Tropic Birds & the Southern Oscillation Index

Where Next?
Bob Williams
Sun 9 Jan 2011 16:38

Noon Position: 20 11.1 S 090 21.5 W
Course: 285 Speed: 6 Knots
Wind: East sou’ east F4 Moderate breeze
Weather: Partly cloudy, warm
Day’s Run: 138 miles

As we get further out into the open reaches of the vast Pacific we have left our little storm petrels behind and are now being accompanied by some tropic birds, white tailed variety I think, chattering noisily as they wheel overhead, using Sylph for the odd bit of target practice.

A couple of people have pointed out that I am heading across the Pacific a little early so I had a friend (also ex-navy colleague and fellow cruiser) who is currently in New Zealand check some weather information for me which he got back to me with yesterday. Thanks Chris. It turns out this is in fact a good year for crossing the Pacific early as the Southern Oscillation Index is at a record high and it is a La Nina year. Bottom line is that this means that while in the western Pacific there will be more cyclones then average, in the east there will be less and they are very unlikely to get as far as French Polynesia as the water is too cool this far east. Still the weather is all about probabilities and not certainties so will of course be keeping a close eye on the weather maps regardless. Starting to pick up weather faxes from Honolulu.
Currently reading an interesting book, “The Age of Reconnaissance” about the early European explorers opening up the world via maritime exploration, trade etc. The author, J.H. Parry, has a very good knowledge of things nautical and in amongst the history I have found out some interesting tit bits, like the origin of a league. I knew this was about three nautical miles but did not know it was based on the distance an average sailing ship of around the fifteenth century would travel in average sort of conditions in an hour - slow! And a degree was originally the distance a sailing ship would travel on average in a day. We take so much for granted and I find it fascinating to contemplate the achievements of our forebears in opening up the world with such primitive technology. Magellan crossing this incredible body of water we are now in must have just been horrified at its seeming endlessness. At least I know I have only 2,870 miles to go to find a cold beer.

All is well.