Searching for the SE Trades
After crossing the equator the passage was surreal. We both found that the days merged into a blurred mish-mash of memories. It is only when I read the log that I realise that it has been three days! We were determined to sail as much as possible and the days were a jumble of light wind sailing, very light wind sailing, flat calms and the occasional burst of motoring to cross really determined looking calm patches.
Blistering hot sun, towering clouds. Stifling heat, refreshing breeze. Ice cold drinking water.
Hand steering. Sheltering in the shade of the tarp, in waterproofs in the luke warm rain for three hours at a time.
The dreaded sound of a flogging or slapping sail ... off course, too light a breeze for the wind vane self steering, hand steering again. The tyranny of the tiller.
The reassuring sensation of a gently heeled boat under way. The sound of gurgling water rushing past the moving hull.
A silence so complete you wonder if you are in a dream.
Power Portuguese by Mark Frobose, all rights reserved ... at four o'clock in the morning. 'When the Levee breaks' by Led Zeppelin, at sunrise.
Waking up so tired and befuddled that you are convinced the alarm is for the other person ... but it can't be there are only two of us. The reassuring 'click' of the safety line being clipped ... mantra: double check, double check. Clipping the guy line instead of the safety line ... double check, double check. Did I really just say "Eat my shorts"? I meant "Wear my shorts".
Salt encrusted clothing, salt dusted skin. Clothes washed by a tropical downpour, rainwater shower, bliss!
Light winds, mere zephyrs. A few hours exhilarating downwind sailing, headwinds. Patient light wind sailing. Attention to detail. Sail trimming, tension this line, slacken that one ... change the shape of the sail. Reaching blocks, cunninghams, clew outhaul ... You mean the blue rope?
When there is enough wind for Aries to steer by. Long, meaningful conversations. Dinner in the relative cool of the evening. Sitting up by the mast in the shade of the sail enjoying the cool breeze. Coffee and sponge cake. Reading. Watching the ocean flow by.
Mind games. Kath steering by the wind instruments in the pitch black dark. It becomes a kind of computer game, and just as frustrating.
Concentrating on sailing as close to the wind as possible I imagine a friend has challenged me to a 'luffing match'. This involves steering very delicately so that the 'luff', the front edge of the sail just begins to flutter, but not quite. Whoever does this best makes best progress upwind and wins the contest. Thanks Marcus. Nice to have you out here with us, even if only in spirit.
After crossing 'The Line' the best tactic is to carry on heading due south until you find the SE Trade winds. One of our sources says that you will come across them soon after crossing the Line. Another, more pessimistic, says that at this time of year you may have to go as far as 3 degrees south (180NM) before you find them. On Friday 20th at around 1700 we finally met up with the SE Trades at two and a half degrees south of the equator. (That's right. It took us three days to cover 150 NM).