04:26.289'S 90:05.390'W Back under way!!!

Hamble Warrior
Jamie Hickman
Tue 11 Apr 2023 00:02

Day 18

Progress!! We have finally picked up a bit of pace and spent the night jogging along towards 4 degrees south - and our rendezvous with the trade winds! We hit the fabled 4 degrees latitude around 7am and are steadily making our way to 90 degrees west longitude which is where all our forecasts say the tradewinds should be blowing.

For anyone not familiar with the term trade winds they are reasonably consistent prevailing winds that blow in every ocean to varying strengths both north and south of the equator. Named after the square rigged trading ships of centuries ago that used them to travel to all corners of the world. The winds we are searching for are produced by a high pressure weather system that is permanently parked roughly over Easter Island to our south. The wind blows anti clockwise around a high pressure system in the southern hemisphere thus producing south easterly to easterly winds above it, this conveniently is on our route and will comfortably blow us down wind to our destination (Or so we hope!!)

We had a little rain early in the day; a "mini squall" if you like; most of it blew across our bow and missed us. We saw a beautiful rainbow stretching right across the horizon ahead of us as we watched it approaching. As I tried to take a photo of it a large fish; possibly a tuna, jumped out of the water right where the rainbow hit the sea! So the gold at the end of the rainbow is tuna apparently - Meep says he knew that all along! Jamie had been tinkering with an arrangement for catching water at the mast and despite very little falling we still managed to catch five litres or so and most importantly check that his new system works. With our recent success in collecting rain-water we shouldn't ever have any shortages as long as we continue to get rainfall every so often.

Otherwise it has been a day of sunshine and fluffy white clouds; apparently these are trade wind skies but they look very much like the opening credits to The Simpsons - perfect plump white clouds evenly spaced across a pale blue sky.

As it was Saturday we adhered to our usual ritual of Frank's Skinner podcast and a cooked breakfast. I had my dippy eggs as usual but having thrown another couple overboard Jamie declared these to be my last dippy eggs of the trip. Apparently the lottery of rotten eggs is too much against us now so if we are going to cook eggs we need to see what they look like first. So that was my last boiled egg until we reach Polynesia and buy some more! We still have a couple of dozen eggs left but at the rate we are throwing them away we won't be eating them for much longer; nevermind, they are probably lasting slightly better than we feared they would a couple of weeks back. In terms of other stores our remaining fresh fruit and vegetables seems to be lasting pretty well now; the very poor quality stuff is now long gone and we are managing to keep what is left pretty well by inspecting it regularly and using what little fridge space we have for anything that is starting to look tired… Our menu continues to be determined by what needs eating but that's no problem. We found some evidence of weavels in the open flour so we will sieve and use what we need today and then throw the remainder away and open a new pack. I thoroughly checked all of our pasta stores and found no weavels in there so that's really good news. Trying to stay ahead of weavels in the tropics is nearly impossible. Packet foods often have weavels eggs in when you buy them and they can burrow through plastic packaging so even the best practice of storing open packets in Tupperware doesn't guard against them. We have all our pasta stores in one enormous Tupperware that I have scattered dry bay leaves in as they are supposed to deter them in some way apparently. I check this regularly and so far we are weavel-free so that's good news. Between inspecting fresh fruit and veg; turning eggs, checking dry stores for weavels and keeping an eye on the dates of the fresh cheese and cured meats it's surprising we have any time to actually cook anything let alone set sails!!

The really exciting news of the day is that we are seeing other vessels around us for the first time in over 2 weeks! Last night we spotted lights in the distance behind us although we couldn't see anything on AIS. During the night a commercial vessel passed us and today we have seen a sailing boat within 10nm range on AIS. These are likely vessels leaving the Galapagos Islands now that there is a decent forecast of wind. We switched on our VHF radio last night incase anyone fancied saying hello but didn't hear anything. At around 3pm we spotted the 14m catamaran that we could see on AIS off in the distance. This is our first proper sighting of another boat in daylight since we left. It might not sound terribly exciting but after 17 days of nothing but water, to see the tiny white triangle of a sail on the horizon is pretty exciting! A 14m catamaran should be going much faster than us so it will probably pass us in the next few hours; hopefully before it gets dark so that we can have a good look at them!

Good Friday night was fun; we put on some music and had cheesy puffs and one of our Jamaica punch sachets - vanilla this time. Basically a milk shake! Made a change though! As it was Good Friday we had discussed fish for dinner but as Jamie spent most of the day teasing the boat along in light airs he hadn't exactly had time to fish. No problem; I cracked open a tin of tuna; much to Meep's delight and shared it between us. Meep had his straight up and we had tuna, pepper and sweetcorn pasta. Quick, easy and delicious!

Today is Jamie's turn baking; he is making us bread for tomorrow. We have now finished the loaves of long-life sliced bread that we brought with us from Panama so if we want bread from now on we need to bake it ourselves. Fortunately Jamie turns out a very good home made loaf so we will enjoy that on Easter morning!

Late in the afternoon as the sailing catamaran that we can now see on AIS is called "Indioko" passed us 5nm off our beam doing 7kts we decided to try and do something about our own speed and the goose barnacles on our hull. We took a long line and went on the bow where we dropped it over the side and pulled it along the hull each taking a side and working it up and down as we went. We will only know by watching the speed now if we succeeded in cleaning much off but the line smelt nice and fishy when it came back up which was a good start and we were doing 
4.8kts when I returned to the cockpit so we can only hope it might have done some good. Maybe we will try again tomorrow... add it to the list of chores once we have finished checking stores!

At 5pm our daily run was calculated at 63nm (every single one of them directly towards our destination in French Polynesia); most importantly we are now at latitude 4 degrees south and longitutude 90 degrees west which is EXACTLY where we need to be when those sweet trades blow up our rear tomorrow... whoppeeee!!!