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Maiden draws close to Hawaii! The last collection of updates from Sharon Ferris-Choat


Boat speed 9.4 knots
Wind speed 14.5 knots
Wind direction 118′
Waves 2m (side on)

Distance to the equator 61.4nm
Distance to Honolulu 1335nm

What a night – it was epic on Maiden!

Imagine it is completely dark, I mean dark outside. You cannot see more than 3 feet in front of you. There is a storm outside that is side onto you and is changing in strength all the time. Also, on this country road, your van has no headlights, no brakes and there are potholes every now and then. Water covers your windscreen and your wipers are out of action… 

Additionally, there are mounds in the road that kick up. These can come from behind or either side at any moment. This make the steering go from really hard to really easy in seconds. Every now and then, there is a car coming the other way that didn’t dip it full beams. This means you are blinded and it takes several mins to get your night vision back. 

A yacht, taken from the water looking up. Droplets splash across the image. The sky is grey.

To top it off, there is a one-way bridge that you need to cross at the other end. You know where it is but you have to drive there doing 100kn an hour!

Well that was our night, absolutely fantastic! The driving was intense, the trimming was teamwork and the hosing of the water was hard and fast from the 3m waves from the side that hit the hull. I am so proud of my team who all took their turn on our watch to drive. They do a really good job. 15 days ago most of these girls would have never thought about driving in these conditions. They lead their trimmers so that there was never any danger. We were hitting 9, 10, 11 and 12 knots of boat speed. Funny to think that a few days ago 9 knots was fast, last night it was slow!

As the watches fell, I had 8 hours of this last night and I can say that the body definitely feels like it has had a workout. What was the cream on top is I went to bed with my new go-to of muesli and Pic’s Boysenberry Jelly before I went to bed and woke up just now for bacon and eggs! That only happens on Maiden in my life of sailing. Normally it is heat and eat out of a packet.

So now, to be honest, I need to give my constantly wet butt some cream, so I can keep on sitting down!

We are about to put up more sail and try and get to the equator before it is dark tonight. The 1st time crossing girls are getting very nervous! I love teasing them. Tracy was my 1st King Neptune, great to be crossing on the legendary Maiden for my 5th.


Boat speed 9.5 knots
Wind speed 13.5 knots
Wind direction 130′
Seas flat ish with a long swell.

A lady reading from a book on the left. She is the skipper, Sharon. Two sailors behind listen, one at the helm. The book has photos to identify sea mammals.

Just before noon and the end of my and Bex’s watch we saw a wounderful sight of Pygmy Killer Whales rarely seen, we thought dolphins at first, but the face was round with white tummies, thanks to a great Handbook by Mark Carwardine we were able to study up on them after they left us surfing our bow/stern wave and quater wake. We could hear them communicating to each other. Amazing 10 min experience. This is one of the reasons I love to sail!

Three false killer whales breach next to Maiden. The crew look over the side.

So 19′ to go until Hawaii 1128nm!


Boat speed 7.4 knots
Wind speed 11.2 knots
Wind direction 188′
Heading 004′

Distance to Honolulu 959.0nm, we have cracked the 1000’s, and we have already sailed 3190nm! The ETA game begins, Tash thinks 4 more nights, Bex 5 nights, Amalia 5.1, Belle 4.1 nights and me 4.5!

Belle sits holding a rope attached to the winch. Her arm is in a sling. The sun is setting.

We have only seen one container ship and one fishing boat, a few more in the AIS screen, no land and not many flying fish in comparison to other trips. 

It’s getting hot in here! Just woke up in a bed of sweat. We are all drinking so much water as soon as you go downstairs you go into the sauna.

A sail draped over Maiden's boom provides cover for the crew on deck.

The wind is all over the place and we are motoring from cloud to cloud. For those on deck it is a very welcome shower for those below it is all hatches closed and even hotter. We now have someone on permanent hatch trim to open and close when required. 

Yesterday in a squall, myself and those downstairs was woken up to stuff flying around downstairs, the boat on it’s side and hatches open, this promoted quick action to save things and very quick hatch closing unfortunately not fast enough as the water was already in.

We are still heading north to get into a good position for the NE trades. Hopefully 8 hours away and then we can send it to Hawaii on the legendary Maiden, for me this leg was a pleasure to sail 4 times across the equator on a boat under Tracy’s leadership. Royal and SunAlliance, Maiden II the maxi cat 2x’s and Maiden (58feet). 

As we start to now count down the miles, we are all appreciating the time on her and enjoying the company of the Maiden crew. 

Maybe tomorrow when I write we will be on the gravy train to Hawaii!


Heading 345′
Boat speed 7.3 knots
Wind direction 167′
Wind speed 6.7 knots

Distance to Honolulu 799.9nm

We are hot! The sun has come up this morning on the full power heat mode. We have no wind, so we are motoring with the boom tent up trying to get out of the sun. Bex has done another rig check; that’s why we were heading to Mexico for 20 mins yesterday. We did this to make the boat as smooth as possible for her so she does not get flung around up the mast, we still have a swell running.

A sailor up the rig, taken from below.

The fishing line is out the back, trying our best. 

Whenever we can, we put up some sails to turn the engine off when possible as it makes downstairs even hotter. I would guess it is about 40 degrees. 

Everyone is in really good spirits, and finding funny ways to cool down. I am a fan of the bucket over the head, every watch, to cool down. I’m looking forward to a shower and some clean clothes as my once white shirt is now brown!

One disappointing sign of human life is that whilst we have seen very little plastic floating in the ocean so far, when we got to 8 degrees north we began seeing lots. The increase is disturbing, especially considering we are so far from land. We as consumers have to get the message to the retail giants that we will not continue to buy products wrapped/stored in plastic that only have one use. It does not take much to use circular economy life practices. I challenge everyone to do something new every week and we will start to make a difference. Be smarter buyers! We the buyers have to force the change!

Two sailors, Wendy at the helm. Wearing a red jacked. The sun is very large and is setting on the left of the image.


Boat speed 9.2 knots
Wind speed 21.3 knots
Wind direction 056′
Waves 2m

Distance to Honolulu 552nm

We are on a mission. The sun came up 4am boat time and so did the wind. We have been on course and sailing at good speeds, just changed the jib haylard as I was not happy with the chaff on the mast exit and will repair that when Bex is up next. We have also broken the leach cord in the main and I have made a temp repair for the rest of this leg. Wendy did some great driving while I was standing 6 feet off the deck hanging onto the rig one handed while tying knots with the other. Fun! I love seeing things before they cause real trouble and find a solution. 

Up the helm, black and white, the sail obscures most of the sailor.

Everyone is starting to dream about what they are going to eat first on arrival. I have been trying to motivate speed by saying think of steak and eggs girls! I have been since day 2 of the trip, so I had better not change that now!

Ok need to get some sleep before I am back upstairs, no moon tonight so it is going to be interesting!


Boat Speed9.7 knots
Wind direction 077′
Wind speed 15.7 knots

Sea ‘flatish’

Distance to Honolulu 398.8nm
2 more nights?

Maiden as her sails come down. Taken from in front of the boat.

We have cracked into the 300s! Beautiful sailing out here in the NE trades, all the east has paid off on our angle into Hawaii. 

The water is 31 degress and the colour of a deep Royal blue!, no clouds, white caps and a soft wind, now we are all waiting for the waves to splash us to cool down. The swimming pool is on the bow and you are highly encouraged to go forward and get wet to cool down! We are all watching out for sunburn. I am mostly covered with my hat, sunnies, long sleeve shirt and Tashes Buff as I cannot find mine! Tash you are a life saver!

A sailor smiles into the camera. You can see the photographer in the reflection.

Now without the engine going it is much better down tairs and everyone has a personal fan in their bunk that is going full bore! 

This last watch we had the goal to be under 399nm before the watch change at noon. We did it with 10 mins to spare- now we have challenged Wendy and her team to be in the 340nm when I swap out with her at sunset! 

We have had a complete fail in the fishing… we have only caught plastic! At least we are cleaning up the ocean. 

Everyone is getting excited, the first Islands that we pass of Hawaii are only 241nm away, I have just been studding the chart to make sure I am up to speed with our entry and approach to know the layout and what to expect so I can best help Wendy on our approach. Now we are under the American navigation system, the channel marks are opposite to us in NZ. 

A happy crew, sailing along at a nice speed, we need to get to the dock before 3pm on Monday afternoon or we will spend the evening and night on the boat unable to clear customs!! Full speed to the dock!


Boat speed 9.2 knots
Wind direction 090′
Wind speed 11.3 knots
Flat seas

Distance to Honolulu 185nm

We have had a fantastic 24 hours, some of the best sailing in my life. Warm but not too hot, full sun with magic warm water, good wind direction and wind speed. Good boat speeds for a 20 ton legend Maiden. On the edge when the wind was 20 knots in a very dark night, I think that always feels like you are going twice as fast. 

We are all enjoying the last full day on Maiden for this leg. 

Wendy is all over the arrival charts and making plans with our fantastic Hawaii landed Shore team of Allie, Mack and Libby. Courtney is making her last 250 litres of water, as that is how much we go through a day mostly for drinking. Belle is taking count of what is left in the food. Amalia is getting those last photo’s/filming she has been trying to get. Tash is enjoying the moment and learning as much about engines/water makers/generators from Courtney as possible to put to practice on her family boat.

Bex is all over the rig and haylards which she has done like a pro all trip. Nat has had an absolute glamour in the last 24 hours, at one stage she asked if she had been born on Maiden as it was taking so long for her. Last night she had the best driving numbers by far and then this morning she made bacon and eggs with pancakes!!!!!!!! I even asked her to wake me up so I could have them hot, they were that good!

Everyone is happy to be on the last of their daily job list of keeping a clean and crew fed boat. I have to say, I take my hat off to all the girls who have cooked amazing meals in difficult conditions. I managed to dodge that one by spending more hours on deck! Plus, I had the best deal! 

We have also been having mile competitions between Wendy and I, by naming a mile needing to be reached by the next time the other comes up, they are getting more and more ambitious which is fun! 

Another shot of the sails providing sun cover for the sailors. This photo is taken from deck level.

For me I am really enjoyed this trip, really happy with how I managed the clouds and the squalls and learned more about weather, routing and general navigation which is just what I wanted to achieve personally on this trip. I am extra happy with the relationships I have created with the girls on Maiden and have made life long friends. 

I am really looking forward to see my family, starting to think about them alot more as we start to prepare for our arrival into Honolulu!


Boat Speed 8.0 knots
Wind Direction 051′
Heading 331′

Distance to Honolulu 34.8nm

What a night. For the second time today I have hoisted a sails to the top without a swap out and we have gone fast! Super happy as before we left I was not strong enough… now I have done it enough times to be stronger!

I apologize to Jo, Yesterday I did not mention her that that was a big mistake. Jo is the hardest working crew member of this team, she just never sleeps, she is always helping someone, doing a job that needs to be done, driving Maiden fast or trimming her sails to make her faster. Jo works with the NZ Sailing Trust and I am sure she is a huge asset for the trust and to the young people that have the opportunity to sail on Steinlager 2 and/or Lion NZ through their inspiring leadership programme. I am looking forward to sail with her again in the near future as she is one classy lady who is always smiling and such a joy to be around. Love ya Jo!

Last night Wendy had a cloud that took all the wind that resulted in the sails being dropped so they did not get damaged. Maiden was motoring when the wind slowly came back, as we have a time limit today of being on the dock before 3pm other wise we can not clear customs until tomorrow we are all pushing to make that date. 

Wendy, skipper in red jacket, stands at maiden's helm holding the wheel. Two sailors smile next to her.

We put up the main with 1 reef and JT and then 23 knots came in for 3 hours at a good wind angle for Maiden. Then, we were stilling on 9, 10, 11,12 knots of boat speed and the hours until arrival just disappeared and we had fun driving and trimming, as this was my last night watch on Maiden I was a little sad at the end, I have done over 5000nm between this trip and the Sydney to Auckland leg and will miss her and the team when I go home. 

I am also very excited to be the first to call “land ahoy!”. Just seen land for the first time in 22 days, with that step it brings me back to looking forward to seeing my family. I miss you so much when I am away. I know you are in safe hands and that is why I can leave to go on these adventures!

Thank you to Mum, Dad, Neil and everyone who has supported and encouraged me over the years, I really appreciate your support and friendships. 

Evelien, thank you for posting my updates! I look forward to catch up soon.

Tracy Edwards, thank you for believing in me again and the opportunity to sail on Maiden and join you on another adventure in your Maiden Factor World Tour. It has been amazing with another tick off the personal bucket list. Tracy Edwards, thank you for believing in me again and the opportunity to sail on Maiden and join you on another adventure in your Maiden Factor World Tour. It has been amazing with another tick off the personal bucket list. 

A dark sunset on Maiden, with a Black Sea and long shadows.

Two-time Olympian and round-the-world sailor, Sharon Ferris-Choat joined Maiden as co-skipper for two legs. Sharon joined in Sydney, sailed to Auckland and then onto Hawaii, and has been writing updates on Maiden almost every day at sea. Check out previous blog posts to catch up on the whole leg.

Additionally, check out our previous posts for more beautiful photographs from photographer and sailor onboard Maiden, Amalia Infante. You can also follow us on Facebook (www.facebook.com/TheMaidenFactor), Twitter (@maidenfactor) and instagram (@maidenfactor) for more photos and videos.