Southeast Trades

Where Next?
Bob Williams
Tue 27 Oct 2009 14:22
Position: 05 03.0 N 027 54.0 W
Course: Southwest; 4.5 knots
Wind: South sou' east, gentle breeze
Weather: Sunny, warm
Day's Run: 55 miles

An uneventful 24 hours I am pleased to say. We are starting to feel the trades now. As expected they are very light either side of the ITCZ but as we get further from the dreaded doldrums the wind is freshening. We are hard on the breeze and not quite making the course we need for Brazil, but the seas are relatively smooth and the ride is a joy.

Here is what the guru of single handed sailing, Josh Slocum, first person to single hand around the world has to say about his crossing of the doldrums in the same area in September 1885:

"The sloop was now rapidly drawing toward the region of the doldrums, and the force of the trade was lessening. .
"On the 16th the Spray entered this gloomy region, to battle squalls and to be harassed by fitful calms; for this is the state of the elements between the northeast and the southeast trades, where each wind, struggling in turn for mastery, expends its force whirling about in all directions. Making this still more trying to one's nerves and patience, the sea was tossed into confused cross-lumps and fretted by eddying currents. As if something were needed to complete a sailor's discomfort in this state, the rain poured down in torrents day and night. The Spray struggled and tossed for ten days, making only three hundred miles on her course in all that time. I didn't say anything!"

We had a bit better run of it then old Josh, thankfully, and even so I did not manage to maintain his equanimity, but at times relieved my frustration with a good old rant.

One thing I have noticed when reading these old accounts (currently reading extracts from a journal written by one of the few surviving members of Magellan's circumnavigation) is the amount of wildlife they encountered compared with my experience, especially sea life. I see quite a few dolphins and had a couple of fish visit me when we were becalmed between Morocco and the Canaries, but nothing like these early accounts report.

All is well.

Bob Cat:

An uneventful 24 hourZzzzzzzzzzzzzz.