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Days 23 & 24: Fri/Sat 25/26 June NO SQUALLS!!! A partial lunar eclipse.

Fri/Sat 25/26 June Calm motor-sailing in light wind & hot sunshine - NO SQUALLS!!! A partial lunar eclipse.

Friday was a great day for relaxing and catching up on much-needed sleep in increasingly light winds - NO squalls all day, although there was a fair amount of cloud around by late afternoon. I saw one or two rainshowers in the distance, but there were no dark clouds to threaten.... I was so psyched out by the previous 2 days' experience, that I got all lines and halyard ready to reef the main immediately (it being by now full), when I saw the first line of clouds ahead!

The swell was slight enough that I had decided it was a good time to top up the main fuel tank from the jerry cans in the cockpit locker - essential in view of all the motoring I was expecting to have to do through the light winds, set to continue for some way yet. Easy enough to do with the filler cap right beside the locker, given my little 12V in-line fuel pump and some hoses... just needed some time....

We've been fighting a strong Equatorial current in trying to head NNE. It flows to the west near the Equator (Los Testigos islands in the Caribbean off the Venezuela N coast were named by Columbus as 'witness' to the similar current in the Atlantic being proven to exist there).... and it's very strong .. I found that, together with a light wind , it cut our speed down by two knots, from 4.4 to 2.5kt, when I tried heading due east in just 7 knots of breeze on Saturday (NZT) afternoon.

I was trying everything possible in an attempt to make more Easting when I realized just how light the wind had become, giving me, I thought , the chance to try motoring due East for a bit ... change tack, headsails in & out one by one (to see what effect they had), engine off, engine on, push harder ....all to no avail ... So I ended up back on starboard tack, as close-hauled as I could while still making a fair speed, with the engine 'pushing' just enough to keep our course as near to the NNE we needed - a difficult balancing act.... and very frustrating. So often, the wind seemed strong enough that surely I could cut that motor.... No - it was needed, if only a tiny bit, just to give us that much more forward momentum to keep our course E of N against that strong W-going current... I can't afford to allow the boat to head W of N for long, as often happening when the wind swings to E-ENE, since we've fought so hard to get the Easting we have - and really need more, ready for those NE Trade Winds, N of the ITCZ which lies around 6-8N. So all day long, I'm constantly monitoring our speed and course and 'tweaking' the sails, trying to keep the motor use to a minimum.... The wind is so variable and light..... and we don't have much fuel. (At this point, I'm seeing boatspeed of 5.8 kt, SOG 5.1 kt) > I'm praying that the wind strengthens before I run out of fuel....!!

Tonight, I'm writing this as the bright full moon is being eclipsed by the Earth's shadow - there's a great big bite taken out of its northern half! I'd set alarms to wake me up at different times so I wouldn't miss it... It always looks so weird - pity it's only partial. By 1220 UTC, the 'bite' has moved to the upper N-to-SE portion of the moon... by 1300 UTC, the moon will almost be back to its bright fullness.

In 2 days' time, I should be crossing the Equator......

Distances run, noon-to-noon: Friday: 118 n.ml. Saturday: 127 n. ml. DTF(0000 UTC Saturday): 1579 n. ml.

Written by : Mike

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