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Thread: Sailing an Ariel to Hawaii and back

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  1. #1
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    Thumbs up Sailing an Ariel to Hawaii and back

    for those who wanted to know this was done back in 1985 at the young age of 27.I just wanted to know what it was like beyond the horizon.It was a long hard struggle at the time,everyone thought I would be back in 3 days.I wasnt to return for 3 months,and nearly 6000 miles.when I returned,those people couldnt look me in the face.when they saw me coming they would turn the other way.I was not the same person I was when I left.It was truly a life changing event for me.it answered every question I had ...about what its like out there.it was done the right way.celestial nav,,monitor vane,there was no gps at that time.the boat performed very well.so long ago ,yet I remember every wave.nevermind the boat.its you,your desires that makes the difference.you really have to have the desire to do it.and I came across very hard times,everyone told me to sell the boat.but I had "stick-to-it-iveness"and I prevailed.from ventura california,to hilo,2300 miles, 22 days,the way there was double handed.at the last minute a friend of a friend showed up.since it was my first such trip like this I figured I shouldnt go alone.but I single handed back more than 3500 miles.41 days,the first 5 days is the worst.pounding int the trade winds brought ont the truest form of sea sickness.I lost 50 pounds.there is only so much I can say.sveral weeks later I was off again,I navigated for a crew on a 90 foot schooner,back to hawaii.I flew back from that one.that means I sailed to hawaii TWICE in 1985,and back once.two years later I graduated college with Honors.A year later I was off th hawaii again on a triton.that 6000 miles was indeed completely single handed.that was an ill fated boat.I paid for my sins and or crimes by loosing that boat in a fire.but I lost no experience or desires.I now have a 29 foot islander wayfarer that miraculously survived two direct hits from hurricaines.I have had this boat that I paid very little for for five years.I am here in south east florida.I still have the desire.got any ideas?
    Last edited by eric (deceased); 01-06-2005 at 06:33 PM.

  2. #2
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    The Sailing to Hawaii Story

    In the following posts, Eric describes the preparation of his Ariel to go off shore, its voyage to Hawaii, and finally, the return trip home. There is more to the story, but it involves motivation, family tragedy and some hard times. These parts will be included when we publish the story in an upcoming edition of the Association newsletter. We begin with . . .
    Last edited by Bill; 03-31-2005 at 12:33 PM.

  3. #3
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    Preparation

    I now began serious vessel prep. I unstepped the Ariel’s mast, zinc chromated it and gave it a black and white sectional finish with enamel paint. The top of the masthead was painted in a black and white checkerboard pattern. I added a radar reflector, VHF antenna and a light. The boom and spreaders were also painted black and white.

    I modified the mast head and tack pennant fitting to accept parallel forestays. There were two backstays also. I wanted the downwind rig that had earlier intrigued me so much. The wire to rope halyards were replaced by hardware store type nylon line. The ends were dip whipped and secured by bowline knots. There was a double block for the fore triangle to allow each jib its own halyard. A triple block allowed for two main halyards and a boom (topping) lift.

    The old wire halyards became the new life lines. There was a middle lifeline and a lower border, and I wove my own life safety net around these lifelines. I replaced all the huge original thru-hulls. I removed the head and glassed in the thru hull fitting holes. The marine toilet would be replaced by a bucket, or a toilet seat over the outboard well. A friend of mine welded a fitting to the sink thru hull that allowed salt water to be pumped thru the existing faucet.

    The forepeak became the "garage." I removed the cushions as they took up too much space. I mounted eight plastic five gallon Sparklets bottles in those stackable plastic cases you see on bottled water trucks. A separate hand pump would be used to retrieve this water. The main inboard water tank was filled with water for rinsing after a salt water shower. Any soap made with coconut oil (it may be palm oil, I forget) will make a great lather in salt water. Joy soap is the cheapest and most widely available.

    The quarter berth cushions in the main salon were cut off where they extended under the icebox and the galley counter. This newly created space was sectioned off with plywood and turned into storage for canned goods. Over the hanging locker on the starboard side I mounted a kerosene Sea Swing stove. These are “gimbaled jewels" and a blessing to small boat voyagers. I carried five gallons of kerosene and five gallons of alcohol with spare burners, but I only used the alcohol to preheat the kerosene burners.

    While hauled out I did that bottom job blister repair thing that I care never to do again. I replaced the rudder wrist pins with bolts. The rudder shoe was removed and re bedded. All the deck fittings were removed and re bedded with backing blocks. The window frames were removed and the plexiglass was replaced with tempered automotive safety glass. The existing fasteners for the frames were ground flat and drilled out to accept thru-bolts. These bolts would also allow the application of prefabricated removable storm port covers, from either the inside or the outside. The deck was given a non skid "sand in the paint"surface. A skydiver’s wings were painted on the transom. This was a good looking boat.

    There was still much to do, as I now had to learn celestial navigation. This was a main key that was needed. I wasn’t just going to sail up and down the coast. I was going to get into this little space ship and blast off into outer space.

    I took the time to learn the math. It’s easy. I got an old WWII Navy surplus David White sextant from a Vanguard owner. To gain a better understanding of celestial navigation, I got in my car and drove up and down the pacific coast highway taking “sights” along the way. When I got home, I did the math and tracked the movement of the car and the sun. Now I knew what it was all about. So easy...you have two points of a triangle....one is the nearest pole...the other is the ground point of the body ...the third point.....well its too much to explain here.

    I mounted a platform on the stern rail and put two weatherproof speakers underneath. I piped the shortwave time signals into these speakers. I used a tape recorder to record the weather that came at 48, 49 and 50 minutes after the hour on radio station WWV. I obtained a sea generator with a heavy duty propellor. I also installed oversized running lights on an anchor pulpit that I fabricated out of mahogany.

    Search and rescue items included a used EPIRB and an Achilles inflatable. I fashioned some galvanized hardware store fittings to make a scuba tank with which to fill the inflatable. I tried it out, just in case, and it worked. It was better than nothing. The inflatable was stored on the coach roof. The scuba tank was stored in a cockpit locker with the hardware store galvanized fittings attached to the valve ready to be attached to the inflatable in the event of catastrophe.

    The time was getting close. According to the books, this trip should be done late spring and it was late spring. Time to provision. For food I had close to1000 different canned items, as well as dried fruits, nuts and pastas. And there were eggs straight from the chickens. Coated in oil, these eggs do not need refrigeration and will last several weeks.

    Throughout the time spent preparing the boat, I continued studying, reading, researching and questioning others who had already made the trip. All this attracted attention and people began to see what I was doing. Still, I wasn’t taken seriously – until I gave two weeks notice at my job.

  4. #4
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    The Way There

    I had given notice on my job just before the busy season and they didn’t understand why I wanted to quit after I had spent two years working nearly seven days a week. I could have made a lot of money that summer, but what I had in mind was priceless

    My father took me to the bank where I converted my savings into1400 dollars in travelers checks. This would be a three month trip where for two months I couldn’t spend any money at all. Yes, as I could not find any girls to go along, I was going to do this single handed.

    Later that day one of the other live aboard boaters at the boatyard came over to me with a friend. It was explained that “Pete” was very interested in going with me to Hawaii. I thought that since this would be my first such trip, perhaps I should not be going alone. I explained what was involved with the voyage and I gave him 24 hrs to get ready to go. He was to supply his own booze and cigarettes, no drugs, no guns and no homosexuality. In turn I would provide him with return air faire.

    The next day after Pete arrived, I started the 5-hp Mariner outboard, and in ceremonial style, used a hack saw to cut the dock lines. Putting the motor in reverse, I was officially on my way across the ocean, on my much anticipated first voyage.

    According to the sailing books and Pacific yacht race charts, the course to Hawaii should be a loop to the south. My initial heading, therefore, was from Ventura harbor to Anacapa Island. Continuing on that course would take me just south of San Nicholas Island. From there, it is nothing but deep water to the Hawaiian Islands some 2300 to 2500 miles away.

    Prior to this trip, I had done many day sails and some night sails, but this would be my first experience sailing all day and all night, day after day after day. It took some getting used to. For the first three days I was like a zombie, not being able to really sleep. I was constantly checking on everything – the rigging, the self steering, the sea generator – and was constantly making celestial nav checks (mainly sun and moon lines).

    There was one very important thing about ocean sailing that I learned during the first third of the trip. Sitting in the companionway under the dodger, I saw that no matter how windy it became, nor how big the seas grew, as this boat went up and down the waves, I was always able to see over their tops.

    From my experience, sailing to Hawaii just wasn’t that ruff going. Starboard tack for six days, reefed main and single working jib, all systems were always a go. I experienced a slight form of seasickness, but nothing intolerable. Just no ability to keep food down for a few days, no fever, no headache, no real nausea, no problem. Sailing back from Hawaii (as you will read) is a different matter.

    The waters off the California coast are cold and so is the air temp. This meant that the perishable foods lasted for a while. They were, however, used first. Another thing I noticed during the first third of the trip was the change in visible wild life. No longer were there sea lions. The seagulls were replaced by albatrosses, those huge winged acrobatic gliders. If they have to flap their wings to fly, then there is no wind. Also, the further from shore we went the smaller the man-o-war jelly fish became, indicating that they were born far out at sea and grew bigger as they approach land.

    There was also a lot of floating debris covered with varying amounts of sea growth. The longer it was in the water the more growth there was. Eventually, this accumulation of crustacean sea life will take the debris to the bottom.

    Reaching the end of the first third of the trip brought us out of the prevailing westerlies and for a day or so there was no wind. Flat calm. Warm air. Warm water. We were on the verge of entering the tropics. Time to take a shower. Buckets of warm salt water. Joy soap. A final rinse with fresh water (retrieved from the inboard tank). Very refreshing. And finally, a good sleep.

    When the wind returned, it was from the east. We were now in the trade winds. I dropped the main, and for the first time, raised the two working jibs. But, there was a problem. I had only one whisker pole and the opposing jib kept collapsing. Combining the fishing gaff with the boat hook, I jury rigged a whisker pole. It worked great. It was very precarious keeping the vane gear facing dead aft as the last two-thirds of the trip would be dead down wind.

    The trade wind seas presented no problems. Constant 20 knot winds dead aft with following seas no greater than 8-10 feet. I was always at some absurd hour of the night that the large predatory fish hit, and all I had was this little rod and reel. I should have had a larger heavier fishing pole. I did manage to land several smaller tuna, skipjack, and mahimahi. I cleaned them while they were still alive and made what I called fish bombs. I wrapped filleted chunks in tinfoil with herbs and spices and cooked them on the kerosene burner.

    I was also constantly checking rigging tension, but it was never excessive. The sea generator packed a wallop and the battery never went dead. It was necessary to pull in the generator’s prop whenever trolling for fish to prevent the two lines from tangling. I had to wear gloves when pulling in the prop as the thick nylon rope would form large hockles and these could tear the skin on my hand.

    The oversized running lights on the anchor pulpit that I fabricated were eventually lost to smashing bow waves. To replace them, I went forward wearing a stripped down skydivers harness as a safety harness and made a new bow light fixture from the dime store lights that were on board. I used a hose clamp to affix this new light to the bow rail.

    Other than kerosene burners clogging up, the only other slight mishap was when the tiller head fitting temporarily came off the rudder post. There was no problem placing the fitting back on top of the woodruff key.

    Late May is the best time of year to do such a trip as hurricane season was not yet at its peak. This proved to be the case as hurricane Blanca passed 800 miles south west of the Big Island, which was 1,800 miles from us. All we got from it was some ominously fierce looking wave forms. Nothing unmanageable. When it got too windy all I did was lower one jib. I do not recall ever having to reef a working jib, but there was always one ready on its own forestay and halyard ready to go.

    With about 1,000 miles left to go, I began receiving Hawaiian radio signals at night on a super sensitive AM radio set. It was KHLO in Hilo and it nulled out dead ahead. Now all I had to do was home in on this signal to reach the island. The RDF wouldn’t tell me where I was, just which way to go. As we got closer, I was able to receive these and other radio signals during daylight hours. It was quite exhilarating to hear signals from Hawaii. It gave me a sense of accomplishment. As I sat there on the stern rail platform I was quite content just watching the waves and the world go by. These little boats just keep going and going and going.....

    Although it was still important to take celestial sights, with radio direction finding, navigation became less of a concern. I now spent more time just relaxing and enjoying the sea, the cloud formations and the rainbows. There were porpoise that went out of their way to come right up to us. There were pilot whales and the migratory birds. This is what it was all about for me... just seeing what was beyond the horizon.

    Around 400 miles from the islands, we could see aircraft contrails that all seemed to converge on a single point. They could have been going to any one of the major airports. At about 150 miles out, we began seeing local fishing vessels. At the end of 21st day, the outline of Mauna Loa back lit by the setting sun became visible. That is a sight I will never forget

    By night fall of the 22nd day, I could see the orange glow of the mercury vapor street lights in Hilo. Those are lights associated with bad neighborhoods where I come from, so their glow gave me some bad thoughts. We were only about ten miles off the Hamakua coast, and for all practical purposes we had arrived. It was the last week of June.

    The first rule of cruising is to never enter an unknown harbor at night. So I slowed the boat down to arrive at Hilo in daylight. At the point where we were approaching the island, the city itself was still 25 miles down the coast and there was a huge mountain range acting as a wall that blocked the wind. Out comes the outboard engine. It took a several hours of motoring to finally arrive at Hilo Bay.

    Seeing the islands in the daylight after 22 days at sea was really something. It was still early in the morning when we entered the breakwater at Hilo Bay. Further down in the bay is Radio Bay, where all the cruisers anchor or “Med” moor up to the seawall. At the appropriate time I dropped the stern hook, nosed up to the seawall and I kissed the ground as soon as I stepped off the bow. I MADE IT!!!!

  5. #5
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    Photo

    Here is STARCREST as it leaves Ventura . . .
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    Last edited by Bill; 03-31-2005 at 08:26 PM.

  6. #6
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    Less Than 30 Days In Hawaii

    Once off the boat, I attempted to call home. I had spoken with people on the VHF radio before arriving, but no marine operator was available to anyone without first having a prepaid account. Next, I lost all sorts of change in the pay phones using a Sprint calling card where if you put in a wrong account number it took your money. Finally, I got through to my father in California and then to my mother in Las Vegas

    I spent ten days in Hilo recuperating. Pete went to stay with some friends he had in the islands. I gave him his return ticket and sent him on his way. He helped somewhat, but when I think about it, I could have just as well done it alone. And in fact, on the way home I would be single handing.

    Hilo is a nice place to visit, but I had no plans for staying. There was some repair work to be done on the outboard as it was acting up. There were also some shady characters trying to sell me some sort of illegal substance, the green leafy type, but with a coast guard cutter sitting right there, I decided against the purchase.

    I left Hilo and sailed to Oahu non stop. The outboard got me out of Hilo Bay ok, and I proceeded up the windward side of the island and through the Alenuiihaha channel into the lee of Maui. Then the outboard broke down and I drifted or barely sailed into an area just south of Molokai called the "SLOT." The winds there were so strong that I used only a single jib, no main. The wind drove me all the way to Oahu where I was able to wave down a small day sailor with an outboard. It towed me into the Alawaii boat harbor where my father and his wife had flown to see me.

    After about a week my father and stepmother went home and I moored out in what was then a free anchorage called Keehee Lagoon. I stayed there for about a week preparing for the return trip home. There were a lot of provisions left from the trip over, so I simply filled my water tanks, got a loaf of bread, some soup crackers and a large bag of oranges. Heck, California was only 3500 miles away.

    STARCREST IN HILO HARBOR
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    Last edited by Bill; 03-31-2005 at 08:27 PM.

  7. #7
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    Heard elsewhere.....

    In another thread Eric said;

    [size=3]
    [size=3]I am now in dania beach florida on an Islander wayfarer 29.has anyone seen my old boat???it probably still has the black and white paint finnish on the mast.I would really like to know where it is?[/size]
    Eric, do you remember the hull number?

    Anyone ever see it?[/size]


    s/v 'Faith'

    1964 Ariel #226
    Link to our travels on Sailfar.net

  8. #8
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    unkown hull number--cali-reg cf7229cb

    no I dont remember it.It was purchased from the broker by a guy with the last name of Anderson I recall.he may have shipped it to texas,however it was last seen by me in morro bay california.the reg numbers---cf7229cb.he did paint the hull white.but the mast was still black and white.it probably still has the teltale parrallel forestays---that would be a giveaway.no reason to undo that.---that was an added plus.

  9. #9
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    the full story

    How does one get a copy of the unbridged version of the Starcrest saga?
    To error is human
    To Sail is divine... Book of French

  10. #10
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    Thumbs up I cant wait to read it my self

    I am interested in reading what I had to say....

  11. #11
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    Eric, Many thanks for the excellent read! Those Ariels (and you skippers) are amazing.

    I am a little curious about the outboard problems? I've always been an OMC user, and seldom had any problems with Johnson/Evinrude. I was awfully impressed with the sailors using a Mercury ob while sailing from Chicago>Panama>San Francisco - never a problem.

  12. #12
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    hi, I am Eric's father, and thank you for your kind words. His passion was the sea,sky and earth.
    HE ENJOYED LIFE TO THE FULLEST Eric walked to a different drummer. HIS BEAT WAS FAST AND HE FEARED NOTHING. ERIC'S SECOND PASSION WAS SKYDIVING. HE LOGGED ABOUT A 1000 JUMPS,THEIR WERE OCCASIONS, HE HAD TO PULL HIS RESERVE. HE ALWAYS PACKED HIS OWN CHUTE.

  13. #13
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    MY E-MAIL ADDRESS studavidson2002 [at] aol dot com
    Last edited by Bill; 03-29-2007 at 04:01 PM.

  14. #14
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    Smile

    Dear friends,

    My son Eric was going to reach his 49th birthday, april 7.

    Thank you for your kind wishes.

    I have been reading his adventure, and INDEED as helped me sooth the grief of

    Eric's passing

    Thank you for the E-Mails..

    best regards.

    Stu

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