The wind died yesterday as forecast at lunchtime. The peace and quiet of gently sailing along on a fine reach changed to the monotonous background drone of the diesel. As planned, we took the lines of the nearby vessel to avoid them having to spend a few days idly drifting around awaiting the wind to fill in. With flat seas and no wind it was an uneventful process with an audience of pilot whales to judge the quality of the job.
So from being completely alone we have now spent the last 19 hours with another boat 140 metres behind, several pods of dolphins and pilot whales and some bird who landed on the end of the spinnaker pole a day ago and has hitched a lift ever since! Various others have tried to share his perch but that results in loud squawking and much wing flapping as they are sent away – clearly not a sociable chap and one I would rather not have as the colour of the end of the spinnaker pole is rather different than it used to be…
Strangely the nights are now cooler and more damp but that does make off watch time more pleasant down below.
Latest stats: 158 nm to go. Approximate position: 0 degrees, 46N, 87 degrees, 22W. Thats just 46nm from the equator, which we expect to cross sometime tonight!
All is well onboard and we still expect to arrive tomorrow. Even better news is our official paperwork has now come through from our agent so clearing in should be relatively simple.
A pretty uneventful day aboard Ocean Blue, except we had wind! The forecast 24 hour previously was for virtually no wind, but that changed overnight and we had a glorious day’s sailing from the early hours until after dark, fine reaching at between 7 and 9 kts.
Having a breeze was doubly fortunate for us because we had been contacted by another boat, a Hanse 575 that had converged with us during the night. They informed us that they had complete engine failure and with the forecast no wind, asked if we would consider towing them to the Galapagos. Obviously we agreed but to tow a 58 ft boat some 400 nm is not trivial.
So now we are sailing in company with them, and fortunately the breeze has held sufficiently that no tow has been required so far – we expect the situation to change still, but we are getting closer every minute.
Stats as of 08:00 Wednesday: Distance to go: 285 nm. Approximate distance travelled in 24 hrs to 16:15: 165 nm. Position: 2 degrees, 24N, 85 degrees 54W. That makes us just 144 nm north of the equator – Neptune must sense us approaching by now!
We finally left Panama at 16:15 on the 17th March. We had spent the previous 4 or 5 days cleaning the hull and enjoying the outlying islands.
We had approximately 680 nm to sail and left in an encouraging 18-20 kts of northerly breeze, which changed to a frustrating 4 kt headwind within 5 miles of the coast. By mid evening the true ocean breeze took over from the land effects and we were able to sail albeit rather leisurely for most of the night. Before dawn the engine was on but by mid morning, there was sufficient breeze again to hoist the Parasailor which stayed up for a few hours before the wind dropped away and the engine came back on.
It is to be expected because we are traveling through the eastern end of the ITCZ (or Doldrums)which are where the Southern and Northern hemisphere trade winds converge. Our routing software suggests we are unlikely to see any further wind before we cross the equator, just short of Galapagos.
The fishing line produced a first for us – we caught a shark! Luckily it was only about 5 – 6 feet long but had loads of very sharp looking teeth. We managed to release it and not lose the lure so it could have been worse.
Stats so far: In the first 24 hours we traveled 158 nm, and now at 21:00 local time (utc -5) we have 509 nm to go. We are at 5 degrees 2 minutes north, or 302 nm north of the equator, motoring along in the dark at 6.5 knots. It is warm and calm, albeit slightly rolly and we haven’t seen another boat since the early hours.