We motored in the calm of the southern doldrum. Big, rolling swells converged from 3 directions with impressive, but gentle effects.
Within two days we expect a moderate 25-30kt wind from the SE, funneled by a high pressure (clear skies) entering our zone. Then a small low pressure (rain) is supposed to come right along our path on May 1-2. Which is soon! So decisions needed to be made.
Our general route strategy has been to take a more southerly course than the “rhumb line” to Pitcairn, so that once we got to this latitude and experienced south winds, we could “turn right” and not take them on our bow. Steering towards Ducie Atoll, which is 300nm east of Pitcairn, was part of that rationale. But now with the low pressure front coming in a few days, the wind will become much more squirrely, and we need to find protection if it happens to get stormy.
So… time for a course change: let’s go direct to Pitcairn! Although it has reputedly challenging anchorages, it still has better shelter than the low-lying, sandy atoll of Ducie. And friendly people to help us.
Dang it. Landfall was so close (just 300nm to Ducie), now it will be a few more days away, (600nm total to Pitcairn, about 4.5 days. Oh well, just a few more days!
The timing is a little tricky. Ideally, we need to arrive in Pitcairn by early afternoon on Sunday April 30 to get situated before the low pressure front approaches. This requires an average speed of 5.7knots from our current position.
That boat speed is doable with the trade winds, but not with the light puffs of 5-8kts from this doldrum area. So Mr. Isuzu got woken up back to life- to help us make ground while conditions are calm.
With the sun shining in smooth seas, Mr. Isuzu rumbled along with Ziggy at the helm. Spence and Kristian installed new hardware for reefing: better cleats and a block for the boom hoist. Epoxy, caulking, and Lanocote were brought out with the power tools. The boys were pleased with the results at the end of the day: the reefing system was now solid!
Under the glow of Lucy lights and a peaceful sunset, we enjoyed Sabby’s Mexican Pizza – boatmade corn gorditas (thick tortillas), mozzarella, plus beans and veggies – as we powered along on our new course: 250 degrees, west-southwest. We were heading into the sunset more than ever.
TODAY’S ALDEBARAN POSITION
(end of Day 18).
0900 hrs. April 27, 2017
S 23 39.507 W 122 26.423
Distance to Ducie: 140nm (but will bypass)
Distance to Pitcairn: 427nm
Wind 6-8kts NE
SOG: motoring at 6.4kts, 1700rpm for moderate speed and fuel usage. COG: 250 degrees (WSW)