Day 3. Crossing the ITCZ

A light breeze from ENE started on the morning of our third day at sea. At 7am for the first time we hoisted the blue reacher headsail and mainsail, and start plodding along at 4knots.

We celebrated the quiet of the wind in our sails with a hearty breakfast of fingerling potatoes, scrambled eggs, and banana/blackberry smoothie…thanks to frozen pulp in our little freezer.

We were not yet in the trade winds, however. The wind proved fickle, and grey blooming clouds up ahead reminded us: we need to first cross the ITCZ.

The ITCZ is the Inter-tropical Convergence Zone, the equatorial region between the northern and southern trade wind belts, with disturbed weather and inconsistent winds. The ITCZ is known for a predominance of squalls and confused seas.

Our logbook became filled with entries as we dealt with the variable conditions. – 1400 hrs. Wind dies after passing rainshower, motor for 30min.
– 1500hrs. Angry squall comes thru with reefed main, 20knots of wind, moderate rain, lasts 25 minutes – 1600hrs. Tea time. Even the ITCZ doesn’t stop Michael!

During dinner we get a lucky break: the wind is a lovely 11 knots, and we enjoy our Ravioli with green beans and avocado cream sauce along with a glass of chilled white wine. Then the lumpy seas return, slapping the hulls violently all night, bringing the crew up to the cockpit more than once, wondering if we have collided with something.. smack smack! Michael said it was akin to being inside a drum getting beat at irregular intervals. Not a great sleeping environment!

Spencer tackles the 9pm-1am night shift, with a reported 10 course changes. Sabrina does 1-5am, then Kristian is on 5-9am, with Michael “on training”.

As dawn breaks, we count six distinct squalls – ie. dark clouds with sheets of rain – surrounding us in every direction. The wind varies between 7-20 knots, swinging from NE-SE direction, always strengthening as a rainshower approaches. Our cockpit windows are zipped up and we are dry and cozy inside. The blue reacher sail handles all the gusts, occasionally sending Aldebaran galloping at 9 knots. We are lucky not to make too many sail changes, just reefing the main once.

Then at 7:45am, as if we went over a geographical boundary, like the backside of a mountain pass where the clouds can no longer form, the full moon peaked out from the clouds for the first time, and blue sky appeared ahead. Behind us, like the curtain of Mordor, was a line of darkness, impressively distinct. Ahead of us, friendly puffy clouds scattered the horizon. It was cartoon-like in precision, I could imagine a highway sign behind us pointing to “ITCZ” and another ahead of us pointing “Trade Winds”. Could this really be?

We had walked through the Earth’s doorway, arguably the real “Equator”, the centerline of her belly which groans lightly… stuck between the freshness of her NE and SE tropical trade winds.

9am. Wednesday, April 12, 2017
Distance to Ducie Atoll: 2049 nautical miles
Distance traveled in last 24hrs: 118 miles (sailing) average speed 4.9knots.

Current conditions.
SOG: 6 knots under sail COG: 233 deg Wind: 10 knots ESE

Location: S 05 49.793 W 095 25.047

Current position…

4 thoughts on “Day 3. Crossing the ITCZ

  1. MUITO bom ler seus posts! Sou sua mãe, tudo bem, sou suspeita… mas acho que vc escreve SUPER bem. Adoro, mesmo quando não entendo absolutamente tudo…!

    Só não consigo fazer um comment…wordpress asks me for a log in and I’m lost…

    Muitíssimos beijos e todo o amor do mundo, Mamãe


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