Trip Reports

The Tropics (31-Mar-2001-14-14):
2:14 PM local time Saturday. 12 10 N 122 50 W. Temp. 84, Humidity 75%, cloud cover 90%. Seas N 3 meters. Wind N 14k



Just hours, or perhaps minutes, after sending our last post the conditions changed dramatically. The clouds dissipated, the seas flattened, and the temperature rose sharply, and instantly we had the classic tradewinds conditions. Although we had technically been in the tropics since latitude 23, this is the first time we felt we were really there. Now it was hot enough to bake one's brains, and this did not seem a worthy plan. So yesterday we hoisted the Bimini, which is a Conestoga type frame covered with canvas to shade the cockpit, and any illusions we retained of not looking the part of normal cruisers were abandoned. We were treated to a classic tropical sunset which this correspondent will not embarrass the reader by trying to describe, and then a very bright crescent moon rose, reflected to us in a path on the Pacific and accompanied by Jupiter and Saturn. Ordinary seaman Terry Shrode observed that it would be perfect if it weren't so fake looking.

Also in the sky we saw that night an object to the northeast about 10 degrees above the horizon which was stationary and blinking red and green. Again last night it appeared, this time off to the southwest. Now, this was an alien craft and we were abducted and operated on; but the point is that I can't understand why it was showing red and green lights. Our best guess, and we reached this after lengthy and earnest debate, was that the aliens, in their training, were required to read Chapman's Piloting.

The Dolphins have returned for more visits since our mood improved, and to take inventory we've seen to this point a black-footed albatross, some sooty shearwaters, several storm petrels we have not been able to identify more specifically, tropicbirds which again we haven't clearly identified, and a few brown boobies, one of which took up residence on our bow pulpit for a few hours after spending the morning deciding where to land. This morning, both a flying fish and a squid were found on deck. Apparently, they were dead.

Gunnery mate Terry Shrode has unaccountably taken up the job of conning us through the Intertropical Convergence Zone, the ITCZ, otherwise known as the Doldrums, which will be our next navigational challenge. This is a band of rising air parallel to the equator which from the point of view of the sailor consists of very light to non-existent winds, high temperatures, and thunderstorms produced by huge convective clouds. From our weather reports we gather that we will encounter it at about 8 degrees north and it will continue to 2 degrees north, a distance of 360 nautical miles. Its width, length, and zones of higher and lower intensity vary from day to day so the trick is to place oneself at a point on the northern edge of a relatively narrow area and go strait across.

Mr. Shrode has determined that we should make some westing to the 125th meridian and proceed south from there, basing his analysis on daily weather updates we get on one of the high frequency radio nets. To that end, the crew of Maverick this morning doused the main and again hoisted our downwind rig, consisting of the drifter and Genoa on poles. We are presently moving along at 6 knots, and making a course of about 250 true. When we reach longitude 125, we'll head up and tackle the Doldrums.

We have to this point sailed a distance of 1691 nautical miles. 2200 miles to the northwest, Hawaii beckons, and 2100 miles to the east is the great country of Nicaragua. The equator is 700 miles to the south, and the nearest land is about three miles strait down. But it's a long three miles. Depending on the route we eventually sail through the Doldrums, we have 1400 miles or so to go, so arguably we're more than half way to Paradise. But the other half way might be a long one.

PS Julie, of course we remember you. And Jimmy, thanks for "The Duke of Hurl."

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