WHEN: Monday April 11th 2100Local / 2200EST / 2300BRZ / 0200UTC
WHERE: 02:27 132:21W
MILEAGE: 2,262 miles since La Cruz, MX (sailed), 821 miles to Taiohae Bay, Marquesas (straight line)
Last night we got completely becalmed. I stayed up all night maneuvering upon the slightest puff of wind to try to extract every inch possible out if it. The reward: 25 miles covered during the whole night :-(. When morning broke we were still becalmed, and found ourselves surrounded by squalls. They were small, but many, and all around us.
That was insult on injury. Not only had we been becalmed for a long time, completely sleep-deprived, and now about to get wet !
The first squall made its move and as it approached, I devised a plan to cut across it and end up on the other side. It worked. When it got closer it brought us some wind, I pointed our bow toward its trailing edge, and we used its wind to flank it from behind, getting just a few sprinkles in the process. We watched the squall move away and fell becalmed again.
Satisfied with the first successful round we set for breakfast and Adriana prepared coffee – the first we have in two weeks. And then came the epiphany. As I enjoyed the scent, taste and warmth of my cuppa in the cockpit, still watching the squall go away, apparently frustrated for not having drenched us, it downed on me: the squalls were likely the ONLY source of wind we might have available today.
The thing is, we need to get South. Quickly. A benign wind was forecast to set some 60 miles to the South of our position then. I could but shouldn’t use the engine over that distance (we are managing fuel by the litter here now). But at the same time we were running late. And if we lost that bridge of wind across the Equator, we shall brace ourselves for a much longer passage.
So, I proposed my solution to Adriana. I don’t know if she was also sleep-deprived, or the coffee boost my presentation skills, but my pitch was successful. We pointed Pesto’s bow toward the next squall, aiming at a direct impact. Our plan for now on would be to ride the squalls, rather than avoid them. There were 3 of them lining up, and leading to a larger one near the horizon. If we were successful in riding each one of them, they might supply wind for us to cover the 60 miles we needed. But it would be wet for sure.
The tactic was simple: head to a point slight ahead of the squall’s track, aiming at a direct impact. Upon approach, turn right and run parallel to the squall for as long as we could, using its wind. Before the squall completely overtook us, cut across it – while it still supplied wind – get to the other side, and use the wind to catapult us to the next squall.
We tried our theory with the first squall and it seemed to work. In the end, we were wet, but being ejected toward the next one, as expected. From squall to squall we perfected our skill and soon reached the large one which we had seen before. It was a long succession of squalls that had stuck to each other. We positioned ourselves right in the middle of the first one and waited for it to arrive. It felt kind like standing in the middle of the tracks and waiting for the train to hit you. First came the wind, and then the rain. Pesto quickly accelerated to its fast-mode speed of 8-9knots. And like that, we kept on sailing all day and afternoon. Incessant rain and excellent winds, propelling us to where we wanted to go.
At one point we got used to the rain, and sat all four of us talking, playing, reading stories, singing, and even eating with the eventual sprinkle of water keeping our bodies wet under the cockpit’s protection.
That large squall acted like a train indeed, leaving us almost exactly where we were hoping to connect with the incoming winds. And guess what, the wind was there!
Night came, and another squall showed up on our path. I’d rather be sailing the wind we came here for, but these squalls were so useful to us today, that we are rounding this one with patience and gratitude.
We are hoping and wishing to have a much drier, and equally productive day tomorrow !
And the Equator is drawing nearer …
Have a good Tuesday.