Tuesday, 21 June 2016

Sailing The Squalls

Late afternoon the clouds begin to gather, billowing upwards and outwards, encircling our horizon. The setting sun sprinkles them with golden, peach hues until some change colour to a menacing grey and then to black. Squalls line up and surround us, the sea looks like beaten pewter and the sun set is inevitably swallowed in the clouds.

 Here off the coast of Brazil, they don't seem as angry as the lightning filled thunderhead squalls of Asia. So we ride their winds, often carrying us off our course, surf down the wind built waves and enjoy the sudden showers which are still cleaning off the dirt and grime of Cape Town. Some nights they continue for hours, other times just a brief, sudden outburst and then the moon rises, the stars appear in a clear sky and we continue on our course.

This passage has been a peaceful one, with 15 to 20 knot winds from the east and south east, pushing the wing on wing sails over the gentle Atlantic swells. We have been monitoring the current charts, chasing the high flow areas and have had positive current for the whole passage. This has given us an extra 48 miles or so each day with its 2 knot push.

 Yesterday we celebrated our third equatorial crossing. It was also the first crossing when both of us have been up on watch together, scanning the GPS screen as the degrees and minutes of latitude counted down to zero. We hope Neptune enjoyed his tot of rum, laced with lime juice and ice cubes to celebrate this crossing into the Northern Hemisphere. Today we approach the half way mark in this passage from Fernado de Noronha to Surinam, 750 miles in 4 1/2 days.

We know this steady breeze will slowly disappear as we enter the ITCZ and then we will be grateful for the extra diesel we are carrying in our TurtlePac fuel bladder on deck. Only 750 nautical miles to go.

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