Thursday, March 29, 2012

The Doldrums

Day 5 – Current Position 02.26.37 South / 091.07.55 West (as of 1640 Weds., March 28)

The Pacific Ocean, largest ocean on the planet, has a watery area greater than that of all the earth's land masses combined. That's a lot of water! And smack in the middle of the planet is the equator. Around this line is a weather area known as the doldrums or horse latitudes. It has a lot to do with the ITCZ (Inter Tropical Convergence Zone). Right now, we are feeling the effects of being in the doldrums. No wind. A glass slick of water.

We sail at every opportunity we can and have changed sails more times than we care to count. It's turning into a good upper body exercise routine. Because there is an ocean swell, our sails - when not filled with wind, collapse in this swell. This is not good for the sails, the rig, or our ears. It is noisy. So when there isn't enough wind to fill sails and they start this noisy collapsing ritual, we usually pull some in or take them down. Then we drift. The current has been against us – that is not supposed to be the case – but we are sent back the way we traveled – often giving up the hard earned miles.

We carry 90 gallons of fuel and have been stingy about using it – after all we have more than 3000 miles ahead of us. But we did resort this afternoon to a dose of motoring to at least make some headway. As soon as we see "cat's paws" on the water – we shut off the engine and start sailing again. We have allotted ourselves about 10 gallons of fuel for the first 500 miles or so.

The good news with having a glass slick of beautiful clear water is that you can see the various sea creatures quite well. We've had two very large mahi (dorado) circling our boat. They seem to be taunting us. Michael fixed our small rod and reel and has tried casting just about every lure we have in our tackle box. They seem to look at them, follow then and even went after one and bit (but shook it off). But then they ignore them and continue showing off their beautiful colors as they swim round and round Astarte.

We've seen huge schools of dolphins – these are a smaller dark variety with whitish sides, and they are masterful leapers. They usually travel in huge packs (or pods) and leap with great frequency and altitude and then slap their tails as they re-enter the water. They are a beautiful sight – and even at night, we can hear them slapping the water. We've had sea lions close to the boat doing their weird fin wave thing and lots of sea birds. (plus the pod of whales). So, though we are frustrated with not moving the boat through the water at a better pace, we do enjoy the sights.

Now if we could just get the equatorial heat to let up!

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