Blog Entry 5 - Leaving the Americas behind

Ian Redwood & Laura Brown
Thu 3 Mar 2022 17:04

06:55.709N 079:59.189W

Leaving the Americas behind 

The Las Perlas Islands were lovely, we enjoyed their isolation and we wanted to further explore their beautiful beaches.  However, other considerations for our journey pulled us away.  We waited a good while at anchor in a lovely bay hoping for a ‘perfect’ weather window, but perhaps inevitably, there wasn’t one.  One reality was becoming apparent, we had stocked up with food for our journey, but we also have only limited fridge stores and no freezer, and all the time we remained waiting …we were using up our rations.  So it was a toss-up, should we opt for sub-optimal weather and leave now or reduced rations if we leave later!  We felt compelled to leave.

For me, as skipper and navigator this presented a number of issues.  The traditional and time-honoured route, at this time of year, is to, figuratively, hug the coast of South America turning South-West towards the Gallapagos and pick up the easterly trade winds (blowing us West).  However, the modern solution offered to us with multiple weather, satellite and routing files from a respected app called ‘Predict Wind’ has consistently told us: head North of Gallapagos and turn South to the trade wind belt when we are West of those islands.  Whilst this doesn’t sound like such a difficult choice it does present two entirely different strategies and involves heading in different directions over hundreds of miles, exposing us to very different weather conditions and sea currents.  The Predict Wind solution is based only upon a limited forecast view of a few days.  So - what to do, what to do? 

The consequences of getting this wrong are potentially serious.  We have a limited amount of fuel on board which will allow for only 3 and a bit days of motoring once we have deducted the fuel required for the generator to keep our yacht’s batteries charged.  The batteries are critical, as without them we lose all our navigation systems and the ability to make water although we do have enough emergency water rations to enable ‘hard routine’.  The deciding factor has likely been the frequency of electrical storms – the decision is that we will following the Predict Wind advice.  Having decided this on the early part of our route, we will of course now be reliant upon app weather updates to take us to the next stage.  The only surety of weather we have is the trade wind belt South of Gallapagos – when we get there. 

Our last glimpse of land has been some high hills in Central America mere specks on the horizon.  After less than 24 hours of leaving Panama we are now looking at ocean vistas – and only ocean vistas, a 360 degree vision of the blue planet.  There is not another sign of civilization, no buoys, ships, planes or even jet trails.

So there’s lots of time to reflect, over the next 30 days, with no distractions from world events, news cycles, day to day emails or administration.  It’s a strange thought that if there is some further huge development in world events we won’t know about it.  We won’t drink booze or check phones, no texts, chat or videocalls with friends and family, and no Wordle!  For sustenance we have the food and meal planning that Laura has single-handedly chosen – a huge logistical effort balancing flavour and freshness with tins and vitamins, variety and ease of stowage.  We have the tools, spares and materials for improvising whatever we might need, or to fix what might break.  And most importantly of all, we have each other.  For company and for reliance and as partners in this adventure.