It’s another beautiful sunrise on the 4 to 8 watch on Elinca. Yesterday’s email from the Stormgeo weather forecaster said that we’re already leaving the high pressure belt where we’d expect to have reliable easterly trade winds and we’re approaching the Inter Tropical Convergence Zone (ITCZ), otherwise known as the doldrums. Here the area of low pressure over the equator means that there are very light winds. Old sailing ships could take weeks to get through the doldrums and would begin to run out of water and food. Sometimes the ships would have to put their small boats in the water and by rowing, tow their ships through the ITCZ. We’re lucky because we can motor through them and so there’s no need for us to dig the dinghies out of the forepeak and tow Elinca. The forecaster said that we are unlikely to have significant winds until we have crossed the equator and are out of the ITCZ.
We are however surrounded by magnificent towering cumulonimbus clouds giving showers and squalls. The showers provide a welcome chance to cool off, but as we pass through them the hatches have to be shut and the wind scoops removed and so it can get quite warm below decks. The winds pick up in the squalls and we were lucky to have 30 minutes of fast sailing with the engine off yesterday tea time but for the rest of the day we were motor sailing. We occasionally have to tack the staysail from one side of Elinca to the other as the wind shifts around.
We had a brief stop to swim yesterday afternoon and we spotted our first flying fish. Apart from that we have seen remarkably little wildlife. The violin and guitar have seen some practice on deck. Unfortunately one of the squalls passed at solar noon yesterday and so no-one was able to get a noon latitude with the sextant. We’ve had some very clear nights and so we’ve enjoyed learning some star constellations. We are definitely making progress north as the Plough is beginning to rise above the horizon for a few hours every night. Sari brought onboard a selection of whole spices and is cooking a curry this evening, which we’re all looking forward to already.