We are currently in position 00 09S 042 23W, saillng at 6 knots on a course of 320M. Our ground speed is 6.5-7.5 knots. The wind is NE at 15-18 knots with a 1m sea and 1m N swell. We are sailing under full main and yankee. Broken cumulus, some rain-bearing. Our day's run was 114nm, our DMG was 132nm and we have 1542nm to go.
We are now only 9nm from the equator. We expect to cross into the northern hemisphere this afternoon. Although we reached the northern hemisphere in SE Asia in 2012 this feels like a bigger milestone. I think that's because we're also crossing the Inter-Tropical Convergence Zone (ITCZ) which will put us "in northern hemisphere weather". We're looking forward to putting both "the line" and the ITCZ behind us.
We had a good sail yesterday afternoon in 18-22 knots of NE wind. During the afternoon I downloaded the text forecast for the area (Met Area V). This forecast includes a set of locations which show the position of the ITCZ. Interestingly the ITCZ had "jumped" 2-4 degrees north from its previous day's position. This moved it from just south of us (where we want it) to a long way north of us. Nevertheless the NE breeze seemed to indicate we were north of the ITCZ.
Late in the afternoon we noticed a large black cloud line approaching from the ESE. It looked quite ominous in the twilight - very black. When it arrived the wind swung around to the ESE. Happily it only piped up to 25 knots or so with moderate rain. The winds gradually decreased but stayed in the ESE. We think this was the SE trades forcing their way back north towards the ITCZ.
The sea state when the ESE wind arrived was horrible - square waves everywhere as multiple wavetrains collided. This took several hours to settle. We had green water over the boat for the first time on this passage. By 2000 the ESE wind had died to only 5 knots and the seas were still unsettled so the motor came on. At 2300 the wind swung to the ENE and filled in to 8-12 knots so the engine was shutdown. Since then the wind has backed further to the NE, returning us to beam reaching conditions. Huzzah!
This morning I downloaded today's Met Area V forecast. Guess what - the ITCZ had jumped south again. Hence the return of the NE wind perhaps. The ITCZ location seems to provide quite useful information, and it's not always where the NE/SE wind change on GRIBs shows!
The return of the hitchhiker (and its mess)
Our "pet" sooty tern has returned to roost for 3 of the last 4 nights. He's gradually figuring out the most comfortable spot. As you can see above he now likes the solar panels for a nice view of the dawn.
A few days ago I emailed Zen Again's designer Ken Hayashi and friends of her first owners Yoshio and Akemi Amanuma. I advised them their boat had completed a circumnavigation. They replied with congratulations which was very nice of them. It's great to be in touch with so many of the previous owners of our lovely boat. Our cruising barely compares to the voyage undertaken by the Amanumas.