ITCZ - Already?

Where Next?
Bob Williams
Sun 18 Oct 2009 14:31
Position: 16 30 N 022 20 W
Course: Drifting
Wind: Northeast, light air
Weather: Overcast, drizzle, warm
Day's Run: 75 miles

I think I may have made a strategic blunder. Looking at my weather faxes over the last several days and after a discussion with a single-hander lady starting out a non-stop circumnavigation I decided to go east of the Cape Verde Islands contrary to the advice in the hallowed tome for sailing vessels, "Ocean Passages of the World", which recommends passing to the west of them then heading south.

Last night conditions have gradually grown more overcast, I could see the faint flashes of lightning glowing on the distant horizon, the wind was a bit lighter, all indicating that we were getting closer to the ITCZ, the inter-tropical convergence zone, the dreaded doldrums, where sailing ships can be becalmed for months and men can lose their minds.

This morning conditions have grown solidly overcast, too thick to see the sun, so no sights today. Last night the Walker trailing log decided to tie itself up in knots, I have since unravelled it but as a consequence I do not know how far we travelled overnight. The result is I am lost, well I exaggerate a little, let us rather say that the confidence level in our positional accuracy is definitely on the low side. The sun will appear eventually and we will snap off a sight or two to find out where we are, and I could always turn the GPS on, but that would be cheating and take all the fun out of it.

As we continued running square before the nor' easterly this morning some heavy clouds and squally conditions were gathering ahead, I put a precautionary reef in the mainsail and a short while later we were under buckets of rain and experiencing a major wind shift to the southeast, down pole and close reaching on the starboard tack. Now that the rain squall has passed we are becalmed in a steady drizzle of rain, drifting.

I would have thought that we were still too far north to be approaching the ITCZ, but it looks like I am wrong. Bit of a worry because if this is the beginning goodness knows how far we must go to get to the far side of it. I have crossed the ITCZ once before in Sylph, heading the other way, that time we were very lucky as it only took one night, but I think we had positioned ourselves a bit better than this time.

Found a couple of fish on deck this morning for BC before the rain squall set in.

All is well.

Bob Cat:

Fish - again! Oh well, it's better than hard tack so I'm not complaining. A seafaring feline's fated feed: hard tack and fish. Now a nice piece of chicken might be nice.

What is this heeling over business, we haven't done that for a while - I had better go secure myself for rough weather . . . Zzzzzzz.