Rich Wilson

Sailing for the ITCZ

6 Feb

Getting across the equator yesterday was both a challenge and a relief. As we approached, it seemed as though the wind gods decided they weren’t quite ready for us yet, so the wind turned to the north, and essentially, although all of the weather files showed us being in the southeast trade winds, and should be broad reaching, we were beating upwind to get there, and with only a few knots of wind to boot. So it was slow and mentally trying.


Once across the challenge continued. The ...

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Back in Our Home Waters

5 Feb

Our position is in the Northern Hemisphere. Finally. We crossed the Equator late this afternoon, very slow going all day today. In the last few hours, the wind shifted to the north, just as we were finally closing in on the Equator. We thought we might not actually make it. But we did finally get across and we’re in the Northern Hemisphere now, sailing in the North Atlantic Ocean rather than the South Atlantic Ocean.

I remember musing when we headed south, across the Equator, earlier in the race, about the adventures and challenges we would encounter, before we could ...

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Weather Analysis for the Equator

4 Feb

We made good progress into last night. It is 92°F (33.3°C) in the cabin so I had a salt water shower and then freshwater rinse in the cockpit after sunset. It was hugely refreshing.

I have been looking at some of the data that is available now to mariners in anticipation of crossing the Equator and getting through the Doldrums, or the ‘Pot au Noir’ as the French call it. There are satellite photographs spanning the globe taken at different wavelengths to show different things. There is Advanced Scatterometry, which is a real-time satellite based radar to give wind direction ...

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3 Feb

Last night, after the sun set, I went down Joff Brown’s checklist for the boat. He is our Boat Captain and Team Manager, and knows the boat inside and out. I had to do the list after sunset because it’s simply too hot to spend time scrutinizing a piece during the day time.

The list involved all the pins for the stays for the genoa, solent, and staysail, chafe on furling lines, etc. One of the items was to look at all of the batten cars, with binoculars for the top ones, to make sure that the stem coming from ...

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Miles in the Correct Direction

2 Feb

Yesterday and today we have been finally out of our seemingly private bubble high with no wind, and into the usual South Atlantic high pressure system that generates the Southeast Trade winds near the equator. Finally we are making miles in the correct direction.

Yesterday we sailed most of the day with the genoa, our biggest upwind sail, and full mainsail. After much tweaking of sails, the boat was really going well. Yet we got to the end of the wind range for that genoa and switched to the solent. And then when there were several clouds with wind that ...

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Tasks During the Calm

1 Feb

Yesterday was a very difficult day. From morning to nighttime, essentially zero wind, the boat going in circles, or at 2 knots if we had 2 knots of wind. I’d change from genoa to solent, and even to the staysail thinking that it might stand whereas the genoa and solent were too big for no wind.

Several times we’d get caught aback, and then, in no wind, have to somehow get the boat going in the right direction again. Many times we ended up going south. It was very discouraging. And it was blazingly hot, 98°F (36.6°C) in the cockpit,with ...

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30 Jan

Another challenging night, not as bad in terms of miles lost as the previous night where we went in circles essentially for 4 – 5 hours, but difficult nonetheless. This time the culprit was a line of clouds and intense rainstorms and massively shifting wind, both in direction and velocity.

Sunrise, January 29th

We could see the big rainstorms on the radar, coming for us. And with the night sky being clear yet moonless, we could see the clouds coming. Some might not have rain. But they would still have the big windshifts, and the drop in velocity from 10 ...

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Going in Circles

29 Jan

We are almost up to the latitude of Rio de Janeiro, which will be a good milestone. After we get there, we’ll have to go through a series of areas where there may be quite a few oil rigs. We have them marked out in a broad region on the chart, so will have to be on high alert for about 75 miles or so, south to north.

Making pretty good time, today, with the genoa and full mainsail. It’s a beautiful sailing day, which we had last night also, all the way up until we didn’t. In the early ...

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Sparkling Night Sky

28 Jan

It was promised in the brochure! And finally we had it! A sparkling night sky, no clouds for the first half, no moon either, so the stars were just leaping out at you. And the Milky Way looked like it had been painted with a giant white paint brush! Amazing… I got out my Star Book by H.A. Rey (yes, the Curious George author/illustrator) and found the Southern Cross plus Centaur, which has my two favorite Southern hemisphere stars – Alpha Centauri and Beta Centauri. I just love how they sound when you say their names.

We had smooth seas, ...

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Proper Nutrition & Hydration

27 Jan

Finally, the promised wind to get across the eastern part of this depression has arrived. The torrential downpours, and regular downpours, have been replaced by bright blue sky and blue seas.

Dragonfly, a long way from land

When the wind did not occur as forecast yesterday evening, I tried to make a fast sail change to the big genoa. Whenever one does something in haste, mistakes are likely to occur, and they did. First, I hoisted the sail around 2 pieces of shock cord that come from the daggerboard to the mast. Instead of lowering the sail after the arduous ...

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