Tuesday, 6 May 2014

And out of the convergence zone ?

I was going to write a blog post tonight but it is a bit bouncy now. Excerpts from Liz`s email home today:

Today was a loooong day - winds as light as 4 kts, boatspeeds as low as 1 kt (with almost a knot of current against us) leading to a couple of hours here and there of motoring to avoid squalls. We are in the doldrums. We celebrated crossing 5 deg N just after supper, watching the numbers count down to 0.0 and then 4 deg 59.9 minutes. According to the gribs we could expect the wind to pick up again around 4 deg 30 min; it is possible that we have already hit it, because we have had 10 kts from the S/SW since just before dinner. Here's hoping!

I must tell you about two of my favourite pre-departure purchases - my pressure cooker and my baby carrier. Both make cooking dinner safe/feasible most nights. In fact, the pressure cooker doesn't even go into the cupboard when the evening dishes are done - I put it on the stove and lash it in place overnight. I don't always use the pressure settings, but it is very handy to boil in a pot that will stay closed even in a sea state. The baby carrier is self explanatory - Benjamin goes where I go, and with him on my back I can cook, wash dishes, wash diapers (even grind winches when necessary!)

Time to go on watch ...

0145 update - my watch was quiet - lots of big clouds, but squalls don't develop til the cooler after-midnight hours. This is good because Benjamin spent the first half of my watch on my back (sleeping) and the second half on my front (feeding and then also sleeping). It is possible but awkward to do what I need to with him in the carrier, but squall response is a bit tricky!

The first one of the night was spotted - 0130 hrs - just as I was handing over the watch (and prepping to send this email). All three of us were soon awake (time for Benjamin to interrupt his dinner to be popped into his carseat - thank goodness he cooperated - just stretched and went back to sleep). With six hands, we did a quick radar check, a quick 2nd reef, a quick reef of the genoa and not much else - a bit of rain and some darkness overhead. On to the next (shake out the reef in the genoa, leave the reef but raise the traveller for the main, and carry on). As an aside, we can see squalls on the radar, and we respond to them like big container ships (taking relative bearings, etc). They have right of way (!) so we maneuver as necessary to avoid them. The dark clouds form before our eyes while we are on watch, but so far, we haven't had any that were too nasty. They have been parting around us in many cases :)

We had a quick celebration after supper of crossing into the 4 deg latitudes (any reason is a good reason for chocolate!) The kids are getting a big stir crazy, so it was a good distraction. We think that by the time we cross below 4 deg we should be back into the trades and heading for French Polynesia. At the moment we have almost 2 kts of current against us, so it will be nice to be moving again in a couple of days! I believe this is the equatorial counter current, and it is making progress slow!

Since Liz has written that we have been close hauled in 11 to 12 kts TWS. We are doing what we can to work our way south to get out of this foul current but even close hauled we are making at best 210 degrees course over ground. However, it is still better than bobbing waiting for wind like we were doing earlier.

Bobbie the Booby bird is still with us. He (or she) is a grey booby bird that joined us a few days ago. He sits on the pulpit and occasionally heads off for food but always comes straight back. He appears to be quite house (boat ?) trained as seems to be pooping over the side rather than on the deck.

That's all for now ...

At 5/5/2014 9:09 AM (utc) Fluenta's position was 04°41.00'N 125°22.00'W

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