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In the ITCZ

October 12, 2011

Day 14

Local Noon Position (1119):
By GPS: 08.15.33N by 143.15.55W
By Sextant: 08.17.1N by 143.13.0W

Course: 5 degrees true
Speed: 5.4 knots
Wind: 11 SSW
Sea: 2 – 4 S
Sky: 20% occluded. Clear and open astern. Torn and low but not overly dark cloud ahead. Bar: 1011
Temp: 78 degrees

Since last noon: 138
Total for passage: 1567
Daily Average: 121


Woke at midnight to a speeding freight train. Murre had taken increased winds and was racing off on a course of about 45 degrees true, way too far east. Had full sail up at the time. Took in all but the main and was still making nearly 6 knots over the ground. Noticed when I came below that the cabin lights on the port side have stopped working. This in case I was short of things to do. The joys of an old boat.

Murre rolled and rolled overnight, which made sleeping difficult because I have not set up lee cloths for my port side berth on this passage (not needed when on starboard tack in both south and north trades), and the lee cloth berth on starboard is full of sail bags from the leaking forepeak. Finally figured I could sleep on top of the sail bags–lumpy but soft, and the lee cloths kept me from spilling onto the floor.

By morning the sky was ripped and flattened and gray in all directions. Winds were over 15 knots from the south and had built a steep chop, so I continued on with main only. Ate the last of the Dorado with rice for breakfast, then spent most of the morning attempting to identify the many petrels that played over the near ocean. Most were of the Gadfly Petral group, of which there are twenty or so species, and I was entirely unsuccessful in positively identifying a single one, even though several came very close to play in the disturbed air on the back side of the main. (More on this later.)

Wind softened and veered into the SW in the afternoon, so I wore to port tack, but we couldn’t take the wind shallow enough to warrant the jib. Am currently under main and mizzen only with wind between dead aft and on the deep port quarter. An odd sail configuration, but it keeps us going at around 3-4 knots in 7-8 knots of wind, decreasing. Main slating away. At this point it’s either a slatting main or a slatting jib, take your pick.

In calm seas late in the day I moved the anchor off the bow and calked what I could. Won’t know if was successful till we get back into wet-ride weather, unlikely before 11N.

Cloud everywhere now and complex: lumpy, torn, flattened, dark. With the loss of wind today I feel certain we’ve entered the ITCZ. How to get out is the question.

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