Thursday, February 12, 2009

Slowsest Passage Ever!

7:30am Position: 02 42.67N 85 06.96W
Progress in the last 24 hours: 60 nautical miles
Fuel left: Approx 36 gallons

We spent much of yesterday discussing options and carefully checking our fuel supply and consumption at various engine RPMs. There was not enough wind to pure sail and not go backwards. But we found that keeping the engine ticking over at 1000 RPM only used 1/2 gal diesel an hour, it kept air moving over the sail, we made 2 knots toward our destination, and the autopilot could handle the job. The logic for this was to keep us going comfortably until the forecast wind filled in on Friday.

We definitely underestimated the current on this trip. This has been like trying to cross the Gulfstream from Port Canaveral to the Bahamas, sailing, on a very light air day. We'd end up in Jacksonville!

We have had about 2 knots of current, mostly against us, for the last 2 days. Most of yesterday, we had a westerly component...we were steering 135 on the compass and tracking along about 180 degrees. Even if we had an unlimited fuel supply we'd be struggling.

We were blessed that at least some wind stayed with us all day. We made slow but measurable progress towards Bahia. Then we were surprised that it swung around to the South and strengthened up a couple of knots last night. Finally we had enough wind to adjust our course and sail directly towards our destination (crabbing into the current). We have made steady but slow progress all night, and the wind is still pretty good this morning.

The wind we have right now was NOT forecast, but we're glad the weather guessers got it right in our favor this time!

We are sailing thru the water at about 4.5-5kts, but only tracking 2.5 knots across the bottom (using the GPS). The difference is the effect of the current.

We still have 340 miles to go. So at this rate, we still have 5-6 days more to go! (if the wind holds). We hope at some point we will break free of the current and speed up, but who knows...?

We are under the ITCZ right now... The Tropical Forecast says that it's along 2 degrees north latitude. Up until late yesterday we've been sailing in sunny blue sky conditions. But about sunset, we entered an area that is fully overcast with scattered showers, and are still having those conditions this morning. But fortunately no gruesome squalls in the middle of the night... just a few light rain showers. (Except I just heard a thunder rumble in the distance!)

We realized yesterday that as we were drug off course by the current, we were closer to the Galapagos than to the mainland, by about 25 miles. I couldn't get Dave to consider diverting there--we already have our Chile trip planned for March and need to get into Bahia de Caraquez and get settled.

In the words Monty Python "We'll be right here when you get back."
At 2/12/2009 1:05 PM (utc) our position was 02°41.73'N 085°06.10'W

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