Monday, July 28, 2008

Shiriri Saga #35. And in the Beginning....the ITCZ.


We have entered a new world: the ITCZ is such an inadequate title for this seascape of mists and imaginings. Creation, is closer to it. This is our first long journey into the oceanic world and those first two weeks were times of adjustment: to isolation, to long days of discomfort, to perpetual lack of sleep. The world was too much with us and we felt the strain without many moments of wonder at our surroundings. The phosphorescence, the visiting dolphins, the amazing sunrises and sunsets were just the opening acts for what the ITCZ will reveal to us. It will change us for ever!

The struggle does not diminish, rather it is more frustrating than before, but now we have been tired for so long that it becomes normal and therefore less noticeable. The winds are light, average, strong, variable, squally when we are about to be enveloped in a monster cloud and we are always lowering sails and raising them again. When a cloud catches us the wind fans out from it`s advancing black front. I stand at the foremast, foresail halyards in hand and watch the wind waves, the size of the white caps that race towards Shiriri. If they seem not too bad, I let the sails feel the wind, heel us over and we race forward. If too strong, I will lower the sail and let the forstaysail carry us through the squall. After the wind, we are enveloped in mist and heavy rain. The rain is so heavy that the waves are smoothed off like mountains with mist drifting in the valleys. After some minutes of this, the rain eases, it lightens to windward, and out we pop into the sunny world again. Up goes the sail and we are on back on course. Hopefully someone has put the hoses from our dodger catchment into the fresh water tanks to add a few more gallons. Sometimes we shower in the deluge. One day we performed this manoeuver twelve times in twelve hours.

At night it is even more difficult to judge the power inherent in an approaching cloud as the helmsman looks over her left shoulder and tries to see the horizon through the dark base of the overtaking cloud. If visible, carry on, if its black and nasty, call up the watch below to drop sail. I get so accustomed to this routine that I can wake up, jump on deck, hook on to a safety line, drop the sail, hoist again and be back fast asleep in my berth in fifteen minutes.

Spinner Dolphins and Liptons tea.

What a unique place this is, home to the sea creatures around us and yet wrapped and shrouded in enormous clouds that lift warm moist air high into the air and into the circulation that will return it to earth much farther north where it will once again become the trade winds blowing back toward the equatorial regions and the ITCZ. We are adjusting slowly to be part of this word and feel privileged to be here: it is truly like being in at the beginning of a world that is being forged over and over again. This is an eternal realm.


AM. Last evening, as it was getting dark, we were adjusting the wind vane and in the process Anne got her head bashed by the lazarette hatch. It was an abrasion, and not serious, but BLOOD everywhere!

H. And I split the watches two hours on and off as it was a bouncy night with Shiriri rolling her guts out. It was a long night. We were falling asleep standing at the wheel!

This morning, Anne took a watch, when we finally got John Henry steering again, while we slept. More phosphorescence and dolphins last night but no rain squalls.

I just shook the reef out of the foresail and we are broad reaching in 15 to 20 knots of wind from the N.E. Like this all night, so we are foaming along at five knots plus.

PM. 05 00 20 N., 122 08 00 W. Ta Da!! We just passed the half way point: 1340 nautical miles in each direction.

The stars above, and flashing lights below.

Day 22.
Last night we had one small squall at midnight and then light winds. Anne and Heather had the star book out identifying the constellation of the Southern Cross. Later, on watch with little to do, I used the binoculars to have a look at the Milky Way. Wow! It seemed that we ourselves were on a space ship voyaging among the stars. But really we are on another kind of ship designed to move with the winds along the boundary of water and atmosphere on the watery planet, third out from the star called Sun.

Suppertime, after a lovely days sail. Still sliding along under full canvas 3' away from the equator.

Aiming for a gap in the dotted line.

6:11. Very close now, motoring past a spectacular sunset. The wind almost died, so we doused the main in preparation for night sailing. Heather has the wine glasses out and pineapple upside down cake ready. Almost dark!

00 00 00 degrees. We`re here.

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