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Day 296 Thurs-Fri 25-26 July 2019 GMT Excellent fast sailing in SE Trades overnight, headed to ITCZ

Thursday 10am Tahiti/Hawaii time (Thurs 2000 GMT) Was just about to write: "Another bright, sunny day with a few scattered white clouds..." when I realised sun had disappeared and our speed had dropped a lot - grey cloud overhead, rainclouds to starboard (upwind) and also off to port - grey and cloudy ahead, also.. Blue sky and scattered white clouds have been left astern - we're under a long band of rainclouds... but no rain, so far....

11am Dark grey cloud passed well astern and we got just a small amount of light rain as it passed over. By chance, we happened to pass right in between two big clouds! Sky looks to be clearing ahead. Speed was back to 5.8kt for a brief time but wind now only 10kt and our speed down to 4.5-5kt, at best.

Have been studying updated weather info - a Tropical Depression is forecast to move towards Hawaii from ESE as we start heading that way in 3-4 days' time from 10N. Looks as though only slightly N of similar track that I'd planned to sail, so will need to keep a careful watch.... It's hurricane season now. But first we have to get through the ITCZ (Doldrums) below 10N.

Midday Back to sunshine and scattered, light cloud - but wind still down, around 10-12kt, so our speed is also down.

Tightened the grease gland on the rudder shaft - we keep getting some water in the bilges from a leak there and having to pump it out fairly regularly. Made it easier to access, so gland can be tightened more often.

Busy clearing up in the galley. Any plastic items going into the garbage always need to be rinsed with seawater to prevent them from getting smelly while being stored away for landfall - after squashing flat, if possible.

I'm having to remind myself of the opposite circulation around Highs and Lows, now we're back in the Northern Hemisphere after so many months in the S. The winds around Lows are now blowing anticlockwise about their centre and around High pressure systems, wind direction is clockwise.

For several days, Magnetic Variation was a nice easy 10 degrees E but where we are today, it has become 9E.

3:15pm Big grey raincloud off to port - must surely have passed over us and I didn't notice - too busy with weatherfaxes and updating logbook... Making 5.7kt in about 15kt SE wind - pretty steady conditions, just now...

ITCZ ( VALID 1800 UTC JUL 25): " ITCZ FROM 08N148W TO 07N165W TO 09N180W. ISOLATED MODERATE TSTMS WITHIN 120 NM OF ITCZ."

10:30pm Have been making excellent speed for several hours now - looking at weather coming up, seems the only way to beat it is by keeping up a good speed - so into 'race mode' now... for as long as I (and my nerves!) can keep it up... Hope squalls stay away...

Soon will head due N through ITCZ and then will head NW towards Honolulu. Once through Hawaiian Island chain, will head N on 160W or so. Have to get around the N. Pacific High pressure system... Can't go through middle of it or I'll run out of wind! (Have had several emails asking about my route back to Victoria, B.C. - must work with expected/prevailing winds - can't head NNE all the way back from here - just won't work... no choice but to go a roundabout way!)

Friday 5am Tahiti/Hawaii time (fRI 1500GMT) Day breaking - first light in E. A few stars still seen and crescent moon high up in clear sky overhead. Only cloud in sky is a band over E and N horizons.

Just changed course in good wind, to head almost due N now.

ITCZ, if present, is ahead - one day's sail away, at 7-8N...

Making good speed at around 7 kt on beam reach in SE wind.

Back to my bunk for more sleep...

8:30am Lovely sunny day with quite a lot of light, scattered cloud - no grey clouds seen just now. More solid cloud layer ahead, light & scattered cloud in blue sky astern.

Making excellent speed still, as overnight - at around 7kt... Just changed course to due N for getting through ITCZ as quickly as possible - if we're lucky, we won't see much of it, but who knows? "What you see is what you get"...!! Downloading satpic, as I type this, to see where convection was positioned a short time ago... Looks like a broad swathe of cloud a bit further ahead just now...

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While sailing around the world, I'm trying to raise funds to help support the superb life-saving work done by the RNLI (Lifeboats) in Britain each and every day of the year, regardless how bad the weather. In fact, the worse it is, the more likely they are out there, helping someone in distress - whether a swimmer, surfer, small boat or big ship, night or day, summer or winter, and it is a charity - no government funding - so they rely on our help to fund their intensive training and maintain their equipment.

It would be great if you would take a moment to click on the Lifeboats link here (https://www.justgiving.com/fundraising/Jeanne-Socrates2), if you'd like to show your support for my efforts at sailing solo, nonstop, unassisted around the globe, trying to set a World Record as the oldest person to do so, by donating something towards the great work the RNLI do every day. If a lot of people put in even a small amount, it all adds up... Thanks a lot! If you can help, it will be very much appreciated. Let's see if we can reach my target!

(I hear that some readers might need to talk to their bank BEFORE trying to make a donation to the RNLI since many US banks routinely block foreign transactions unless they are notified in advance.)

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1900GMT (= 9 a.m. LT = Tahiti/Hawaii time) - end of Day 296. We made 145 n.ml. DMG, measured in a straight line between the two 1900GMT positions. Excellent SOG!

Total distance covered from Victoria, B.C., to end of Day 296 (by daily DMGs): 24,378 n.ml.

Distances (at 1700GMT): Cape Flattery: 2743 n.ml. to NNE; Honolulu: 1147 n.ml. to NNW; East Cape, N.Z.: 3310 n.ml. to SW; Papeete, Tahiti: 1448 n.ml. to S

Position, as posted to www.Winlink.org and www.Shiptrak.org (using my US callsign KC2IOV):

TIME: 2019/07/26 19:00GMT LATITUDE: 06-14.48N LONGITUDE: 145-39.83W

COURSE: 358T SPEED: 7.0kt

WIND_SPEED: 17kt WIND_DIR: SE SWELL_DIR: SE SWELL_HT: 2.5m CLOUDS: 40%

BARO: 1012.2hPa TREND: 2 AIR_TEMP: 31.0C SEA_TEMP: 35.0C

COMMENT: Good speed and course in good SE wind.

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