FIRST BIG CROSSING: Day 10

24 hours-125 NM

OMG!
Who flipped the switch?
Life is SO awesome at sea!

Last night, I was sitting on deck, in the rain and the miserable swell, obsessing over a ship that was lurking on the horizon. I couldn't pick him up on the radar, he was so far away and I couldn't tell how he was moving. For ten minutes he would keep pace with us, then he seemed to change direction.

"Go to bed" Captain ordered when he saw how amp'd and jumpy I was getting. "This is totally fine...just go get some rest."

I slunk below, feeling tired and tweaked. I crawled in our bunk and pulled the pillow over my head and listened to the boat creak and bash and the waves hiss and bubble all around us. "This is sort of sucking, you know." I grumbled at the ocean. Then I fell asleep.

I woke up three hours later feeling like a new person. I pulled on the Helly's and went up top to relieve Jon of his watch.

He was standing on deck, looking out at the dark night with shining eyes. I love this man. He will always make it calm and good, whatever it is, he will find a way. "The seas are way better, " I said, looking around. The swell was settled into something more organized. We were moving faster, too.

I put on my glasses and looked at the instruments as my eyes adjusted on the darkness. "You changed the heading" I said.
 Jon yawned and stretched and peeled off his night watch gear. "The ITCZ jumped way up and I want us to have more Westing before we hit it... but it gave us a way better angle."

I could feel it. Pura Vida had been slogging along with the wind directly behind us for a few days. Running like that, gives her too much sea room to move in, especially on those big swells--that's part of what was making it so uncomfortable. Now we were still running but with the wind slightly abaft of the starboard quarter-this gives her more stablitily in the waves-which were better anyway, normal rollers (not great hulking boxes tumbling from all directions) and we were doing better than our boat speed...flying along at 7.5 knots in a 17 knot wind. "Wicked" I said, grinning and taking the hot tea thermos from Jon as he went below for some sleep.

The rest of the night the watches were heaven. It rained but it was a warm, clean rain and it washed the deck. Pura Vida was cooking along now, not getting bashed to bits and everyone below was asleep.

By morning, we were all on deck in a merry mood. The sun finally broke the clouds and Jon announced that in an hour, we would reach our 1000 mile mark. We celebrated by bathing in buckets of 80* F sea water, soaped and shampooed and rinsed off with the solar shower and combed out 10 days worth of dreadlocks.

The swell was what a normal swell should run like and the wind was still perfect and we toasted our 1000 mile mark with Bloody Ceasars for us and Fantas for the kids. The rest of the day we lay on deck in the sun and talked about the books we've been reading and listened to music and compared the size and lengths and possible genealogy  of our collective toes.
What could be better?

Today and tonight's thoughts will be turning to the ITCZ. According to Jon's calculations, and the weather reports, we should be reaching it sometime around midnight. The ITCZ (inter tropical convergence zone), otherwise known as the "doldrums" has been the bane of seamen for as long as men have put sails to the wind.
This helpful image is from In the Wake of the Belgica, where you can read much more about the tradewinds and doldrums. This helps explain, also, why so much of our seemingly localized activity actually affects the world on a much larger scale.

This band of wonky air (as in none) runs parallel to the equator  and jumps around on a daily basis. The area is also subject to unstable weather, squalls, thunder and lightening, --very nasty business, when one is on a boat. The rule of thumb is to cross it, wherever it is narrowest and get the heck through it as fast as you can, hopefully punching though to the other side, where one can quickly pick up the next set of trade winds--these would be the South East Trades--and continue on your way. Think of it as getting off of one highway, passing though a rough bit of town (where you might get mugged if you hang out for too long) and finding the next , new highway. Only no street signs and no AAA.

All is  peaceful and swell and we are onto the next stage of our adventure...
and some people thought we might get bored out here!

Kai's ocean trivia for the day
  1. Eighty per cent of all pollution in seas and oceans comes from land-based activities.
  2. Three-quarters of the world's mega-cities are by the sea.
  3. By 2010, 80 per cent of people will live within 60 miles of the coast.
  4. Death and disease caused by polluted coastal waters costs the global economy US$12.8 billion a year. The annual economic impact of hepatitis from tainted seafood alone is US$7.2 billion.
These facts are important because they mean we have to look at how we treat the oceans not just for the health of the seas but for our health as well.
I feel excited and happy that we have gone a thousand miles using only the wind.

Hunter's helpful hints:
Be an ocean friendly pet owner!
Don't flush cat litter! It contains pathogens (yucky disease bugs) that can harm marine animals!
Buy only ocean sustainable pet foods!
Never release store bought fish into the wild!

Usually when you live in a house you do normal stuff like go to bed and stay asleep but we don't we can wake up in the middle of the night for night watch or dawn watch. you can nap in the middle of the day or eat in the middle of the night. Sometimes I go on night watch and watch a movie with dad or read books and talk with mom and eat chocolates and drink tea. I get to see a lot of stars and stuff all the time and mostly when you live in your house you forget to look at the stars or hardly ever see a sunrise-unless you play hockey on a team like  my friend Peyton. Oh and to my friends on Bowen, Myah and Rhiannon and Grace and everyone if I could share one thing with you from my life on the boat it would be-getting to be on night watch and seeing the dolphins in the phosphorescence at night. It;s really really pretty and I think you would love it.

Captain's corner:
Not so much reaching the ITCZ but reaching and skirting around the far northern edge of it. The slippery serpent that is the doldrums (the band of weirdness between the northern and southern trades) is typically between 3 and 6 degrees north latitude. As of last night according to the GRIB files downloaded off of the SSB/HAM radio waves (think, morse code) it jumped up to 10 degrees latitude. That is a leap of some 250 miles! Not only did it jump north but it broadened so that it is now about 600 miles across just where we would be hitting in it if we didn't sneak around the northern edge. This is what we have been saving our 90 gallons of diesel for but that is much too far across for us to motor. The options would be to go for it and motor straight south and hope it shrinks in width, or sneak around the top and continue westing and wait for it to move further south before finding a spot to cross. We are going to go for the second option. The danger is if the fat section of the ITCZ moves west with us. Keep your fingers crossed for it moving back into it's normal range in the next couple of days and we should be in great shape!
Just an example of wind charts from BuoyWeather.com - this is a couple of years old, but gives an idea of how the ITCZ can fluctuate.

3 comments:

  1. the greybeard loonApril 13, 2013 at 8:00 AM

    The fair breeze blew, the white foam flew,
    The furrow followed free;
    We were the first that ever burst
    Into that silent sea.

    Down dropt the breeze, the sails dropt down,
    'Twas sad as sad could be;
    And we did speak only to break
    The silence of the sea!

    Um, let's think now, hopefully NOT!!!

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  2. Hurray! A well-deserved respite. Good luck with the ITCZ!

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  3. Dear Jon and Suki: OMG your blog is the highlight of our day. Keith and I have done just enough sailing to be able to visualize everything you are going through. We are in AWE of your spirit. We ADORE your grit. We ENVY your courage. We have had our own share of risk and reward but really NOTHING compares to what you are doing with and for Kai and Hunter. They will be even more extraordinary people because of your love of life and joi. We have just bought a boat, Angel. She is a 46 ft Beneteau Oceanis. Perhaps our ticket to liberating ourselves from this insane rat race. Know that you are filling us with awe, with joy, with fear and with courage and confidence that you four intrepid souls will be accomplishing every one of your dreams and goals. I promise to be more glib and amusing on my next post but goddam I am so proud to know you and to be on my little square of biodegradable cotton. xoxoxo Mary (and Keith)

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