SUNDAY 8 MARCH 2020
Fourth day at sea
Position 04 ° 46 ‘SOUTH 099 ° 04’ WEST
Mile traveled by Galapagos 581 missing at Hiva Oa 2380
Cloudy sky, too cloudy.
Persistent rains in the last 2 days
Poor wind of variable direction, capricious, never nervous but irregular which forced us to frequently change sails, unusual for ocean navigation.
These are the DOLDRUMS, that is the band above and below equatorial, which varies variably from 4/5 degrees north latitude to 4/5 south latitude. The Galapagos are just below the equator, in full swing of the so-called “equatorial calm”, or Doldrums, so hated by ocean sailors because of the meteorological characteristics we are experiencing in this first stretch. This zone, defined in technical jargon as ITCZ (Inter Tropical Convergence Zone), is not always in the same place on the map, it is not a fixed line, but moves according to the degrees of air masses that govern the prevailing winds of the planet, undergoing variations of some degree. According to the well-known Murphy’s law, the ITCZ from high above the equator (which at the first forecast of the crossing would have saved us so much tribulation),it lowered in the days before the departure, giving us a gradual fading of the winds and thickening of the cloud cover.
In reality, departures for ocean crossings should not have a fixed date, but be regulated solely and exclusively by the study of meteorology. Among many advantages, this is the only real flaw of rallies like the World ARC; you have to leave on March 4th at 12, while an attentive skipper was supposed to leave on March 2nd. Even 24 hours can make the difference in the ocean, between being in the river of wind right away, or having to chase it because you ran away. The difference is abysmal. It is true that departure is always an intriguing and compelling moment, but faced with three or four days of penance, I don’t know if the game is worth the effort. It is true that if we had started earlier (possible, motivating the choice to the organizers), we would have left the rally rankings and any competitive sense would have died out,in the sense that we would have sailed alone, 48 hours in front of everyone, with no one waiting for us on arrival. But optimism is our bread, so it’s also interesting to find out what it’s like to sail in full ITCZ. A little like riding a bicycle in an infinite plain, with a p0 ‘of mist, a gray sky all the same, with violent downpours alternating with a dense drizzle that penetrates everywhere, like in November, but with 30 degrees.but with 30 degrees.but with 30 degrees.
The degree of humidity has exceeded the thresholds of human endurance. Fortunately Ariel is a dry and welcoming house, with fans that help, but they move hot and humid air because we are forced to keep every porthole closed and from the vents, lacking the wind, nothing enters. Fortunately, the cockpit has been set up with rainy situations during the ride, therefore it allows us to observe and breathe without getting wet, even if to take advantage of every breath that the ocean gives us, to make Ariel run not only with the engine, we are forced to frequent and wet changes of sails, including Gennakers, Code Zero and Genoa spinnaker. But this is the life of the sailor and we take it with a smile, while the Pacific post Galapagos gives us the first two tuna with red meat, and a Mahi Mahi, which given the small size we return to the sea.
So we’re not terribly bad… Gourmet lunches and dinners, always with a good white and red wine, from Argentine Chardonnay to Chilean Malbec to satisfy even the most demanding palates, and a slice of Parma ham is never missing on Ariel’s table. or a flake of Parmigiano Reggiano. We regularly bake on alternate days experimenting with various recipes and every Sunday we make pizza, and I must say that in this we are reaching very high levels, despite the fact that the raw material in terms of mozzarella is not exactly equal to that of buffalo Campana, but Ceci has understood and knows how to correct and modify. Today is Sunday.
And what will we encounter once we pass the ITCZ? We are in the southern hemisphere, where everything is reversed; the prevailing winds are always generated by high pressures, except that in the “north” the circulation is clockwise, therefore the North East trade winds are born, in the “south” the anti-cyclonic circulation is anti-clockwise, therefore the Southeast trade winds, the very ones we are looking for below 5 degrees of latitude. Shut up that maybe we are. Since tonight when the genoatangonato sheet was suddenly cut (due to wear in a specific point), while we were carrying out the repair with our friend Maurizio we perceived a different, less humid air, while the rain had stopped, as when after the storm you feel cooler air, but it is night and despite the growing moon the sky is still cloudy,but something tells me that maybe today we are.
We now have 13-14 knots from the southeast, constant for 3 hours, and we fly at 8.5 knots including the help of the equatorial current (fixed from 1 to 2 knots from east to west for the entire route). I say it softly, but I think, or maybe I hope so much, that 5th parallel south we are entering the trade wind river which should take us to Hiva Oa, to the Marquesas Islands, French overseas territory, and better known as the first group of islands belonging to a larger number of territories, fragments of land in the middle of the Pacific Ocean, which together with the Tuamotu, Thaiti, Mo’orea, Maupiti, Bora Bora, Huaine and Ra’iatea, to mention the main ones that we have in heart to visit, constitute the so-called French Polynesia.The first we will meet on our route to Australia are the Marquesas, majestic and high above the sea, without coral atolls, but with the most evocative and fascinating hinterland, among the first to be colonized during the great migrations in the Pacific. Southern, from the prehistoric period up to the year 1000 AD. , but they were just Polynesians, or Hawaiians, or Maori. We waited until the end of 1500 for them to be brought to the attention of all, when the Spanish navigator Alvaro de Mendana sighted Fatu Hiva by pure chance, stopped the fleet for a few days, and gave the name: Islas Marquesas de Mendoza, in honor of the Marquis. Mendoza, viceroy of Peru who financed the enterprise; then it was Cook’s turn at the end of the 18th century, but the real colonizers were the French,who chose these islands to oppose the domination of the British Navy in the world and in 1842 the French flag was hoisted in Tahuata, in the name of King Louis Philippe of France. Nowadays two other Frenchmen made the Marquesas and Thaiti their permanent home, one is Paul Gauguin and the other the famous navigator, master of all of us ocean sailors, Bernard Moitessier.
See you soon from Ariel
Paolo & Cecilia & Team