This year is quite a contrast from accounts we've heard of previous years. Our friends Terry and Heidi aboard Cetus crossed the entire ITCZ a few years back in 6 hours. Six. Effing. Hours. Right now they're in the Galapagos looking at a 3000 mile sail in calms, though. We don't envy that. This year, if I understand it properly, was a waning La Nina in which ITCZ effects are supposed to be more muted than this weather Godzilla we just fought for 750 miles. I wonder if we now have the start of an El Nino year, and I also wonder if this phenomenon has different start-stop times in each hemisphere. For example, if the pressure difference between Darwin, Australia and Papeete, Tahiti, a way of measuring the strength of the cycle called ENSO (Southern Ocean Oscillation) changes, does that lead the northern hemisphere a bit or are the two hemispheres in sync? I don't know, but perhaps one of our accomplished climate science friends does. (Weigh in, please, we'll read it when we get an internet connection.)
The clouds here at 6 degrees 30 minutes south are thickening again into yesterday's chaotic sky, trying to organize into squalls, but so far it's just overcast with (you guessed it) light winds. Whatevs. At this point we'd be silly, after 33 days at sea, to expect a real Southeast Trade Wind sustained sailing experience. We had a few good hours of it yesterday in weak winds, but we're back to the same ole same ole, minus the squalls, thankfully. There's just enough wind to make using the engine impractical to gain another 1.5 knots. So we sail, and save our precious diesel. But ya know, we've used less than 4 gallons in 2500 miles, which comes out to about 625 miles per gallon. The solar panel keeps our boat's systems running. That feels good.
330 miles to go sounds close, but realistically it means 5 or 6 more days if we can't cover more than 50+ miles a day. We both admit to bone-weariness and being tired of the slow progress. Perhaps a few days of rest on arrival will chase all that away.
There are tactics for getting through the last weary part of this voyage, and they really help:
1. Rejoice in how few "boat bites" we've had from being thrown around (we really do hang on and move carefully.)
2. Ignore Salt-Butt Syndrome, where sitting for prolonged periods in wet or salty clothes has worked its evil magic on the body parts upon which we used to sit, no matter how hard the efforts to avoid it. Just lean back a lot and sit "higher."
3. Share emails and howls with other boat crews doing this crossing, who are experiencing the same travails. "Yo! The ITCZ goes all the way to ANTARCTICA!"
An avalanche of pots and pans? Fossils in the fridge? Hilarious when it happens to someone else!
4. Offer to collaborate with them on a cookbook using only items that remain aboard after 30+ days at sea. Tentative titles: "The Dark Side of the Cantaloupe;" "For Whom the Bell (pepper) Rolls;" Nah. Just call it the Bet She's Crocked Cookbook.
Speaking of food, our provisions have lasted amazingly well (and we do have a fridge.) We still have the following:
3 green peppers (must be GMO); 6 fat carrots; 1 grapefruit; 2 avocados of dubious quality; 2 chayote squash; 10 onions; 2 jicama squash; 1 dozen potatoes (some hanging in nets, others wrapped in newspaper--amazingly, no spoilage. We kept the potatoes and onions well separated, which helped.) 2 small heads of cabbage (peel off the withered or moldy leaves) and an enormous quantity of canned, dried and marinated food, including the filet mignons, which are still good.
HEY! Maybe I should open a restaurant! Ya think? It would be unique, no? I could call it "Wary Queen" or "McGone-alds" or maybe "Ick Fil-A." Like it?
If I write long enough I can word my way out of a low-grade funk. Jim always notices when this happens. "You cracking yourself up again?" he says. All is well aboard the ole Sockdolager, and things'll be even better once the anchor's down and we can sleep for 24 hours. Or maybe 36.
Sent via Ham radio