The latest GRIB maps assured us that as bad as the dead calms have been, it’s due to get worse. As you Escapees know we’ve been clawing our way south towards the southern trade winds. Last week we finally crossed over one degree south and celebrated with a major treat, a two pound bag of Kettle wavy chips with sea salt that we’ve been hoarding since our last provisioning trip to Super Selectos in San Salvador. Boy howdy, do we know how to have big fun on EV?
As I say we crossed over one degree south latitude only to drift back north over it during the dead calm of night. These swirling currents in the Pacific are wicked and they’re even stronger to the west of us but, true to form, any breeze we’re getting is out of the south, which makes that difficult too. During the following day we played the puffs like a dinghy sailor and managed to get back over one degree south but tomorrow promises to be even deader than dead.
We decided that if we’re drifting tomorrow I’ll do my best to get rid of as many of these damn pesky trumpet thingies that stick out two and a half inches all over EV’s bottom, as I can. It’s one thing to have no wind. It’s another thing to have a 300 mile wall of NE currents pushing you backwards, but I’ll be damned if I’m going to let a few thousand trumpet thingies drag me down. No sir, not Yours Truly.
So it’s back into the briny deep for the handy bloke. Marce reassures me that the bottom of the ocean will be only four miles below and with my harness attached to EV, even with the sails dropped, if a squall should pop up I’ll just be dragged behind. I am not amused, and as I jump in I say that anything over six feet one inch is irrelevant, but we know better. I attack the buggers with a vengeance and soon, quiet with my own thoughts, I imagine what must a shark think, lurking in the deep, when he notices a smorgasbord of flora and fauna slowly drifting down from above? As I gaze down into the near as dammit bottomless depths, sun rays sparkle off the hors d’oeuvres as they float downward. I resolve to hurry it up.
Back aboard I notice that we’d drifted back north over the one degree mark again but I feel the stirrings of a breeze. Could this possibly be the wind? No. It’s a train of squalls as far as the eye can see so one can only conclude that the ITCZ has drifted south of us, and even though we’d crossed the zone at a fairly narrow point, apparently it moves around quite a bit. As our good friends on Macushla say, “it’s a sod and a bugger but there it is.”
Squalls yes, but they have wind, right? Close enough for me. One after another all night long, in an endless train of fifteen to eighteen knot bursts with heavy rain in steep nasty seas, but finally we were sailing. By midnight Marce had had enough and I took over, adjusting the course as each squall overtook us, then back again as the wind dropped back down to our usual four knots. Up and down. We were already double reefed with a jib and it got to the point that I didn’t feel the need to follow each approaching squall on our radar so I put it on standby and hung on.
I don’t know about keeping calm but we are definitely carrying on.