We are slowly clawing our way towards paradise. We just crossed 3 degrees north and are 175 miles away from the equator. That’s two days away at 4.0 knots.
I’m pretty sure we crossed the heart of the ITCZ last night at 03 20 N. At about 0200 we went from becalmed to being hit with 15-18 knots out of the SSE. It blew hard all morning and we even raised sails and turned the engine off for a while. We sailed close-hauled on a heading of 220 with the apparent wind 40 degrees on the port bow. Eventually the wind died to less than 6 knots out of the S, so we fired up the diesel and have been motoring all day. We want to put as much distance between us and the ITCZ as possible.
There was no moon last night due to the cloud cover and the bright bioluminescence was incredible. The bow wave was scattering twinkling bright blue foam on each side of the boat and there was a bright wake behind the boat trailing for 50 yards or so from the prop wash. I sat on the edge of the stern rail and just watched in awe at the magic of it all. My favorite is when the dolphins show up and you can see them twisting and twirling under the boat trailing streamers of bright bioluminescence; it’s absolutely breathtaking.
When I was trimming the jib last night, I heard something near the helm. It was pitch black so I got a little closer to find what I assumed was a flying fish. It wasn’t a fish but a bird! I went below to grab a flashlight and came back up. It appeared injured and it was looking at me. I tried to scare him away so he would take flight but it seemed he couldn’t figure out how to fly out of the cockpit. So I grabbed the edge of his wing and threw him out. He took flight and disappeared. It was a strange encounter. Hope the poor guy got his bearings back.
I think 18 days at sea is starting to get to me. Last night I hailed a squall on the VHF! haha I was monitoring the radar and I saw what I was sure was a container ship about 6 miles off the starboard beam. I went topside to try and see his lights but it was so cloudy and overcast I couldn’t see anything. It wasn’t on AIS so I tried to hail what I thought was a ship. No answer. Hmm. It got within 4 miles and I was sure now it was a ship. Usually the squalls are spread out on the radar and they have multiple signatures. This one was a small solid block like a ship. I tried hailing again. Nothing. Just before I initiated a course change, the ‘ship’ broke apart into what is clearly an incoming squall. I laughed and felt pretty silly for hailing a squall. But hey, better safe than sorry right? And a squall can’t call you out, but Alyssa can! In the morning she asked, “How close did that ship get that you hailed last night?” I laughed and confessed that I hailed a squall. We both had a good laugh.
One big benefit of running the engine is unlimited power from the alternator. We have been living it up. We run the inverter to power the big screen TV for movie night. We can use the microwave to make popcorn. Keep the radar and laptop on 24 hours a day. Put the huge pitcher of ice tea in the fridge to chill. Everything is fully charged. Alyssa is really enjoying the piping hot water from the water heater.
It’s pizza night tonight. I think I’ll hide on the bow while the oven is on. Should bring the temp in the cabin up to a balmy 120 degrees. Alyssa has some kind of disorder because she relishes extreme heat. I on the other hand am dying and dreaming of cruising places like Alaska and the Pacific Northwest.
Back to my watch while the Princess gets her beauty rest.
02 54 N
128 54 W
Wind: 5 knots SSW
Seas: 3-4 ft