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.
All is well onboard.