Updated July 2012
Sailing/Motoring in the Doldrums
For the ones who don't know, the Doldrums are situated in between five degrees North and five degrees South of the Equator, also known as ITCZ, Intertropical Convergence Zone. The winds in this area are either light or non-existent, with heavy rain, humid and hot.
Finally we left at 10 am. We followed the channel out from Balboa. Flocks of birds were flying all around the Gulf. Some were big with at least 20 birds in a V shape and at the end were a few pelicans following the group. We called it the Panamanian Air force Squadron (Panama hasn't got an army, marine or air force). We saw a whale, turtles and few dolphins in the distance. Dinner was chilli con carne. Night watches are as follow: Graham does 6pm till 10pm, Judit 10-2am and Herbert from 2 till 6 am. Now is 1 am (27th) but we still in the Gulf of Panama, amazing how big it is. No wind at all, earlier we had 20knots but that just lasted one hour.
The morning arrived with some squalls and little wind. That did not last long and the engine went back on. So far we only sailed 2 hrs! "Dickey" Bird landed for a snooze on the boat, we tried to feed it some bread but it wanted to sleep more than anything. The sun is intense and the heat is unbearable, we opened the hatches to have some airflow in the boat. Before happy hour we played cards. Dinner was chilli con carne again! With mandioca (macaxeira) and broccoli.
Yesterday evening there was heavy lightning following us. To avoid it ,we changed course and also placed GPS, VHF radio and IPod in the oven (Faraday’s cage). Due to the clouds there was some wind, at last we were sailing. But of course in the wrong direction! When there is wind it is always headwinds, so impossible to sail the desired direction. The course is South West but we are only able to make NW or SE. Anyway, that didn't last long, and today we are motoring AGAIN! This trip is turning into a bit of nightmare, but that is the doldrums...There is enough fuel for another 3 days but there is 600 miles to go(5 days away). We have to sail, but when there is wind it is in the wrong direction and we are not getting any nearer to Galapagos.
It rained the whole afternoon; we collected some water, around 60 litres. We opened the cap for the water tank and also used a bucket to collect water dripping from the boom. Judit had a shower in the rain. The wind is still not in our favour. According to the cruising books, charts and weather forecast, by now we should be out of the Doldrums and have favourable wind and current with us. But the winds are unpredictable and current against . To top it up we haven't caught a single fish. Is this the El Nino effect???
Finally the Doldrums are behind us, so there is good wind. We are making progress towards Galapagos. 20knots with moderate seas, excellent! It has been cloudy and air and sea temperature are dropping. 403 miles to go.
Only 12 hours to arrive at Puerto Baquerizo Moreno, San Cristobal Island thanks to a few days of good winds. It is getting colder, jumpers are out for the first time in 6 months. We crossed the Equator at 6 am. Graham and Herbert were delighted, going backwards and forwards with the boat so in total, the Equator was crossed 3 times! Judit was not impressed as has been woken up from her sleep as the engine went on to reverse the boat. Now the race starts to get in at daylight, it will be tight.