Day23 Thurs-Fri 25-26 October 2018 Arrive at 10N - ITCZ entered with a big rainsquall... then v. little, v. shifty wind

Thurs 5pm Things beginning to calm down a bit now from earlier - seas still fairly steep at times but not so high resulting in not so much rolling around.

Looks like several days of being becalmed is coming up. Hopefully, there'll be a slight breeze at times to make way occasionally but not looking good... Not having the use of an engine to get through the calm areas will make the passage south a lot longer.

Just released first reef - winds definitely easing.

Having to put out towels everywhere to be comfortable when touching surfaces - when writing up my log, the paper gets wet otherwise.

Had a pleasant couple of chats on 40m - excellent copy on two hams - one from near Los Angeles and another in Indiana - good signals from both of them, so no problem chatting.

7.30pm Was having a mug of tea, sitting out in the cockpit, enjoying the refreshing cool air, having brought in the boom to reach the preventer lines and re-connect the starboard preventer - feel far more comfortable with that in place in this swell on a broad reach. A few 3m/10ft steep-faced waves came along dead astern - and, suddenly, there we were, surfing at over 7 kt down the face of each one - good fun!!! We've slowed down a lot, despite full canvas - only making around 5-5.5kt now. The sky is almost completely covered, but with light cloud - no threatening, towering cumulus - yet! Light is fading fast. The moon should be rising soon, if not already, but its bright light will be dimmed by the cloud layer. Down below, the air is very warm and humid - I finally gave up on long trousers - far too hot! Definitely into light summer gear now - bare arms and legs...

Enjoyed an apple - three more left...

We're due W of Costa Rica by 2,500 miles just now. Tomorrow, we'll be due W of Panama....

8pm Time for the Pacific Seafarers' Net on 14300kHz and my daily evening check in and weather report. I keep hearing boats I know checking in - it's nice to find out where they are now. I met most of them in La Cruz de Huanacaxtle, Mexico, over the last few years when they were preparing for their Pacific crossing to the Marquesas and French Polynesia.

11.30pm Wind has dropped right down to 11kt, occasionally up to 14kt, so we've slowed right down ... Doldrums, here we come! Well- that was clearly the 'lull before the storm', almost exactly on reaching 10N. Wind came up suddenly just after writing that - to well over 20kt. We were rushing along due west in a rain squall.... with me frantically reefing down and getting very wet... unwanted excitement! The wind direction had changed from NE to ESE so our course and sail trim needed adjusting. We've been mainly close-hauled ever since then. At least we've all had a wash down in fresh water!

Fri 8am: In fact, all night long, I've been up at least once an hour to check on our heading in wind that finally settled down - right down - to 8kt during the night but 5kt now, from different directions but mainly either SE, SW or S. That meant we had trouble heading S and actually have gone around in a big wiggly loop, frequently headed either NW or NE. At sunrise, there was another major windshift which seemed to coincide with passing a long line of grey cloud.

The best I can do in present conditions is to keep the wind to starboard if it's from the SW quadrant, or to port, if from SE quadrant. That way there's a chance we might make some southing... We've made less than 8 miles of southing in the 9 hours since heading due W when the squall hit last night and we're about 4 miles further W.

8.30am We were heading SW - at 1.4kt! - having made a semi-circle as the 4-5kt wind veered to WSW as I wrote this..... Having just adjusted Fred, we're now heading almost S - at least, until the wind shifts again.... Time for beakfast, with half an eye on the wind direction and our resulting course... and then, maybe, a nap.

Day23 Thurs-Fri 25-26 October 2018

5pm Things beginning to calm down a bit now from earlier - seas still fairly steep at times but not so high resulting in not so much rolling around.

Looks like several days of being becalmed is coming up. Hopefully, there'll be a slight breeze at times to make way occasionally but not looking good... Not having the use of an engine to get through the calm areas will make the passage south a lot longer.

Just released first reef - winds definitely easing.

Having to put out towels everywhere to be comfortable when touching surfaces - when writing up my log, the paper gets wet otherwise.

Had a pleasant couple of chats on 40m - excellent copy on two hams - one from near Los Angeles and another in Indiana - good signals from both of them, so no problem chatting.

7.30pm Was having a mug of tea, sitting out in the cockpit, enjoying the refreshing cool air, having brought in the boom to reach the preventer lines and re-connect the starboard preventer - feel far more comfortable with that in place in this swell on a broad reach. A few 3m/10ft steep-faced waves came along dead astern - and, suddenly, there we were, surfing at over 7 kt down the face of each one - good fun!!! We've slowed down a lot, despite full canvas - only making around 5-5.5kt now. The sky is almost completely covered, but with light cloud - no threatening, towering cumulus - yet! Light is fading fast. The moon should be rising soon, if not already, but its bright light will be dimmed by the cloud layer. Down below, the air is very warm and humid - I finally gave up on long trousers - far too hot! Definitely into light summer gear now - bare arms and legs...

Enjoyed an apple - three more left...

We're due W of Costa Rica by 2,500 miles just now. Tomorrow, we'll be due W of Panama....

8pm Time for the Pacific Seafarers' Net on 14300kHz and my daily evening check in and weather report. I keep hearing boats I know checking in - it's nice to find out where they are now. I met most of them in La Cruz de Huanacaxtle, Mexico, over the last few years when they were preparing for their Pacific crossing to the Marquesas and French Polynesia.

11.30pm Wind has dropped right down to 11kt, occasionally up to 14kt, so we've slowed right down ... Doldrums, here we come! Well- that was clearly the 'lull before the storm', almost exactly on reaching 10N. Wind came up suddenly just after writing that - to well over 20kt. We were rushing along due west in a rain squall.... with me frantically reefing down and getting very wet... unwanted excitement! The wind direction had changed from NE to ESE so our course and sail trim needed adjusting. We've been mainly close-hauled ever since then. At least we've all had a wash down in fresh water! Must get out my sailing gloves - hauling on wet ropes with bare hands is an excellent prescription for blistered fingers...

Fri 8am: In fact, all night long, I've been up at least once an hour to check on our heading in wind that finally settled down - right down - to 8kt during the night but 5kt now, from different directions but mainly either SE, SW or S. That meant we had trouble heading S and actually have gone around in a big wiggly loop, frequently headed either NW or NE. At sunrise, there was another major windshift which seemed to coincide with passing a long line of grey cloud.

The best I can do in present conditions is to keep the wind to starboard if it's from the SW quadrant, or to port, if from SE quadrant. That way there's a chance we might make some southing... We've made less than 8 miles of southing in the 9 hours since heading due W when the squall hit last night and we're about 4 miles further W.

8.30am We were heading SW - at 1.4kt! - having made a semi-circle as the 4-5kt wind veered to WSW as I wrote this..... Having just adjusted Fred, we're now heading almost S - at least, until the wind shifts again.... Time for beakfast, with half an eye on the wind direction and our resulting course... and then, maybe, a nap.

Later - well, I managed breakfast but no nap. Just before midday, two enormous rainclouds appeared close by and, despite trying to dodge the one upwind of us, it caught us, of course... Several wind shifts involved changing tack each time, twice backng the main. Reefed down as the wind started rising, as a precautuon - often these clouds have 30kt winds in them - but not seen anything over 20kt so far. Mainly heading W now in S-SE wind. Tried tacking around, thinking would be nice to head more S, but didn't work out - wind shifted and dropped just then. We're 'going with the flow' just now and hoping to get onto a better course soon.

Forecast is still for no wind very soon...

1200 PDT - end of Day23. We made 75 n.ml. (DMG) over the 24 hr period since yesterday - 65ml were made reaching 10N around midnight PDT and the other 10 ml DMG since then (12hrs!) - a lot more, of course, in actual distance travelled... but not in the right direction!

Position & weather report posted to Winlink.org and Shiptrak.org (using my US callsign of kc2iov) not long after midday PDT (=1900 GMT):

TIME: 2018/10/26 20:43GMT LATITUDE: 09-50.00NLONGITUDE: 129-52.88W COURSE: 255T SPEED: 3.6kt WIND_SPEED: 11kt WIND_DIR: SE SWELL_DIR: N SWELL_HT: 1.5m CLOUDS: 100% BARO: 1011.8 hPa TREND: -1 AIR_TEMP: 28.0C SEA_TEMP: 35.0C COMMENT: ITCZ - big rainclouds giving wind - shifts all over...

Written by : Jeanne Socrates