Sunday, June 10, 2007

Thursday 7th June

At sea

0 06.831 S
82 41.872 W (at Midnight)

The rest of the night was uneventful; we managed to sail for the most part of it. The day was yet again shrouded in clouds. We continued to sail throughout the morning getting more excited as the latitude dropped. We got the camera ready and tried a couple of practice shots all ready for the big moment. So did you notice that the Latitude at the top of this blog now has an S (South) rather than an N (North) behind the reading? We crossed the Equator at 11.06hrs at 8
1 53.530 W – there are no prizes for knowing the Latitude! We watched the countdown on the chart plotter readout and clicked off a couple of pictures just before and just after the big moment, unfortunately we couldn’t get a 0 00.000 readout but we have the picture with 0 00 009 to show we are now "down under". There was no sign to say "the southern hemisphere welcomes careful drivers" nor was there one saying ‘"thank you for visiting the northern hemisphere, come back
soon", there was no finish line marker and no fireworks but I have to tell you that the sky above the Equator was a thin patch of beautiful blue, the clouds gathered on either side of it but just at that point it looked like someone was playing a practical joke to mark the spot. We think that we will probably have to cross back over the Equator again and head north to reach the Galapagos as the wind doesn’t want to co operate with the direction we need to go in and tacking will force us back north for a while but we are keeping our fingers crossed that this won’t happen. Gerry went for a shower and a nap soon after we crossed the Equator and I sat reading in the cockpit whilst monitoring our progress. I did go on fish patrol and found that we had "caught" 2 flying fish; one was fairly large whilst the other was the usual 3 inches long – both were dead and hiding behind the toe rails, they were consigned to the deep before they could become smelly and offensive. When he reappeared from his nap, Gerry wanted to reef the main sail as the wind was increasing and whilst we were making headway westwards we were loosing our southerly direction. Just as he went out on deck to reef the main he noticed that a short distance ahead of us there was a couple of distinct lines of flat calm water, we began to wonder if we had found the Humboldt current which comes up the coast of South America and heads to the Galapagos. We weren’t convinced by any stretch of the imagination but didn’t know what to make of these flat calm lines; what’s more there were more and more of them becoming obvious. The wind once we entered one of these "flat sea lines" was still blowing at about 7 knots. We debated and referred to the Pacific cruising guide to see if we could make any sort of use of the calm effect, eventually we decided to try tacking and see what effect it had, at worse we could always tack back again. We eased the boat over onto a port tack and immediately felt the benefit of the altered course, we were heading much closer to the westerly point that we needed to be aiming for and our boat speed picked up. By mid afternoon we agreed that the tack had been a good idea, we were roaring along doing 5 knots with next to no waves to bash into and making good progress towards the Galapagos. We still aren’t sure what the calm lines are, we don’t think that they are the Humboldt Current but whatever – we’ll take it!
I went down below for a nap and when I came back on deck Gerry told me I was just in time – there on the far horizon was a sail boat, heading in the opposite direction to us, presumably they were coming from the Galapagos islands heading north east. Up until that point we had not seen a single boat all day and were beginning to think that we could strip off safely! Despite having the fishing line in the water all day we still haven’t had a bite so I deliberately got fish out of the freezer for dinner – I think there is no more left so we need to catch something soon. We followed our usual routine of dinner and began watches, with Gerry taking the first watch. When I reappeared to take over he told me that he had passed a small fishing boat, this totally blows our minds as they are so very far away from land and have just one small outboard motor to get them anywhere. Again we had the bird with us, diving into our wake to find food, however he’d found a couple of friends to tag along tonight and they took turns in diving into the water around us, they also make an incredible honking or snorting noise – has to be heard to be believed! I managed to find the other 4 small fishing boats that were out on the water during my 4 hours on watch, one of them was close enough for me to have thrown rocks at it and hit it – he wasn’t going to move for anyone even though we were under sail and heading straight for him. After that there were no more boats to dodge thank goodness.



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