Feb 6-7, Steady Progress

Date: Feb. 7, 2017, noon Position: 9 52.48 S, 14 28.04 W

We’ve fallen into a cadence of wonderfully easy 125-135 NM days, lightly sailing along in 12-14 knots of gentle SE breeze. Like the hands on a clock, we’re making steady progress across the South Atlantic ocean. The days flash by in a blur of watches, and each night grows a bit friendlier with the waxing moon. We could certainly get used to this! After the challenges of the SW corner of the Indian Ocean and the South African coast, it’s a joke, really. The deck work is so minimal that all we really have to do each day is pull on the string to adjust the air vane 5 degrees here, 5 degrees there, a few times a day. And scrape the flying fish off the deck under the light of the moon. Otherwise, our time is ours to do what we please.

Our spare time allows us to be OCD with our daily chores, which is actually a good practice at sea if you can afford the time. A friend of ours from the Galapagos Islands taught us the trick of using a wide-mouth plastic water jug as a trash can. Only plastic goes into the trash–all else goes overboard to be composted by the sea. You can stuff an amazing amount of trash into a 1-gallon water jug if you shred it up first. As you add more the bottom layers compress, making it essentially a manual trash compactor. When the jug gets full (we can stuff about 2-3 weeks of trash into a 1-gallon container) you just screw on the jug’s cap and stow it in the quarterberth. No odors, spillage etc and it’s easy to take to shore in the dinghy when you get to land.

My fist-smashing cockroach killing is getting more accurate, and their numbers are dwindling for now. The remaining survivors seem to be getting quicker, though. We could be inadvertently creating a generation of high-speed cockroaches if the ones that are breeding are the ones that escape our attacks. The trick is to leap on them the moment you catch them out of the corner of your eye, so they don’t have time to react.

Our friends on S/V “Beguine” are also on passage to BVI with us. They’ve consistently been about 35 NM behind us, and we are matched for speed just as we were crossing the Coral Sea. We chat daily on the radio at 0800. We had a good laugh when they told us they were polishing their Stainless, just like we’ve been doing! Easy going, for sure. Circumnavigating is much like doing a long-distance through-hike on the PCT or AT. You run into the same folks at random intervals and as time goes on, the coincidences add up. Take, for example, the fact that we met Beguine in Vanuatu. We had both already decided to sail for Thursday Island, Australia, on the same day. Fast-forward a few months, and again we had both come to the independent conclusion to sail from Cape Town, SA, to St. Helena on the same day, and again from St. Helena to BVI on the same day, without having discussed our plans. On the long trail, it’s like that too–a series of hellos and good-byes, and chance reunions when you least expect them. After awhile, you get to know everyone around you on the sea/trail.

As the Southern Cross lowers on the horizon, the Big Dipper is arcing up onto the horizon each night now, upside-down. We should raise the North Star in about 8-10 days. Very exciting to be nearing the NW Hemisphere again! It already feels like we’re coming home. Our long range forecast is looking really good right now. The ITCZ is compressing again and it looks like our strategy to cross at 30W will work well. We’re still a week away from crossing the Equator, but right now it looks like our fair winds will carry us right up to the ITCZ, with fresh NE trades meeting us on the other side. Anything could happen between now and then, but in the meantime, we carry on…

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