Friday, September 24, 2010

Greetings from the ITCZ!

We sailed all night last night and most of the day today, wing on wing. It's a nice rig--genoa poled out to windward, main vanged to leeward, and the staysail sheeted on the centerline. Very stable and pretty fast even in light air. We can tolerate course variations of up to 60 degrees (briefly), so the autopilot can handle the steering.

If we get a squall, we roll the genoa up and leave the pole set.

About 3pm, the wind came up and seemed to be shifting SW (as forecast). This was good, so we dropped the pole and gybed the genoa, expecting to have a nice broad reach up our course line. However, an hour later, we were in rain, and the wind went back SE, and then very light. So we reluctantly started the engine. We are now motorsailing with main and staysail sheeted tight to stop the roll. Even though there is only about 5 knots of wind, the seas are still big enough to be uncomfortable.

We had a nice civilized dinner tonight, with the table up and everything. Lamb chops, fresh mashed potatoes, and cucumber salad. Crew morale is good. We are looking forward to getting through the ITCZ within 48 hours. We are holding our breath that nothing major will spin up near us while we're crossing through.

Geek alert: With the Iridium phone hooked up to Sailmail, I can download a very small IR satellite picture from NOAA Honolulu's website. It has all the active storm cells along the ITCZ highlighted. I then pulled it into Sea Clear (a shareware charting program that lets you create your own charts), added some reference points, and voila, I can see our boat moving across the satellite picture. Pretty cool, and really helps in trying to pick our way through the hot spots in the ITCZ.

Only 1044 nautical miles to go to Hilo. We are about halfway. ETA probably sometime Saturday, Oct 2.
At 9/24/2010 5:30 AM (utc) our position was 07°12.20'N 142°38.98'W

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