WHEN: Wednesday March 31st. 2000Local / 2200EST / 2300BRZ / 0200UTC
WHERE: 15:48N 111:51W
MILEAGE: 511 miles since La Cruz (sailed), 2,243 miles to Nuku Hiva (straight line)
We are into the Trade winds! One day sooner than we expected.
But let me give some background.
The passage from Mexico to the Marquesas consists basically of 4 stages:
– Stage 1: reach the Trade Winds – roughly 400 to 600 miles through light and variable winds
– Stage 2: Ride the Trade Winds – a run of about 1,200 – 1,500 miles following the famous winds. It’s a sleigh ride, with steady winds on your favor
– Stage 3: Cross the Intertropical Convergence Zone, or “Doldrums” – a 200 to 500 mile area of very light winds and squalls which sits above the Equator (I can guarantee that I will write A LOT more about this region as we get there)
– Stage 4: Final Approach to the Marquesas: self explanatory
The problem with the El Nino phenomenon is that the Trade Winds aren’t as steady as they normally are. Upon observing them for the last month, and without much science, I seems that they are “pulsating” … at times covering a large expanse of the East Pacific, and others receding significantly to a small area.
Last week, as we were fixing Pesto in La Cruz, the Trades receded substantially, and by the weekend (last week) the forecasting models were suggesting they would expand again, to the point of touching Mexico’s mainland (which they did today, in fact).
So, our bet for Stage 2 was to try to be ahead into the Eastern Pacific when the Trades expanded, so that we could have enough time to ride them all the way through to Stage 3 before the Trades receded again. That required an early departure, and a Stage 1 through very light and variable winds. That’s what the last four days were about. Looking back at our track over the chart, it looks like a zig zag, rather than a straight line to where we are now. And we were not wandering. Rather, changing our course proactively to get to patches of better wind, and avoiding pockets of calm.
Seems to have worked. Today the Trades expanded and engulfed us. Technically, I am not sure if the winds we are sailing into now are indeed the Trades or something else. But they do blend into the Trade Winds and will take us there.
Now, it’s not all granted. This expansion of winds is forecast to recede a bit between Friday and Saturday, and we need to be fast enough to keep up with them, otherwise we will be becalmed, watching our coveted Trade Winds recede away.
And to maximize our chances, we activated our Overdrive, which is our Spinnaker. By far the largest sail on our inventory. Different from the others, mostly flat and triangular in shape, the Spinnaker is round, like a half-section of a balloon. It catches the wind and generates an incredible amount of lift. With it, our speed improved significantly today, and the motion softened as well. As I write this, we are surfing down the wind waves at speeds above 8knots, Pesto leaving large waves of white foam to her both sides. We will keep it up through the night – a first for us. But we gotta get to those Trades!
I do have more stories from today, including the Bobbie Situation, but I will keep it at it for now.
Have a great evening!