29/30th June, 1st July (Days 27-29) Lots of rainclouds, some squalls, but not m

Happy Canada Day (1st July) to all my Canadian friends!!

Thursday 1st July 2010

(I just popped up on deck to check before finishing this ready to 'post' it... beautiful! Clear sky and stars overhead and the bright moon just managing to rise above the bank of cloud hugging the horizon all around....)

Had 3 Masked boobies visit late yesterday - but they couldn't find anywhere to perch (they like to do that overnight & leave visiting cards...) so they just flew around - five seen this morning. I'm looking out for red-tailed or white-tailed tropic birds - delicate-looking birds with LONG, fine, red or white tail streamers... Breed near to Hanalei Bay (at the Lighthouse Reserve) & I've seen one or two occasionally over the last week.
We're possibly losing that infernal foul Equatorial current - got SOG consistently up to 7 knots overnight for several hours ( boatspeed ~7.4 kt) ... a much better speed! Had a few squalls - but nothing too bad... But SE wind was down to ~16 knots by morning and varying- so we were only making 5.8-6.5 kt - not so bad, I suppose.

I'm finally headed almost due north to my last waypoint before heading to Kauai direct. Even got plenty of fuel left in reserve for charging batteries and motoring through any calms we meet up with. Just that little matter of the ITCZ ahead at ~8N - but if I'm really lucky, I might find the gap that was there the other day.... and squeeze through....

I'm writing this under what was a grey, totally overcast sky, full of rainclouds at nightfall. We've had frequent showers most of the day, but nothing too heavy and none of the strong winds that normally accompany squalls (TSTMs). The latest weather forecast is encouraging:

NATIONAL WEATHER SERVICE HONOLULU HI (NORTH PACIFIC EQUATOR TO 30N BETWEEN 140W AND 160E)

........ITCZ FROM 08N140W TO 08N155W TO 04N171E. .... ISOLATED MODERATE TSTMS WITHIN 120 NM OF THE ITCZ.

Our position at 0540 UTC (local 7:40pm) was 6N 152W ... so I'm only expecting 'isolated, moderate' squalls for the next two days. The ITCZ is at 8N & almost non-existent near our position ... none of the usual lightning and thunder and heavy squalls as I got when headed south from the Cape Verdes last October (My log entry for 18th Oct '09, E of the C. Verdes: "Very frequent lightning .....")

The wind died right down and backed to ESE from SSE a short while ago. I've been waiting to see if that's due to an unseen cloud (it's pitch dark!) before doing anything - we're making very little progress. I've just started the engine to give us a 'push' and motor-sail in the increased apparent wind! If the wind increases, it's an easy matter to cut the engine - and in the meantime, we can charge the batteries - they need it. (Oops!! I forgot to connect the jump-leads between the start battery & the domestic bank.... Just looked over at the meter to see how much charge was going in ... nada!!) LATER: That running of the engine only lasted twenty minutes! Must have been a 'cloud effect' ... That's what I don't like at night ... before the moon gets up, and with overcast skies to stop any starlight, it's so dark, you can't see a thing - we go rushing into a black void!!

Generally over the day, we've made good speed. The grey overcast started spreading over a sunny sky early this afternoon but the morning was lovely, once the rainclouds moved away. I'd enjoyed sitting on deck in the cooling breeze.

One thing I've been busy organizing over the last week is a replacement seawater pump for the generator. My original idea was to get friends from SF on the SHTP Race Cttee, to bring one out to Kauai with them - which they've kindly done. But then I realized, after an email comment from the helpful F-P dealer (Mike Elliott) in Cape Town, that this was a warranty matter- so with the help also of Tom, K4XV, (Net Control for the Pacific Seafarers Net) who lives in Kauai, I contacted the Florida HQ of Fischer-Panda.... A replacement pump is on its way! Due to be delivered to Tom's house tomorrow, ready for my arrival in Kauai next week! And a service agent is being contacted to come to replace it.... So I'll have a spare pump ... and a new one in place ... and I'll be able to watch and learn how to replace them. (I'll also get the faulty one serviced, to give me another spare.,.)

Wed 30th June

Just got hit by series of squalls this morning soon after dawn - big rainclouds... Had a few exciting moments, frantic winching/reefing when wind gets up really strongly...!! One BIG squall came through - just got on deck in time to deal with it... 30+ winds in no time..!! Then a couple more, not so strong, but rest of day has been lovely. Think the strong current might be lessening - had a few rainclouds around this afternoon ... Laying my course and making good speed - 6.7 kt SOG (boatspd 7.2 kt) - if only that Equatorial current weren't slowing me down, I'd be making 150 ml days!!

It seems this is a 'La Nina' year and that means NE Trades near Hawaii are more likely to be E than NE - which is good news for me since I don't have to worry about making much more Easting than we already have, in order to get a good angle on the wind should it become NE. ...

Moon shining ..... path of light to boat....

Been making over 7 knots for several hours - until rainsquall came through, to make me furl genoa more for overnight... so now only 6 kt or so... but course excellent in SE wind.

Tues 29th June

(150 ml from Christmas Island) Lovely sunny day, but just as well I've good wind (~16kt) or I'd be heading for Papua New Guinea/N. Australia!! ... 7kt boatspeed but only 5.6kt SOG - that W-flowing Equatorial current is really strong just now and cutting my speed/affecting my course! But I've actually been getting some Easting into the 'bank' over the last day or so - all good news for when I hit the NE Trades! .... So long as I can average 5.3 kt or more and manage to stay on course, I'll be in Kauai by 9th July...

OOPS! Just had a load of water come shooting over my dodger - a big wave catches us now and then .. the upwind beat hasn't been too bad for the most part - all depends on how strong the wind is as to how bad the swell gets and so how often we fall into a trough or get hit by a crest....

24hr daily runs: Tuesday: 127 n.ml. Wednesday: 134 n.ml. Thursday: 145 n.ml. DTF (Thurs 0000 UTC): 1048 n.ml.

Written by : Mike

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