Day 20 to the Marquesas
09 April 2012 | Outbound Cabo, Inbound Marquesas, French Polynesia
Day 20 = 72 nautical miles. The ITCZ loves Buena Vista and is following us. We've got to get the heck out of this area. When it's nice it's just beautiful here with light winds, nice and warm, and fluffy white clouds passing all around. But when it turns nasty the skies become completely overcast and the water changes to a dark and stormy grey. The ITCZ snakes around from place to place. When we were at 6 N it rolled out the welcome mat for us and slammed us good (our first big squall) and then as we moved south, so did it. As a matter of fact, we've been in this unsettled area for four days now. As we near the equator, at 1-2 degrees north the ITCZ actually jumped past us and we had to cross it's axis again...that's when we tore our good sail. A few days ago we started motoring all night, just to get through more quickly. When we motor we can't use the hydrovane so we used our electric autopilot. Unfortunately, after the first night the autopilot stopped cooperating (he's flaky - that's why we bought the vane) so we're essentially hand steering through the night. So, at 10pm Don goes below to have a sleep. I'm at the helm, it's pitch black outside. There is a full moon somewhere but there's so much cloud cover you can't see it. I have the steering wheel locked but the boat roams from side to side and you have to keep adjusting it. The compass is in front of me, lit at night with a glowing red light. The compass dial moves slowly from right to left, from left to right. The wind meter is up on the bulkhead about four feet away. The dial on the wind meter moves slowly from right to left to right to left. As we motor on, the boat rocks from right to left to right to left. I am now hypnotized and am must put my head down for just a moment. Next thing I know Don wakes me up and says that the seas have become alot calmer. I wake with a lurch and look at the compass...it's no wonder, we're going in the wrong direction...north! We turn the boat back to south and try it again. An hour later, radar shows a massive green blob about 4 miles away and moving in fast. We get ready for the next big hit. This squall hits us with wind at 20-25 knots and god knows how much rain, alot. I'm inside watching the radar screen and Don's at the wheel. We continuing motoring, hoping to pull away from the storm, no joy. We put the motor into neutral for awhile, hoping the storm will pass over us and continue on, no joy. It's all around us and doesn't move on for several hours. When it's over, the clouds start to break up and a few stars start appearing. It's over for now. Keep motoring...we've got to get to the equator and beyond. Just a note: one year ago today we left Puerto Vallarta to do the puddle jump with our friends Cath and Linz, didn't make it. A boat we left with last year, Blue Moon, did their passage in 18 days...we're on Day 20 and still have 750 miles to go.