Galapagos to Marquesas – Day 11

POS: 7 29S 122 38.8W

There is something frustrating about sailing on a course that takes you nowhere near your destination. Even more frustrating is doing so slowly! That has been the theme for the day. The weather is constantly changing and over the sort of distances we are sailing it would be very unusual to find that a straight line from start to destination would be the fastest route. Wind strength, wind direction, ocean currents and other factors all come into the equation when determining what is the best route to follow. However we are lucky compared to sailors of even a generation ago. They relied on looking at the skies and plotting the change in air pressure etc. trying to figure out what was going to happen and the best route to follow.

We are fortunate enough to have satellite communications and weather routing software. So on a regular basis (at least once a day and often more frequently) we tell the software our current position and where we are wanting to go, press a few buttons and a little while later we get a load of data back suggesting our optimum route. The software knows how fast we travel in different directions based on the wind strength so looks at the predicted wind and determines the route accordingly. However its all based around predictions of what the weather is going to do over the period of our trip. Our software uses four different weather models so we get four different routes normally! Different models are more or less accurate in different parts of the world so we have to take decisions based on which we think is going to be the most accurate (often a good starting point is to ask ‘which of the models is suggesting that at the current time the forecast conditions match what we actually have?). On the rare occasion that the models agree on a route that’s great because there is a fair chance that they will be accurate, if not its a question of judgement and experience (or rolling a dice if you are more sceptical).

Yesterday all the models vaguely agreed we needed to get north to avoid a big wind hole. How far and on what course was different on each but the theme was the same and the wind was progressively getting lighter.

So we gybed the Parasailor and started heading north west. It was slow. It was forecast to be slow but we managed to keep moving without the use of the engine. Normally light winds mean flattish seas and yesterday was no exception. Washing was done, salt was cleaned off stainless, work was attended to and rest was achieved – we even managed some board games without the pieces sliding around. But the chart plotter showed us heading nowhere near our destination – Hawaii was probably on the cards!

We had expected to pass the 1000 mile to go mark early evening but that didn’t happen. But slowly and surely as the day progressed and we go further north the wind increased from a light zephyr to a steady breeze and the boat picked up a little speed. Nothing ground breaking but a more positive pace, albeit towards Hawaii.

The daily run was just 131 nm, however if you straightened out the track it would have been more like 140 nm we actually sailed.

We did celebrate the 1000 mile to go a little prematurely since it was going to pass in the middle of the night and we counted down the time until we could gybe back and head towards the Marquesas again.

That time came an hour or so before sunrise and we performed a textbook gybe in the light of the moon and the deck lights. So now we are heading in the right direction. The wind is still quite light but is forecast to increase as the day progresses. The sun is out, the seas are pretty calm and the boat is doing its stuff nicely. The routing software suggests we have several days like this to come. Distance to go 978 nm. Happy Easter everyone!

All is well on board.
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