Wednesday 21st November 2012 Happy Thanksgiving to my US friends, for tomorrow - enjoy the turkey!
I was gazing up into the mainly clear, starry night sky, thinking how lovely it was and also wondering if our good luck in passing through the ITCZ would continue. There was a dark mass off to staroard - well downwind... and then I saw another long line of dark grey astern - upwind, so shouldn't be a problem.. but cloud was spreading over... Sure enough, a bit later, cloud had formed ahead also - but nothing too bad. We picked up speed , heeled slightly... and then slowly things calmed down and the cloud moved off downwind, to starboard. without us getting wet even
The air is so unstable here that clouds fom in no time, often in a long line, soon becoming very black and heavy with rain, so strong winds pick up very quickly.
Late this afternoon, I'd been relaxing after another lovely, sunny day's sail, chatting for a short time to Randy, KH6RC, (in Hawaii) on the Maritime Mobile Net on 14300kHz, and also briefly to Bill, KI4MMZ (in Florida). I went up on deck, after having begun to make some tea, and saw a nasty line of black cloud a distance ahead, slightly upwind, to port.... Off to starboard, the sun was setting beautifully in a mainly clear sky... I took a video of the scene, and then headed us more off the wind, towards the sunset, thinking we might be able to avoid the heavy rain and strong wind that was almost certainly coming our way.... but soon realised that wasn't going to work... I lowered the main and took in the second reef VERY fast!... and also furled in a lot of genoa... Since heading off the wind, to the SW, wasn't working, I hardened up, heading us upwind, on seeing that the worst of the cloud was moving rapidly to the W. We were making over 6kt and I was happy to see that my ploy was working - we had a few drops of rain, but avoided anything too strong, eventually passing beneath a grey layer - the tail end of the main, dark cloud.... Had we passed below the centre of the black cloud, we could easily have found sudden winds of up to 30kt and torrential rain - best to avoid all that, if possible! Over an hour later, I finally got to my mug of tea!
We're just S of 7N, in the middle of the ITCZ axis, according to all the weather info.. The wind has already veered to SE-SSE, from ENE earlier, and is supposed to stay SSE until past the Equator, when it should become the SE Trades and stay around SE for quite a time, as we head further S. So it's not too surprising to find our course tonight has become more SW than S. We're not making very good speed just now - that only comes with clouds! But I'll leave the reef in until daybreak - so long as we keep moving, that is!
This morning, I spent quite a long time sorting out some photos, ready for posting to my website, and trying to get the Iridium connection working using Winlink - so far no joy still, although the Sailmil connection is fine. I finally managed to send some photos, whch I hear were posted earlier today. One of them shows the cable that has come adrift at the mast top - a job for when we're in calm seas - soon, hopefully! It would be nice to get the wind info back on display again.
24hr DMG at 3pm: 120 n.ml. Golden Gate Bridge 1870n.ml & Strait of Juan de Fuca 2515n.ml away at 3pm & our position was then 1020 n ml SSW of Cabo San Lucas, Mexico. The Equator was 428 n.ml due S.... and the Galapagos Islands, 1560 ml to the ESE!
Sea temperature is still 34-35C.