isn’t so risky and crazy after all.

And That’s a Wrap

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Our Last Night Offshore and the Arrival (14 days and 23 hours)
Well, WE MADE IT!!!!!!!!!!! We arrived at the customs dock in Victoria around 1130am Hawaii time, 230pm BC time on Wednesday, August 17th. The first steps on land felt quite strange and even after a night on land in Victoria, it still seemed rocky into the next morning. But before we get into all of that… Let’s rewind to our last night aboard Turnagain.

Tuesday evening the wind and waves began to build going into the night, as forecasted. After making soup for lunch (worst idea, ever….lets make soup on the last day when it’s meant to be the biggest wind and seas for weeks they said…it’ll be fun they said….) and avoiding being scalded with boiling water, we decided to hold off on cooking our last dinner of pasta until things calmed down. By 430pm, the wind had picked up to 25 knots, with gusts up to 30 knots. The swells were quite large and rather close together. Travis warned of the high possibility of at least one wave coming into the cockpit over the night, and everyone was dressed in full foulies and clipped in to ensure they stayed “dry” and on the boat. Staying dry out there meant at least attempting to keep the salt water off your skin by donning as many layers as possible without overheating (this wasn’t a problem – it was FREEZING) and by ensuring your outer layer was fully zipped and functional.

The wind began to build even more and the swells threatened to toss Turnagain around wildly as we slammed through the waves and surfed down the troughs. Those off watch attempted sleep below, but with the boat heeled over and things flying around, it never really came. I was laying in my bunk on the low side when I felt us get slammed and the leeward side of the boat get sucked under by a wave. By the way the medical kit came flying and attempting to stop myself from rolling up over the leecloth, I knew those on deck must have been standing in water higher than knee deep. As we slowly became more vertical than horizontal, I knew it was going to be a long night. At least I was dry. For now.

Travis drove Turnagain all night through the wind and waves and kept us moving forward when it was too difficult for anyone else to even hang on let alone keep the boat pointed in the right direction. She wanted to round up badly and seemed to have quite the temper when we attempted to keep her at 60 degrees. The wind began to unzip pieces of canvas off the biminey top and with a great deal of teamwork we were able to get the piece unzipped and stored below without loosing it overboard. Without this piece, the entire thing shook violently and seemed like it was just going to be ripped clean off the boat. The Canadian flag began to do its snapping show again, as it did when we were leaving 14 nights ago. Funny how the first night and the last night were the most wild.

By midnight, the gusts of 30+ knots and crashing and confused seas began to calm down and the fog rolled in. After a lovely warm meal of pasta, within an hour, the seas were calm and the wind was nonexistent. It was an eerie and strange feeling to have to turn on the engine in order to get anywhere after what we’d just come through. For the past 14 and a half days we’d been at the mercy of the ocean, conforming to what it required and demanded of us. But finally, it seemed to realize that we needed to get warm, dry and needed a break. It must have known we were almost done with it, about to enter the Strait of Juan de Fuca, about to be home.

The smell of land became very apparent before heading down off of shift, and the air seemed to be full with the smell of trees, much like a Christmas tree lot in winter. The earth smelt pungent and the appreciation of our beautiful continent became existent again. It really was there! We weren’t just sailing into the great wide open anymore, we were almost coastal rather than offshore or on the ocean. Shortly after our watch ended and we fell asleep finally, Chris called “land ho” at 3:07am. First sighting of land in two weeks, gave a feeling of warmth but also uncertainty amongst the crew. What had happened since we’d been gone? Did the world just keep going? Was the wheel still turning and we’d just stepped off of it? The feelings we all experienced over the next 8 hours were a mixed bag of emotions.

In the early hours, some crew were treated to a wonderful show of orcas and humpback whales breaching. Morning came and although those who were meant to be off watch attempted sleep, everyone was too pumped to even rest. Slowly but surely, the multiple layers began to come off as we began to feel the heat coming off the land. You guys sure have been lucky! It’s so sunny and warm here!!!! As we motored down the strait and the fog lifted, the land became more clear and we saw people (people other than us!) for the first time in weeks as they fished off of their little powerboats. The colour change of the water was very noticeable and rather weird. I don’t think any of us will be able to appreciate the colour of the water here anymore after spending weeks in the brightest and purest blue ocean most of us have ever seen.

As we began to see the city come into view and the cell service came back, the music was cranked (not that it ever wasn’t…) and videos and pictures were taken as the crew sent texts and made calls to loved ones. As we cruised past the infamous Race Rocks and Victoria got bigger, it felt even more real. We were home. Coming in past the breakwater, waving to people on land, we were greeted by the flower display saying “Welcome to Victoria”. We reached the customs dock and all took a quick step on land while Travis made a call to get us cleared through customs. Devin instantly spoke pirate to some guys on a boat there waiting and we all knew the next few hours were going to be a lot of fun. After being cleared through customs, we headed for our spot at the causeway docks. Battle flags flying, we pulled into the dock and were greeted by some friends. Thanks for being there for the arrival – it was nice to see some familiar faces.

Turnagain quickly was tied up and drinks flowing, we began to clean and scrub a month of salt off of her. A lot of cheering and hugs were had by all and over the next few hours we were only told once by the dock boys to turn the music down. Once the boats around us realized what we’d just done, everyone seemed rather friendly and eager to chat. Our Americans (Arthur, Mike and Devin) caught the last ferry to Port Angeles and Dave took the last floatplane to the mainland. This left myself (Tonya), Travis and Chris, along with some friends to tear up the town for the night. The next morning, we set off to deliver Turnagain back to the Sunshine Coast. With an overnight stop last night in Kendrick near Gabriola pass, we set sail this morning to cross the Salish Sea. As we approach the coast, I currently have an uneasy feeling in my stomach of it all coming to an end.

It’s been one hell of a ride, some of the greatest feelings and sailing ever experienced for all of us. The wind and waves, marine life, magnificent sunrises and sunsets, never ending open ocean, delicious food and mad crazy crew love are just some of the things that made this journey the most incredible thing to ever be accomplished. Huge shoutout and thank you to Turnagain and Travis for getting us all home safely. You’ve accomplished something even greater than another ocean crossing, you’ve shown us what it truly means to become a crew of people brought together as one to accomplish something only most people dream about. I believe that most of us will return to cross more oceans and for this alone, we are all eternally grateful. The highest standards of safety and sailing put forth on this journey have shown us that things like this really are possible. All you have to do is want it.

Signing off for now, thanks for reading.

Turnagain is readying for a trip to Mexico and beyond in September. Be sure to follow along here as the adventures continue!

#tesmsail and Team Turnagain

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Honolulu

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Oahu, leaving the fuel dock

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Victoria

Fog, Swells, and the Pacific High – Days 12-14

Fog group

Well folks, we finally reached what’s been talked about since we started the trip – the ever present, dreaded at times, looked forward to at others – Northern Pacific High. The high is a high pressure region that brings low winds and relatively calm seas at its center… for us anyways. It’s bringing all of you landlubber’s typical sunny weather by pushing the lows above it. We’re sitting in dense fog throughout the night, overcast skies throughout the day and were motoring through it at 7.5 knots for over 38 hours. This seems like a long time, but from what we can tell – it’s a great improvement from the 2014 return trip.

We’re headed pretty well directly east and although we could have technically been sailing, we’d be going so slow that we could probably swim faster. We’ve decided to power through it and then get the backside with decent wind and be that much closer to home.

Saturday and Sunday involved a lot of sitting around, some cleaning and a pair of delicious dinners that included Cheesy Chicken, peppers and rice and a Thai Red Curry. Sunday was the usual, reggae Sunday, Cards Against Humanity and a tournament of Tic Tac Toe broke out. We began to prepare the cabin for the switch in heel – for the past 12 days we’ve been sailing on a starboard tack, meaning the wind is coming across the right hand side of the boat first, causing us to heel to the left.

By the time Monday rolled around, everything and everyone had gotten used to this tack and let me tell you, the switch was talked about and looked forward to…. Until we were able to get out of the High a day ago and now we’re on a Port tack, leaning starboard. Things have come flying off of shelves, cooking is completely insane and trying to stand up makes us look like a bunch of wobbley legged elephants on beach balls at a circus. Your body gets used to corrected movements quite easily and after constantly leaning one way for such a long period of time and then a sudden switch, it seems like it doesn’t know what to do.

While battling “the switch”, we continued to sail towards home, crossing lines of longitude quicker than lines of latitude and making good paces with another Vic-Maui return boat, Red Sheila, just west of us. The crew continued to dine on scrumptious food, such as chicken breasts stuffed with pineapple sausage, peppers and Gouda. We even got Arthur to make us more pannakoeken!! We’re running out of Nutella though so, good thing home is almost on the horizon!!! We’ve dubbed Turnagain as the vessel whose course over ground is not quite as good as the course on the table.

Today (Tuesday) marks day 14 on our journey home. We (allegedly) just saw a Fin Whale in the distance and were just followed by some Pacific white sided dolphins. The albatross are beginning to leave us, which is actually quite sad. These majestic birds have been a most welcomed highlight of the journey and to see them go is rather bittersweet. They soar above the crests of the waves and glide down the swells using sheer power and wind speed for momentum, never flapping their wings. Watching them is more than breathtaking and we all know that over the past 2645 nautical miles, they’ve guided us and followed us home, nothing less than perfect.

As of now, the swells are beginning to grow and the wind is really filling in. We are likely to see huge waves and big winds tonight, for our last night aboard Turnagain. The predictions are in and the arrival list to the Customs dock in Victoria is as follows: (Wednesday, Hawaiian time…..)
Tonya – 3:36pm
Mike – 4:22pm
Dave – 5:23pm
Arthur – 6:37pm
Devin – 6:46pm
Chris – 6:36pm

We are all excited to come home, but I know for most of us the feeling of arrival and ending this journey is becoming difficult. We’ve become a rather close knit little group on a ginormous open ocean with no sights of land or no other voices to hear other than our own over the past 14 days. It’s a world in which no one unless they’ve done it could ever understand and a world that is so removed from our regular world that at times it feels like it’s not even real. We’ve had a blast out here and it’s been a life changing adventure for all, we’re excited to see our loved ones and very excited for our arrival in Victoria. Look out, here we come!!!!

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Mike

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Dave

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Chris

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Devin

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Travis

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Tonya

 

Meteors and Phosphorescence – Days 10/11

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Meteor Shower, and Dolphins with Phosphorescence.  Illustrated meteor courtesy of Sylvia🙂

Thursday night gave us a fantastic evening of sailing with winds high enough to keep us moving at speeds of 8 knots throughout the night but also a very light feeling helm. As the wind pushed us along from our starboard aft quarter, Turnagain joyfully surfed down the waves while allowing whoever was at the helm to maintain their balance and not get too much of an arm and shoulder workout. Depending on the direction of the wind and swells, sometimes it’s a good thing we have our own gym and trainers on board because it certainly is a lot of work keeping this vessel on the proper track. She wants to round up or down and will always come back to where she needs to be but getting her there too quickly or too slowly could result in either an accidental gybe or heading back down towards California. Sounds like a good time but at this point it would seem to be silly as we’ve been making so much progress.

While about to switch off at the helm on our watch, Mike spotted dolphins off our starboard side which were illuminated in the dark of the night and the dark seas by nothing other than phosphorescent. We quickly realized that there were dozens of them off our bow and we rushed forward staying clipped in along the jackline’s to keep us on the boat. Jackline’s are a length of spectra webbing much like a seatbelt type material that run along each side of the boat from bow to stern that the crew can clip their harnesses onto when moving forward in rougher seas. Sitting on the bow watching the dolphins light up the water with their movements and playful motions was nothing short of spectacular. Devin and I (Tonya) sat there hands and feet over the side and luckily were both able to touch a dolphin as they exited the water which was better than I could have ever imagined. We also learned that they respond well to whistling – as they seemed to veer away from the boat Devin would whistle and without fail, they would return, every time. The response to this action was incredible to watch and proves just how smart they actually really are.

The evening continued to amaze the crew as we spent the late night shifts stargazing at the meteor shower which was ever so present in the skies above us. Right now, Turnagain is sailing with a Bimini top up over her cockpit to keep us out of the sun and rain (somewhat…), but for this spectacular event we unzipped a portion of the canvas. The two crew who were not driving at the time would lay on either side of the benches in the cockpit gazing up at the breathtaking show high in the sky. In one half hour driving shift, one crew member stopped counting at 74. The occasional one would shoot across a quarter of the sky and explode, lighting up the entire night with a bright flash. The experience was surreal and everyone agreed that it was truly out of this world. How lucky are we, reallllyyy???! The morning shift came on exactly as we were at 145 degrees west and 44 degrees north. The coordinates and crossing lines of latitude and longitude have become somewhat of an obsession for some of the crew and it was pretty cool to see us directly in the middle of this point.

Friday came and went quickly with the notable moments being the seas beginning to get rough again and having to take down the spinnaker due to being too overpowered at times. We decided not to blow a hole in the spin as we’ve done pretty good on this trip so far at not breaking things (knock on wood please!!!) The swell was up from behind us and it was noted that the water that ended up coming off of the crest of the swell looked much like the colour of blue freezies and crystals (things are starting to get a little descriptive about everything out here at this point). The seas seem to be confused and it feels as though we are stuck in a giant washing machine with no way out. When the wind picks up it’s like the spin cycle and all along we’re the size of a quarter being tossed around without a hope except for it to finish… and trust me, it’s not about to. Our weather forecast tells us that we’re going to have some rough seas and big winds for our last few days out here, winds at around 30 knots and thus far we’ve been at least 5 knots over what they have forecasted each time. The general rule is that the forecasts can be up to 40% larger and wave heights can double. Bring it on, cause the only way out is forward.

Friday night we feasted on a delicious ginger and broccoli beef noodle stirfry, which was thoroughly enjoyed by all. It seems that each meal on Turnagain gets better and better. One thing Travis does well (among many others) is provisioning the boat. We’ve been eating like kings and a queen out here on the open ocean and it’s pretty awesome. The middle of the night was a cold one and at this point it’s one of those decisions everyone is making – to save the merino wool and long john layers for further north or don them now? It’s starting to get too cold to even think about showering and I feel as though within the next few days, things are going to start getting pretty stinky around here. Sorry in advance for those greeting us in Victoria – please bring loonies for the pay showers! (for real though…)

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Another thing to note is how early the sun is coming up out here – it’s been getting light by 4am and no, we’re not going crazy… we’re just still on Hawaii time and will be until we dock at customs in Victoria. This morning (Saturday) we rose to a delicious smell coming from the galley, Arthur the Pirate was up to his old Dutch tricks and made us pannekoeken (crepes) for breakfast, with options of Nutella and Strawberry jam for filling. Scrumptious!!! Pretty awesome way to wake up for a 6 hour morning shift!

The morning continues with the washing machine seas, no sunshine and 8.5 knots of boat speed making our way East North East approximately 720 nautical miles from Victoria. We spent the morning making a predictions list/game which involves guessing our day and time of arrival and other fun predictions that can be carried out once we reach land, such as the first person to talk about the ocean to a stranger and first person to talk like a pirate in public. I already am beginning to feel bad for the service staff and public at whatever establishment we start at.

We want to send out two shout out’s to two very important people in two of our crews lives – first off to Holly, Mike’s wife, who celebrated their anniversary on August 11th. Mike misses you dearly and wished he could have been there with you but promises to make it up to you upon his arrival home in Gig Harbour, Washington. Secondly, to Heather, Tonya’s mom, who celebrates her birthday on August 14th. I love and miss you so much Mom, can’t wait to see you when we get Turnagain back home to the Sunshine Coast. Xoxo

It’s time to sign off for now, as Travis is serving up boatmade pizza three ways: bbq chicken, salami and prosciutto with various delicious toppings. Note the rum rolling pin.

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