STILL IN THE INTER TROPICAL CONVERGENCE ZONE (ITCZ)

Today turned out to be a bit of a non-event.  The intent was to sail south, pick up the easterly traded and then carry on to Christmas Island.  But, events last night and this morning have postponed our breakout from the ITCZ for another day.

Firstly, last night turned into an epic of calms blows and torrential rain.  We appeared to be in a giant rain cloud arena.  Every time we got into the vicinity of a rain cloud the wind picked up and we ended up a couple of miles further west than when we started.  Then the wind died completely and I had to take all sail off the boat as we were rolling in a choppy sea, the sails were on a mission to self-destruct.

The second saga started this morning with torrential rain, no wind just buckets of rain from eight to mid-day.  Now we have plenty of fresh water on board, have taken showers, washed hair and are smelling civilised again.

All this palaver meant we didn’t sail out of where we were parked up.  I have tried to lay a course south but the wind is coming from that direction and we just keep getting pushed west again.  Predict Wind is advising I go south west and then south.  This seems a risky proposition so I have decided to head east for a few hours (if the wind holds).  When the wind comes around I will see it and can then head southwards towards Christmas Island.  It’s only a couple of hundred miles away but proving difficult to get to today.

We haven’t seen the sun for twenty four hours and the batteries missed their their solar fix.  So, in had to run the engine again.

Yesterday I made a couple of small loaves of bread.  By breakfast this morning it had all gone.  I will need to make bigger loaves next time.  Making bread on a moving boat must be great exercise, sure to strengthen the core body muscles.

The Truce film club watched ‘Groundhog Day’ last night.  I have seen it a couple of times but it was a premier for Jessica.  It was good fun.

I think we set a record yesterday for the lowest daily mileage at fifty-three, noon to noon.  Well that’s if you don’t count the day I went backwards a few miles off Oregon.  Voyage distance 967 miles.

INTER TROPICAL CONVERGENCE ZONE (ITCZ) TRANSIT

Another day of slow but steady progress.  So far, we have been fortunate with the weather in the ITCZ and have even managed to make ground to the east.  We are now positioned to the east and upwind of Christmas Island.  Hopefully, that will put us in a good safe upwind position for the final run in.

Sailing in this place is a challenge.  Constantly shifting and variable winds mean that each mile gained is earned.

A couple of dolphins came to visit today, they stayed about thirty minutes.  I am not sure what type they were, both were quite small and seemed to stay under water for longer than normal before coming up for air.  They obviously enjoyed our company as we did theirs.

This evening I took a rum and coke for sundowners.  Then realised we hadn’t bought any limes or lemons before departing Honolulu.  I think that after we had our clearance out of Honolulu Jessica and I were so ready to depart that we didn’t pay much attention to the last-minute vegetable or fresh fruit shopping.  But never mind, Rum can be drink without fruit perfectly well.

The movie this evening was ‘Whiplash’.  Once again viewed in the cockpit under starlight.  Another beautiful sunset and night.  Voyage distance 914 miles.

DALLYING IN THE DOLDRUMS

So far, the light and variable airs of the doldrums is suiting us fine.  Jessica remarked how nice it was to have some flat sailing and not be constantly banging and crashing to windward.  I can’t argue with that sentiment.  The temperature here is almost perfect, the daytime temperature in the shade is not excessive and the breeze is cooling.  In the evening the temperature is perfect for lounging around in T shirt and shorts.

The seas are now finally calm enough for the guitar to come out.  I was fortunate to have Jessica singing and playing guitar on her watch while I cat napped in the cabin below.

A minor tragedy is the end of cold beer, the ice in our icebox finally disappearing overnight.  The reaming cans in the icebox were still cool, with moisture beads on them.  For a moment, I had the urge to drink them all before they turned warm – then realised how irrational that would be.

Last night we had sundowners followed by diner in the cockpit.  The sunset was spectacular with the sun backlighting some grand cloud formations.  We then settled back to watch a movie, tonight’s showing was ‘Turks and Caicos.  An unusual British movie with a host of familiar stars.  I have seen it before but it was a new movie for Jessica – well worth a look.

All evening Truce had been sailing Southern a light easterly breeze, doing about four knots.  This is fantastic sailing, the sea is calm and the sky full of stars. This is a beautiful quiet magic carpet ride.  Voyage distance 811 miles.

INTO THE INTER TROPICAL CONVERGENCE ZONE (ITCZ)

No sooner had I written the words ‘ I think the fun will start this evening’ in my log yesterday afternoon than the wind suddenly died.  We had entered the ITCZ, the doldrums of old.  I had to drop all sail as we were sitting stationary and rolling around with sails slapping back and forth

An hour later a southerly breeze set in and we sailed slowly through the night in beautiful calm conditions under a canopy of stars.  In the early hours of the morning it became quite cold and I had to reach for a long-sleeved shirt to keep warm.

The day has been spent trying to keep the boat moving and heading in the right direction and avoid getting to the west of the track.  Everything we try always sends us back to the west, making it more difficult to reach our destination.  But, we are not getting too stressed about it, the right wind will come when its ready.  Its an enjoyment to have calm weather and some nice flat sailing in sunshine after being on the wind under a cloud for so long.

Our mileage today noon to noon was not that flash and I expect tomorrows will be even shorter if the weather forecast is correct.  Our track on the chart is starting to look like hieroglyphics.  Jessica and I discussed trying to write our names on the plotter with the ships track.  But concluded we would actually need to have some wind to achieve that feat.  Voyage distance 766 miles.

A NIGHT OF SQUALLS

It started last night around seven.  First an unsettling motion and confused sea and then a night of squalls.  I was up all night trying to get through without losing to much of the precious ground we had made to the east.  We succeeded getting twenty-three miles to the east and also came out with a reasonable days run.

We are still heading into the wind on the port tack and shipping heavy spray.  We have all the deck hatches shut and its hot inside the boat now.  It was even hotter than normal this morning when I produced some blueberry muffins.  Much to the delight of Jessica.

The latest forecast is for twenty knot winds for the next two days.  At the moment, I am jogging into a twenty-five knot wind and big sea for some rest and recuperation.  We may stay like this for a few hours before heading on.  No point in hurrying to get beaten up.  Also disappointing is the latest Predict Wind forecast for the doldrums.  They are now showing them opening and taking days to cross.

So, a big change in the forecast and I am not a happy camper.  A simple trade wind run is turning into a long haul.  We will just take it easy and assess the situation later.  Voyage distance 465 miles.