Th Doldrums

With almost a month of delays we had no option but to change our plans and miss out our trip to the Galapagos Islands and head down to La Libertad in Ecuador where I would leave the boat and return home to my other life for a few months. This would have knock on effects with our plans for Patagonia, Antarctica and South Georgia and would require creating a new jigsaw puzzle albeit with the same pieces.

I had been watching the weather along our route south for some weeks and realised that things were markedly different than when Trish and I last crossed the Equator in January 2010. At that time the ITCZ was south of the Equator to the south west of the Galapagos and we motored across it in about 24 hours. This time it had cut a wide swathe off the coast of central America, could not be avoided and would take some time to cross. The first three days were completely windless and very very hot and humid.

At the end of day three we encountered 36 hours of severe lightening storms and winds from all points of the compass.

I had headed almost due south to create a favorable wind angle for the South South Westerlies that had been blowing either side of the Equator for many weeks and would speed us on to La Libertad.

When we finally left the storms behind the latest weather files showed that the winds had switched into the South South East...the way we had to go! Novara is blessed with a significant fuel capacity and we could, if required motor all the way to Ecuador, we almost had to!

The rest of the 1,818 nm, 11 day trip was a mixture of exhilarating sailing and motor sailing, 2 reefs in the mainsail and 2 rolls in the jibs.

Ken, Neil and Terje working the 3 x 3 hour watch system and myself on permanent stand by.

The passage was enlivened by Ken hooking two large Marlin who were somewhat annoyed and repeatedly leapt out of the water until they freed themselves, a decent sized Yellow Fin Tuna and a couple of smaller species of Tuna.

A big thanks to Ken and Neil, who not only masked their disappointment of missing out on the Galapagos and Easter island for an uncomfortable passage to Ecuador but who were also great shipmates.

Terje, as always was a rock, alongside me during all the hard work in the boatyard and again whenever anything needed to be done on passage. He shook off a very nasty fall that left him with a 2 inch gash on the back of his head. He would not allow me to shave his head to get at the wound so I had no alternative to apply a pad and a bandage to hold it in place that earned him the nickname of Osama Bin Lokken. He is one tough old bugger!