As the nautical miles tick down, the numbers’ analysis is flying fast and furious. As I said earlier, our two primary conversation topics are food and math. In the early days, the focus was on calculating the fuel we had, the fuel we used, and how much more fuel would we need. These amounts would change on a daily basis since some days more fuel was used to go fewer miles and other days, more miles were achieved with less fuel. On average, we use between 51 and 59 gallons in a 24 hour period and travel between 114 and 150 miles in that day. The fuel consumption numbers were predominantly John’s area of interest.
Naomi liked to figure out how fast we were going and how that translated to our daily distance. Now mind you, Laysan is a slow boat, so Naomi was parsing the difference between 4.5 knots and 6 knot speeds. So a poor day average was 4.5 knots for 24 hours equaling 108 nautical miles compared to her jubilant good day of 6.0 knots for 24 hours equaling 144 nautical miles. Pause for a moment and consider the distance. Ultimately, we have to traverse 2,280 miles of ocean, yet we are accomplishing that with a speed that is equal to a slow jog or a fast walk.
Sarah’s forte was a lovely computer program she designed that used our fuel usage, miles covered, distance remaining, fuel remaining, and other mystical categories she is refusing to reveal to me. The result was a graph that showed whether we would triumphantly arrive with a 30% fuel reserve (the optimum) or whether we were forever doomed to stay in Hawaii because we just couldn’t make such a crossing. The happy result of Sarah’s graphs has consistently been that we have enough fuel (1,482 gallons) to reach the Pacific Northwest.
As for me, I am a concrete, spatial type of person and I like the charts. Everyday at 9:00 am HST I would read off the latitude and longitude, array my colored pencils and my rectangular protractor and carefully map my previous day’s progress. For 17 days, I have added my daily inch to the map in a brilliant blue line; initially the minimal progress was distressing. However, now we are a mere two inches away, we can practically see the Olympic Mountains!
The current mathematical challenge is determining at what time we will reach the opening of the Juan de Fuca Strait, what time is the flood current in the strait, and how long before the current reverses to an ebb. The whole current conundrum is new to John and I, and I am sure it will take hours and days of study to understand how to traverse the Puget Sound with its ever-changing current and tides.
We believe that at this point, we will bypass Neah Bay since our anticipated arrival will be in the middle of the night; nighttime arrivals in unfamiliar channels, bays, and marinas are avoided if possible. So we will hold off the coast until daylight Sunday, then make our way down to the Strait to Port Angeles, Washington. If all goes well, we will arrive Port Angeles on Sunday afternoon, that is if our calculations are all correct.
45 29.34 N
130 48.962 w
313 nm to go