Monday 28th June 2010 (NZT) - "Nereida" sails N across the Equator after almost exactly 8 months in the Southern Hemisphere
What a superb day!! Blue sky, hardly a cloud in sight, a bit of a swell banging into us at times but nothing too bad, sailing beautifully with full headsails, close-hauled on an excellent course at good speed. We crossed the Equator at 0222UTC (mid-afternoon here) - in perfect weather and it was party time on board to celebrate the occasion! Normally, we're a 'dry' boat on passage, but I opened a bottle of G and gave Neptune a good drink of G&T in thanks for safe passage-making .... and, hopefully, more to come. Then it was music and dancing on board in the sunshine, along with party fare including contributions from friends in New Zealand and Guernsey (Thanks to Liz, Graham and Leeann).... the music also bringing memories of good friends. I often think, at such perfect sailing times like this, that people who wonder why I like to spend most of my time sailing on "Nereida" should be here to see how fabulous it can be. We even had a variety of birds come by to share in the celebrations.
The wind had picked up enough by evening on Sunday for me to need to reef the mains'l again to reduce heeling and it had already veered slightly to ESE over the day, so by daybreak we were making not only good speed but also some Easting. We need that badly if we're to lay our course to Hawaii once we reach the NE Trades after getting through the ITCZ at about 4-7N. After nightfall, as I write this, the wind has dropped a little, to 14 kt, but we're still making a little East of our rhumb-line course to our waypoint at a speed over the ground, SOG, of 5.6 kt, with boatspeed of over a knot more - that's the effect of the W-going Equatorial current.
We're just 150 miles SE from Christmas Island in the Kiribati Group, which lies at 2N - not to be confused with the Christmas Island in the Indian Ocean, belonging to Australia. I wonder if that's why I'm suddenly seeing so many different birds after a noticeable absence of them.
24 hr daily run (DMG): 128 n.ml. DTF (Direct distance to Kauai): 1347 n. ml. at 0000 UTC
Sunday 27th June Sailing gently without motor at last - lovely peace and quiet!
MARINE WEATHER BULLETIN FOR ISLANDS AREA EQUATOR TO 25S BETWEEN 160E AND 120W. Issued by Fiji Meteorological Service Jun 260800 UTC.
SYNOPSIS AND FORECAST VALID UNTIL Jun 270600 UTC.
CONVERGENCE ZONE CZ2 EQ 159W 03S 155W 04S 145W SLOW MOVING. POOR VISIBILITY IN SCATTERED SHOWERS AND ISOLATED THUNDERSTORMS WITHIN 120 MILES OF CZ2.
Just received this with "Nereida" in position 03S, 156W at 1300 UTC - headed straight for the line... 60 mls away... grrr!!! Hope it's not too bad...
Had a squall this morning well before sunrise.. but nothing like the heap of them I was expecting with this Convergence Zone close by. I'm hoping it's dissipated - can't see any more grey clouds anywhere... Fingers crossed!! LATER: Sure enough - it was NOT on the next Fiji (2000 UTC) weather forecast... Great news!!
I'm still struggling NOT to go W of N - I really want to head NNE but it's not often I can make that AND keep up a decent speed because of the strong West-going Equatorial current and light winds - I keep finding us heading due North, which would be OK if it weren't for the NE Trades coming up, not far south of Hawaii... Constant 'tweaking' of sails and heading relative to the wind is the order of the day... Looks as though light winds are set to continue for two days.... Must go check my fuel level...!!
Overnight, I found a fishing vessel dead ahead about two miles off: Xinshiji69, according to my AIS display (try saying that name three times fast!!). A real worry, with us very close-hauled on starboard tack in light, varying winds at the time, so falling off the wind would have put us even more in their path.... even more of a worry when I failed to get any response calling them by name on VHF or even from sending a DSC call. (Not the first time I've had no response from a DSC call - I think people turn off the alarm from sounding ...) They were making way very slowly, if at all, and were clearly busy fishing if their erratic motion was anything to go by. I had no idea if they had even seen me. In the end, I switched on both bow & stern navigation lights (in addition to the tricolour I was displaying) and the deck light - which shines on the headsails and makes us highly visible. I kept a close eye on them, ready to turn on the motor .... but eventually, they passed off to port and out of my way.
DMG Sunday: 121 n.ml.