Sunday, July 27, 2008

Shiriri Saga # 34. Rolling Down the Trades.

                         Watch out for squalls.

One week out we finally left the frustrating calms and variable winds and found the trades ( oh, a lifetime of imagination: a flowing sheet, warm blue seas, a steady breeze.) to be not much of a fair trade. The journal entries tell it well.

The Journal:
March 23. Wind continued and seas remained large and lumpy into the afternoon. Not making much speed though. Mid afternoon things settled down, Bill and Anne put up the red drifter and we began to really move! We all slept during the day and we had a shower so are feeling pretty good even though we are still rolling and rocking. Tonight is one of those pre-cooked soups I canned for supper. I made tea a few minutes ago and scrapped all earlier plans. Heating something in one pot sounds quite challenging enough!

Every afternoon Anne goes on the “puddle jumpers net” and we enjoy that SO much - along with the “chat’ some of the boats do afterwards. Lots of info. about weather etc. from boats ahead & fish & birds & tankers spotted etc.

Big news,we did 110 miles in 24 hrs.

We have seen various types of sea birds: mostly boobies who are very tame..... Well, tame may not be quite the word to use. For example, they fly around us in an unsteady sort of way, looking like they might accidently crash into a sail or mast. (They are boobies after all.) When after great effort they land on a stay or mast top, they are constantly shuffling their webbed feet to keep balanced. Those that sleep-over do mess the decks up a bit but we like the company and amusement out here on the deep blue sea.

Tropic Bird tries to land on the swaying mast.

A tropic bird checked out the top of the mainmast this morning but we were rolling so much he gave up. Shook his pretty white tail and flew off.

Sailing at five knots across a quartering sea. Getting used to the rolling motion but it is hard to work on deck or in the galley.

Dolphins in the wake at night.

Day 9.
More of the above. The boats ahead of us reported rolling in the trades so we should have been prepared. Last night on my watch in the dark of the moon I had a dolphin visit. A few snorts attracted my attention to the breaking wave crests beside me. All mixed and woven through the foam were bright meteor trails of phosphorescence as they zoomed along keeping me company.

Day 10.
Last night the wind and waves turned miserable, so that steering was a nightmare of rocking and rolling, the rails practically going under - & no sleep for those down below. On my watch around 4:30, we hove-to for a couple of hours. Then we dropped our sails, started the engine and headed south west. This seems to be a system affecting most of the boats in the vicinity.

Day 11.
Another day of sailing downwind in steep lumpy seas. It`s hard to make much speed when Shiriri squirms around a lot in the confused waves. There is a N.W. swell, and a N.E. swell crossing so there are great heaps of water sticking up all over. Then in the afternoon an east swell also showed up!

We rigged up an old sailcloth tarp to keep us dry and shady in the cockpit.

Big clouds built up with mini squalls beneath as they passed overhead. We reduced sail to forestaysail which slowed us down except in the squalls. Thunder and lightning in the evening. Then the deluge: many very large drops of rain. Heather got soaked. A quiet dark night after all the excitement had moved on.

Reddy to the masthead. A used drifter we recut as a drifter/mainstaysail.

Day 12.
Covered some water last night under staysail alone. Very dark, phosphorescence glittering in our bow wave and a milky white wake. By morning the wind had dropped to a light breeze & Anne and I got the foresail up and the red between-the-masts staysail (Reddy). Even so we dawdle along south at four knots. Got John Henry ( the self steering vane) back to work, so steering is easy.

No more rain squalls today, Puffy cumulus clouds.

On the HF radio net this afternoon, the first boat in our group crossed the equator.

We ourselves are almost at the 1000 mile point. Over one third the way.

The next interesting area ahead of us is the ITCZ.

Day 13.
After a peaceful night sailing south under foresail beneath a series of black clouds, we opened daylight with a fantastic sunrise.

The day has been good for sailing but very uncomfortable with a six foot chop coming from all directions ( a counter current?). Shiriri lifts and bucks and heels way over. Poor Heather has to produce food in this stuff! She hurt her fingers - crushed in the fore hatch - Anne dug out the ice pack. Alright now.

Day 14.
AM. Pancakes for breakfast! Shower! Feeling good! Wind still NE at 12 to 15 knots, but the seas have evened out overnight. Anne talked to Victoria in Costa Rica, Wylie E. Coyote ahead of us, and Alikai in Puerto Vallarta behind us, last night.

PM. We have motor sailed this afternoon both because we need to recharge our batteries and because the trades have died down. We are in the ITCZ with it`s many rain squalls. We are busy funneling the water off the dodger, but it will take a lot of rain to fill the tanks.

This evening we have decided to motor sail through the night to get through this zone as quickly as possible. We don`t want any more thunderstorms, and sitting around with no wind for a few days increases our chances of being hit!

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