Friday, March 28, 2008

Crossing the Inter-Tropical Convergence Zone (ITCZ)

We are currently south of the ITCZ heading more or less due south, but the ITCZ moves north and south frequently and sometimes many degrees daily. We passed through it yesterday afternoon, but I think it is right on our tail as we see blue sky and puffy cumulus clouds to the south and nasty thunderstorms and cloud banks to the north from where we have come. During our crossing we did have some nasty gale-like weather, heavy rain, and lots of clouds; but, all in all, our crossing of the ITCZ was pretty easy, and we never slowed below 3 knots of boat speed (no doldrums. In fact, we had a pretty steady transition from 25 knots of NE trades clocking to 20 knots of easterlies and now 12-15 knots of SE winds, which we hope are the SE trades; however, they are not expected to be fully developed until 5S. A few days will tell. As of right now we are 1,015 miles from Autona, Hiva Oa, Marquesas - hopefully 8 days or so. That would make this a 22 day (I think) crossing, which is something of a good passage for a boat our size.

Yesterday, we had another breaking wave hit the stern deck and the Monitor wind vane line parted again. So we hove to once more, this time in 28 knots of wind and about 12-foot waves. Heaving to settles the boat down and makes it easier to work. We had to have new line for this repair and the closest line of the same size was our spinnaker pole halyard. Steve again climbed over the stern and onto the Monitor bracket--tethered to the boat, of course. We ran the new line and got it all hooked up. This time it took us just an hour and a half. It was a good exercise, but we would both like to be finished with that drill.

The weather is definitely warmer and more humid, and everything feels damp. At least the rain showers have provided a good washing for the boat, as she was getting pretty salty. There are flying fish on deck every morning. They have huge eyes for the size of their bodies. One morning we plan to cook some up for breakfast because people say they are quite good. Today I spotted a black fin on the water, but I am not sure what it was. It didn't swim like a dolphin, so it may have been a shark. Two days ago, we saw several whales about 50 yards from the boat. The nights are spectacular with all the stars and the moon.

Well, I have to close now in order to attend a scheduled meeting of the planning committee for Equator crossing party.

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