It rains so much, it fills the footwell. Note the dead flying fish!
Raining very hard...
October 21, 2007 - Day 104 7.9450N,153.3286W
The last two days have been terrible for weather, with variable winds and very strong rain squalls. I have not seen the sun for five straight days, which is compounding my problems, depleting my batteries, even though I have been keeping two portable solar panels rolled out to increase the surface area. The blessing is that, at least the wind has been ranging from my north to my east, allowing me to progress in generally the direction that I would like to travel.
Coming inside the cabin from outside is a problem. I row in the rain, leave the wet clothing outside, to wring and wear them again in the morning. But the skin on my hands and feet turn white and soft, almost soggy with water, making journaling and manipulating electronics a problem until they dry a bit. I avoided dispatching the last few days which would have exposed my electronics to very high moisture in the cabin. Everything inside is starting to smell musty, and all things fabric are growing darker with mildew.
With my batteries running very low under dark skies, I gather just enough juice to power my navigation light at night, and the chartplotter all day. Tonight, I turned off the radar transponder to save power, I am using a headlamp to avoid cabin lights. I have not run the watermaker in three days, which eats up the battery charge. I normally have 5 gallons of water readily accessible in the footwell, with 2 left.
Today I crossed south of the 8th parallel, officially into the counter current. Until I drop south of the 5th parallel, another 180nm to my south, I will keep this east flowing current in mind as I try to anticipate my course.
At this critical juncture, I am also crossing the Inter-Tropical Convergence Zone (ITCZ), the east-west aligned band of ocean surface, over which the winds from the southern hemisphere and those from the north meet, creating a great deal of thunderstorms. The primary ITCZ this time of the year at this longitude is between 7-8N. South of the ITCZ, I expect south winds, at best SE, until I reach farther west. So the combined effect of the southerly winds and the counter current may be to hold me around 5-7N. We shall see...
I work any blow to my favor nowadays, if I can take the boat west, I do, south, I do. The daily decision on where to go depends on the winds, as long as my overall course made good is due SW. I still keep 165W in mind as the line in the ocean where I want to make my definite attempt toward the Equator, however I really want to cross earlier.
An earlier crossing, gives me the remote option of running clockwise around Fiji, toward the Tropic of Capricorn to land at Mooloolaba near Brisbane (27S). A later crossing farther west, limits my options to entering the Coral Sea north of Caledonia, very likely being pushed toward Cairns (17S) behind the Great Barrier Reef, in which case we would not know whether I can make landfall until the last 24 hours! Too risky for my taste...
Talking of risks, I will avoid any landing unless absolutely necessary. Land is a hazard for this boat, the horsepower on which is severely mismatched against the powers of nature. So don't be surprised if I don't make any special effort to reach an island, and I won't complain about the cold refreshments and nice fresh salads and juicy fragrant fruits that I could have had, had I stopped ;)