Panama to Galapagos Noon position 5th day (Tuesday 9th March)

Mike and Liz Downing
Tue 9 Mar 2010 20:31
A relatively slow day with a noon to noon run of 106 miles. The northerly winds were light from Monday lunch time and we were only able to make 3 to 4 kts most of the time. By 20.00 our speed had dropped to 2.5 kts and below, the wind direction was all over the place and the seas confused. It felt very much like the ITCZ and our aim was to get across it reasonably quickly and hopefully find good south or south easterly winds the other side. So the engine came on and ran for the next 12 hours, but at only 1500 rpm, giving between 4 and 5 kts. We're still treating the engine gently until we can find out why it is running on the hot side. At 10.00 this morning we found the winds from the south - a good wind of 10-15 kts and we have been close hauled on a port tack ever since, making around 6 kts and, for the first time, we can head directly for the Galapagos. (The accepted wisdom on this passage is that you don't head directly from Panama to the Galapagos, but head south until close to the Equator to keep the wind and cross the ITCZ, then you head west on the southerly or south easterly winds.) Only about 370 miles to go.

We had a passenger for a short period last night. We think it was a swallow-tailed gull and it spent time resting on the top of the bimini (that normally keeps the sun off the cockpit). We also had a visit from half a dozen Bottlenose dolphins this morning; the first time we have seen dolphins for a long time. It's the first time in the Pacific. They only stayed a short while, bow riding until one leapt well clear of the water and then they were gone.

It's been cloudy all day today and the sea is very grey - not used to that, so hope the sky clears soon and the sea changes back to deep blue we're used to. A ship past us last, 6 miles off to port, the first we have seen since Saturday night. Liz discovered that she could bake potatoes in the microwave even though it's not gimbaled. They roll around a bit, but cook just the same. The 220 volt microwave is really only for shore use, but we had to run the generator to charge up the batteries and so gave it a try.

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