Day 987 [June 16/11 JST] – Ghosts of the Ancient Mariners

Today's Report
June 16/11 0800 JST 

Position:  20°42'N, 170°17'E
Remaining to Yokohama finish:  2,116 nm / 7.5% (ETA: 22 - 26 days)

As it is the closest significantly inhabited area to Saito-san, it would be remiss not to give a passing wave to the Marshall Islands, pop. 68,000, today 800 nm to his south.

Marshall Islands and Micronesia
[Click to enlarge]
We hear of these distant places, often reading about them as palmetto-lush settings for tropical adventures and naval / war stories going back centuries and, in fact, into pre-history. Just think how much more enthralling they will be a thousand years from now!

The Marshalls, named after British navy captain John Marshall, are scattered atolls and islands that were settled by Micronesians as far back as the second millennium BC. Much of their history, all spoken, none written, is now long gone. What little we do know is that they carried out regular commerce and visited outlying islands in carved wooden proa canoes navigating with stick-and-shell charts.

Of course the Marshall Islands are too off his route for Saito-san to consider a close sail-by, and in fact their many wave-washed atolls and sub-surface coral heads would have presented a navigation challenge that few single-handers care to invite. To him, those isles with exotic names like Bikini Atoll, Ailuk, and Enewetak, along with their wonderfully skilled ancient navigators, must stay in the books. But they are magically distant storybook places he could at least brush past, relatively speaking -- and we along with him.

One of our favorite "Saito sea stories" is easily prompted. Hand him a pair of Japanese chopsticks and he will demonstrate how to determine latitude by lining the sticks up with the stars of the Southern Cross.

The modern sailing world now has GPS, radar, self-steering, and satellite telephone. But watch Saito-san as he precisely plots a course the newest "old way" with a compass, dividers and parallel, and you realize the essence of marine navigation is still very much alive.

Next up in two days: Wake Island.

He outdid himself again, this time achieving 108 nm DOG for the period, 96 nm of those toward Japan. That's 9 nm more than yesterday's best progress since the engine stopped.

He often saw 5 kts during the day, and was able to average 4.5 kts before easterly winds in the low teens.

[Click to enlarge]

Distance in last 24 hours: 108 nm DOG / 96 nm DMG
Total distance completed: 26,269 nm
To Yokohama: 2,116 nm (measured)

Average daily DMG over last 2 days of sailing: 92 nm (measured) 
ETA: 23 days

Heading: 300°, changed to 240° about 0900 today
Reported boat speed: 3.5-4.0 kts, later 4.0 – 4.5 kts after 0900 jibe
Average boat speed: 4.0 kts
Weather: Broken clouds; occasional rain; warm
Temperature: 26.5° C
Barometer: 1018 hPa 
Wind (from): 9-11 kts E & ENE
Waves: 1.5 m
Sails: Genoa 90%, staysail 0%, mainsail 3pt reef
Engine: 0 hrs
Generator: 12 hrs

[Weather and wind forecasts are from ClearPoint Weather, a Saito 8 contributing sponsor.]