Ascension Northwards - Day Four 05 26.245 S 022 13.017W

Mike and Liz Downing
Thu 17 Apr 2014 17:31
Forgot to give the noon-to-noon mileage in yesterdays update - it was 121 miles. Not too bad for light conditions, but today's was better - 150.9 miles. As said before, 150 miles or more a day is satisfying - we feel we're getting somewhere! The wind is only up to 12-15kts, but we're consistently making anything from 6 to 7kts, so going well. The sea is slight to moderate and the weather has remained good, and we hope, with fingers and toes crossed that it stays that way. One of the other boats heading for FdN has had 36 hours of squalls where they alternate between high winds with downpours and no wind at all when they are having to use the engine. That's no fun, so we hope our strategy of keeping more east will pay off.

The weather now is definitely lovely and warm (some may say hot). It's swim suits during the day and just shorts and a T-shirt at night. So it's really very pleasant. It's not too humid where we are, but we expect that to change as we go further north towards the doldrums (or ITCZ - Inter Tropical Convergence Zone). The ITCZ does change it's position according to the seasons of the year and we had a report yesterday to say that it was starting around 01N. If that's the case we could have a another 360 miles or so to go before we start to cross it, and that would be good. Unfortunately it looks like it extends up to 06N, which makes it wider than we would like. But it is constantly changing, so we'll see closer the time.

Another good reason for missing FdN is the moon. We currently have a full moon and the night before last the moon was up before the sun went down and in the morning the sun was up before the moon went down. So we had the skies lit up the whole night. We want to keep going and make the most of the moonlight while we have it. Star gazing is not so good when the moon is so bright as everything looks dim in comparison. In fact the Milky Way almost disappears as the stars are not bright enough to show up when it's so bright. Last night the moon was an hour later, so we had a very dark period before it came up. Tonight it will be later again and so on each night.

We had two more visitors last night, despite my best endeavours to persuade them to move on. Two small petrels circled the boat for over half an hour in the dark spell (and it was quite eerie knowing something was chattering and flying around, but only ever glimpsing a shadow). Eventually they landed on the back end of the solar panels where I can't get at them. So the best I could do was a ball of wet paper towel hurled in their direction, but they contemptuously ignored it! I quite like having passengers as long as they don't leave too much mess and once said we would never allow anything bigger than a wren to stay on board. But these two were on the bar right at the end of the solar panels so they were allowed to stay. And stay they did - all night until daybreak when they both headed off across the top of the water feeding once again. They left no mess at all, so must have been positioned above the water! It'll be interesting to see if they come back this evening.

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