1st/2nd April The wind finally arrives - with the ITCZ

Tuesday 1st April - 'Poisson d'Avril'

- no flying or other fish seen .... but I was certainly made a fool of by the supposed fair current.... Around 6pm, I was delighted to see our speed over the ground seemingly creep up to match our boatspeed & stay that way - great... had we finally found the current we'd been searching for?? But by 9pm, we were back to the usual foul current.... and by Wednesday, we were losing a knot of boatspeed to current all day long.

We motorsailed all day in 6knots of ENE-NNE wind, under light cloud cover, with a lovely visit by a small group of acrobatic dolphins at midday ... all very pleasant and warm, with not too much swell. Around 6pm, the sky was quite hazy, almost foggy, all around - humidity was 88% & I wondered if a drop in temperature was causing the effect. At 9.20pm, I was seated down below when I suddenly realized we were heeling way over ... WIND had arrived ....with HEAVY rain!! I turned off the engine and we were finally sailing nicely in NE 10 knots... for all of an hour, before the wind died & boatspeed dropped to below 3knots (and SOG to below 2 knots!) Rain came a couple more times, again bringing wind for a short while only, but by 2am I decided to leave the motor off ... We were under full sail in pitch darkness ... no moon or stars.

Wednesday 2nd April

As the night progressed, the wind came up more - by 4am, I had to put a reef in the mains'l as we heeled over like mad in 18 knots of apparent wind on a close reach. Soon after daybreak, there were lots of impressively big clouds everywhere - we were clearly in the ITCZ! We were now sailing close-hauled really well - making over 7 knots with a reef in the genoa also by now, but losing to current... grey, forbidding skies all around, HEAVY rainsqualls later on, big 3m seas... boat crashing into the seas regularly and water sweeping the decks...very uncomfortable! I got soaked several times in the downpours, while adjusting the sails. We shipped a load of water into the main cabin.... curses...."Who was the idiot who forgot the hatch cracked open in the 'vent' position?" (That took some time to mop up...! Thank goodness the computer wasn't in the line of fire.)

By later in the evening, the wind & swell has calmed down & the wind has veered to the NE, rather than ENE as in the daytime, so sheets have been eased a bit and we're sailing more smoothly under reefed mains'l & full genoa, in light rain still, making 5-6knots SOG.

Maybe tomorrow the grey skies of the ITCZ will be left behind...?? I'm still dreaming of a lovely 2 knot Equatorial current pushing us at speed in good wind along to Trinidad under blue skies with fluffy white clouds.... Dream on...!

Written by : Mike

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