As I write we are only 93 mile from the equator- about to pass from the North Atlantic to the South Atlantic. Eating peanut butter on crackers as well, which is not helping the keyboard! For the Equator passing, tradition holds that we provide King Neptune a toast and offering of our finest Jamesons Irish Whiskey, which I'm sure will make him very happy and speed us on our way!
We came through an area known as "The Doldrums", which is known for very weird weather, from flat calm to torrential rain and wind gusts to 30 mph and everything in between and always changing. Very frustrating and challenging to navigate through and we "parked up" and sat going nowhere for quite a few hours, only to be rewarded with a nasty squall. We are very happy to have finally exited yesterday and have broken through into the SE trade winds, which are much more steady and predictable, although we are banging away dead upwind for a while until the winds back into the East.
We are now one week into this leg as we started from Sao Vicente a week ago and we have been averaging a bit less than the target 200 miles per day due to the Doldrums. We have had a number of issues with boat that we have had to work through. The first is that our primary vertical wind wand at the top of the mast has been malfunctioning, which is a big problem since most of the time we are asking the autopilot to steer to a True Wind Angle and it has been unable to do that reliably. So we finally switched over to our back-up horizontal wind wand and thankfully that has been working well. We do not know the root cause of the problem but believe we need a new vertical wind wand so are working on getting one shipped to Mauritius.
We also have had difficulties with our satellite communications system known as "Iridium Open Port". We use this system mainly for email and getting GRIB weather files that allow us to do our routing. Without this information, we would be "flying blind", which I did not want to do when we are headed for the Southern Ocean. The issue was that the unit was not getting power so Roger moved and reconnected the power wires and changed the fuse and lo and behold, it worked! Rog got MVP of the day and received a bonus hour of sleep for his fine work.
I feel very lucky we were able to make these repairs at sea as we otherwise would have had to stop in Brazil, which we did not want to do. We stop in Recife on the way back. So for now the boat is in pretty good shape. Our routine is watches of 3 hours on and 3 hours off, and we have been sleeping a lot! We have been relying mainly on the hydro-gens and solar for electrical power, with help from the engine alternator when becalmed. Food is lots of snacks and a freeze-dried meal once a day, which seems to be Ok. Not glamorous, but sufficient. We run the watermaker/desalinator every 3 days to make fresh water from salt. The water and air temps are getting warmer, so we each had a fresh water shower during a torrential down pour in the Doldums.
So overall we are settling in after a windy and challenging start through the Cabo Verde Islands and it looks like we will be drag racing due South for the next week before contemplating a turn left towards Cape of Good Hope. We are quite a bit further East on this race as we approach the Equator than on my previous RTW trip in 2015, but the challenge of avoiding the St. Helena high pressure/no wind area while sailing the shortest distance to Cape of Good Hope remains the same. I hope all you navigators at home are working on the problem!
Until next time, be well and enjoy summer-
Joe and Roger on GS2 on Sunday, July 24, 2022