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Day 13 from Tahiti to Honolulu - through the ITCZ - dark grey clouds, big seas.

Friday 29th June 2012

A day full of incident....

As half-expected, another big rainsquall - just before dawn... AIS showed a fishing vessel, 'Ningtai I' passing astern - no problem.... but soon after, I saw another ship on AIS - clearly heading our way and expected to pass very close - well within one mile - that's a collision course in my book! Eventually, its name came up on the screen - 'Cap Pasado' - and the watchkeeper finally responded to my VHF calls. "I'm keeeping an eye on you and will turn to starboard," he said.... (meaning he'll pass ahead of us, way too close...!) I asked him please to pass astern of me, as a sailing vessel under sail.... He agreed to turn to port.... situation resolved... It was a big cargo vessel, headed to Auckland, N.Z., and came close enough to see clearly in the grey light of a stormy dawn, with the long sausage of the grey, rolling ITCZ rainclouds just ahead of us.

We were making good speed but being tossed about in the rough seas and about to be engulfed by a rainstorm . Passing through the main ITCZ axis, we somehow managed to avoid a lot of the rain falling fom the towering clouds but the winds were strong... and once through, the heavy grey rainclouds continued over the day and into tonight - we're still being tossed around by the close, steep 3-4m seas ,while keeping up a good speed in ENE 20 kt winds, despite being well reefed down. In fact, there was a pleasant lull after passing through the main line of grey clouds and I shook out the 2nd reef - but I soon regretted that and had to tie it in again - we were well heeled over!

Looking at the satellite picture I downloaded early in the day, it seems we were lucky in passing through a less active part of the ITCZ - no black clouds, no lightning...and not so much heavy rain either! But it's certainly been rough saiing all day long.....

So now, we're finally headed directly for Hawaii in good ENE winds - we should be in Honolulu in just over a week's time.

DMG today: 128 n.ml. Honolulu: 1178 n.ml.

Written by : Mike

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