Sun 20th June (Day 18)
MARINE WEATHER BULLETIN FOR ISLANDS AREA EQUATOR TO 25S BETWEEN 160E AND 120W.
ISSUED BY FIJI METEOROLOGICAL SERVICE Jun 192000 UTC.
SYNOPSIS AND FORECAST VALID UNTIL Jun 201800 UTC.
WEAK CONVERGENCE ZONE CZ1 14S 164W 16S 155W 17S 150W 20S 147W SLOW MOVING. POOR VISIBILITY IN SCATTERED SHOWERS WITHIN 100 MILES OF CZ1.
IN THE AREA BETWEEN 08S AND 15S AND BETWEEN 175E AND 144W,... (and) IN THE AREA SOUTH OF 15S AND BETWEEN 175W AND 144W, EXPECT EASTERLY WINDS 20 TO 25 KNOTS AND UPTO 30 KNOTS AT TIMES. ROUGH TO VERY ROUGH SEAS. MODERATE SOUTH TO SOUTHEAST SWELLS.
"Nereida" was in position 15S, 161W on June 20 at 0600 UTC (6pm local time).... getting exactly the weather as forecast!! We were slap-bang in the middle of the convergence zone and winds were 25-28 knots! Sky was full of dark grey clouds before it got too dark to see them... and we got rain... and veered wind... and rough seas...! A spot-on forecast!
Mon 21st June (Day 19)
Nasty weather continued overnight and until mid-morning - with a big squall at dawn... and then we were out of the murky stuff and into clear skies with scattered cloud and sunshine.... and making a decent speed without quite such large, rough seas! I've been kept busy all day and evening with sail trimming - the wind has varied a lot, but is definitely dying - I hope not too much...
Tonight was been one of those lovely tropical evenings that are absolutely wonderful: stars, bright moon, brilliant Venus, cool breeze (after heat of a sticky day) and sailing along gently under full genoa and stays'l at around six knots in a far calmer sea than yesterday... I saw the Great Bear for the first time since last November when I sailed south towards Cape Town. No Pole Star visible as yet. I sat out on deck for a long time just relaxing and enjoying it all! Of course, a few hours later, there were squally rainclouds both upwind and downwind.. and when they'd gone, along came a solitary one, blotting out the stars, with lightning and deep thunder .... they always worry me! The wind had dropped to around 7 knots and backed to ENE so we had to motor-sail from midnight on so as not to head NNW-NW.
I spent quite a time today comparing my passage plan with current grib files showing the Trade winds up to & around Hawaii- and decided I needed to make more Easting if the winds will permit it .... By the time I reach the NE Trades, which are likely to be quite strong, it will be too late to get further East. Another concern is the hurricane season starting up - it starts with a bang on the Pacific side of Mexico - and I see hurricane Celia following TD Blas, already. I hope to be too far west to be affected - but you never can tell...
Tues 22nd June
We were faced with crossing another Convergence Zone soon after dawn this morning ...a long line of BIG rainclouds stretching across my path with a thin line of 'rolled' cloud along it... The wind backed further to NNE... I managed to pass between two enormous rainclouds in the strong winds they generate .... How can I possibly get further East in these conditions? I'm cursing myself & feeling really bad about not having taken enough time earlier to see what was needed, never mind alternator & generator problems... I had the wind strength and direction to enable it at times, but headed too N instead ..... fatal mistake!! I was aware that I'd be on a very close reach through the NE Trades when closing on Hawaii, but hadn't downloaded grib files for the region to study them carefully enough until quite recently. Unless I can get to 150W before reaching 8N, I might well find I can't lay my course to Kauai.....
The day continued as it had started - regular rainsqualls, totally unhelpful wind from the N-NNE, mostly very light - except when it gusted up & shifted in no time because of a big raincloud nearby. I'm trying to make plenty of Easting whenever I can. I'm having to motor a lot and just hope I can make my fuel last by not pushing the engine too hard - which means our speed is way down, of course....
I was up from before dawn, busy with sail-trim, trying to decide all the time what was the best course of action, given the unhelpful, variable wind, dealing with squalls - so I was grateful that conditions looked calm enough near midday for me to take a nap - I needed it badly!! Breakfast had to wait!
This evening is looking calm - we're motoring NE in 7-8 knots of ENE wind - not something I enjoy doing but sailing alone would give a speed of around 2knots in the wrong direction!
I'm downloading weatherfaxes from KVM in Honolulu and just received a text weather forecast for the area - showing, again, that I'm still in a Convergence Zone, although from the bank of clouds to my WSW, I think it must be behind me now - there'll probably be another one lurking, come daybreak - or before!
Noon-to-noon distances made: Sun: 147 n.ml.; Mon: 140 n.ml.; Tues: 103 n.ml.
Perhaps more relevant, particularly in view of the difficult winds forcing me to head every which way, is the rhumb-line distance to Kauai: at noon Tuesday , that was 2005 n.ml. I need much better wind to reduce that quickly - and that's not likely for quite a few days... so I'll be forced into lots more motoring, which I hate...