We're heading South.
We should reach the ITCZ current position in about 24 hours.
The ICTZ looks like a puzzle when you down load the grib charts ( these are weather and wind patterns we email out for everyday and they are sent back to us on the radio) only its a puzzle, that has no set rules.
You try to pick the best way though the maze of wind and when the light blue arrows ( indicating little to no wind) surround your intended position you guesstimate that you will turn on your engine and run, trying to figure out how long you could possibly motor for and how far you could get. The object of the game is to clear the doldrums as fast as possible--pop out the other side and cruise the final 1000 miles on a nice beam or broad reach. If you end up clearing the Doldrums too too far west you risk having to beat back to the Marquesas with the wind on your nose-and that's not the South Pacific party you were hoping for!
This morning after a rainy, dark and lumpy night, Jon studied the grib files and we hummed and hawed and decided to go for it. South we go and plunge into the band and hope they narrow in the few days it will take for us to get in position. As soon as we turned south the skies bumped up with big fat fast moving squalls. We must have gone though ten so far today. Not big ones, we never saw more than 26 knots of wind and no thunder or lightening-just a lot of misty rain and pushy seas. The kids loved it-everyone got to cool off on deck and rinse away the sticky salty sweat of the past few days.
There are a few running issues...no passage is complete without them. This rain is making it impossible to use our solar AND our generator now--so battery power is a real issue. We will have to resort to running the engine for a few hours just to cool down the fridge. I had packed everything as carefully as I could and tried not too buy too much frozen stuff--a shutdown of a fridge-system on a boat is ALWAYS a possibility... So far we are okay--just a little warmer than usual. Our fridge is an old one and we could not afford to upgrade to the newer more energy efficient models-but the thing is a work horse and even though I have been starving it of full cycles in order to protect our batteries--it's still chillin.'
After 12 days in the hotness, we are starting to run low on fresh vegs and fruits. That good ol' salt and cankersore experience you get at sea for a few weeks should be setting in soon. I make a ton of stews, chicken, beef, bean, veg, and keep it fresh by making a lot of grated cabbage salads and we still have oranges galore and things like potatoes but the other stuff fresh bits are on their last week or so. The very thought of spinach salads makes me want to cry!
Water. We have been using about 6 gallons a day of water from our tanks. We carry 140. Because of the poor sun and battery issues we have only been able to make about 2 gallons of h2o a day. Ours is also an ancient water maker that only puts out a gallon an hour. This is something I would LOVE to upgrade one day but the experience of conserve it like you mean it--because your life depends on it--is a poignant one. Last night we reached empty on our 40 gallon tank. We have been using about 6 gallons a day of fresh water. We drink about 4--the other two are rinsing dishes and the once a week 4 gallons of solar shower water for a crew hose down. We need to make more water but if it keeps being this cloudy, we will need to use less water. Which seems impossible but obviously is not. We already wash all the dishes in salt and make sure we turn the water pressure OFF after each use, so there are no accidents and you have to THINK before using fresh water. It is amazing how much we all take it for granted. As if fresh water just comes out of taps because thats how nature made it.
At this very moment Jon and Hunter are swabbing the decks clean and designing a water catchment system for these little squalls we keep hitting. Daddy and Hunter's plan is ropes on the deck and funneling into our tanks and mine is to haul in the mainsheet and put a bucket under the big fold in the reefed sail. Water is caught by the sail and funneled into the fold and then we can scoop it up in buckets and pour it into our tanks. We will see which works better or maybe can use both.
In an hour we touch base with another cruiser a few days ahead of us. We can barely make them out on the radio but we are hoping to get their position and see how they are making out in the Doldrums.
So, to our faithful, virtual "crew" members out there...break out the foul weather gear, get that tea thermos going and warm up the Nooks--its going to be another wet night!
What is your favorite thing about being out here?
Kai: Just how peaceful it is and being around my family. Being out here in the middle of nowhere doesn't freak me out-it's just really cool.
Hunter: Basically what Kai said. I can't even explain it. I love it when it rains and you can take a natural shower. Its so not polluted out here and the air is just amazing. There isn't any dirt or dust. When I look out at the ocean I just like to think about what it`s like to be a fish.