Those of us who have already sailed in the tropics say, this trip feels a little different due to the amount of rain we experienced for last few days. Also the wind feels let’s say a little “confused”. Not so strong to give us enough speed and the direction keeps changing a lot keeping us busy fine-tuning the rig to make at least some progress or prevent it from pushing us too far of our course. This feels like being in the Doldrums also called equatorial calms, that we are expected to sail through. Very still, very quiet and slow.
Good winds are what we lacked for most of the week. What we have enough of are the starry skies. Almost every night we are blessed with a clear view of the Milky Way. It is estimated to contain 100-400 billion stars, almost hard to comprehend. Only a fraction of them can be distinguished by naked eye, rest of them come through as a dim glowing band arching across the night sky. It is something we rarely experience in our bright light polluted cities. On land, there has to be a considerable effort to reach an area that is dark enough to observe this celestial beauty. On the sea, it is a different story. The only light we emit are the dim deck lights and navigational lights of the ship. Everything else is pitch dark and the Milky Way really comes to life.
Stargazing is what we do a lot these days, observing the planets with really bright Venus standing out of the bunch. We observe constellations, shooting stars and the passing satellites or space stations. The Moon is also worth to talk. Just a few days ago we observed a beautifully sharp slightly upward-opening crescent Moon, just like from the opening sequence of the Dreamworks movies. Only the character dropping the fishing line into the water is missing. The creators of that little animation must have sailed in this part of the world. Then in a span of a week we see it transforming into first quarter emitting enough light for object to cast shadow. Beautiful sunsets and sunrises are quite normal in this part of the world. They never cease to amaze us despite having them on display every day. Clouds of various shapes, distant squalls, rain streams and subsequent rainbows just add to the beauty that Mother Nature is serving to us on a daily basis.
Life on board is business as usual. Sail handling, maintenance, swim in the ocean here and there and sleep. Our main concern these days is our speed. At the moment our overall average speed is about 1 knot below our initial estimate. That puts us currently about 10 days behind the schedule. As of now, we are using the wind as our sole propulsion force and we’d like to keep it that way. There are few things to consider though. Food supplies, and diesel to run the generators are first to come to mind. We are already noticing a decline in fruit and vegetables. Bananas have and oranges have already disappeared from the table, apples are just about to go too. As a result, the use of the engine is being discussed but for now we are sticking to the wind only, especially since at the end of the week the winds picked up and we enjoy a very nice sailing at the moment. Even the “rainy period” has stopped. On the edge of week 6, we enjoy real tropical weather.
Sailing to the Netherlands proved to be a good decision as the latest news from Argentina confirmed further extension of the lockdown period up until September. I cannot imagine anchoring in port for so long, not being able to fly home. I believe, sailing was the best way out. The last few days have been frustrating us with slow progress but at least we were still going. The last day of April we just passed the 4000 nautical miles mark and we are reaching an average of 5-6 knots of speed. If the current winds hold up, in couple of day we reach the Equator, another important milestone.
Ricky, I share your love of stargazing in the Southern Hemisphere. I will never forget my voyage on the Europa from Lunenburg NS to Ushuaia and seeing the Small Magellanic Cloud for the first time in binoculars instead of pictures. I have been following the ship closely for the past few days, and it seems as though you have picked up a nice wind from the south west... last I checked you were doing 7.5 Kn which is very respectable. I hope you are able to keep this up as you continue on above the equator.... Speaking of which, did Neptune show up in that neighborhood? Please log some of the detail of the sailing plan and the projected course when possible. Looking at the projected winds, it seems to me that sooner or later you will have to tack towards the Cape Verde Islands to enable a sail course home. Any comments would be appreciated. Wishing you all fair winds!!
Gary Kirkpatrick | 06-05-2020 17:23 uur