Very disturbed night Sunday night - worrying about possible squalls coming our way, so constantly up on deck in the rain to check sails & wind direction. Way under-powered and going slowly as a result but I wasn't inclined to let reefs out overnight - in pitch blackness with overcast skies and no moon in sight...
However, come morning, it was a different story. I'd been considering when I should change direction to head south through the ITCZ to cross it as fast as possible but trying to balance that against keeping the best possible wind for as long as would be of benefit. The grib files (showing weather) downloaded via Sailmail seemed to indicate now might be a good time, so when I heard a nearby boat 'Lorna' report in to the morning radio net that they had just crossed over in only 60mls & were now under blue skies in SE winds - that decided me! Out came all reefs & we changed course to head almost due south most of the day - occasionally altering slightly to try to avoid heavy rain dead ahead. Wind was excellent at around NE 15-20knots so we made good speed under full sail with the wind reducing over the afternoon. Unfortunately, heading south meant losing the advantageous current - we lost easily a knot at one point.
Swell has continued to be pretty bad - big, & rather confused because of a weather system off to the SW. Only one small squall in the early afternoon - wind backed into the NW suddenly and then slowly veered into the NNE, staying there for quite some time.
Although I saw patches of blue sky ahead at times this afternoon, by night time, there was total overcast. All the nicer a surprise when I came up on deck later, after checking in to the Pacific Seafarers Net at 7.35pm PST (local time), to find STARS visible overhead - maybe we're through...?? It certainly feels a lot calmer but wind is still very definitely in the NE.
One amusing incident - went to open main hatch in the rainy darkness last night - it just wouldn't budge more than a centimetre, however much I tried- I was trapped down below...! Was just about to remove screws holding washboard lock when it suddenly dawned on me that there was nothing to stop me from climbing out of the aft cabin hatch!! Turned out to be some rope jammed in the way of the main hatch moving - an easy fix... - I had to laugh...
Monday 1800 GMT position: 06deg 19'N; 127deg 23'W . 24hr distance run by log: 114 n.ml. (actually 108 ml over ground - some opposing current part of the time) Good speed during morning made up for very slow night.
Couldn't make Sailmail connection last night or this morning (nor Winlink, for several days again, so no Position Reports posted...) so a combined 2-day log...
As indicated by clear skies last night - we're out of the ITCZ. Had a beautiful morning of tradewind sailing - admittedly in NE still (in fact, several times went NNE!) - so went to the effort of poling out the genoa yet again, to port this time, and we were sailing along nicely for all of 5hrs until wind veered sufficiently for me to have to take pole down again and take the genoa over to starboard - no longer able to be goosewinged. Reason was probably the rainclouds around - we somehow managed to avoid getting wet. I'm still waiting for the wind to shift gradually into the east - the direction of the SE trades at this moment in time. Light winds are predicted for several days (around only 10knots) so we shan't be moving very fast - but at least we're on our rhumbline course now... ETA next Thursday morning possibly.
Spent more time reading up on destinations and looking at possible courses - there are several long passages between island groups to be taken into consideration for passage planning to Australia by mid-July.
On the food side, I still have plenty of fresh apples/oranges/tomatoes/cucumbers/cabbage etc, although had to throw a lot of cabbage overboard - storing in plastic is definitely NOT to be recommended!! The one left out in the open is fine. Had my last quesadillas today for lunch - no more tortillas,...pity!! But lots of cheese left. I must try to find a recipe for tortillas - they look as though they should be really simple to make. I may make some bread in a day or so - it rises so easily in 30C ambient temp.
6pm PDT: Will try to connect in to see if I can send this, before eating. Lovely blue sky ahead, dark grey rainclouds off to starboard...!
Tuesday 1800 GMT position: 04deg 35'N; 128deg 11'W . 24hr distance run by log: 121 n.ml. (actually 114 ml over ground - current partly with & partly against. Presently fair.)