FREE OF THE INTER TROPICAL CONVERGENCE ZONE (ITCZ)

Yesterday afternoon I tacked east and after a few hours the wind started to back around and I could head south again.  We are close hauled on the port tack again with the wind from south of east.  The motion became quite violent on board as Truce was jumping off waves and crashing into the following one.  I have reduced sail to preserve body and boat.  We should still make Christmas Island in two days if the wind does not go any more south.

The sunrise this morning was magnificent.  Blue skies and high cloud.  No more ITCZ.  We spent four days in there and had two wonderful nights sailing, dining and watching movies in the cockpit.  We also had two not so good nights.

This morning I did my bread making workout.  Quite an effort when going to windward.  Hopefully this batch will last a couple of days.

The Truce movie appreciation society watched the first ‘Men in Black’ movie last night.  Jessica’s choice.  I have seen it a couple of times previously, it was a family favourite with the children – but still entertaining to watch again.

KIRITIMATI, Christmas Island. Photo Google Map
KIRITIMATI, Christmas Island. Photo Google Map

Talk is now turning to Christmas Island and what we will do when we get there.  Important items include go for a long walk (Jessica), fresh fruit, laundry and cold beer(me), snorkelling, fresh fish, fresh vegetables, sleep and hang out with the locals.  Christmas Island is on GMT plus fourteen hours, we will need to adjust a day before we get there as we are currently on GMT minus ten.  Voyage distance 1,026 miles.

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.

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.

FIVE HUNDRED MILES FROM KIRITIMATI

We are now five hundred miles from Kiritimati.  A large area of calms is showing up in front of us and appears to be growing by the day.  This is the ITCZ, an area of calms, thunderstorms and variable winds we need to cross before Christmas Island.  The current weather is overcast with rain, the winds are getting lighter as each hour passes.

The wind is still on the port bow, aa it has been since the first day out of Honolulu.  Truce is still moving along nicely as we continue to work our way to the south with an allowance to the east.  I think that by this evening the wind will be very light and the fun starts.

Once again the solar panels are not putting out enough charge to keep us topped up.  I have switched off some non-essential items to conserve power until we can get a nice sunny day.  The combination of short tropical days and continuous overcast skies is something I hadn’t counted on.

Last night’s fresh Dolphinfish Thai fish curry was excellent.  Jessica did a fantastic job of cooking in a galley that was jumping around – not chef friendly.  We decided not to have rice with the curry and cooked pasta instead.  Neither Jessica or I like cooking rice without a rice cooker (one of mans great inventions) – it always sticks to the pan and needs cleaning off.  I am sure the Thai’s and Italians wouldn’t approve the mix, but there are not here.  It was good.  Voyage distance 695 miles.