Friday, April 29, 2011

Found the ITCZ

Distance: 152/1452 Day 13

It was inevitable, of course. If you head south long enough, eventually you run into the Intertropical Convergence Zone ... I think that's what it is. We just call it the ITCZ. It's a great lesson in thermodynamics and global weather patterns to understand the ITCZ. The short answer is that it's a section of the Puddle Jump where you can just about count on the weather, wind, and seas to not make the slightest sense. Normal trade winds and swells all but disappear leaving a boat with anything ranging from mirror calm to 35 knot squalls... within an hour.

The strategy for most PPJers is to hit the ITCZ, point the boat due south, and motor across as fast as possible. When the curtain went down on the north trades at N05 20 today, we were ready to do just that. The curtain itself consisted of about 5 miles of strong rain during which the girls and I cavorted nude on the foredeck and got ourselves clean from head to toe. As if on cue, just as we finished rinsing out the last of the cream rinse, the winds died. Utterly. We've been in 15 to 25 for nearly a week so it was at first a welcome relief. It took DrC and I an hour before the light bulb went off, "Oh! ITCZ!" and we turned on the motor for the drive south.

Unfortunately -- or maybe fortunately... hard to say -- the wind came back. Wouldn't you know it, we've got 10 knots from directly south. It's lumpy and super unpleasant. Moreover, the wind/waves are driving us further west than we really want to be. However, there is little choice. We can sail southwest or we can motor dead into the wind. Either way, we barely make 3 knots. So our fastest day (yesterday) is no doubt going to be followed today by our slowest day.

In other news, our yeast is dead. Seriously having trouble figuring out how this happened. Somewhere in the provisioning, I have another few sealed packets of yeast. No idea where to find them. In the meantime, I'm going to try tomorrow to get an active culture out of the remains of the old bottle using some of DrC's yeast nutrient. Why you might ask does the good doctor travel with yeast nutrient? It's for the wine. Yes, he is successfully making wine and yogurt, and I can't even make a decent batch of garlic rolls. Something is wrong with this picture.

PPJ Note #6: HUMIDITY. It seems obvious, but the tropics are humid. Be prepared. We are so sticky. Check the ventilation on your boat for the passage. With the portholes closed and the hatches often closed due to splash or rain, it becomes unbearably stuffy below. If you have the ability on your boat to do so, install dorades and other methods to ventilate the boat.

~ Toast
N04 27.5 W126 47.3
April 29, 1230 UTC

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