Day 297 Fri-Sat 26-27 July 2019 GMT ITCZ region passed through without a problem - it vanished!

Friday Midday Tahiti/Hawaii time (Fri 2200GMT) Quite a lot of cloud - but mainly scattered light clouds, no big grey rainclouds seen.
Running generator and watermaker. Had a small worry when I saw no water was coming through to the tank - but then, thinking maybe some air had got into the system since last run a few days ago, I ran it for a few minutes un-pressurized and then pressurized it again - problem solved - to my relief! I've been keeping every bottle I can find, small or big, filled with water all the time, just in case...

Still making an excellent speed ... 6.5-7kt. On checking the latest weather info, it looks as though the small Low coming W soon should stay behind us, if we can keep up a good speed, and the Tropical Depression coming next week is also likely not to pose a problem so long as, again, I can keep us going at 5.5-6 kt on average - in that case, we'd be through the Island chain by the time it reaches the Big Island.
We're likely to see some light winds over the next 1-2 days but, fingers crossed, the ITCZ might prove fairly benign, for a change - I live in hope!
Time for a midday siesta...

2:15pm An almost completely overcast sky - very few patches of blue. Noticeable following sea - swell from the SSE, added to the previous SE swell.
Downloading a weatherfax - isobaric chart of SE part of N Pacific and a satellite IR photo of clouds ('satpic').

Forecast from Honolulu: ITCZ FROM 08N154W TO 06N170W. ISOLATED MODERATE TSTMS WITHIN 90 NM OF ITCZ.
Great! Means that here, around 146W, there is NO ITCZ to worry about. We're E of 154W and the region noted... Good news! We're nearly at 7N now, expect to pass 8N overnight and 9N by this time tomorrow.... so likely not to suffer from any major 'convection' in passing through this region where normally the ITCZ is present.
Satpic being downloaded now is showing the cloud cover I'm seeing but mostly just to W of here. Humidity is around 70% and cabin temperature around 32C/90F so a bit warm and muggy...
Grabbing my hairbrush and going on deck, into the cooling breeze - need to keep my hair under control and untangled!

5:30pm Very quiet, peaceful downwind sailing. Wind has dropped and I'm debating letting out a reef - but night is coming on very soon, so unless our speed drops a lot more, I'm inclined to leave the reef in overnight.

Very grey sky, mostly covered in light rainclouds - had a short, very light shower an hour ago.
Enjoyed a mug of broccoli and cauliflower soup before my meal of salmon just now - but had to leave it quite a while to cool down - it's too warm to be drinking hot soup!
A pair of red-footed boobies seen earlier and another bird, possibly a shearwater... dark upper, light below with black breast or chin (just below its head) and thin wings, flying close to the water.

8:15pm Feeling really frustrated just now - speed dropped, so shook out the second reef I'd been thinking about and our speed went up for a short while - but now wind has dropped a lot more and we're struggling to make 3.5kt.
Cloud has almost completely cleared away to leave a beautiful starry sky - but the wind left with the cloud...
Outlook is for more of the same, it seems. So my hopes of keeping ahead of the oncoming weather systems might be dashed - meaning another delay to my finish if we need to avoid the systems rather than sailing fast enough to keep ahead of them. The second system is looking to develop in a particularly nasty way..

Saturday 4:25am Tahiti/Hawaii time (Sat 1425 GMT) Woken by heavy rain in the darkness. Not too much wind and not heeled over too badly - glad of my clear screen that kept the open companionway hatch area fairly dry, despite the middle zip being partly open. Hope the rain rinsed off the boat - everything had become sticky with a salty film.

We put on some speed under the raincloud but speed was later back down to around 5kt and likely to decrease.

5:45am Soon after the rain came sunrise, just around 5am - I was able to see the dramatic dark grey rainclouds towering up very clearly - always makes for a good photo-opportunity! A pink cloud high up to port, towards the W, was a pretty sight as was the silver crescent moon high overhead.
Changed course in fair wind from E, now. Getting concerned about the Low coming along soon and the probable Tropical depression following it next week. If we can't keep up a good enough speed to keep ahead of them, I'll have to take avoiding action...

8:45am Downloading satpic of cloud cover and weatherfaxes giving isobaric charts for up to 72hr/3days of forecasts. They add usefully to the GFS gribs I'm already getting for weather info.
Looking at problem Low and TD - seems that anything over 5kt would be fine to stay out of their way, but the faster, the better! All relies on the weather model predicting the track of the first Low and the following Tropical Depression accurately... Holding our present NNW course looks the best - means heading E of the Big Island, not S of it, as originally hoped... The TD is shown to be heading to the Big Island of Hawaii by next Saturday/Sunday and intensifying as it gets closer ... Will keep a careful watch in case change of plan is needed.
Making 5.5kt now and rolling a bit as we sail NNW downwind.

 

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"QSO Today" podcast of my interview with Eric, 4Z1UG is published now at https://www.qsotoday.com/podcasts/VE0JS

Link to the Adelaide ABC interview about my Equator crossing is:
https://www.dropbox.com/l/scl/AABxD90n-HB3iQfK-iF5EdSDK2zXs4iF3DU

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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 297. We made 128 n.ml. DMG, measured in a straight line between the two 1900GMT positions.

Total distance covered from Victoria, B.C., to end of Day 297 (by daily DMGs): 24,506 n.ml.

Distances (at 1700GMT): Cape Flattery: 2632 n.ml. to NNE; Honolulu: 1040 n.ml. to NNW; East Cape, N.Z.: 3405 n.ml. to SSW; Papeete, Tahiti: 1570 n.ml. to S

Position, as posted to www.Winlink.org and www.Shiptrak.org (using my US callsign KC2IOV):
TIME: 2019/07/27 19:00GMT LATITUDE: 08-20.84N LONGITUDE: 145-56.60W
COURSE: 335T SPEED: 5.8kt
WIND_SPEED: 13kt WIND_DIR: E SWELL_DIR: E SWELL_HT: 2.0m CLOUDS: 90%
BARO: 1012.9hPa TREND: 2 AIR_TEMP: 31.0C SEA_TEMP: 37.0C
COMMENT: Raincloud ahead....

Written by : Jeanne Socrates