Wednesday, May 10, 2006

Wind shift in our favour

We're doing well, we have under 400 miles to go to the welcomingly named Wreck Bay in San Cristobal Island, our chosen destination in the Galapagos. The wind has shifted to the SSW so we're able to steer much closer to the rhumb-line course. The weather faxes indicate that the wind should back further to the S or SSE which if the predictions prove correct we should be able to make landfall without tacking. We currently have 15 knots of wind which is pulling us along nicely at 5.5-6 knots without generating a large uncomfortable head sea. Although the contrary current reduces our speed-over-the-ground to just below 5knots. This is still very good news for this passage which is renowned for boats running short of diesel after trying to defy the light-head winds and strong currents by motoring.

George our wind-vane steering is doing a fine job following the wind as it backs in our favour although earlier on in the trip, he silently followed the wind to the north, retracing our steps for over an hour until we noticed and tacked back towards the south. He seems to steer a much better course close to the wind than with the wind behind us; we experienced significant yawing crossing the Atlantic, but perhaps we're just getting better at balancing the sails to make his job easier. He even tacks for us when we're short handed during the night. The routine is to trim the vane for the new tack, George then puts the wheel hard-over and leaves us free to release the genoa sheet on one side and pull it in on the other side. Once we're round George happily steers on the new tack all without waking the person asleep below - unless the noise of the contents of the cabin shifting sides as Kika leans into the new tack breaks their slumber.

The contrary current is the source of much discussion on our radio nets. Boats further north are suffering from very light-winds and strong currents and there's a noticeable frustration in their voices as they give their position and despairing ask if anyone knows whether to head south or west to escape the current. At the start of the trip we noticed areas of disturbed water on an otherwise calm sea, almost like the tidal rips seen around head-lands and they made a similar lapping sound on the hull as we ploughed through the short steep waves. All very strange as there was no charted uprising.

We put out our latest fishing line yesterday and this morning. Other boats have reported catching Tuna and Mahi mahi, but so far we haven't even had a bite. This line represent an evolutary leap over the lines we deployed across the Atlantic. It uses a double hook, beads to space the hook from the head of the lure, a squid lure with moving eyes, single strand wire leader, the line bought back to winch such that it will spin and alert as if a fish bites and finished off with a length of elastic to take the initial shock out of the bite. Yesterday as I deployed our new fishing system I felt supremely confident that we'd be eating fresh fish that evening. Today it's not looking so good - but watch this space...

Position @ 15.45: N02°48' W84°36'

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