Panama to Galapagos Noon position 7th day (Thursday 11th March)

Mike and Liz Downing
Thu 11 Mar 2010 21:13
We're in the southern Hemisphere! We crossed the Equator at 20.14 last evening, sailing with a good 10-15kts from the SSE. We crossed at 086 15W. So the champagne was opened and a toast made to Neptune for safe and happy sailing in the southern hemisphere. Unfortunately the wind dropped out almost completely 5 miles south of the Equator. We currently have around 4 to 6 kts from the SSE and the sea just has a small wind chop (more of a ripple actually). There is a swell, but it's small with a long period, so no problem. We have about 1kt of current with us. Before crossing the Equator, we had about 1kt of counter current.

Up until the wind dropped, we had sailed virtually all the way from Las Perlas, but had to put the engine on last night. We're only running at low rpm and motor sailing with just over 1,500 sq ft of sail up, making 5 to 6 kts over the ground.

20 minutes before crossing the Equator, another sail appeared on the horizon, the first we have seen since leaving the Las Perlas last Friday. It was a 45 ft catamaran called Endless. He crossed the Equator 3 miles further to the west and is now about 20 miles ahead of us (so over the horizon). We're keeping in VHF contact and both hope to arrive in daylight sometime tomorrow.

Saw a whale this morning only about 30ft from us. It was going the other way so we didn't see it for long. It looked like a small sperm whale. 2 swallow-tailed gulls stayed around the boat most of the night last night. They are the only gulls that feed at night and it's quite eerie being aware that something is flying around close by, but you can only make out a shape going past in the darkness.

Although we've just crossed the Equator, it's got quite a bit cooler than we're used to at night, requiring a fleece when on watch. It must be the cooler water (the Humbolt current coming up from South America) that's cooling down the air temperature.

Even out here ships seem to home in on us! A ship heading for Peru, only the 3rd ship we have seen in 6 days, was on a collision course last night and we had to make a significant change in course to avoid it. As we had the motor on we were the give-way vessel, but I suspect he never even saw us. Almost changed course for another ship soon after that, but then realized it was the moon coming up!

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