WHEN: Thursday April 7th 2100Local / 2200EST / 2300BRZ / 0200UTC
WHERE: 06:18N 127:55W
MILEAGE: 1,854 miles since La Cruz, MX (sailed), 1,168miles to Taiohae Bay, Marquesas (straight line)
This afternoon we completed our tactical move to reposition ourselves for the approach to the Equator, and are starting to head South again. Our track on the map looks like that of a ping pong ball bouncing over a surface. Up and down, up and down.
Right now, that area of Calm that caused us to retrench is still sitting there, doing its thing. But it is expected to move westward and dissipate on Tuesday next week. By then, we will try to be sneaking at the northern end of it, and as soon as the winds fill in, we will head straight to the Equator. The goal is to cross at longitude 135W.
One significant aspect of the Puddle Jump voyage is the area of Squalls. This is an area right at the bottom of the Trade Wind belt – right now it sits between 8N and 3N – where all the moisture collected and carried by the Trades adds up. The skies are heavily loaded with clouds, it’s grey, the sun hardly appears. And then there is the squalls. The looks can be quite deceiving as they don’t appear as ominous at the first look. But that’s precisely their worst aspect. They can form almost out of the nowhere, and can be difficult to spot and anticipate even during the day. Nearly impossible at night. As they approach, the wind increases abruptly, followed by copious amounts of rain, often discharged over a 30 minute period.
We haven’t completed the whole Jump yet, but I dare to say the Squalls zone is the most uncomfortable.
Due to this tactical move that we are completing today, we have at least DOUBLED the normal amount of time we would have expected to stay within the Squalls Zone. Yay !
Well, at least we are getting well trained. The first squalls caught us with our pants down and gave us a hairy experience. Now, it has become almost mechanical. Squall spotted –> confirmed on radar –> genoa fully furled –> main furled to half size –> storm jib up –> wait –> squall hits –> get wet –> squall fades –> lower, stow storm jib –> unfurl main, genoa –> get back to what you were doing. We have also noted that all squalls are not alike, and even named them. The first one that hit us at night without any advance notice, was “sneaky”. On the following morning “Pac Man” tried to “eat” us and we had to escape with our engine. Later in the morning, “punchy” came. It wasn’t impressive at first, neither did it discharge much water, but it came with strong winds. And one day later we met “Juicy”. Medium-sized, not much wind, didn’t stay too long, hardly took notice of us, but boy did that cloud pour water on the ocean!
As I write this, we are floating in the middle of the ocean. It started raining some 5 or 6 hours ago. The wind faded away completely, and the sea went nearly flat. Our tactic to come North in search for the Trade Winds doesn’t seem to have worked much either. And a tricky current is pushing us – guess what – to the Northwest. Yet another bounce of that ping pong ball on this invisible surface which is making our approach to the Equator SO difficult.
Well, well, such is life on the ocean.
Here’s wishing a great Friday to everyone.