IT f in CZ

Suzie Too - Western Caribbean
David & Suzanne Chappell
Tue 8 Dec 2009 11:16
This place is a nightmare - The InterTropical Convergence Zone, where the 2 Hadley Cells come together has caught us all out - I and it seems everyone thought we would be out of it by 04°30N, but we have had to motor all night and day yesterday and again all day and night today Monday. So far a total of 33 hours from 06°30N to 02°30N, 240M it seems the southern edge of the ITCZ is moving south faster than we are and the GRIB files and other boats confirm this. For you guys in the UK it's like driving to Cherbourg and back - oh and then doing it again - except without stopping for moulles & frites, a carafe of wine and a nice siesta with your lady.

Finally we burst out of it into clear night starlight skies at 2100 and now as I come on watch for 0400 Tue at 02°20N the whole damm front is rolling in behind me still, probably faster than the 7kts we are doing. Some Group 1 boats seem to have got through before this event, I can easily understand how races are won and lost here and on top of the light airs we have a vicious current running NW at 2kts. Got a few emails from the other boats and everyone is getting well pissed off and I guess some boats have used more fuel than they planned - all have motored the same as us for 36 hours. We have all now been asked to log engine hours to adjust for finishing times and the French magazine article on boats across the hemispheres - remembering as it says on their web site "It's not a race" - can't wait for this morning's position report ! - really a shame we have to motor.

Some news from other boats - Alain on Ti Ouane caught a 1.54m long Yellow Fin Tuna - weighing 55kg !! - He has distributed chunks amongst 3 other boats with some skilful boat handling in torrential rain and chaotic seas. Flying Kefi got the repairs done after a pirogue rammed him in the Sine Saloum river and has now had to stop in Brava, an island in the southern Cape Verdes, for engine repairs, the 3 Amels all called into Brava for an overnight anchorage. Just got an email from Havanita and Jean only has 20 litres of fuel left - and I am cautious now we are down to 300 litres.

We are keeping up our sighting of 1 vessel every 24 hours and Sunday night overtook Maouli, having had to call up a Chinese cargo vessel the previous night that was 5M away with a CPA of just a few feet, I had a very nice chat with the OOW - don't you just love AIS.

Anyway I mustn't bitch because we have just discovered that one of our dearest friends is in very serious trouble and has many unpleasant hospital visits of radiography and chemotherapy ahead of her in the next few months after being ill only 5 years earlier - bon chance (as our French cousins say) our hearts go out to you.

So now we are definitely out of the ITCZ - only 10kts of wind, but it's better than 4kts and we are making 6.5kts upwind close hauled on a course 20° west of what we want and the current is now also setting west, so I am bothered about crossing much further west than 27° - I definitely don't want to get to 28° and Jimmy Cornell says 30° is too far.

Best wishes