We arrived in Chichijima two weeks ago after a good passage from Saipan. We had a wide range of weather, from days adrift to our last days of big seas and high winds. Kept things interesting. We visited the lovely, incredibly remote atoll Maug, a highlight of our tour of the pacific. An extinct volcano long since collapsed and open to the sea. We sailed into the caldera, had a look around, rejected the precarious anchoring spot and continued on. Sailing along the Northern Mariana group we often had an island in sight. Several mornings I was on watch as the sun rose over the distinct profile of a volcano. I regret we were pushing to take advantage of favorable weather and unable to stop along the way. Pagan would have been a lovely place to spend a few days. But we enjoyed the shift from the prevailing headwinds winds to broad reach sailing over calm seas in the wake of Typhoon Wutip and sailed on.
Below I’ve collected our daily postings to the Farkwar site. I’ll post about Chichijima soon. We are enjoying Chichijima immensely. It is a wonderful island to visit on the way to the mainland of Japan. Beautiful, rugged, lots of wildlife, with wonderful kind people. It has been a shift from some our other destinations. We are in Japan, but also in the islands, and there is a nice balance of those two worlds. No planes overhead, no bustle of the urban world, a slower pace of life, but everything is organized and efficient. There is excellent food and provisions, the island has a vast network of hiking trails covering the hills and meandering to all sorts of hidden beaches. More soon.
Feburary 28, 2019
Day one of our passage to Maug we've had excellent conditions since departing Saipan. Super Typhoon Wutip has reset the weather conditions and the NE trades that we rode from Majuro have been replaced by souther easterlies, giving us excellent conditions for our passage to Muag. We sailed basically due west from Majuro and have pivoted at Saipan to head due closet to due north to Maug. The change in the wind direction is incredibly fortunate. Instead of beating our way to Maug in high seas we are currently on a beam reach with winds hovering around 20 knots and settled seas enjoying outstanding sailing. We maxed 120 miles in the 20 hours since we departed Saipan and have 165 miles to go to Maug on a heading of 355 degrees. We had planned on stopping at Pagan, and will likely regret not visiting the island, but we want to take advantage of these excellent conditions as long as we can. Last night we had a 44 percent waning moon lighting the seas, it was a nice welcome back to the sea. All is well on Tumbleweed.
At 02/27/2019 09:40 (utc) our position was 17º16.689'N - 145º23.183’E
March 2, 2019
There are times when through the writings of others and our interpretation of what a chart presents us we create and image of a place in our minds that is counter to the reality. Our image of Maug was one of those times. We passed by Pagan imagining that we'd instead anchor at Maug, enjoy the remote splendor a few days while waiting out a few windless days. Maug is the most remote spot on earth I can recall visiting, and there is a splendor and beauty to it that puts it in a category of its own. The remains of an ancient volcano, now reduced to three large chunks of islands in the Pacific. Descriptions maintain that there is an anchorage tucked up against the eastern most island on a shelf of rock hard against the steep shore and it technically exists but I can't imagine anchoring there, there is slight shelter, though enough to dramatically reduce the ocean's swell. The reality is that the depths in the crater go from over 400 feet up to a shelf of 75 feet and then a couple boat lengths later run up onto a steep scree covered shore that runs steeply to the summit. The water covered many large boulders and the remains of a wrecked yacht are also in the water and here and there on the shore. We had read that a large yacht was discovered here several years ago but to see the remains along with the forbidding conditions sent us on our way. Maug was gorgeous and I am glad we stopped, to take Tumbleweed into the crater of an extinct volcano and to pass by the cliffs of the islands was a rare experience. But I can't recommend anchoring there. Approaching Maug the winds died and we motored for much of the day to arrive there by late afternoon. We left as the sun began to close the horizon and motored through the night to put some distance between us. We are now floating on a calm sea with a few knots of breeze fluttering about. We are 400 miles from Chichi Jima and need to decide how we'll spend the next few days that are forecast to be windless followed by a couple days of northerlies. I highly recommend a visit to Maug, and regret not stopping at Pagan. All is well on Tumbleweed.
At 03/01/2019 11:40 (utc) our position was 20º56.752'N - 144º55.366’E
March 3, 2019
The active volcano Farralon Pajaros is still in view to the south, the wind barely brushes the surface of the sea, gentle swell continues to slide past us rolling us gently from side to side. We are waiting for wind which is forecast to build in our favor over the next couple of days before turning to head winds out of the north. We debated motoring for a couple of days to get in a better position for the winds but decided against that idea, we tend to be conservative with fuel and two additional days of motoring on top of the day we spent motoring to Maug and then to get ourselves north of Maug would use more than we'd like. We'll wait, if the winds come up a couple more knots we'll try our genneker, a large lightweight sail much like a spinnaker. We haven't had much use with that sail during our ocean passages, it tends to collapse with the swell. There is a slight current here that is drawing us south, we had a few knots of wind and were making slightly under a knot but last night the current overwhelmed our efforts and we've moved back to where we had shut down the engine yesterday. It is incredibly beautiful out here, the ocean is calm and all is so quiet. The sight of a volcano in the distance adds a level of magic to the scene. All is well on Tumbleweed.
At 03/02/2019 11:40 (utc) our position was 20º48.700'N - 144º55.212’E
March 4, 2019
We have drifted south toward the gorgeous volcanic cone of Farallon de Parajos most of yesterday and then caught a bit of wind and perhaps another current to drift our way back north of our furthest point this morning. Our course as described on our chart plotter looks like a child's scribbled line, first northward then south toward the volcano then looping off to the west to make a lazy arc back the the apex. The volcano continues to be beautiful and this morning a bit after 5 the slight sliver of the moon rose through a golden haze to climb into the delicate blue light of the morning sky. Although we are both looking forward to arriving in Chichi Jima and the promise of a great island to explore we are content at the moment to be caught here in time. All is well on Tumbleweed.
At 03/04/2019 01:40 (utc) our position was 20º55.235'N - 144º45.690’E
March 5, 2019
Another day of very light wind. We are drifting northward against a light current, perhaps a knot. We have lost sight of the volcano and this morning saw the last of the moon. Chichi Jima is 387 miles to the north and the winds are forecast to appear tomorrow. Until then we'll continue to enjoy the beauty and solitude. All is well on Tumbleweed.
At 03/05/2019 01:21 (utc) our position was 21º06.888'N - 144º49.066’E
March 6, 2019
Light winds and a slight current are keeping us moving in a slow curve to the NW. Favorable winds are on the way and it looks like Saturday will be our day to make our move to Chichijima. If the forecast is correct we will be able to take advantage of veering winds over the weekend and avoid headwinds as we make for the Chichijima harbor. Currently 350 miles south of Chichijima. Weather is cooling as we near the northern end of the tropics - another 100 miles and we'll be out of the tropics. Last night I wore a long sleeve shirt and watch cap.. All is well on Tumbleweed.
At 03/05/2019 01:32 (utc) our position was 21º45.696'N - 144º34.150’E
March 7, 2019
320 miles south of Chichijima in very light winds drifting NW with a little current. A repeat day of a repeat day of a... Weather forecast continues to hold and Saturday is looking like a good day to break free for Chichijima. Looking at a Monday arrival. Yesterday a large lavender billed booby took possession of the bow pulpit. I watched at is swooped past the bow on a couple of recon runs checking us out before landing and spending the rest of the day and all night gripping the bow, rolling with the waves and preening constantly. I was surprised to see it still up there this morning as the sun rose, still preening, glancing around constantly and gnawing away at whatever sort of critters must make there home on a large sea bird. It was a large white bird with black markings along the wings, yellow feet and a massive lavender beak. Hopefully it did not leave to disgusting of a mess at the bow. All is well on Tumbleweed.
At 03/07/2019 01:56 (utc) our position was 22º14.210'N - 144º20.587’E
March 8, 2019
Winds have picked up and we are moving along easily, it is overcast and cooler in this area with occasional rain showers. The forecast for the next couple of days as been adjusted slightly and we are now projecting to arrive Sunday mid-day. We've been trying to control our arrival to take advantage of favorable winds and avoid headwinds which are forecast to be strong in the Chichijima region, it looks like we'll be able to continue plodding along and avoid the headwinds. Our plan was to arrive at our current location on Saturday and be lined up for the final stretch but although we are sailing under only a stays'l and trys'l we are still managing 3.5 knots. Turns out that is just as well and we'll be in good position for the next couple of days. We are currently 245 miles south of Chichijima, sailing comfortably. Yesterday was an excellent day on the water, gentle seas, sunshine and the company of a variety of sea birds that spent their day fishing around us. All is well on Tumbleweed.
At 03/0/2019 01:56 (utc) our position was 23º26.013'N - 144º06.031’E
March 9, 2019
We are 200 miles south of Chichijima making our way ever so slowly into wind and waves. Weather is altering to plan but a bit slower than forecast. We have had to revise our arrival from Sunday to Monday. We won't be able to arrive in Chichjima during daylight at this speed. But the weather is forecast to continue to veer and become more favorable. We tried raising more sail and being more aggressive with these conditions but it was really uncomfortable and hard on Tumbleweed. We're in no hurry and we'd only be rushing into unfavorable conditions. Highlight of the past day was a visitation last night by a cheeky bird that first rooster on the stern pulpit and then hopped into the cockpit and seized control of the space for over an hour. I abandoned my spot tucked up in a corner near the companionway and the bird spent several minutes standing on my light up kindle. I would try to shoo it away and it would flap its wings and drift around the bimini then alight in some spot or another. Relieving itself frequently. It spent a period of time in love with its own reflection in the companionway boards, then tried to find a way out. Finally I lifted it gently on a seat cushion, now soiled, and escorted it off the boat. What passes for entertainment out here. We are under stays'l and trys'l crawling along at 2 knots, mostly comfortable though there is the occasional extra large wave that tosses us around. Looking forward to arrival. All is well on Tumbleweed.
At 03/09/2019 01:35 (utc) our position was 24º03.117'N - 143º03.775’E
March 10, 2019
We are closing in on Chichijima, currently 112 miles to the south. This passage has been notable for its light winds and gentle seas. As we enter the home stretch we are hitting a patch of rough weather, the seas are ugly and the winds temperamental, running up into the 20s before dropping to 11 or 12 knots, all the while veering from 10 degrees to 150 degrees at the moment. The veering winds have left confused seas and we are making our way through large troughs on the beam and the somewhat frequent big smacker that jolts Tumbleweed as thought we've been Tee-boned by a truck. We are now north of the tropics, wearing long pants, layers of warm clothes, and socks! Bizarre. This morning the sun rose to reveal curtains of rain showers and a grey world. Udon is sounding real good. If the weather holds we are on track to arrive tomorrow.. All is well on Tumbleweed.
At 03/10/2019 01:35 (utc) our position was 25º27.323'N - 142º40.675’E
March 12, 2019
We arrived yesterday afternoon to Chichijima after a boisterous last day of sailing. It feels good to be in Japan, it feels like we've been working our way towards this island since we left Port Townsend. Our final day at sea gave us the the wildest weather of the passage, winds of over 20 knots with large seas with heavy rains for most of the final morning, we hove to 10 miles off the entrance to the bay and waited for the weather to pass. After a few hours the weather calmed and we had a nice sail into the harbor. We are tucked away in the inner harbor behind a breakwater a few minutes stroll from town. Clearing in was incredibly polite with two Coast Guards waiting at the wharf to take our lines followed by the usual cast of characters. At 5pm there were chimes over loudspeakers and a soothing woman's voice issued some sort of calm statement. At the grocery store "Please release me, let me go" was on rotation with a host of other classic crooner hits from I'd guess the 50's. Vending machines abound stocked with beer, ramen, soft drinks, canned coffee and various snacks. We found one garbage can, slightly hidden in an alley but the town is spotless. We plan to spend a couple weeks here and then watch for a weather window to Kyushu. All is well on Tumbleweed.
At 03/11/2019 07:35 (utc) our position was 27º05.914'N - 142º12.006'E